Should Public Landmarks Be Used For Advertising?

Should Public Landmarks Be Used For Advertising?
Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku)

For this week’s Off Topic, let’s talk about a little bit of public management.

So: should it be OK? And if so, do you draw a limit, and where?

Australia doesn’t have a great deal of global architectural icons, and some of them are branding exercises in their own right. (Think the Big Pineapple, Big Banana.)

But having the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge lit up for New Years, for Vivid each year? Lights and projections don’t have the same “sell out” effect as, say, a logo or an identifiable brand. I’d even wager that the colours of Australian sporting teams don’t quite breach that either: you’ve got Australian monuments celebrating part of the Australian identity.

Does commercialised events — particularly gambling-based ones like horse racing — go too far? It does for my taste, although I think you could also apply a test based on the tastefulness of what’s being proposed visually too.

In any case, I’d like to know your thoughts. As citizens of the land, should any limits be placed on the commercial branding of public landmarks and monuments? And if so, where would you draw the line?


  • I have no problem with it myself. They use them for things like Livid, which in itself is an advertising tool. It brings tourism into the area to promote spending, so how is that different to advertising another event?

    This isn’t about using the landmarks for advertising, its using it to advertise a gambling event. Which isn’t illegal. So if you want to ban advertising the Everest race, you need to consider banning something like the Livid festival. The goals of one mirror the goals of the other.

      • Neither Vivid or Livid contribute to a massive intergenerational societal problem. The gambling industry actively targets vulnerable people in order to take their money from them. Why would we want to give them a public platform to do that? Who benefits?

        • So the problem is the event being promoted (which I get), not the use? That’s not what I was referring to, its the use itself. Where do you draw the line?

          As derrick also points out below, its something promoted by a state Govt authority as well. Racing NSW, who’s job it is to promote the big racing events in the name of tourism.

          • Racing NSW’s job is to protect the rights of the racing industry and negotiate at a top level. Tourism is a part of what they do, but only in the sense that promoting events and tourism helps maximise the profits for various racetracks.

          • Well personally i’d say the line is drawn by the CEO of the Opera House and their policies.

          • Huh? The Opera House CEO makes the rules for an icon paid for an owner by the people of NSW? We can all breathe a great big sigh of relief; that’s thankfully not the case. No one person has, or should have, that sort of power for a public asset.

          • It’s called good governance man. Would you rather a politician decide? The CEO is selected by the Board of Directors based on their skills, ability, and experience.

        • While I agree with your stance if argue that the pervasive gambling advertising on television, radio and youtube is far more problematic than the opera house which only a priveleged subset of the population see at any given time

          • Yeah, that advertising is also a massive problem that needs to be dealt with. These feels like another step entirely though

        • The gambling industry? You mean the racing industry right novasensei? It’s Racing NSW that’s doing the 6 minute Everest promotion on the sails. The gambling industry is something different. In the unlikely event that you did happen to interchange the term ‘gambling industry’ and ‘racing industry’ deliberately, then no doubt you would also do the same for the Rugby and Cricket industries? Both are at the very top of sports betting turnover in Australia. And both have previously projected/advertised images (inlcuind logos) for games on the Opera House sails with the support/approval of the Opera House leadership.

          • Hey, i see racing, i see gambling. I see cricket, i see sport.
            I highly doubt anyone would bother organising a horse race without money being involved.

          • Not to mention horses come and go (killed or retired to stud) every few races. No-one follows a horse or a jockey or even really a stable the way they follow a football club.

            It’s entirely about the betting.

    • Were they projecting logos onto the Sydney Opera House for Vivid though?

      Remember that Louise Herron didn’t knock back Racing NSW completely before being overruled by the Premier: she was prepared to have the horses’ colours projected, but refused to have the race logo and related text on the sails.

      • They project distinctive art that you clearly identify with one group or another. Nothing remotely commercial like The Everest logo though.

    • I think it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest those two things are similar. One is an arts festival run by the state government for the benefit of NSW tourism generally. The other is a private gambling organisation, advertising solely for their own commercial benefit.

      • Whoops, turns out it’s not a private organisation running the ad, it’s Racing NSW. That being said the advertising would still mostly benefit private gambling organisations as far as I can tell.

      • Yeah its a bit of a stretch, but its advertising either way. So wheres the line? I get why a horse race shouldn’t be broadcast, but its still just advertising. Is it a problem because its the Opera house? What if it was broadcast on the side of the Overseas Passenger Terminal across the Quay, or some other major building in the area?

