La publicidad en la historia de los medios de transporte
The TMB’s (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona) role in the community, as defined by its advertising, has changed significantly over the years. But perhaps change isn’t the right word; it’s more of an awakening. In an attempt to plumb the history of public transportation and marketing, this retrospective chronicles, in photographs, over 120 years of advertising in public transportation in all its forms.
Early adverts, as one would expect, were simple product placement billboards atop horse-drawn trolleys and on the side of cable cars; these images inspire a sense of wonder for the time and place more than for the ads themselves. As Barcelona approached the middle of the 20th century, and with the introduction of the double-decker bus and trolley, advertisements changed. Taller vehicles with space well above eye level gave advertisers a new, uncluttered frontier and the photographs from this period show a distinct increase in advertising’s magnitude. For the next 50 years, pizzazz took centre stage; large-scale pieces with top brands as public transport in all its facets became sheer surface area for some serious brand marketing.
Today, advertising on public transport bears little resemblance to any of its previous phases. Now there’s a complex discrepancy. What the viewer immediately acknowledges when looking at modern campaigns is the emphasis on technology and multimedia displays. However, this alone doesn’t constitute the main difference between today’s advertisements and those of yesterday. With its environmental initiatives, community contests and socially-conscious ads, today’s TMB makes its point clear: we’re members of the community, and we provide a service. There’s a visible shift from product placement (although it is still plentiful) to community-mindedness and the TMB has taken its new role to heart. This exhibition is an interesting survey of Barcelona at the nascency of its artistic development, well before the city had established itself as a leader in design and marketing.
La publicidad en la historia de los medios de transporte. Espai Mercè Sala, located at the intersection between the two entrances to L5 at Diagonal metro station (Rambla de Catalunya). Until October 7th, 2011; Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 8.30pm. www.tmb.cat