Public spaces or private places? Outdoor Advertising and the Commercialisation of Public Space in Christchurch, New Zealand
Thesis DisciplineMass Communication
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis examines the impact of outdoor advertising on public space, by situating outdoor advertising within arguments about global corporate domination. I argue that the implosion of commercial messages into ever-increasing amounts of public space has repercussions for our ability to relate to each other as anything other than commercial beings. Outdoor advertising necessitates the use of stereotypes to communicate with its audience. The regulatory mechanisms for advertising sanction this use of stereotypes, which puts commercial needs and rights to free speech before the public's right to distance itself from commercial messages and values. The discourses of advertising and its progenitors reinforce hegemonic conceptions of gender, class and ethnicity thereby imbuing space with values which do not encourage diversity but promote narrow and limiting options for the self. By carefully examining the 'entrepreneurial adexec' and 'public interest' discourses that surround outdoor advertising, I argue that its global privatising power has been able to continue without challenge, as potential criticisms are silenced before they are even articulated. It will be shown how the various regulatory mechanisms operating under discourses of 'public accountability' actually serve commercial interests rather than public interests by supporting private-public partnerships and focussing narrowly on the implicit meaning in ads. Particularly problematic representations of gender, class and ethnicity in outdoor ads will be analysed to discern the various ways these impose certain values on public spaces in Christchurch through the process of commercialisation. Finally, graffiti and billboard liberation as forms of cultural resistance to this commercialisation will be examined.