Driving to my office from the Westside Urban Forum event “Art and Billboards”, I couldn’t help but notice how many billboards I was surrounded by. In the less than one mile drive, I probably saw about 15 billboards for TV shows, movies, yoga, water and everything else under the sky.
The Forum event featured panelists on art, commercial messaging, graffiti, architectural lighting and guerilla marketing actions and their effect on Los Angeles. One of the panelists from PublicAdCampaign, a company known for “ad takeovers” of billboards as canvases for art, discussed how he no longer watches network TV, listens to any radio outside of NPR and strongly opposes billboards, all due to the fact that he wants to control the messages he is receiving.
Not until hearing this did I truly comprehend how much advertising we are bombarded with on a daily basis that I’ve become desensitized to. I hadn’t noticed all of the billboards that I saw today in the three years that I have traveled that exact route. Was it because I haven’t been paying attention? Or, maybe I’ve come to accept that we are surrounded by these commercial messages on a daily basis. Even more interesting, in Saudi Arabia, there is not one single billboard on display.
Can you imagine what Los Angeles would be like without billboards; would we even recognize our own city?