        The article is about using public landmarks. I don’t really have a problem with using them (vivid is amazing), and once you are, it becomes a moral decision. So wheres the line? What if it advertised something else that’s less controversial? Like some other sporting event most get behind, or some major breaking news?

        This isn’t anything new. We use the bridge often enough to promote one thing or another, so wheres the line? This clearly pushes it, but it seems to be on moral grounds and little else.

        • ‘Moral grounds’ is how we get tailored laws, like the ban on cigarette advertising or plain packaging.

          • Who’s morals? Yours? Mine? Someone else’s? In the often bitterly divided ‘left vs right’ world of today, where everyone feels empowered by the internet to express their views, the decision on moral high ground is at best confused and at worst, outright war.

        • Re: Vivid – if you use a piece of art as advertising it’s still art primarily. Vivid uses the opera house as a canvas. Racing NSW wants to use it as a billboard.

          But I guess the main problem for me is that the advertising is seemingly for the benefit of a small group of private companies and individuals. I can’t see a justification for the use of public funds to assist a single class of private companies* – especially given this particular industry poses a risk to some vulnerable people in the community. It’s also arguably Australia’s most well recognised landmark, and is a world heritage listed site – so I feel like allowing what essentially amounts to commercial advertising to be plastered on the side cheapens it to some extent.

          (*admittedly this view is probably not consistent with the views of contemporary politicians in Australia…)

          • Which is all fair enough by the way. I just wonder how much semantics is in play when the commercial benefits of something like Vivid are well known, and a prime reason they chose to use that area in the first place.

            No idea what it was this year but in 2015 Vivid brought $63m into the NSW economy. I expect its only grown since then. Its goal was to establish Sydney as a hub in Asia-Pacific, promote tourism, and generate jobs. Very commercial decisions, masked behind the altruistic nature of the project.

            A one off promotion of a globally promoted event doesn’t seem so much to me compared to the 3+ weeks of Vivid. Especially when you consider how much advertising we’ll see in the next 4 weeks for the Melbourne Cup.

          • Yeah true. The distinction I’m making between advertising for the state generally, and advertising for a specific group of companies might be splitting hairs to some extent.

            I’ve subsequently discovered that they’ve used the Opera house for some union/league advertising in the past too so it’s not like it’s unprecedented.

          • Well done to you sir for taking a moment to do some research and gain a more informed and perhaps balanced view in the process

          • Cheers, although I’m still pretty confident that the line between acceptable and unacceptable advertising on the Opera House stands somewhere between the two options we’ve been presented with here.

        • The line is in the conservation management plan:

          The news articles are quoting this part from page 185:
          The Sydney Opera House exterior, particularly the shells (and even the Tarpeian Wall face),
          should not be regarded as a giant billboard or commercial / advertising opportunity. While
          the reality is that most events and celebrations will require commercial sponsorship, such
          sponsorship should not be on display in anything other than an appropriately disceet manner.

          Most of the cases people are happy with comply with the plan, while the advertising for this race doesn’t.

          • Which seems to be where the line is. I still ask the same question – how is Vivid different? Using the sails for 23 days seems to tick a few of those criteria to me – giant billboard, and advertising for starters.

            The paragraph right after what you quote is also relevant.

            Use of the exterior of the Sydney Opera House, including the shells, for lighting
            projections is acceptable as long as these are exceptional occasions, noncommercial,
            infrequent and for a limited period of time, and any equipment or installation required can be erected and completely removed without damage to any fabric. All projections should aim to maintain the legibility of the form of the shells.

            Technicalities play a big part in this, and because neither Arts NSW or Racing NSW will get a direct benefit, there is technically no commercial advertising despite it clearly looking that way. It would have been sold that The Everest is promoting tourism, jobs, and a major sporting event. Vivid promotes Sydney as a hub, tourism, and jobs, which seems pretty similar.

            Neither organisation behind using the sails would directly see a benefit, which is the important technicality – there is no direct commercial interest to the uses. There is clearly commercial benefits to others, and Vivid is no different. Its commercial benefits would far outweigh a single race day by the way.

            Vivid 2015 brought $63m into the economy, nearly 2 million into the city, and 26,000 foreigners in, just for the festival. That’s a lot of commercial benefit, none of which will directly go to Arts NSW. Indirectly it generates taxes, which flows back through funding, but not directly.

