Pittsburgh expects to build revenue through advertising
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Companies would be allowed to buy naming rights to city buildings and advertise on city vehicles and employee uniforms, at swimming pools and recreation centers, in city mailings and on benches and parking meters under legislation to be introduced today in Pittsburgh City Council.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said in a statement that the policy is intended to generate additional revenue in a "responsible and community-minded" way. This year's city budget projects $500,000 in revenue from advertising.
"We have worked closely with council members and the community to craft the best possible policy," he said. Councilman Bill Peduto, who will introduce the bill, said officials have been studying the issue for years.
The bill would prohibit advertisements for alcohol, guns, tobacco and sexually oriented businesses, such as strip clubs and adult book stores. Political and religious messages also would be barred.
In at least one respect, the city's policy would be more restrictive than that of the Allegheny County Port Authority, which allows alcohol advertising on buses.
The legislation would allow companies or organizations to buy naming rights to some buildings, such as senior centers. The bill doesn't list other buildings that are eligible for sponsorships, but it specifies some that are not eligible, including the City-County Building and police, fire and paramedic stations.
City council would have to approve the renaming of buildings under the policy.
The legislation also would allow companies or organizations to sponsor programs or events, much as Dick's Sporting Goods sponsors the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.
The bill would allow advertising on the uniforms of public-works and parks employees but prohibit it on uniforms worn by public-safety personnel.
Advertising would be permitted on some city-owned vehicles; "the whole vehicle may be wrapped or painted," the legislation says. No advertising would be permitted on police cars, fire trucks or paramedic vehicles.
In addition, advertising would be permitted on the city website and city cable channel; as inserts with city mailings; on park structures, such as pavilions, pool houses and recreation centers; and on street furniture, such as benches, bike racks, parking meters, recycling bins and garbage cans.
Advertising would be permitted inside city buildings with some exceptions. For example, no advertising would be permitted in the mayor's office, city council offices, council chambers and other hearing and meeting rooms, such as the planning commission meeting room at the Robin Civic Building.
Mr. Peduto said the city should concentrate on "subtle" advertising, such as brass plaques on benches, restaurant advertisements in the neighborhood pages of the city website or a contract to sell Coke or Pepsi exclusively at city venues. The Steelers on Monday announced such an agreement with Pepsi.
At the same time, Mr. Peduto said, a higher-profile ad for Hefty garbage bags on one recycling truck could generate enough money to buy another truck.
In 2006, when he was a councilman, Mr. Ravenstahl formed a committee to study advertising possibilities. Mr. Peduto chaired that committee, and he said today's legislation evolved from that effort.
Once council approves the legislation, the city can invite companies to submit advertising proposals, mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said.
Pittsburgh and other cities long have accepted sponsorships for sports venues, such as PNC Park. Some municipalities and school districts have accepted sponsorships for scoreboards, fire hydrants and police cars. Baltimore officials are talking about putting ads on fire trucks.
"I just think they're looking for ways to get cash, keep things afloat," said Brad Adgate, research director for Horizon Media in New York and chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' media measurement committee.
He said advertisers are interested in untapped venues for courting customers. If a company puts an ad on television, he said, "it can get lost in all the other noise."
First Published July 24, 2012 12:00 am