In January this year, as part of the Zero Tolerance campaign, an initiative to bring down illegal outdoor ads across the Capital, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) issued notices to more than nine companies to remove the unauthorised and illegal display of their products by way of unipoles, wall wraps and roof-top hoardings. Apparently, the main objective of this drive, spearheaded by K S Mehra, municipal commissioner, is to beautify Delhi for the upcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG).
The new advertisement policy framed in 2008 states that any hoarding or advertisement has to be registered first. The civic corporation has warned that if the companies fail to comply with the notices issued, complaints would be lodged against their chairman, chief managing director or senior functionaries.
So far, MCD's advertisement department has removed more than 20,000 hoardings, banners and posters across the 12 zones in Delhi.
Also, according to a recent circular issued by MCD, fines will be imposed on all unauthorised outdoor displays, where the advertising agency and the owner of the property are known. Here, fines will be imposed on both the ad agency and the media owner.
For the past month, a similar movement against illegal outdoor advertisements is running simultaneously in Haryana. The civic authorities here, too, seem to be dealing with illegal outdoor ads with an iron hand.
afaqs! got in touch with some industry experts to get their view on whether this drive by the civic authorities is here to stay; or whether it is just a temporary phase.
Mandeep Malhotra, senior vice-president, Mudra Max feels that the effort to bring down illegal ads would not be sustained beyond CWG. "Though the industry welcomes the effort of the civic authorities, I am afraid this will not last long. The move has managed to change the perspective of both clients and the agencies; now, it is cross-checked whether a site is legal or not. Eventually, the onus is on the agency, as the clients depute the task to us."
Mukesh Gupta, managing director, Graphisads disagrees with Malhotra, stating the move will be able to bring long-term changes in Delhi's outdoor business. "Both agencies and companies are aware that if they do not go for a legal site, the MCD will slap an FIR in no time," he adds.
Giving the client's perspective, Pradeep Shrivastava, chief marketing officer, Idea Cellular says, "In order to do outdoor in compliance with the law of the land, we work with highly professional agencies, who follow the right systems and processes to get sites priced at competitive rates and ensure speedy execution of our campaigns."
According to Pramod Bhandula, managing director, JCDecaux India, MCD is doing a good job and by continuing this in the long run, it could make a huge difference to the industry. He says, "It's not fair to say that all this is happening for the sake of the Games. Delhi's Outdoor Advertising Policy has been around for a long time. Only its implementation was missing, which is happening now in a big way."