            Its hypocritical to accept that and not another Govt department with a similar tourism goal especially when the accepted one has a far bigger commercial benefit, so should fail the Opera House rules far easier.

            I’m getting argumentative on this now, so need to stop posting. As usual the debate has gotten way beyond where I originally started, which was simply that the two organisations we’re debating both have a vested interest that’s similar, so why should they be treated different?

          • I haven’t been in Sydney during Vivid, but from what I know of the event they’re just projecting artwork on the sails, right? You might know that the projection is part of the Vivid event, but not due to big logos splashed over the sails.

            It’s also worth noting that the Sydney Opera House Trust did not outright reject the idea of projecting something onto the sails to tie in with Racing NSW’s event: the disagreement was over what would be projected. The Trust had suggested something based on the horse/jockey colours, while Racing NSW wanted logos, names, gate numbers, etc.

            Are you really saying that Racing NSW’s proposal would realise huge benefits to the economy and the Trust’s proposal wouldn’t? You’d know why the sails were being lit up in both cases, right?

          • Are you really saying that Racing NSW’s proposal would realise huge benefits to the economy and the Trust’s proposal wouldn’t?
            Not in the slightest, that’s a pretty big leap to think I was. In this reply I’m saying that either both The Everest and Vivid were commercial in nature, or neither are. The rules that allow Vivid should apply equally.

            As I’ve said a few times, I get why putting The Everest’s up on the sails isn’t popular. But I doubt it would be any different if they didn’t put the logo up, people would still be shouting the whole idea down. Its whats being promoted that people seem to disagree with, and that doesn’t change whether the logos there or not.

            This also isn’t something that throws a billboard up for days or weeks at a time, but a 6 minute promotion of the event, disguised under the banner of tourism. Its such a fine difference between that and promoting an event bringing tens of millions into the city under the guise of art that its starting to seem more hypocritical than ever.

            Its also not remotely the first time its happened either, and there have been plenty of other things promoted through the Opera House that are FAR more commercial. The rules apply to the foreshore area as well, and the rules on that are just as strict. But there have been political rallys and other events far more controversial than a horse race.

            I thought I’d commented that your research was great by the way, seems it fell off. It does make for some interesting reading. But like a lot of things, open to interpretation, especially when todays money is being thrown about. That would be too tempting to pass up, which I think played a pretty big part.

            We’ll forget about it in a week, and people will find something else to be outraged over.

          • So the Conservation Management Plan references an “Illumination of Sydney Opera Sails Policy”, that is more concrete and a lot shorter:


            The question isn’t so much “is the event commercial?” but rather “is the thing projected on the sails commercial?”. For instance, Samsung projecting photographs on the sails definitely had a commercial aspect. But they weren’t projecting Samsung logos: the connection was in other media.

            While it is possible that the resulting backlash could make the decision to project the Everest ads “detrimental to the heritage values of the building”, that wasn’t considered a problem in the initial negotiations. Again, it is the logos that are the problems (section 3.7).

          • @jamesh as I said in a couple of other replies in the thread, I doubt removing the logo would have calmed people down and made it OK with them. Its not the logo that pissed people off, that’s just the final excuse being used once people try to justify their outrage. People were pissed before these policies came out, and I doubt many complaining even know they exist.

            I also wonder what the reaction would be if it was the Lexus Melbourne Cup, or the Longines Golden Slipper.

          • It boils down to this, you keep referring to Vivid using the sails as ‘advertising’ when its not.

            I’m not sure you’ve been to Vivid or not, but projections on the Opera House, MCA, in the Botanical Gardens and the surrounding buildings IS Vivid. It’s not advertising for Vivid, it is the actual event. That’s what it is. There’s no logos (not even for major sponsors) or any kind of advertising projected onto the Opera House, it’s just a series of artistic video projections. It’s designed to bring people (primarily families) into to the city to experience the art, installations and projections in a safe and festive environment. It generates plenty of money for the surrounding businesses like cafes, restaurants, pubs etc.

            On the other hand you have the Everest race, which wants to use the Opera House as a flat billboard to promote a horse racing event (and by extension gambling – where the majority of money is made in horse racing) being held at a different time and in a different location. It’s also not free, not family friendly, not designed to boost the economy (for regular, not ultra rich people anyway) and not of any cultural significance (it’s only been around a few years).

