ATLANTA FENDS OFF MEGASIGNS;REJECTS REEBOK MURAL PLANNED FOR SITE AT GAMES

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[atlanta] Some advertisers thought they'd found a loophole in Atlanta's ban of "megasigns," but now it appears that Olympics visitors won't be exposed to even portable, though building-size, ad messages.

Atlanta ruled last year that permits for the nine-story outdoor boards wouldn't be allowed in an effort to curb Olympics overcommercialization, but advertisers discovered no mention of using portable megasigns.

City Buildings Commissioner Norman Koplon said there have been about 24 applications for Olympics-related portable signs that can be as large as a building.

In response, City Planning Commissioner Leon Eplan asked the City Council to approve a 120-day moratorium on portable signs to avoid having Atlanta appear to have "sold its soul to commercial interests."

Although the moratorium cleared the Zoning Committee earlier this month, the issue was dropped when city officials determined that, in reality, the existing ordinance also covers portable signs.

Other issues in outdoor advertising still loom large for the city, however.

The Zoning Committee is considering whether to allow a technique that projects images onto the walls of buildings.

Advanced Communications Group has signed leases with 20 buildings and parking garages that could display full-motion graphics on their walls.

VP Marc Herring described the technology as "original art," and the committee now must decide if it is subject to the sign ordinance.

NO SHAQ ATTACK

Atlanta's Urban Design Commission voted to deny a request for a 60-by-80-foot mural of Reebok International spokesman Shaquille O'Neal to be painted on the side of a downtown building. The structure is a historic landmark, and will house the Reebok store during the Summer Games.

Reebok argued that the mural was "public art" rather than a prohibited advertising megasign and even agreed to take the Reebok logo off Shaq's basketball shoes.

Design commission member Victor McLemore said the mural was rejected due to the fragile condition of the building, which would be damaged by the paint.

However, City Council member Jared Samples introduced a "personal paper" requesting City Council approval of the mural since it would help beautify the wall, which has been defaced by graffiti and whitewash.

No decision has been reached yet.

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