Whose Space Is It Anyway?
“The Wonderful Everyday” is an advertising slogan used by Ikea. These words have been installed in South Street Park overlooking the railway station. On the path next to the advertising slogan is the A4 laminated notice presumably attached to the lamp post by the advertising agency working for Ikea.
Many people in Sheffield have enjoyed the spectacle of the wording above the station. I assume the space in this public park has been rented out to Ikea as part of their promotion for their new store opening in Sheffield this week. The notice next to the word installation is a little more ominous if not Orwellian. In order to read the notice members of the public would need to be in the park! It suggests that simply entering the park they have given consent for an advertising agency to use their image in future Ikea promotional material. I saw no obvious notices on any of the entrances to the park.
While the spectacle of the big words is quite impressive it is sad that they essentially “brand” a wonderful public space with an advertising slogan. Have Sheffield City Council consulted the people of Sheffield about renting out green, open and public spaces for corporate advertising? I’m not sure every day will be so wonderful if the council are happy to have corporations brand our public spaces with their catchy slogans.
From information on the typed A4 notice it is apparent that the advertising company have assumed rights over the park and people using it! I’m not sure many people visiting will be aware that they are consenting to possibly be in an Ikea advert! Is the notice legal, advisory or arrogant?
“The Wonderful Everyday” is a little less wonderful if this large scale piece of advertising in some way sets a precedent for advertising in Sheffield’s public spaces. If people are unwittingly participating in corporate advertising by simply walking into a public park. I know many people who would take exception to being used in an advertising campaign when they have had no choice, consent or contract! The park is also a right of way.
Did Sheffield City Council consent to the appropriation of South Street Park in the manner in which it appears to have been taken over? Is it assumed that everyone in Sheffield is happy for our public spaces to be used as huge billboards?
That Ikea are opening a store in Sheffield will be great news for shoppers and job creation. I know they have also invested in some community projects which is wonderful for all who have benefitted. Their presence in Sheffield is viewed positively.
The questions asked by the huge word installation are not about Ikea or any other global company. Rather they bring into question how Sheffield City Council see the future of green spaces in Sheffield? Will marketing and renting out of our open spaces become another revenue stream? Might we soon see public spaces used for political purposes or spaces sold off to the highest bidder? Who makes these decisions? What ethical and moral policies are in place to ensure unscrupulous or ethically questionable companies or individuals are not allowed to advertise? Have the people of Sheffield agreed to parks and open spaces being used for advertising? Does anyone in the council even care about the public nature of our spaces? If they are not protecting them, who is? How is a large scale piece of advertising somehow more legitimate than a large scale piece of graffiti? There are many more questions asked by the presence of the huge word art in South Street Park. The most obvious one being; do we want our everyday spaces to remain wonderful and free from advertising?
Interestingly the warning poster from Mother London pictured above is not entirely dissimilar to a spoof poster seen and photographed in Sheffield a few years ago. It can be viewed HERE