            The two examples are worlds apart, like apples and lockout laws, and bringing them together is completely irrelevant, there’s really no reason to bring up Vivid in relation to this discussion. The only thing they have in common is the idea of projecting something onto the Opera House, aside from that very obvious and aesthetic touch point, that’s it.

            This disdain for art and culture is a very Liberal trait, they like to cut funding from art institutions and programs, (as well as shutting down Sydney’s nightlife) as they don’t see it as necessary. I couldn’t think of anything more money grubbing then splashing logos for an elitist (not to mention cruel) ‘sporting’ event all over a cultural icon that’s seen around the world as a symbol for Australia. Soon our whole city will look like a Bathurst 1000 car and the only people who will reap the supposed benefits are the people at the very top (and some kickbacks for the politicians).

            I’m against any kind of advertising on any cultural icons or landmarks, it’s pointless and tacky. Just rent some billboards, that’s what they’re for.

          • Hmm… this came through a day and a half late. Strange. No sign you edited either and put it into moderation hell either. Ah well.

            If you don’t see that vivid is advertising, that’s fine. But its got a very specific goal, and that is to promote Sydney in a range of ways. And it achieves that, VERY successfully. :Part of doing that is to project displays for 23 days, not an insignificant amount of time.

            I’m not saying its not an art festival, or that it shouldn’t be done. I’m saying that a big part of its role is to advertise Sydney. Again, if you cant see that, fine. I can, and have zero problem with it. Its effective, inoffensive, and looks wonderful. But when its Vivid themselves spouting how many tourists (domestic and international) and how much money its brought in, that’s one of its KPI’s. And yes I’ve been to Vivid, plenty of times.

            You see far too aggressive in your response here. Not sure if you mean to be or not, but that’s how its coming across. Don’t be, I’m not arguing against Vivid, or for Everest. I’m just putting an additional angle on it, in that both have promotion of Sydney at their heart. The community has accepted one, which is fine, but not the other. Again, which is fine. But please don’t delude yourself into thinking that their goals aren’t the same.

          • So what do you think about the Australian Cricket and Rugby teams both being allowed to use the Opera House sails to promote/project their games and logos ?

    • The Opera House sails have been used to advertise the Wallabies Rugby Union and Australia/England Ashes on the sails. Using their respective logos in the process. It’s a fact that sports betting in Australia turns over millions upon millions of dollars; Rugby and Cricket are two of the bigger betting sports. The sport of racing is one of Australia’s largest sporting employers. That’s also a fact. So to me, this whole furore is full of odd positions. Or perhaps it’s a lack of proper factual knowledge by the ‘outrage community’? I’m certainly no Alan Jones fan. I don’t listen to him. And I don’t approve of many of his life choices, or past indiscretions. But before I take a stand, outrage or not, I prefer to properly and openly hear both sides of the story. Here’s a link for those that like to properly hear side Alan’s story (

  • Not a fan of anything other than art displays being projected onto the old bird. I feel like we cheapen some of our nice monuments (which our country already sort of lacks in global scale monuments).

    Advertising is already invasive (looks at this very website), I think we need to start drawing the line somewhere before it becomes the norm like microtransactions in games did.

    • One of the excuses is Racing being a cultural pasttime… Well, so is alchohol, food, screenbased activity etc. Gambling is a massive economical, psychological, and cultural drain when given too much power. Think fighting it’s advertising even to pedantic levels does some good.

      • Gambling is a horrible industry, but I honestly don’t think it matters when looking at advertising as a whole. Australian cultural icons are cheapened when we pimp them out and we should instead be protecting their identity so that generations from now the line hasn’t shifted to the point where it is no longer just projections, but permanent fixtures.

  • As a rule of thumb, if Alan Jones vehemently wants you to do something, it is probably better to do the opposite.

    • Love how he’s “apologised” today. Clearly the result of advertiser pressure, rather than any change in his rodent-like heart.

      • It was a non-apology too, since he said he didn’t think he’d been offensive but ‘some people did think that’.

        • He didn’t apologise for being offensive. He was sorry to the people who were offended.

          Non-apology bullshit from an incredibly wealthy pundit trading on the loyalty of the working class bought with outright lies and dog whistles.

  • Australia is a corrupt nation. You see it everywhere – money buys influence. Plain homebrand ricebubbles get a 2.5 star health rating. Sugar-laden Milo gets a 4.5 star health rating. Political apathy and the (deliberately?) broken Westminster system let it happen over and over.

