Mumbai civic body asks OOH owners to carry only Coronavirus awareness ads on hoardings

The new mandate by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai has been met with mixed reactions by out-of-home players in the city. While some say that it’s been forced upon them, others have welcomed it

e4m by Anjali Thakur
Published: Mar 24, 2020 8:20 AM  | 6 min read
COVID-19 hoardings

Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), on Monday, mandated all the hoarding owners in Maharashtra to feature awareness campaigns on the outbreak off COVID-19. In a letter, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), under which MCGM operates, read that since the coronavirus-induced disease has been declared a pandemic by WHO\all the outdoor media owners should feature the awareness campaign on the hoardings. The mandate came into effect from March 16.

The letter read: "In this backdrop, it is the need of the hour that an intense awareness campaign is undertaken to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus, the Government of Maharashtra, as well as MCGM authorities, have launched a massive campaign to make citizens aware of the precautions to be taken to prevent the spread of the disease and medical help to the concerned patients. Moreover, the Government of Maharashtra has decided to temporarily close cinemas/theatres, gymnasiums, swimming pools for 15 days to avoid the spread of Coronavirus in places of public congregation.

"It is essential that citizens be properly made aware of the precautions to be observed and proven safeguards to obviate the dissemination of coronavirus. As a licensed holding owner in prominent places, you are here in directed to display the awareness messages about the virus. On your hoardings which will go a long way in strengthening the efforts of the Government of Maharashtra and MCGM for controlling the spread of Corona virus-induced diseases.

"As per the aforesaid legal provision you are herein directed to immediately display awareness messages on holdings latest by an evening of 16-03-2020 for 10 days that is 25-03-2020. In this respect, the flexes are to be printed at your cost feeling which the licensing department will be constrained to cancel all licenses remove the present display and also the hoarding structure. As an incentive, the advertiser displaying the Coronavirus awareness messages will be given rebate in license fees for the display period.

Honourable municipal commissioner of MCGM has directed the hoardings license holder not to display any other advertisement for the aforesaid period of 10 days."

MCMG mandate for OOH owners

We asked outdoor media owners about this latest mandate by MCMG. An industry expert said, “It is not a welcome move because it has been forced down our neck, since the notice reads that if we fail to adhere by the guidelines, our license will canceled. We don’t mind spreading the word because we are serving a cause but out of 1200 hoardings, 500 sites were booked. They shouldn't have forced the 500 also to change into COVID hoardings. And 20 hoardings in the same area, displaying the same creative and creating the same awareness, don’t make sense."

She added, “There were no bookings. Plus, with the current scenario whatever bookings were made, has been changed to COVID-19 hoardings. For instance, a maximum of geo sites have been changed to COVID, maximum term sites are also being affected.”

Another Managing Director of an OOH company, on the condition of anonymity, said, “We are in a midst of an economic slump and at this time around, we need authorities to support us rather force such circulars down our throat. They should at least pay the cost of flexes, but we have to do it from our pocket. We didn’t get any time to inform our clients because we only got the circular on Saturday night and from onwards, we had to put up COVID hoardings. I think they could have managed it in a better manner. Putting up so many hoardings on a single road is only inciting fear amongst people.”

Whereas, Yogesh Lakhani, CMD, Bright Outdoor Media said that it is a welcome move. “We want to spread the word and I feel it’s a great opportunity for us to serve a cause. We are with the nation, we are together in such difficult times.”

MCMG mandate for Mumbai

It seems that industry media owners have a mixed take on the latest notice by the civic body.

The government is not leaving any stone unturned when it comes to spreading awareness about the disease. On Sunday, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi took to Instagram to spread awareness about the COVID-19 situation in Mumbai in an interview with social media platform Humans of Bombay.

View this post on Instagram

“I’m the Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai & I want to use this opportunity to talk about the COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra: 1. The State Govt has declared COVID-19 as an Epidemic. All measures under the Epidemic Act are in effect. 2. Social-distancing is key to containing the outbreak. A lock-down has been initiated by closure of schools, colleges, theatres, malls, pools & gyms. 3. Although colleges & schools have been closed for daily lectures, scheduled exams will proceed. Schools are instructed to send back students who show symptoms like dry cough, runny nose & breathlessness. Students may also be excused from attending the exam, provided they submit a medical certificate that states they have a cold, cough or fever. 4. We highly advise companies to initiate work-from-home policies wherever possible. If necessary, we will make this mandatory in the days to come. 5. Testing capacity is up to 200 tests a day, but we are actively pushing for an increase by seeking permission from hospitals to set-up testing centres. We aim to expand testing facilities to private hospitals. 6. For passengers from high-risk countries, quarantine will be applicable for those showing symptoms. Those without symptoms will mandatorily be home-quarantined for 14 days with follow-up calls to ensure they aren’t carriers. 7. Local transport will continue to run to allow travel for essential needs such as going to hospitals & public-utility services. But one should avoid travel for any non-essential activities. 8. Practise personal hygiene--wash your hands, sanitise & stay home if you’re unwell. 9. Spread information from verifiable sources like @my_bmc which gives daily updates. 10. Call our helpline 1916 to report someone who may be at-risk based on their travel history & symptoms & we will take measures to conduct tests. Be rest assured that we are doing everything we can to control the situation. I would urge you all to share only verified facts, keep your hygiene levels up & to stay calm. We will get through this together.”

A post shared by Humans of Bombay (@officialhumansofbombay) on

He used social media to spread awareness and to inform the people of Mumbai all the necessary action are being taken by the authorities.“I’m the Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai & I want to use this opportunity to talk about the COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra,” read the post.

Maharashtra, currently, is second in the number of reported COVID-19 cases in India. Mumbai 

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