Billboard ban marks end of advertising

noadvertisingApril 1, 2009–The Los Angeles Planning Commission voted last week on a new city ordinance to deal with digital billboards and supergraphic advertising, after the court ruled the city’s 2002 billboard law unconstitutional last year.  The vote was deadlocked, so the state legislature just made a pre-emptive motion that’s spiraled out of control. They’ve banned ALL advertising in California.

The state has announced that cranes will start ripping down store signs across the Golden State first thing on Wednesday morning April 1st. Bulldozers are being shipped from Nevada to help with the effort.

California residents may also notice that IP addresses of all corporate sites will be blocked as of Wednesday morning. Popular ad supported sites such as Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, WebMD and others may no longer be available to Californians.

There are also implications for food packaging and all forms of branded packaging. One lawmaker suggested that companies should increase their orders for sticky white labels to meet compliance. However, critics are crying foul: “How will I know what I am buying? Or where to buy it?” Asks John Harrington, a lawyer for the Brand Defense council. “I understand their intentions, but this is going too far.”

Some additional effects of the measure include:
-All California newspapers will be forced to turn off the printing presses until newspapers are able to sell papers without advertising
-Television stations are going dark, except for PBS which says it will increase its commitment to non-commercial television
-Even in public, personal items with any insignias or branding will likely be confiscated (Police say the fines will vary, depending on the brand, Gucci bags may get double the fine, for example).

One activist, who referred to himself only as “Tommy” said, “I look forward to seeing hood ornaments and manufacturers logos removed from cars —it’s hard to sleep at night, with all that branding whirling by on the 405 FWY.” While anti-clutter activists believe the new law will reduce crime, end global warming and create a permanent sense of serenity, others are not so sure.

“The new laws are draconian,” says Wilford E. Gremier, CEO of a leading ad agency in Los Angeles. Business owners have taken to the streets in mass riot against the new law. But the lawmakers are standing firm, under pressure from anti-clutter activists and child welfare advocates.

Financial analysts are also concerned, expecting national retailers to pull out of California altogether should the law not be overturned. The cost of producing specialty packing and products to conform to the rigid guidelines of no-brand messaging will simply be too high.  Analysts predict mass chaos and price gauging on white sticker labels.

…Happy April Fools! Affectionately, the Lab.