Media: A Moment with Marquis

Good old Country Life. The venerable coffee-table weekly for urbanites who fantasise about life in the long grass is having a rant.

(It does this from time to time, just to show that it's not all gorgeous, unaffordable manor houses in Norfolk and gorgeous, unaffordable girls dripping with pearls. For example, the horror of wind farms has been the subject of a recent, and rather, successful tirade.)

The current strop is about advertising. Advertising!? Advertising in Country Life is for property with a capital P. It's no fit subject for editorial, surely?

Well, it is this week, and I'm with them all the way. Country Life is raging against the growth of poster hoardings that have sprung up in fields next to motorways the length and breadth of the country. The indignation is magnificent; harrumphing turned into an art form.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England recently counted 900 hoardings next to main roads, many of them, according to Country Life, illegal.

I'm not sure about the illegal bit. Unfortunately, if a farmer is persuaded to allow a contraption on wheels with an ad on it to sit in one of his fields near a motorway, I doubt he is breaking the law. But that doesn't stop Country Life's bee buzzing. "The advertisers tend to be used-car dealers, chalet-park owners, companies running caravan parks and loan companies." Euchhh!

It gets worse: "The fast-food merchant McDonald's has been spotted next to the M11, Tesco on the M55, and Kentucky Fried Chicken on both the M6 and M40." The Country Life ranter John Martin Robinson even names and shames the guilty media contractors: Advertising on Motorways, Drive By Media, Field Advertising, M6 Ads, Road Media, Zoom Ads and Illuminads.

Oh Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Dear Country Life. It makes Lord Tebbit sound like a soggy old Lib Dem, doesn't it? Except that I agree with every word. Our countryside happens still to be relatively beautiful: and that's pretty remarkable for a tiny patch on to which 60 million humans crowd. Why must we desecrate it with our - otherwise - noble trade of advertising? These ads look bloody awful.


It just goes to prove that a blank space somewhere isn't automat-ically an advertising opportunity. Aforementioned media contractors please note: advertisements work precisely because they aren't absolutely everywhere - rather like Country Life's girls in pearls, in fact.


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