For my white paper, I intend to focus on the occupation of public spaces by commercial advertisements. This issue is most prevalent in urban centers, such as Times Square in New York City, and along highways.
This paper is tangentially related to my Paper 2 topic, because the “OBEY” campaign was all about Shepard Fairey disparaging how we have become desensitized to visual media in our surroundings because we’re constantly barraged with ads. I’m going to shift focus away from “OBEY” and street art and research the policies associated with outdoor public advertising, analyze how effective they are, and eventually recommend how best to regulate it.
My business resource was from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. It was a page on their website presenting and discussing common issues associated with billboard regulation, including content control, economic impact, permits and fees, political campaigning, tourism, and traffic safety. For each point, the OAAA defends their members’ compliance with federal and more local laws and argues for the multiple benefits of roadside billboards. Most sections include research or documentation substantiating the value of outdoor advertising. For example, in the “Economic Impact/Jobs” section, it says “Outdoor advertising drives sales, helps guide mobile consumers to goods and services, and supports jobs. Most outdoor ads promote small, local businesses. Small business is the jobs engine of the economy. Over 6.5 million workers are employed by local advertisers who chose to place their messages on billboards. The adverse impact of losing billboards is immediate and significant. Billboard advertisers say they would lose 18 percent of sales without billboards. For some advertisers, outdoor advertising is the only affordable, available means of mass communication with consumers. One of three outdoor ads promote travel and tourism, a top employer in most states.” It then embeds a series of relevant reports: “Do States the Ban Billboards Have Increased Tourism and Improved Economies?,” “The Local Economic Impact of the Outdoor Advertising Industry,” “The Role of Billboards in the US Economy,” and “Business Perceptions of the Role of Billboards in the US Economy.”
A quote that summarizes the overarching message communicated on the webpage is “Billboards are heavily regulated, by multiple layers of government. Federal law establishes a national regulatory framework for billboards (size, lighting, and spacing); state and local laws also regulate outdoor advertising. This regulatory system has consistently matched public opinion. Americans say billboards should be regulated, not eliminated.” Essentially, this source claims that outdoor advertising is both valuable to the society and economy and well-regulated by the government and by the industry itself.
This resource will be helpful in identifying and researching many different aspects related to outdoor advertising. Furthermore, the research reports in each section will be very helpful so I can use real data, statistics, and charts in my paper. While it is certainly not an unbiased source, as it was produced by an advocacy group and very clearly stands with one side of the debate, I would expect as much of any business source, and it seems particularly legitimate because it provides research for each point it makes.