Billboards to tubes in advertising By Matt Miller


Advertising is everywhere, it’s in the background yet right in your face. This is the same for both the United States and the United Kingdom. Advertising is now a central part of our lives and has been for a long time. To live in a capitalist/market based society, we need to know all the available for us the buy. In order for an educated capitalist society to exist, then we require good advertising, however, how and what a society does with advertising is reflective upon their cultural values in many ways. This distinction exists between the United Kingdom and the United States. The need for space, what is being advertised and the art behind the advertisement is different between both cultures. The British advertising is everywhere, but it’s very common in the tube and on buildings, where the advertisements are cramped together. This may be because the British, and Europeans in general, don’t require as much space as Americans. There is a difference between what is being advertised as well. While in the underground trains stations of the United Kingdom will show advertisements for plays and public service announcements, America is more than happy to have food and strip club billboards on their high-way. Both have an interesting audience. However, Americas billboard do make good use of the space, and are often extremely interesting and clever while communicating a solid message. While the United States and the United Kingdom both have large advertising in public, the difference in culture makes them very different.

America is big. We have big personalities, want to drive big cars, have big houses we are never in and often have big bodies, for better or worse. The way the United States organizes space is much different than in Europe, were things are more tightly organized. This is reflected in Americans big way of advertising, the Billboard. To sum up a billboard, it’s a giant sign. Billboards can be seen all over American High-ways. You cannot drive more than 30 minutes in most decently populated areas on the United States without seeing a billboard. Europe uses almost a completely different version of large-scale advertising. Large advertisements are post in the underground train stations. To an American eye they can be cramped and annoying, but really they reflect a well-organized use of space. Europe is full of these examples, being able to carefully place thousands of people into small spaces. This is very reflective of each culture. In short, mass scale advertising in America is meant to show off, while Britain’s mass-scale advertising is centered on managing the space well. Not only is America showy in its size, but also what it chooses to advertise.

For a fairly conservative culture when it comes to sex, American is more than happy to have billboards advertising strip clubs. As a child I was always fairly uncomfortable seeing giant paintings of barely clothed woman on the side of the road. There are a lot of reasons behind this, with America’s commitment to the free market and free speech, but it’s another stark contrast to Britain’s subway full of advertisements for musicals with occasional public service announcements. The big question here is why are these advertisements being put here and for what audience. According to TransportMedia, a medium that puts costumers advertisements in the, claims that just about everyone passing through London will see them. This brings up a very good point about advertising in both locations, they are seen by a lot of people who have to come by the advertisement every day.

Whether an advertisement is up on a billboard or down in a tube stop, it is going to be seen by a lot of people. Travels, commuters, tourists and locals will all be witness to whatever you decide to say. There are several huge advantages to this, and each location has some downfalls and upsides. If you’ve ever driven on a major road in the United States, billboards are impossible to miss. While the driver generally doesn’t have time to look at them, it’s hard for any of the countless passengers that travel these roads not to pay attention. However, cars are generally fast, so unless an advertiser wants to get the prolonged attention of stranded drivers, they are really only in the spotlight for a few seconds, unlike the United Kingdom metro advertisements, which some passengers are forced to stare at for a couple of minutes while their train runs late. However, they have choice to stare a lot of different advertisements. Both billboards and subway advertisements use style to overcome the odds.

There may be a million and a half advertisements plastering the walls of the tube, but if you walk around for a while, you’ll begin to realize that many of them are pretty similar. Some escalators have the same advertisement next to them time and time again. This style of repeating advertisings where extremely visually pleasing, having a repeating pattern of color and style down an escalator was actually really cool. Billboards do the same to soak up the most attentiveness in the limited amount of time they have. So obviously they continue to do what they excel in, being big. Most billboards use huge print and bold colors to attract attention. They get a small message across in the short period of time.


Having large advertisements in a commonly used public are is pretty attractive to many people trying to get a message across. But there are a lot of details in correctly analyzing that space. Even in a space that everyone travels, people are trying to get to their destination and no one wants to stop to hear about your toothpaste. There are some pretty big differences in how the United Kingdom and the United States do this. The British tend to use smaller, more cramped space reflective of a more organized culture while Americans take up as much as they can with giant signs. While the British prefer musicals in their advertisement, Americans have strip clubs. These difference begin to reflect difference in culture.


















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