Should We Allow Advertising On Our Country's Iconic Landmarks?

13th Nov 2018

Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House

With the recent media controversy surrounding The Everest Cup horse racing event being advertised on Australia's most iconic building, The Sydney Opera House, there has been huge public backlash and debate within the Australian community. While some believe that The Opera House is the city's "biggest billboard" and should be used for economic gain, others are outraged that the government has allowed our national landmark to be polluted with branding. The government stated that the aim of advertising on the sails of The Opera House is to bring more tourists and investments to Sydney, but does branding our iconic landmark for commercial gain damage our reputation as a holiday destination? It makes us ask ourselves the question, "should we allow advertising on our country's iconic landmarks?"

The Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Landmark that has been dazzling tourists for decades. It is an iconic Australian building that is recognised all over the world and one of our country's most frequently visited tourist attractions. In the past, The Opera House has been used to promote a handful of charities, cultural festivals, sporting victories and to commemorate the legalisation of same sex marriage. However, these have aimed to highlight issues/events in the public interest, such as Vivid Festival, the Olympics and NAIDOC week - not a single profiting brand or a gambling company for that matter.

Vivid Sydney

Some have argued that advertising is the foundation of our country's economy and branding on the sails of The Opera House is just like advertising on any other billboard or marketing space with the power to significantly boost tourism and growth. While this may be true, if advertising continues to happen, The Opera House could risk losing its UNESCO Word Heritage Listing, which could devalue the landmark and actually damage tourism appeal. So where do we draw the line?

Although iconic landmarks around the world such as The Eiffel Tower and Moscow's Red Square have been used for advertising, they did cause some controversy among the public. For instance, major fashion label, Louis Vuitton placed a giant 2 storey branded suitcase in the centre of Moscow's Red Square, however, it was removed shortly after as tourists complained it was so big that it blocked views of the cities major landmark sites. The advertisement caused people to question the city's integrity and ultimately failed to leave a positive impact.

So how will advertising on The Opera House come across to our international tourists? Will they be amazed and drawn to visit our wonderful country, or will they see advertising as diminishing the cultural value of our national icon? How would you react if you saw a marketing campaign on the Taj Mahal, or branding plastered across Uluru? We think it's clear that our national treasures deserve the respect and admiration that comes with them, and advertising should be limited to important causes, not campaigns for commercial gain. What are your thoughts?

We would love to know your thoughts on the issue. Let us know in the comments below!

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