A new law banning billboards from primary roads takes effect across the Czech Republic on September 1. The legislation states that billboards cannot appear within 250 meters of motorways and 50 meters from 1st class roads.
The measure is meant to ensure the safety of drivers who can be distracted by billboard advertising, says the Transport Ministry’s road safety department, BESIP.
But a number of advertisers are speaking out against it, saying the law could have a devastating effect on businesses.
One company has reacted to the ban with a particularly grand gesture.
Czech Outdoor, an arm of the BigBoard company, which manages the country’s largest network of advertising space, has complied with the law by removing its signage, but instead of blank space, motorists will see a flood of Czech flags.
Fiery protest or strategic PR move?
Both, says Czech marketing industry insider Markething.cz, posting on Facebook:
“What are you going to do when the state bans you from advertising on almost a thousand billboards along the highway? If you are BigBoard, you will have the Czech flag on them. Because State symbols can’t be removed.”
Owners must remove billboards by the specified time or face fines of up to 300,000 CZK. The new measure will affect about 3,000 billboards.
Whether the advertiser’s tactic will work or not is currently being debated across the Czech media, but many commentators agree that this is surely another case of that trademark Czech ingenuity when it comes to getting around regulations.