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Monday, June 24, 2024

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Water Tower Perfect Advertising Location – 6-28-2006

By Rick Racela

What is the matter with people around here? They’re against everything.
There is opposition, for example, to valiant efforts to inform and educate the public in both Stone Harbor and Court House.
In Stone Harbor, some are irate because council has okayed a project to wrap a huge mural by famed artist Peter Max around the 150-foot-high water tower.
That was approved only after Mayor Suzanne Walters broke a 3-3 tie in favor of Max. Some have suggested the mayor owns a number of Peter Max pictures and stands to profit as their value appreciates.
If true, that is as American as apple pie. Is it any different than playing the stock market?
What harm will result from Max’s pictures on the water tower until mid-September?
Try to think positive. The borough’s WATA (Water Tower Advertising) project opens the door for it to rent space on the water tower for all sorts of things. And the proceeds can reduce taxes. Nobody’s against that, are they?
The rental rate is still secret, as is the schedule presumably being maintained by Mayor Walters personally.
But someone using an “Elect Miraglia” return envelope leaked me a draft of a proposed water tower advertising rate card and someone else using a pink envelope that smelled wonderful sent me a proposed WATA schedule.
The rate card indicates the borough will charge $10 a letter per day for advertising on the tower.
That killed my original idea to have “Home of Joe Zelnik” up there for a year. It would have cost me $54,750.
Incidentally, there is a seven-day minimum, no discount for locals, and a no-return policy if anything goes wrong, indicating motel owners were involved in preparing the specs.
By the time I decided to put up my banner for just one week, for $1,050, Comcast had already contracted for the week I wanted.
Then I was going to put up “Congratulations Danielle,” to my graduating daughter, but I learned it would cost $1,610 and the first available time was in February.
When I suggested just “Grats ‘D'” the borough’s WATA DEAL (Determining Every Advertising Liability) committee turned it down. So I downsized and sent her a 99-cent card.
Actually, the schedule indicates a lot of prime weeks are already sold.
Most weeks in August will feature sunscreen advertising and the young, female models may draw more eyes skyward than even Peter Max.
“NECK HURT?” will be the universal message of clever competing chiropractors during much of September as they take advantage of the normal result, especially for seniors, of tilting back the head to read the messages. I think this is referred to as a self-fulfilling prophesy.
For the entire month of October, the tower will boast a “Re-elect Frank LoBiondo” message culminating with a display of fireworks set off from atop the tower on election eve.
In November, the Acme Liquor Store and Fred’s Liquor will alternate weeks. That assures a price war which should benefit the town, if, that is, anybody in Stone Harbor drinks. If WATA foes are frazzled now, wait’ll they see those signs.
Nevertheless, WATA is as American as peach pie, a step forward that will not be blocked by a few dunderheads who fail to appreciate the value of advertising.
What’s so great about saying “Stone Harbor” on a tower? Does that show any imagination?
Once again, Avalon is ahead, proclaiming on its water tower, “Avalon, Cooler by a Mile.” That does raise the issue of truth in advertising, but we won’t go there.
The Court House controversy is even more discouraging.
The First United Methodist Church has put up a flashing electric sign that sends messages in a bright yellow-orange. Some people don’t like it, calling it “out of character” with the town’s historic atmosphere.
In addition to messages, such as “Rejoice in the Lord,” the sign changes every so often and offers the schedule for services, the time for Sunday School classes, things like that. Avalon’s Maris Stella Roman Catholic Church has a very similar sign and attendance reportedly increased 17 percent, although half of them came in thinking it was an ice cream parlor.
The Court House sign probably will cause some motor vehicle accidents since it’s impossible to drive past it without taking your eyes off the road to read the sign. But the speed limit is 35, so if you’re wearing your seat belt, injuries should be kept to a minimum.
To counteract that, consideration is being given to the message: “Slow Down Or You’ll Burn in Hell!”
Just as Peter Max and WATA were properly and legally approved by borough officials, the United Methodist Church received all necessary permits. Everything is on the up and up. This is democracy and, in the case of WATA, the free enterprise system in action.
I would hate to think opposition is rooted in jealousy and competition: non-United Methodists fearful they’ll lose parishioners, artists and galleries worried they’ll lose sales.
New ideas – forty-four forty or fight, 23 skidoo – made this nation great, and beautifying a water tower with the work of a renown artist is clearly an improvement.
Many may have forgotten the hullabaloo that resulted when Michelangelo – I call him by his first name because everybody else does – painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. According to some accounts, other artists picketed, claimed this was unfair to them, and shop owners warned it was opening the way to overhead advertising.
The latter were correct. It was not long before banner plane advertising polluted the skies.

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