March 15, 2012

Chicago Transit amends ad guidelines

The Chicago Transit Authority's (CTA) board approved an ordinance to update its advertising guidelines, including lifting the ban on advertising alcoholic beverages on railcars and at certain rail stations. While the CTA will allow the advertisement of alcoholic beverages, the ordinance restricts the ads to specific areas and sets additional conditions.

Advertisement of alcoholic beverages will be limited primarily to the Central Business District, matching the geographic area of JC Decaux bus shelters, owned and managed by the city of Chicago and where alcohol ads are currently permitted. Alcoholic beverage ads and will not exceed 9.99% of the total advertising space on the transit system at any one time. No alcohol advertising will be permitted on buses.

Alcoholic beverage ads will not be permitted in rail stations where reduced fare student riders exceed 7.5% of the total ridership. No more than 15 exterior railcar pairs will have alcohol advertisements posted on the system at any one time.

Three percent of the advertisement area must display a statement indicating the legal drinking age in Illinois and the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, in connection with the operation of heavy machinery, or while driving.

As a result of this ordinance change, Titan Worldwide, CTA's advertising broker, is guaranteeing a higher minimum annual guarantee. The total amount in new advertising revenue for the remainder of the three-year contract is approximately $3.2 million, bringing the total minimum annual guarantee for all advertisements to approximately $57.5 million.

In addition, political ads and public service announcements by nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies will require the disclosure of the entity, which is sponsoring or paying for the advertisement. This guideline protects the CTA from appearing to endorse any political candidate or particular point of view.

The ordinance also adopts stricter language for the prohibition of advertising that is libelous; infringes on copyrights; is detrimental to the commercial or administrative interests; or disparages the CTA or public transportation, the City of Chicago or other government entities.

New language was also added to make clear CTA's policy, which is consistent with Illinois law prohibiting ads promoting infidelity, escort services and sexually-oriented products or businesses.

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