    • The worst part about Australian ‘corruption’ is that the influential want to argue the semantics that the label should only apply to illegal activities. And this is because the utterly unethical purchase of influence, the centralization of wealth and power into the hands of the already-wealthy and already-powerful, the preferential treatment that influence buys is far too often legal.

      So they run around claiming that so long as it’s a ‘donation’ instead of an illegal bribe, favours for mates, rent-seeking systems such as setting up overwrought, overexpensed boondoggles that are awarded private contracts to insiders without tender, we’re not ‘corrupt’, because everyone’s playing by the fucked up rules.

      This is why I’m especially wary of any Inquiries, Royal Commissions, or anti-corruption bodies established to fight ‘corruption’… because I’m deeply concerned that they’re only interested in the enforcement of loose, woefully insufficient and unjust laws that benefit the influential, rather than levelling the playing field and taking steps to enforce integrity.

      • Well said. The fact that a petition signed by 235,000 people is dismissed with a wave of the hand says it all.
        Hoping to see massive disruption tonight – I’d be there if I lived in NSW.

        • I’ll always remember in the lead up to the war in Iraq there was the biggest protest in Australia’s history and John Howard just said it was an ‘outspoken minority’ and still sent troops to war.

          More troops have died from suicide due to what they experienced in Iraq than in the actual war.

          … and petrol is still getting more and more expensive.

      • I can’t wait for Google to gain sentience, go insane and create an algorithm that untangles ‘legitimate’ political interactions.

    • That any kind of carbohydrate rich product is getting any kind of health endorsement speaks volumes for the ineptitude of the gatekeepers of that star rating!

      • The star rating is local to the type of product as well. So a 5 star ice cream doesn’t mean it’s healthy, it just means out of other ice creams it’s healthier. The mistake people make is in comparing completely different products and expecting them to be equivalently healthy because they have the same stars.

    • Just on those health ratings, the 5 star system is self regulated within the retail industry. Milo’s excuse is that if you put one level teaspoon of milo into a full glass of skim milk, its healthy. That’s pretty deceptive…

      But its justifiable, and because its not an official rating, accepted because its justifiable. Its not Milo’s fault that approximately zero percent of the population drinks milo that way, that’s their recommended usage.

      So many other seemingly healthy ratings are similar, with the rating being based on the portion size they recommend, which generally is far less than a typical use.

      Looking at an old 750ml Dare Double Espresso bottle on my desk (its been a water bottle for 2i or 3 years now), its ratings are based on a 500ml serve. Great, but if you only have one serve, you’ve wasted 1/3rd of the purchase. Not happening.

      In effect, that makes 750ml the serving size, so everything goes up 50%. Not how it works though. They dictate the size, and base everything on that, knowing its accurate buy misleading. Government intervention will only happen here if its not accurate. Other industries the ACCC will step in if its misleading, but with food it just doesn’t happen.

      Maybe its time it did.

    • I agree with you in general about soft corruption in Australia, but as I understand it the star-rating system in food is comparative to other foods in the same category. So, rice bubbles may not have that much sugar, but they also have barely any good nutritional content compared to other cereals. And milo gets its stars pumped up because it has more protein and vitamins than drinking chocolate. Though you could argue that the health star system is a contrivance produced through soft corruption that allows food companies to game the system and confuse customers. Which is an argument with which I would probably agree.

  • Yeah, advertising gambling is a bridge (or opera house) too far. I don’t mind tributes towards whatever’s going on in the world. Green and gold, or red-white-and-blue solidarity, or rainbow for any hard-fought, scrabbling advances clawing our way towards an equal society… but logos and ads? Not cool.

    Can you imagine seeing the thing lit up with the Coke logo? The Apple logo? Just grotesquely crass commercialism plastering itself over a national monument is pretty foul. ESPECIALLY when it’s for something as cruel and corrupt as gambling and horse-racing.

    Frankly, it’s the gambling part that’s the worst. We really need to see gambling ads go the way of cigarette ads.

    (I get that Vivid might be a commercial enterprise as well, but I’d argue that there’s a night-and-day difference between a cultural festival and a gambling event that tries to bill itself as a festival. If rules against that kind of thing was the price of preventing gambling ads on landmarks, I’d say it’s worth it.)

