First, they came for the giant apes!
Houston’s City Council may vote today to ban the use of inflatable cartoon characters to draw traffic to local businesses. A law that’s already on the books requires permits for these “attention-getting devices,” and restricts their use. But there’s no money to fund enforcement.
The new law would prohibit more than just large blowup animals:
If approved, the ban also would prohibit flashy and motion-driven devices, such as dancing wind puppets, spinning pinwheels, pennants, streamers and strobe and spotlights. . . .
[Balloon vendor Jim] Purtee said his clients report sales increase 30 to 100 percent in the weeks after installing a giant balloon. “You can’t ban balloons without banning car wraps, those planes flying over Houston with trailing banners or people standing on the corner in a clown costume,” Purtee added. . . .
Officials said holiday displays and residential lawn decorations would be exempted from the ban. The prohibition would apply only to attention-getting devices used for commercial purposes.
That troubles Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck. She asked how the city would distinguish between attention-getting devices and the holiday lights, bows and sparkly stars installed in Rice Village and the Galleria area.
But how slippery is this slope? Today: bulldogs, alligators, and elephants. Tomorrow: turkeys, puppies, masked wrestlers and pumpkins. Will they come after your inflatable shotgun next?
In the Village, they’re gonna have to pry those bows and sparkly stars from some cold, dead hands.
The Houston Press‘s Richard Connelly has a more modest proposal: Advertising animals wouldn’t be such a distraction if they were used more often.
- Council vote could deflate advertising practice [Houston Chronicle]
- Embrace The Inflatable Ads, Houston [Hair Balls]
Photo: Flickr user Robert MacCready