The increased “creep” of advertising and branding material into the public realm is disturbing and invasive.
In a very general sense, corporatization refers to the influence of corporations on shaping the material design of cities and, by extension, the public realm.
Corporatization, in the more specific sense that we use the term, refers to the process (and material components) of the privatization of public space by corporate entities.
As a process, corporatization takes place when advertisers and marketing firms infiltrate the public realm with the material aspects of consumer and market-driven culture – for example, blocking views with billboards and fascia signs, purchasing naming rights for public buildings and sponsorship opportunities for public celebrations, and the intrusive placement of advertising and other branding tools. Corporatization can also refer to other forms of privatization – such as when public agencies suddenly lease their facilities (e.g. park concessions, or space for vending machines in schools) to for-profit firms… and when the benefit of these public facilities gets compromised for the sake of some company’s bottom line.
Corporatization is one aspect of the push-and-pull tension that exists between public and private space. With the specific example of signage, forms of regulation - such as municipal sign bylaws - exist to protect the public domain and to keep check on the wanton spread of advertising and other aspects of for-profit activity. However new forms of advertising, regulatory loopholes, lobbying by the advertising industry (and in some cases the flouting of bylaws and licensing requirements), means that the security of public space should not be taken for granted.
The Vancouver Public Space Network works to advocate for the preservation of public space. We want to keep the “public” in the public realm. Our main area of activity pertaining to corporatization is our billboard campaign. We have also been involved in other work pertaining to the City of Vancouver’s Naming Rights Policies, and the removal of corporate branding activity from Vancouver Public Library. This increased “creep” of advertising and branding material, and for-profit corporate activity into public the public realm are an important concern for the VPSN. As part of its work on public space issues, the Network feels that it is important to critically review the marketing activities for for-profit corporations - including branding incursions, advertising and sponsorship related-activities.
Read more about our activities and campaigns:
A number of other items pertaining to this can be found in the “News” section of the website – including the proposed billboards for Burrard, Lions Gate and Iron Workers Memorial bridges, and BC Parks’ plan to put hotels in protected areas.