The Writing on the Wall [Archives:1998/46/Last Page]

November 16 1998

Advertising is one of the most important and effective devices of marketing goods and commodities. In fact, it has become a full science in itself, being taught in universities. In addition, industrial psychology is very much involved in this matter, studying the impact of advertisements on the constant change in taste, consumer demand, and the subsequent changes in sales.
Today, it is estimated that major companies spend a solid art of their expenditures on advertisements. In some cases, depending on the business, the share of advertising in the budget can go as high as a third.
In Yemen, it seems that businessmen don’t spend much on advertising their goods. Some of them use TV, radio, magazines, newspapers and other means; some use stickers and posters, flex-face signs, cotton-sheet advertisements, etc.
And some are free-riders. They paint their advertisements on the walls. This is not your typical graffiti, which has no business base. We are talking here about efforts to sell something.
Advertising as a source of income:
It is commonly known that advertisements represent a very good source of income for TV channels, radio broadcasting stations, newspapers, magazines. It represents the principal source of revenue for national and independent magazines and newspapers. Therefore, some of these publications can’t work without advertisements.
Advertising Defaces Walls:
It is noticed that the private sector investment in the field of education and health has recently grown up and expanded very rapidly and in a rather visible way. One feels surprised to see such a good number of private schools, universities, hospitals, language and computer institutes and centers. The absence of the inspecting role of the Ministry of Education on these institutions is remarkably noticed. This has made their work marked with disorder and chaos.
It also seems that even in their way of advertising themselves they don’t follow any order or discipline. Most of these institutions advertise themselves by painting their slogans and mottos on the walls of public as well as private establishments and houses. This is completely wrong by any standard. This is because they disfigure, instead of beautifying, our cities.
I wonder, isn’t it enough that our streets are filthy, do our walls have to be defaced as well? I am sure this chaotic way of advertising is not found in any other country. So, is it our desire to stream against the current and be always “exceptional” and “extraordinary.”
Does it sell?
Another point is that advertising on walls is not of any marketing value to the advertiser. Painting advertisements on walls in such a way diverts the attention of the people and makes them unaware of what is actually written and receive the message it tries to convey.
People in authority at these establishments should know the techniques of advertising and how and when it becomes effective. Advertisements should be eye-catching. But it seems that these people give some children tins of paint and templates telling them to go and paint their advertisements on any empty space on walls, even in allies. What fun?!
Where to advertise
Stickers and posters should be put in appropriately specified places. In other words, the people in charge of municipal offices should allocate particular places in each street in each city where stickers and posters are to be put. Erecting billboards is a good alternative. Walls should not be left for every Tom, Dick and Harry to put his advertisements. This, without any shadow of doubt, will make advertising more organized and well as effective.
Not only businessmen!
Candidates in parliamentary elections also share in the blame of disfiguring our cities. During their electioneering campaigns, they had their stickers – carrying their slogans and promises of constructing another promised land on earth – placed on walls of houses, shops and other public institutions. I am not against this. But leaving stickers after the election is over is completely unacceptable. We don’t exaggerate if we say that stickers of some candidates since the 1994 parliamentary election can still be seen today.
Therefore, municipality offices should work hard to make our cities clean. People advertising on walls should be held accountable for disfiguring our cities, and at least should be fined. Advertising should be done through acceptable channels and in orderly ways. People whose houses are disfigured should be compensated. Is there somebody listening to me?
By: Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Yemen Times, Taiz Office.