Towards A Community Advertising Network for Leeds

So, here is the idea, developed by Paul Burr of The CAN-Do Project (CAN= Community Advertising Network).

We set up a Leeds community group to run an advertising business.  We put up roadside hoardings on land on some of the prime thoroughfares in our city, having got the permission of land owners and applied for planning permission where necessary.

Advertising on the sites gets sold to:

  • National and multi-national corporations at premium rates
  • Local small businesses at heavily discounted rates – with further discounts available for those that agree to take on a trainee, provide a placement or take on a mentoring role for example (wouldn’t it be nice to see local small businesses advertising on prime sites as well as the big corporates and multi-nationals?)
  • Local social enterprises, charities and other good causes who help to manage the network get to a limited number of adverts free of charge.

Surplus revenues get re-invested back into the local community, for example to fund a micro-enterprise startup or loan fund, or to fund community and youth workers perhaps.

A great way of helping to use assets in the community (roadside land, and passing traffic) to realise community development through:

  • direct income generation
  • affordable advertising for local businesses
  • creating jobs in administration of the scheme, erecting hoardings and posting up adverts
  • building community capacity by encouraging mentoring and other social goods.

Paul’s research suggests that it might be possible to generate several hundreds of thousands of pounds in advertising for local businesses and third sector organisations as well as substantial cash revenues each year.

Who could possibly object?

It seems that there are several major private sector providers of roadside hoardings in Leeds, who pay rent to the council for access to prime sites.  Paul’s proposal could see money retained in the community where the hoardings are placed rather than going to the council, and could see a new competitor to the private sector suppliers.

I am sure too that many will protest against the positioning of further advertising hoardings across the city.  These things are not always easy on the eye – but this would have to be off-set against the benefits.

Next Steps

A group of us, including LS14 Trust and SLATE  have already met to explore the potential of such a Community Advertising Network in Leeds and see enough potential to explore the idea further.  If you would like to join us to discuss the idea further. A meeting will be held between 12 and 2pm on March 5th at a venue to be confirmed.

We would especially love to hear from you if you would like to:

  • get involved in managing the project,
  • become a beneficiary of it
  • provide us with legal advice and guidance
  • offer us, or suggest, some land that we can use for these hoardings.

Whether you love the idea or hate it, please do let us know….

8 Replies to “Towards A Community Advertising Network for Leeds”

  1. I have mixed feelings about this. The extra money going to local communities would be good, but pushing extra consumption is bad.

    If this was a chance to replace the existing hoardings with ones that make the community money and only promote ethical companies then I’d be ok with this (good luck deciding what counts as ethical here though). But that’s not what this is about, Paul is promoting the idea that we should have *more* advertising in our lives, and ergo more mass consumption.

    I also question how well this would work. Why would a company advertise through this project rather than use existing channels? Can-DO would struggle to beat the big companies on price, and is it really enough to count as CSR?

    I’m more interested in Paul’s related idea of advertising-sponsored community noticeboards, both physical and virtual, especially if the companies advertising were local ones. I’ve worked in the past with a company who put advertisements into pub toilets (captive audience, message actually gets read); what if these advertisements also had a space for either positive messages or community announcements?

  2. First of all, I’d like to thank Mike Chitty for putting this blog together.

    Alice has raised some really important points.

    The intention is not to raise consumption but rather divert consumption to a more local level. I recently saw figures that went something like this; £1 spent in a national business has a local value of 37p, whereas the same £1 spent locally has a local value to community of £1.86. Whether these figures are accurate or not is debatable of course, however the indicator is to spend locally.

    It is very difficult for a smaller business to be involved in ‘Social Responsibility’ however, if by using a community based system such as this, the small business creates training, mentoring etc, the value of the work to community is considerable. There is an exchange going on, benefiting both community and the small business, but mainly values an individual enough to help them overcome hurdles getting back into work.

    This model does not require public money in order to run, in fact it is a valid, sustainable model. The fact that I’ve basically handed it over to community as a project is I think of value to community. The large hoardings that are up at the moment have benefit for the hoarding business, the council, the advertiser etc, with no money going back to the consumer/community. The model here works for the community. Sustains the free promotion. Provides space in the public eye so that the larger corporates advertising budget converts to CSR, and the money put into local initiatives at ground level.

    I would like to state here Alice, I didn’t invent the capitalist, consumer society we live in. The promotional work I’ve done in putting together the model has been entirely self funded. The Domestic Violence Helpline promotion created a substantial response (170 calls in a 3 month period), these people who required the DV info are as important as anyone else, at times more so, because of the existence they had to endure. Although DV isn’t a remit for me as an individual, the response to the promotion shocked me enough to sustain my involvement in developing this model. (On a personal level, Alice, I’ve come up with this impact and I find myself unable to ignore it. I think if I hadn’t tried so hard to overcome the obstacles to setting something like this up, given up and gone back to my day job as it were, I feel as if I’d be somehow letting people down. I’ve raised some awareness that I can’t ignore and would probably feel guilt for the rest of my life if I don’t see it through).

    As far as competitiveness is concerned, I’ve run businesses for over 25 years, I know something about competing, I’ve already been successful in promoting local business and creating Mentors. I run THE only enterprise club in the Kirklees area (on a voluntary basis).

    Alice, if you can connect up the model in toilets and for that matter convince councils to hand over the revenue from the larger hoardings to community, I’ll stand by you and support that. The interest you have in the ‘community noticeboard’ part, please feel free to input. The whole idea is based on the community input.

    I’d like to thank you, Alice, for raising the points.

    @Jenny, Great idea. It’s about working together with what talent we have in community, I’ll bet local artists could come up with some amazing visuals. We could go further of course and link with schools so students could be involved with their perception of the world they live in.

    It belongs in the hands of the local community who lead in the project.

    I’ll keep an eye on the Blog and try to answer any points raised to the best of my knowledge and experience. An open arena like this is vital I think.

    Kind regards


  3. Looks like a great idea to me and a way to provide a greater exposure to community and social enterprise orgs. Definatly interested in being involved

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *