Despite threats and action against their sometimes illegal and often ugly practices, the emergence of guerrilla marketing techniques along the Orihuela Costa areas seems to be exploding once more.
This week, a number of residents living near to the la zenia motorway access site have raised the issue of what many are calling a “monstrosity” of a new, four-sided advertising hoarding that has been erected near to the motorway site. The area is already flooded with advertising boards and this latest stands tall above the existing ones, creating an even bigger eyesore than what was already there.
The location near to a motorway has also been questioned, as to whether the visibility could be a distraction for drivers. Motorways and highways are designed at most to be without distractions, on account of the risk to drivers that these can pose. The sudden appearance of an advert, illuminated at night, may well go against the safety conscious design of this type of road.
In October of 2013 we reported how both Orihuela and Torrevieja town halls had announced a clampdown on illegal advertising billboards, with the infrastructure department of Orihuela stating that the majority of these hoardings do not meet the minimum legal requirements, such as identification of the owner of the board, a reference or check number, many lack liability insurance and some have been erected, illegally, on public land.
Despite the threat and action in one or two places, most of those hoardings which lack the required notices still seem very much present, and even more are being erected all the time, such as one of the most recent locations behind a town hall owned building at Alameda del Mar.
Councillor for the Orihuela Costa, Martina Scheurer, explains that despite appearances, many of the advertising hoardings have been removed and demolished, but many of them have been legalised. In fact, Scheurer explained, one of the biggest companies which operate in the area, Publianton, received a fine nearing a quarter of a million euro. Whilst they were forced to take action at a number of sites, many of them were successfully legalised and allowed to remain, now compliant with the requirements.
Publianton are part of the Grupo Anton company who are based in Elche and were ranked the third biggest such company in spain last year, only ranking behind two international firms, and so the number one domestic public hoarding company in the country. The company, which was established in 1969, has over 2,000 sites in the southeast of spain.
Industry experts state that such bold advertising strategies can increase brand awareness by up to 25% and sales by up to 28%, so long as the advertising campaign is cleverly identified to meet the needs of the target audience of the advertiser. However, when adverts appear on hoardings at sites which create an eyesore or are contrary to the sensitivity of the neighbours, it can have a negative effect on the company advertising, rather than the board provider, and has been known to damage sales and reputation.
The other reoccurring menace that many residents see reappearing is that of printed flyers being placed on windscreens and car door handles. It was in 2011 that we reported how the then Councillor for the Orihuela Costa, Bob Houliston, had taken action against businesses who were creating unnecessary litter by posting advertising flyers on car windows, and others were creating an often offensive eyesore by placing advertising posters on a range of street fixtures. As part of his ´Clean Up The Coast´ campaign, threats and fines were issued.
Once again, although brand awareness may well be key to the strategy of placing flyers, the negative opinion of the many who don´t appreciate them being placed on their vehicles, often discarding them to the street, and the subsequent mess that the residents then have to put up with have all been known to have a negative impact on the advertiser.
Houliston still recalls his attention to the problem, saying that “When I was appointed Councillor for the Coast in June, 2011, one of the first priorities I assigned myself was to do something about the litter on the streets from commercial flyers and the desecration of the pedestrian bridges over the N332 by lewd posters advertising discotheques and night clubs. These practices contravene bye laws but their provisions had never been enforced. We began to write formally to those who were responsible, mainly a limited number of repeated offenders, pointing out that what they were doing was against the law and could result in fines unless they stopped. At first the letters were ignored or returned undelivered and so we persisted with further letters which were sometimes delivered by the local police to underline our seriousness. Gradually, the practice of littering the coast with flyers came to an end without resorting to fines”.
Whilst also acknowledging that the matter relating to the N-332 bridges was far more complicated, the town hall had to deal with the ministry for the national road, eventually transferring competences to local control, allowing the local police to intervene, which “To this day this practice seems to have been eradicated”, Houliston says.
With the threat of fines and action still present, quite how long the skyline and the streets of the orihuela costa can continue to be polluted remains to be seen, but one thing that is clear is that the overall opinion of the area relies on the impression given to those who visit or attend to maybe holiday of invest in property, and if the area is allowed to degenerate, then the impact will be felt by everyone living or working in what ought to be a beautiful area of the costa blanca.
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