For this week’s Off Topic, let’s talk about a little bit of public management.
Being based in Sydney, it’s difficult to avoid the city’s latest controversy: whether public landmarks, particularly World Heritage-listed ones, should be used to advertise commercial sporting events. There’s more to the scandal than that obviously (like whether it’s OK to denigrate and threaten a person’s sacking in the middle of an interview; it’s not) but the broader question of using public monuments for branding, in general, affects people across the country.
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?