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Tehran Metro,  TM and Dull Ads
People

Tehran Metro, TM and Dull Ads

W hile the need for raising people’s awareness on many issues including better nutrition habits, good citizen behavior, civic manners, proper upbringing of children vis-à-vis the environment and numerous other issues is urgent, unfortunately the large public spaces which can be used to convey important messages, is going waste either by underutilization or the simplistic content of advertisements.
Every day a large and increasing number of people take the subway. They are bound to see all kinds of billboards, including electronic, mounted on the station walls while waiting for the train.
Then there are some ‘special boards’ the Tehran metro authority and the Tehran Municipality claim to have been put up for “cultural development.” One should apparently gather that the latter ones are not for commercial use, i.e. for making money from ads.
A question arises. Do these billboards really convey important issues affecting our society, on which there should be heightened awareness? Unfortunately they don’t. This highly visible advertising medium in metros should be seized as a golden opportunity and utilized wisely to convey important social issues, since what is on the billboards is seen and read by millions of commuters. Therefore, effective billboard advertising is one of the best ways to spread awareness and transfer information. In almost all stations, the big billboard on protecting the city’s skyline is conspicuous. “Architecture of a city is considered its identity; we shouldn’t destroy our city’s heritage with haphazard constructions,” say the hoardings.
But how many architects, urban planners and policymakers really use the metro? And how many people benefit from such slogans? The point is metro users may benefit more if the billboards, for example, publicized useful information such as healthy nutrition and lifestyles, given that unhealthy food habits of people have caused an increase in non-communicable diseases like cancer and diabetes. Wasting the opportunity at hand when it can serve a more useful purpose is indeed a pity.

 Civic Regulations
City architecture should be protected and preserved through municipal regulations and rules passed by the civic authority. In this and other spheres the performance of the Tehran Municipality and its army of contractors leave much to be desired.  Ordinary commuters at metro stations per se have nothing to do with buildings facades and the number of floors of high rises.
Walking through the metro passageways, one can also see billboards which draw attention to more important social issues like the negative effects of violent video games on children. Each subway station has a huge billboard with the message that children should be discouraged from playing video games as it can have negative influence on their language skills.
While the advice is absolutely right, the concept is not expressed through the principles of psychology. The illustration shows a father tugging his young son’s hand to prevent him from playing video games.
If we want to reach out to parents and teach them to protect their children from harmful digital games, there are other appropriate methods. When we say a particular product is bad or harmful, we should also be able to introduce a good alternative. The TM is hardly looking at, or is interested in, the flip side.

 Inadequacies
In other words, instead of forcibly dragging away our children from a scenario that may be socially and psychologically harmful, we should offer a useful and interesting option to divert their attention. The advertisement in question could show a father inviting his son to play a fun and vibrant game or take him to a sporting/cultural event.
Unfortunately, such inadequacies can be seen in almost all the billboards. It seems that choosing concepts and creating illustrations are taking place without the necessary supervision of experts in relevant fields, including the academia, psychologists and social experts.
The Social and Cultural Office at the Tehran Urban and Suburban Railway Company (TUSRC) and the Tehran Municipality should pay more attention to these pertinent issues putting them on the same page as their finances and when planning to make extra money to manage the public services.
In some stations there are still billboards advertising festivals and events that are long over. For instance, in Mirdamad metro station advertisements of the World Children’s Week (October 7-13) are still displayed.
The Tehran Metro transports nearly 3 million passengers a day. According to figures, since the opening of the subway system in Tehran, “commuters have traveled at least 500 times on the subway on average.”
The rapid transit system serving the capital comprises four operational metro lines. On all days of the week, the metro service runs from approximately 5:30 am to 11pm. Properly utilized, the subway stations can turn into a mass space for education and awareness creation on important concerns. Will the TM rise to the occasion!?

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