    • I’d be interested to see the impact of a ban on gambling advertising. Right now it seems like they’re splashing money around in anticipation of a ban, they’ve become pretty much the only groups still willing to pay for things like television advertisements. I’m all for banning gambling ads, you only need to look at the impact pokies had on NSW to see that we’ve never benefited from gambling, but I wonder if free to air TV can survive without it.

      • I agree, the Betting companies seem to be spending big so that they can argue that TV can’t survive without their over inflated ad revenue.

      • A lot of new betting apps are getting a lot of play over various platforms, I suspect they’re in some kind of loophole and may be regulated better soon, hence the cash splashing.

        Also there’s more and more of these mini-loan type businesses/apps popping up, targeting people who can’t get credit cards (the typical way to pay for a large up front payment) and that have large hidden costs/late fees. Very shady.

    • How is it that you equate a horse race interchangeably to a gambling event? A large proportion of racegoers are not gamblers. Many trainers don’t gamble because they themselves know how futile that is from a making money perspective and for them it’s a job they want to make money from. Jockeys are banned (though in the past some, but not all, have breeched that rule). I fully understand that the majority of race goers do, I’m fact, but money on their horses. Most do so as fun; a few bucks here and there. Problem gamblers exist but they are in the minority. And in any case, both Rugby and Cricket have significant sports betting turnover and both have previously advertised games on the sails. So do we call them gambling events now? We should, if we follow the rationale.

  • Not a fan at all, i appreciate the times when it is used like a canvas for stuff like Vivid but am appalled that it is being used as a billboard, aren’t there enough of those already?

    Honestly however if some sections of the community want to throw the “Vivid is advertising as well” argument into the mix then i would be more than happy for nothing to ever be projected onto the side of it if it meant we could have one less cultural landmark used to flog some event or product

  • I think the biggest issue is the right decision wad made by the Opera House within their guidelines… then people with self interest disrespected that decision. Racing NSW, Allan Jones and the Premier should be ashamed on thenselves for not respecting the decision if the Opera House trustees, whos jobbabove all else is to pritect the iconic image of said Opera House as a cultural centre for art music and enrichment.

    … or just say up yours to Australua and sell the namong rights of the Opera House to the highest bidder. Optus Opera House, the Emmirates Harbpur Bridge, Red Bull Bondi Beach, the Apple Federation Square…

    • The fact is, Dirtshado, that, as it turns out, ‘the deal was done’ BEFORE Alan Jones’s tirade. in fact, it was actually the NSW State Government that actively suggested and promoted the use of the Opera House sails to Racing NSW. P.S. Whilst overall ‘the naming rights’ for the Opera House have not gone to industry (Yet) you might want to look at the 3-year Samsung sponsorship agreement that Louise Herron personally signed off on. The naming rights, publicity rights, advertising rights, logo rights and more that Samsung paid big dollars for is significant, and includes significantly use of public Opera House space.

  • Hard no. I see enough gambling crap on Facebook and I’ve never touched a gambling app in my life.
    Anything that promotes a better world to live in I’d be ok with.

  • I really hate the increasing amount of advertising for gambling and gambling apps, and I really really hate horse racing, so I’m definitely not a fan of advertising it on the Sydney Opera House.

    Google tells me that Vivid is a government-owned and managed event, so lighting up the Opera House for it isn’t really the same as a private company using it for advertising. Plus, they just do a light show, rather than putting up brand logos.

  • Increase corporate and income taxes to fifty percent. Introduce compulsory labour obligations for the right to own a home. Problem solved.

  • I will throw my thoughts into the ring as I think this is an interesting talking point and says a lot about the current level of debate and the direction the country is heading in:
    § The Sydney Opera House is a world heritage site and is publicly owned, as it was funded you tax payers
    § The NSW government is not receiving any revenue from the advertising
    § The use of publically owned landmarks for commercial advertising is part of a continued process to financialise and commercial all aspects of life
    § We are already bombarded with advertising 24 / 7 – people are exposed to 1000s of adverts each day to persuade us to part with hard earned money
    § The effect on Sydney’s cultural reputation worldwide
    § Alan Jones is a bully – during the interview the CEO of Opera House attempted to answer the questions being asked but Jones didn’t want to listen as his position was already established
    § Alan Jones attempted to align his views with the little guy Vs Elites but reality is his is siding with big-business
    § A lot of people are indifferent to horse racing
    § Australia already has a massive problem with gambling – this advert will promote gambling to children
    § The argument is framed around money – as if this is overriding consideration when any decision is being made

