Trade Show Recycles Vinyl Banners

The Consumer Electronics Association recently announced that it recycled 75 percent of all materials used at the Consumer Electronics Show, its annual trade event.

According to an article on posted on the web site of the trade magazine Expo, this recycling figure is the highest percentage the association has achieved. According to the association’s president, because recycling unwanted components is an initiative within the industry, the association wanted to extend this to the trade show floor.

In addition to printed show materials, the association recycled almost 36,000 square feet of magnetic banners and almost 27,000 square feet of vinyl banners. In addition, vinyl banners collected after the 2011 trade show were repurposed into 190,000 badge holders for the 2012 show.

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Vinyl Banners Often Restricted During Sporting Events

Hosting high-profile sporting events can bring prestige to a city, but they often bring restrictions on how businesses can advertise in conjunction with these events.

If you want to use vinyl banners to advertise a product or service to take advantage of the festivities, you may encounter restrictions in two areas: the wording on your banners, and what, where and when you can display.

Trademarks
Many common phrases such as “Super Bowl” or “March Madness,” are  trademarks. This means you can’t use these phrases on vinyl banners, and other signs, unless you are an official event sponsor.

For example, the NCAA tournament is one of the country’s most popular sporting events. Corporations pay large sums to be sponsors and use these coveted sports trademarks, and the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) is aggressive in ensuring that companies get the full value of these sponsorships.

Businesses discovered using sports trademarks during the NCAA tournament are sent cease-and-desist letters and are threatened with legal action if they don’t comply.

Fortunately, you can use workarounds for your vinyl banners that are effective in getting your message across while not violating trademarks:

  • Use generic terms. For example, the NCAA tournament is high in the public’s consciousness, a generic term will still be effective. Use “Your Basketball Headquarters” instead of “Your March Madness Headquarters.”
  • Use an alternative phrase that suggests the event, such as “the Big Game” or the “Final Game” instead of “Super Bowl.”

These guidelines apply to all your promotional efforts, not just vinyl banners. Avoid trademarks and use generic terms on your web site, as well as print and broadcast advertising.

Time and Place Restrictions
Because cities compete to land a high-profile event, organizers can dictate broad restrictions on the use of vinyl banners and other business signs. These restrictions often go beyond sports trademarks to extend to when and where signs can be displayed.

For example, Kansas City, Mo., is hosting the Major League Baseball All-Star game in July. A few months ago, proposed restrictions in conjunction with the game caused a stir in the local business community.

Originally, all outdoor temporary signs that could be seen from the street would be prohibited in three sporting event districts, each having a one-mile radius. Further, signs would be prohibited from 30 days before the event to 30 days after.

After an outcry from local businesses, a proposed ordinance would retain the ban but would loosen the restricted dates from 10 days before to seven days after. If passed, the ordinance would apply to all professional sporting events, as well as amateur events drawing crowds of at least 35,000 to two or more venues over two or more days.

If your city is hosting this type of event and your business is restricted by these type of regulations, you may have no recourse. Look for permissible alternatives, such as paper fliers, or indoor banners.

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News Roundup: Banner Products Challenge Sign Regulations

The options businesses now have to promote their products and services are causing some communities to examine their zoning and signage regulations. This periodic roundup of zoning issues will keep you updated on some of the issues local businesses are facing regarding outdoor signs, including vinyl banners.

In Abilene, Texas, the planning and zoning commission is scheduled to receive a re-proposed ordinance to regulate signs in the city by the end of May, according to a story on the Abilene Reporter News web site. In March, the commission voted to send the issue back to a committee. The original ordinance would have outlawed all temporary signs, including banners, streamers, flags and pennants. The goal is to improve aesthetics without overburdening business owners, according to a story on the Abilene Reporter-News web site.
In Sussex Borough, N.J., the council is likely to introduce an ordinance regulating business signs in late May or early June. According to a recent story in the New Jersey Herald, the mayor stated that 90 percent of the borough’s signs would be considered illegal under the existing rules. Some businesses also claim that the ordinance is selectively enforced.

The proposed ordinance includes a standard banner permit costing $5, valid for 35 days. and a size limitation of 36 square feet. As in Abilene, the council is trying to balance the need for sensible regulations with the needs of business owners.
Another borough in New Jersey, Chester, is facing the same struggle as Sussex. Some businesses are complaining that the city government is increasingly an obstacle to their business success. On Chester’s Main Street, some businesses say that the enforcement of rules has not been consistent. One owner said the city limited the size of her sign and prohibited her from using banners.

Although three news stories do not make a trend, two takeaways should be noted:
Local governments are struggling to make sense of the range of banners and signs available to the public and craft updated ordinances and regulations.
Local governments are listening to businesses to craft rules that can be applied fairly without being overly burdensome.
As always, check what is going on with your local community, and if necessary, make your viewpoint known.

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