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Beneficial Billboards
Sarah Rich, 30 Nov 06
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In the Alexandria Township in Johannesburg, South Africa, there's a giant billboard on the MC Weller Primary School grounds. It's an advertisement for Nedbank, the South African bank whose tagline is "Make Things Happen"; and unlike most billboards, which make very little happen other than marring otherwise pleasant landscapes and cluttering skylines, this one actually is making something happen: it's generating power from the sun sufficient to run the electricity for the school's kitchen. The copy appearing on its surface aptly reads: What if a bank really did give power to the people?

The concept came from a South African duo at the firm Net Work BBDO. The billboard is fitted with ten solar panels, each of which generates 135 watts of power. It will create 5,800 watts of power per light day, or enough to boil eighteen 1-liter kettles simultaneously. For many of MC Weller's students, the school kitchen is the source of their only daily meal, making it a vitally important operation for keeping the community's kids healthy and fed.

Of course, the looming board is still an advertisement for a national bank, and still a dominant presence on the school's otherwise spartan property. But if outdoor advertising is inevitable in most places, Nedbank's found a supremely innovative way to bring something useful and beneficial to the community that hosts the sign.

For advertisers and marketers, it's a clever example of a way for them to keep their standard model, but build upon it in ways that give something back. Net Work BBDO just won the Jury Chairman's Prize in the annual Young Guns Awards -- an international awards program which recognizes creatives and students under 30, offering exceptional global talent a launch pad from which to grow their career.

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5,800 watts of power per light day. . .

Do you mean 5800 watt-hours? Watts are energy per time, so watts per day would be energy per time per time, which doesn't make any sense.

Should you mean 5800 Wh, it would imply 4.3 hours of daylight. Is that what you mean?

Posted by: Ben on 30 Nov 06

I love the power to the people concept and the use of solar. Very clever and meaningful.

I'm taken aback by your slant, though. Billboards and signage can also be read as beauty upon the land. Read Robert Venturi's excellent book "Learning from Las Vegas".

Posted by: Sam on 1 Dec 06

Hi people
I do not know what to give for Christmas of the to friends, advise something ....

Posted by: christmasp on 3 Dec 06



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