Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sign of the times

If you want to hear a broken record just ask me about SIGNS in Lusaka.  I could go on and on about sings.  How horrible, how distracting, how poorly designed, how brilliantly designed, how inappropriate or ugly or just wrong.  I think that someone is making a MESS of money on selling ad space.  They are ridiculously expensive to 'rent' and increasingly...there are so many that you need to have a series to make any impact.  Or they need to be bigger, or brighter!  Or...they need to be digital.  One small roundabout in a heavy traffic area now has TWO competing digital signs along with billboards in the middle and on all sides.  As a driver, I find this annoying and as a designer, I find this just distasteful.  To show what I mean, here are the signs on a SMALL stretch of road that I travel regularly (between the Arcades Roundabout and the Munali Roundabout. Ignore the fancy street lights. those don't actually work.

First up are the SFH Male Circumcision ads.  Were is not for this ad, I would not know how to spell circumcision.  (I had to correct it twice just now, maybe I need to see more MC ads?)

Next up is the Zamtel series with the Zamtel flyover billboard. The only time I have seen anyone on that pedestrian overpass is when they use it to change the signs.  The eucalyptus trees on the right mark the northern boundary of the University of Zambia campus.  It is the perfect spot for a bridge with bus stops on either side.  But when there are huge gaps in the fence that one can duck thru and try to dodge the speeding cars to save a few minutes...what the heck, why not go for it!  (I'm being sarcastic).  For now, this is the Zamtel zone.

At the university entrance a few (maybe 3) condom ads snuck in.  These ads, with apologies to SFH/PSI....they are just not very lovely. They are weird and creepy.  And the kids always ask about them.

These are interspersed with the another telcom provider MTN (yellow).

 Last but not least is the third tel-com providor stretch of Great East, Airtel. These ads all feature the bizarro 'Airtel Money' dude.  He (and it's definitely a "HE"; the digital dude needs a new tailor beccause those skinny pants look MIGHTY uncomfortable) goes on until the roundabout I think. Funny enough, the Coke truck blends right in.

At every corner it seems every business feels compelled to put up their own sign.  This is one of the few NAMED and SIGNED streets.  I always think...If the STREET had an acutal NAME maybe people would feel confident about using directions instead of landmarks.  But now the signs block the street name and unless you lived here pre-signs, you really wouldn't know that this is Central Street.  If you lived here a LOT longer you would know this as the location of Hibiscus.  I love giving directions to people who have been in Lusaka a long time because they can find our house, no problem.  "Remember Hibiscus Restaurant?"  "YES! On Central?" "Turn there!" Simple. Easy.

I"ll have to write a post soon about giving/getting directions here.  Landmarks change so quickly but the directions do not.

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