I have been wanting to tell this story to the 'world' for a while now. Although I have a sneaking suspicion that very few people read these 'rants'. I worked with other members of a student organization I am part of at BCIT to put on a FREE community event in Vancouver on Main street in early March.
I asked myself how best to promote and market this free non-profit event. Posters were a logical answer to the question. Little did I know I was about to enter Dante's 8th circle of hell. We began by asking small businesses in the Main st. and Commercial dr. areas of Vancouver to post our event posters in their windows. This was great, their property their choice.
But the most visible positioning is on the "Post Bills Here" areas setup by the City of Vancouver in various high traffic locations. We have all seen them, usually they are filled with stupid ads for $5 highballs or the next Weird Al concert at god knows what venue. I was hoping that our FREE Community event could use these areas for some much needed exposure... Was I ever wrong about that...
I began posting the posters with much joy at Granville and Broadway, along Commercial Drive and Main Street with high hopes. The poster looked great and it really 'POPPED'. I was very happy that my hard work would pay dividends and people would find out about something more than giant rock concerts and 'cheap' drinks.
I went back to Commercial Drive the next day for breakfast and sadly found that the posters had all either been removed or were pasted over, In LESS THAN 24 HOURS. I went to the other places and found the same thing. Some had even been torn off. I was choked... choked.
I came upon a poster advertising "Postering services in the city" and picked up the phone and got ready to let them have it. I was under some strange idea that this wasn't the wild west of promotion. I was wrong. It is.
I spoke with a very nice young lady who proceeded to explain to me very honestly that there are over 40 different 'companies' in Vancouver doing postering. I asked if people tear others down and was told that yes lots do, there are intense turf wars and some fights. She told me that a lot of recovering drug addicts take the work from the downtown bars and like it because they are truly independent and fiercely territorial.
Some of their company's employees had even been one punched by these crazies when approached regarding tearing down other people's posters. The City of Vancouver doesn't "Bills removed every Tuesday" in fact they don't even touch the posters.
How does this system aid free community events in publicizing themselves?
In other words where is the justice? The city is 'responsible' for these areas but it is truly the wild west of event marketing. Sadly, all we see is how the workers this system creates are responsible to no one but the bars and associations they work for. It's fierce and territorial and no one wins because hey who really gives a shit about $5 highballs at the Bourbon or the next 'big' concert in town that they hear about everywhere else anyway?
The one poster that lasted 2-3 weeks was put up on a plain telephone pole outside of the Jordan's furniture by the East bound 99 B-line bus stop near Granville and Broadway. If it takes using city poles to get out the message about free community events. Expect to see a whole lot more posters on the places where they aren't supposed to be.
One member of my team took out their anger and frustration by taking an Exacto knife and tearing down all the posters at Granville and Broadway. At the last post they looked back to see two different posters working in their wake to get their posters up onto the coveted public area for posting bills...
After our event happened I excitedly exited the 8th circle of Hell.... Thank God!
NEXT POST: Coffee or Cars... Haven't decided yet...
PLEASE COMMENT ON YOUR EXPERIENCES TRYING TO PROMOTE!