An advertising authority supports a plan to advertise on the outside of buses, although bus advertisements have been banned in Ho Chi Minh City for more than ten years.
The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport submitted a plan to begin advertising on buses to the municipal People’s Committee for approval earlier this month.
The plan will be piloted on 10 bus routes involving 156 buses with 40 to 80 seats each in an effort to earn more income, thus reducing dependence on state subsidies.
With buses gaining in popularity among commuters, students and even a number of foreigners, local businesses will benefit if their products and services are advertised on buses.
Advertising on buses will also be a good way to provide locals with information on products and services.
Although this type of advertising has been allowed in several cities and provinces in Vietnam, including Hanoi, it has been prohibited in the southern hub since 2002.
In an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Nguyen Quy Cap, vice chair of the HCMC Advertising Association, affirmed that the ban on bus advertisements should be lifted.
Neither the Advertising Law nor the Ordinance on Advertising released in 2001 prohibits this advertising form.
The form was in fact carried out in HCMC in 1992, but was discontinued later, Cap added.
“Many advertising experts, including me, don’t find reasons for the ban persuasive. City authorities claimed that bus advertising might distract drivers and cause traffic accidents. They were also concerned that the ads might be culturally inappropriate or offensive, particularly for kids,” he elaborated.
His advertising association has repeatedly petitioned city authorities to reconsider the issue, but to no avail.
In 2007, the city Department of Transport worked on a plan to feature ads on buses.
With the expected cost for advertisers of VND33-50 million (up to US$2.2 million) per m², the city could have earned VND100 billion from ads featured on 3,200 buses each year.
In 2009, the city ruled that advertising on the outside of any means of transport was prohibited.
“The ban violated citizens’ corporate freedom. I think that we should just go ahead with the plan, and can fix any problems which may arise later,” Cap noted.
He added that the utmost care will be taken to make sure that the ads will exert no culturally inappropriate influence, particularly among kids.
“In case of the piloted plan being implemented early next year, it’ll bring good profits in the initial phase if we can feature ads on 1,000 of the city’s 3,200 buses,” Cap stressed.
The city will earn several dozens of billions of dong from the new advertisements, which will also indirectly provide a stimulus to local producers and service providers.
Cap added that ads at bus stations will also benefit.
With some 300 bus stations in the city, ads on the stations’ panels will also bring a considerable source of income. Additionally, stations with ads will be taken better care of, he added.