Mayor rules against 'attention-grabbing ads'

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SYDNEY -- Australia's advertising heartland, downtown North Sydney just across the harbor from the Opera House, has been rocked by the local council's decision to vet all outdoor advertising, ruling that it "should not create an undesirable or dangerous distraction" to motorists or pedestrians.

In a final knife-thrust, which has angered some of the nation's largest agencies, the Mayor of North Sydney, Genia McCaffery, maintains: "Advertising should fit in with the local environment, which we have a duty to protect. We don't like billboards's very unlikely we will approve any more".

"Does this mean the council will stop a woman wearing a short skirt in case someone finds her distracting?" counters Mike Thomas, deputy chairman of Clemenger BBDO. "The whole purpose of advertising is to make the consumer aware of your product".

Peter Gallucci, George Patterson Bates national media manager, adds: "Advertising is supposed to cause a distraction by attracting people's attention. If it's wallpaper it has no impact and the client may as well throw his money out the window".

And Paul Davey, media director at DDB, argues: "The client, the agency and the consumer should be the arbiters of good taste...I wouldn't like to see any council be the arbiter". North Sydney is Australia's fourth largest city.

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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