Advertisers as agents of CSR?

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and while I leave an Ed Lee shaped impression on my sofa, I’m catching up on some reading and just read this article on an advertising battle in Paris.

Two outdoor advertising companies were bidding for the exclusive rights to the city’s 1,628 billboards. The catch? The winner would have to also set up a bicycle rental system in the city.

At the time of press, the winning bidder had installed 750 docking stations and more than 10,000 bikes. The bikes have been used by more than 4m Parisians who have clocked up more than 100,000 rides a day.

I’m sure there are plenty of North Americans cities who would like to relinquish control of their billboards in return for such a green, and visible, system. I know I’d sign-up to it in a heart-beat if I were Mayor David Miller (Toronto).

More interesting though is the notion of Government, at any level, outsourcing community projects to non-traditional policy implementers. What would you do if your ad firm were awarded a project on the proviso you had to implement the policy you were bidding on advertising?

It may have worked in Paris where the system was set up in record time, but would it work in the North American market? I’m sure agency heads would love the extra revenue, but would the implementation suffer as a result?

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