"Imagine if there was a baby oil messaging on the billboard. And it falls and kills a few mothers"

Advertising veterans condemn the state of outdoor media and lack of action to curb illegal ad hoardings after the Mumbai billboard collapse that killed over a dozen people.

By  Storyboard18May 15, 2024 11:13 AM
"Imagine if there was a baby oil messaging on the billboard. And it falls and kills a few mothers"
Advertising veterans say that accountability and responsibility should go further as the menace of illegal ad hoardings has long plagued Indian cities and towns. (image sourced via News18)

"The brands have something to lose even though it's not their fault."

On May 13, an illegal hoarding came crashing down during a sudden dust storm and unseasonal rain in Mumbai. The incident claimed 14 lives. A case has been registered against the owner of Ego Media Private Limited, Bhavesh Bhinde, who is currently absconding. But advertising veterans say that accountability and responsibility should go further as the menace of illegal ad hoardings has long plagued Indian cities and towns.

Read their candid views here.

Bobby Pawar, former chairman and chief creative officer, Havas Group

The billboards on top of buildings, on the side of buildings. How well are they installed? Has anybody checked? This incident brings all of this into question.

Unfortunately, the apathy in this country is so strong, but some rules need to change. There needs to be governance on these aspects. Because like it or not, they're constructed things. And there needs to be a safety certificate for all of these.

Otherwise, who knows what will happen next time. If outdoor people don't do it, the agencies and marketers need to say, “We need to understand that billboards are safe. It is certified to be safe before we put anything up.” Just imagine, if there was a baby oil messaging on the billboard. And it falls and kills a few mothers. The brands have something to lose even though it's not their fault.

All of us need to work towards the betterment of the society we live in. In a civilized society, these things shouldn't happen because this is negligence.

Sandeep Goyal, managing director, Rediffusion

Random outdoors (especially the illegal ones) are leading to visual pollution - making our cities look ugly and dirty. This mushrooming of hoardings everywhere is also a serious traffic hazard and now as we have seen a life hazard.

KV Sridhar, global chief creative officer, Nihilent Limited

Agencies have nothing to do, and they will only put out the message. The owner of the outdoor hoardings is at fault followed by the government agencies, which have given licenses are at fault. Illegal hoardings are rampant in Bombay because of the cost and money which is involved. Hoardings followed by trees are the first casualty of any cyclonic effect that has happened in Mumbai.

No permission should be given to construct such large hoardings without testing their ability to withstand the calamities. And some standards need to be there.

Delhi has banned outdoor hoardings. Then, people found a way of advertising in public places like malls etc. Delhi is much better in terms of organized outdoor advertising as compared to Bombay. Delhi and many cities in the world have shown us the way as to how to manage messaging.

The issue is safety, people and then the environment. Any illegal activity happens with bribery and then greed for money.

Durba Mandal, head - OOH business, Cheil India

The collapse of the Billboard in Ghatkopar, Mumbai, is indeed very unfortunate which should have never happened. First and foremost accountability needs to be fixed without fear or favour.

Over the years, the OOH industry has become more regulated than before, but an incident like this is surely an indication that we have a long way to go. Enforcement of existing regulations is the key to avoiding such situations in future.

This incident has become national news with authorities at the highest level taking stock of the situation. The local authorities of metropolitan areas would certainly go for an audit.

There could be a possibility of more inventory being declared unsafe, creating a shortage of legal and safe inventory. Approvals on upcoming media may also be relooked by authorities. Other metro cities might also take note and issue safety notifications or audits in their area.

Considering that campaign planning for H2, including the festive season is underway, the new regulations can impact in a big way.

Agnello Dias, co-founder, Spinach Experience Design

My take on ANYTHING illegal, leave alone illegal hoardings, is that they should not exist.

Normally hoardings do not have high ROI in national marketing campaigns so at best they are a support medium to the mainstream media. But some places, like Mumbai, have extremely high local purchasing power and therefore it leads to rampant erection of hoardings with disregard to all regulatory norms. This has to be strictly monitored and controlled exactly the way one would control any other potentially dangerous industry.

I feel the impact on the ad industry is peripheral and is definitely not worth the risk to lives and property.

It’s largely legacy and is perhaps more prevalent in the centres that have had a long cinematic legacy like Chennai, Mumbai as it is an industry that has traditionally seen hoardings as the main medium. Today it continues more as a legacy habit than a real brand-fronting medium.

#FreeOurSkylines - Fight against illegal ad hoardings: A terrible tragedy struck on May 13 after a 100-foot-tall illegal billboard fell at a petrol pump in Ghatkopar during dust storms and unseasonal rains in Mumbai. The killer hoarding caused the deaths of over a dozen people and injured many others. The catastrophic incident outraged citizens who have been dealing with the menace of illegal ad hoardings. The people don't want just answers but solutions, as they turn to civic authorities, advertising agencies, industry bodies, brand marketers, and media owners, to take responsibility and fight against the menace of illegal advertising hoardings. So speak up and join the #FreeOurSkylines movement. Write to us at Storyboard18@nw18.com with your concerns and views, and let’s make our cities safer together.

First Published on May 14, 2024 5:48 PM

More from Storyboard18

Special Coverage

Railways and GRP permitted 306 hoardings, 45 of which oversized: BMC report

Railways and GRP permitted 306 hoardings, 45 of which oversized: BMC report

Special Coverage

Weathering the storm - Survival strategies for startups in a cooling investment climate

Weathering the storm - Survival strategies for startups in a cooling investment climate

Special Coverage

NMC finds 58 illegal hoardings on railway properties

NMC finds 58 illegal hoardings on railway properties

Special Coverage

PMC brings down 53 illegal hoardings

PMC brings down 53 illegal hoardings

Special Coverage

How the concept of Earn and Burn has evolved over the years

How the concept of Earn and Burn has evolved over the years

Special Coverage

Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation lodges FIR against advertisers, hoarding owners and land owners

Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation lodges FIR against advertisers, hoarding owners and land owners

Special Coverage

Time to 'Share The Spotlight': Storyboard18's one-of-a-kind initiative to bring together women sparking change

Time to 'Share The Spotlight': Storyboard18's one-of-a-kind initiative to bring together women sparking change

Special Coverage

BMC sets up 8-person committee to address billboards and outdoor advertising in Mumbai

BMC sets up 8-person committee to address billboards and outdoor advertising in Mumbai