    • Thanks for some of the information and opinions Lordroke. Here some additional facts for you and others to consider (as published in the annual racing industry report)…

      – The Australian Racing industry directly employs ~12,000. In directly (Vets, Transport, Media, etc., etc.) many thousands more.
      – There are 10’s of thousands of horse owners. The majority are in syndicates of up to 20 per thoroughbred. I don‘t don’t think those people, or those employed by the industry. are indifferent on this discussion.
      – Excuse the pun, but the horse has bolted in terms of ‘promoting gambling to children’. Free to air TV, and the general media, has been doing that quite well for decades. Not to mention that both the Australia Cricket and Rugby teams have both been projected/promoted on the Opera House sails and they are two of the largest turnover sports betting games in this country.

      Your comment around this being ‘framed around money’ is, in my opinion, fair and accurate. But what’s the point? When you peel back the onion that’s true of practically everything in western democratic society that at it’s weaves the web of capitalism. Communism didn’t work too well (even the Chinese love Capitalism these days; maybe they always did?!), so this is the system we have. With or without a 6 minute advertisement for the biggest prize money horse race on turf in the world.

  • One point missing is that the Opera House Authority had allowed a private company to use project images onto the Opera House several years ago. The company, Samsung, to advertise their new range of devices.

    They opened Pandora’s Box.

    Personally I don’t think anything should be projected onto it besides neutral spot lights.

    • The Samsung projections were straight photos, no branding was involved. As tech partner, Samsung’s logo appeared on a physical sign in front of the building, but never on the shells. Louise Herron had already said she’d allow horse colours to be shown, provided there was no branding, so that seems consistent with how Samsung’s case was treated. Including branding for the event is the part she rejected and was forcibly overruled.

      • Zombie, it’s a fact that Samsung was allowed by the Opera House trust to project images on the sails. It was done, very publicly and openly with significant online and mass media support, as a promotional exercise that coincided with the launch of one of their new phones. It was not done, therefore, as cultural exercise. It was done as part of a broader marketing strategy to help sell a new phone. In my opinion, Samsung selling more phones does little for the state of NSW. Or Australia. They certainly don’t pay much corporate tax (that’s another topic and another thread!). Why didn’t people become so outraged when that happened?

        • I answered your question in my post. The line Louise Herron drew was whether or not branding was present – Everest was branded, the Samsung photos were not. The state government also didn’t forcibly override the Opera House’s application of its own policy then, they did now. The circumstances are quite different.

  • I feel it just lacks class, and a cultural maturity.

    Parliament house, brought to you by Coca-cola.

    Australian war memorial, brought to you by Durex.
    ‘They layed down there lives, so you can get laid’

  • If I was a tourist visiting Sydney and I wanted to take a photo of my family in front of the Opera House, would I want a photo that contained advertising for gambling or for something that would have no relevance to me once I got home, and would no doubt colour my experience of the vacation in a negative way, and would result in my likely deleting the photo?


    Would I want a photo that showed off the beauty of the architecture of the landmark and maybe even highlighted the beautiful Australian art that was being displayed in a night time light show – something that would create a lovely memory and some fantastic photos that I can revisit over and over.


  • I note, with interest, that none of the commentary above discusses the previous use of the Opera House sails to project images, and logos, of the Australian Rugby team and the Australian Cricket team. In that regard, I also note that there is no discussion about sports betting on Rugby or Cricket, two of the largest Australian betting turnover sports, and how previously allowing the Opera House sails to ‘project/advertise’ games of those two sports may have affected the gambling dynamics. P.S. when Samsung was allowed to project images on the Opera House sails, as part of their sponsorship of the Opera House, it was oppenly publicised as an act/event that would coincide with the launch of their new phone. A fact that may interest some.

  • Imagine for a moment, you have travelled to Sydney from Canada, you have 4 or 5 nights here before moving on to other locations arounds Australia for a trip you have been planning for months if not years. One of the highlights of Sydney is going down and having dinner and a walk around the harbour in order to see the opera house and the bridge at night, and instead of the beautifully white or even coloured sails, you see advertising for a horse race you have never heard of, and promotions for gambling….

    Its a terrible idea, and just more of an invasion of gambling into our culture. Isn’t it enough that if you watch a sporting event that every break you a bombarded with gambling adverts, what the latest odds are, and where to place a bet, and get a bonus bet.

  • As for the Vivid comparison, I mean, it’s like saying having your Christmas lights up is advertising Santa Claus.

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