Urban media landscape and advertising

Source: Author own picture – London Waterloo Station main hall

Nowadays, cities train stations are overrun by advertising messages. London Waterloo train station media landscape is covered by a super large digital advertising billboard from JCDecaux. The large billboard itself is not bad but what is worrying is all the advertisings that are taking more and more place in public spaces. The commuters at stations are treated like consumers rather than citizens. It is difficult to avoid a super large electronic billboard of few metres just on top of the train gates facing commuters. Hampp (2007) said “it is the only medium you can’t turn off” (Iveson 2011:155).

The increase of outdoor advertising is due, according to Kurt Iveson, to a new “attention economy” (2011). The JCDecaux company said in 2005 that the form of outdoor advertising is the only mass medium that reaches consumers as they commute daily (Iveson, 2001).

JCDecaux is the second largest international outdoor media company with a headquarters in France, operating in 54 countries and providing various advertising forms such as transit advertising, billboards and street furniture. The first major group is Clear Channel Outdoor with a headquarters in US. (Iveson, 2001:154).


Source: Author own picture – Clear Channel Outdoor Bus shelter

The previous example circles around Iveson idea of the private-public partnership for urban infrastructure (2001). Clear Channel Outdoor is financing and maintaining the bus shelter in exchange for the commercialisation of media spaces to third parties. Iveson mentioned that the marriage between urban authorities and media companies corresponds to a neo-liberal approach to urban governance (Iveson, 2011:155). His major critics are the anti democratic access of other media forms to media urban infrastructures and the control and monopolisation of urban outdoor media by advertisers that have the means to buy these spaces. In this context, some counter advertising movements emerged such as Adbusters in the US that are against commercialisation and consumerism society. Their actual campaign ‘buy nothing xmas‘ is significant of their movement.

Source: Adbusters – http://buynothingxmas.org/


Cronin, A. (2008) ‘Calculative spaces: cities, market relations and the commercial vitalism of the outdoor advertising industry’ Environment and Planning A, Vol. 40, No. 11, pp. 2734-2750

Iveson, K. (2012) ‘Branded cities: outdoor advertising, urban governance, and the outdoor media landscape’ Antipode, Vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 151-174

Iveson, K. (2011) Mobile Media and the Strategies of Urban Citizenship, MIT Press

Moor, L. (2007) ‘Branded spaces: the scope of ‘new marketing’ Journal of Consumer Culture, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 39–60


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