Advertising spreads onto landmarks in crisis-hit Spain
By Clare Kane
MADRID (Reuters) - Big business is taking advantage of recession-hit Spain's hunger for cash, striking advertising deals for landmarks that have seen a Christopher Columbus statue dressed in a Barcelona soccer shirt and a metro station named after a telecoms company.
With local councils and transport authorities across Europe feeling the squeeze as governments battle to cut deficits, these deals could be a taste of things to come.
"Advertising seeking controversy isn't anything new ... what's different here is the inventive ways local authorities are coming up with to make money," said Manuel Martin, communication theory professor at Spain's University of Navarra.
Some Conservative politicians in Britain, for example, have suggested allowing sponsorship of London Underground metro lines and stations to raise money that could keep down fares.
But allowing brands to associate themselves with public services and famous places is not without its detractors.
Protest group Ecologists In Action, for instance, says metro stations should be used to promote cultural activities and that it is unfair to advertise to consumers where they might not be able to distinguish between publicity and information.
For supporters, opening up more landmarks to advertising is a win-win situation at a time when money is tight for both governments and companies. Continued...