There are fewer billboards in Yerevan, as we have noticed recently. Some of them are partly empty, and some are completely dismantled. Garik Khachatryan, the head of External Design and Advertisement Department of Yerevan Municipality, states that external design must always match the already-developed standards.
He has worked in various departments of the municipality for 15 years and, for the past year, has been responsible for all the issues related to the appearance of Yerevan and advertising. He keeps negotiating with business companies, helping them present their products without interfering with the appearance of the city.
Last year 1900 advertising platforms (billboards, LED screens, banners) have been dismantled from central streets, history and culture-related territories, above-ground and underground walkways, building roofs.
More than 2000 dismantling works will be conducted in 2020.
Garik Khachatryan also told that new commissions would be formed at the municipality.
Is dismantling a revolutionary solution?
That is just the visible part of the process. Last year we drew up an inventory of ads located at all the buildings that have historical, cultural and architectural value.
We have advertising passports for 120 buildings in the Central District. The passports indicate what kind of advertising can be placed at specific parts of the buildings, what kind of materials can be used, what size they can have. It is an old document but we have started putting it into practice just recently.
For example, some of the buildings on Baghramyan and Tigran Mets Avenues already comply with the advertising standards, and there are no electronic screens and banners placed on them.
Haven’t businesses paid for producing and placing ads?
Do you remember the ad of Tashir Pizza placed near the Republic Square? The company realized that the ad totally spoiled the look of that area and dismantled it. We try to avoid conflicts by choosing to negotiate.
The buildings of 12 administrative districts will also have advertising passports in the near future. The ads will match the already-developed schemes.
Surely, we don’t ban ads – we realize that businesses cannot exist without them. We just point out the accepted standards they should fit into.
For example, we tell them that banners should be replaced with volumetric tools.
What about PSAs? Announcements?
According to the law on advertising, only 5 percent of general advertising can be non-commercial. Currently, the definition of PSAs is being changed.
According to the existing definition, non-commercial ads are considered to be PSAs. However, it’s not just the non-commercial feature that should be emphasized but also the social message, the social significance of the ad for people.
We have planned to launch a national commission consisting of 12 members. The experts of the commission will define whether an ad can be considered a PSA, or not.
A local governance body will have no legal power to define a public service announcement.
From now on, you will not see any of the so-called social ads promoting concerts or movies in the streets of Yerevan.
Last year we reconstructed 363 announcement boards in the administrative districts. People can place all of their announcements there free of charge. And we’ll set up more of them.
We are very much concerned about the announcements placed on the front doors of the buildings, bus stops and poles. We regularly remove them but we cannot change people’s behavior.
Soon we will have to apply fines, based on the law on administrative infringements. There are lots of ads related to loans, car loans, etc.
Companies say, “It’s not our fault, it’s the employees placing ads on the front doors of the buildings.”
We will announce that a 100 thousand AMD fine will be imposed for illegal advertising, and a 1.5 million AMD fine will be imposed on the companies that have no right to provide loans.
How do you control the classified ads in elevators?
The city administration has no legal power in this case, it’s the housing services that deal with that issue.
We point out the elevator ads to them but we cannot obligate them to remove or regulate the ads.
We will not allow ads in the newly-installed elevators. There will be special announcement boards with classifieds and offers that the residents could be interested in.
In order not to have “privileged players” in that industry, the Council of the Elders has launched a competition-based system, so that all the platforms, that can be potentially used for ads, have placement opportunities.
Will there be any new solutions for upgrading the city appearance?
A group of designers is being formed at the municipality. They will deal with landscaping issues. We are still in the process of working out the concept.
We have been getting numerous letters from companies and individuals – they want permissions to draw graffiti in walkways and on buildings. We give permissions only after discussing the concepts and the ways of implementation. We also advise them on the right locations and provide information about the pedestrians’ traffic.
Currently we think about upgrading the advertising tools – the city needs new technical solutions. We have already discussed that issue with ad companies and we have involved the administrative districts in these works.
From now on, the districts will set standards for the ad market.
Tender requirements will be presented to companies that will make investments and make use of the community property, wherever applicable.