Burning Question | Do floating billboards suck?


KING TV has a story today about an advertising entrepreneur who has designed and launched a system for floating billboards. And he plans to use them on Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Apparently there are no rules preventing someone from using waterways for hawking goods and services.

According to the story, the inventor, Darren Bruce said:

“I see scenery, I see beauty, I see opportunity,” says Bruce, who has also floated the display, which can be connected with others to create a 14 x 192 foot long billboard, on Lake Union. “There are a lot of eyeballs.”

Personally, I am seeing red. I like boating because I can get away from the cheap commercialism and incessant hucksters of daily life.

Tell us what you think. Fill out the survey below and have your say in the comments section.

12 Responses to Burning Question | Do floating billboards suck?

  1. Doug Bostrom June 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Late to the party.

    Question might be rephrased as an experimental query: “Do Floating Billboards Sink?”

    Probably not a good experiment to implement.

  2. Joe Petrich May 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    I will buy the first ads. They will say “Darran Bruce is an idiot” on one side and large targets labeled “Aim Here” on the other.

    • Captain Jim Wood May 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

      I’m all for this idea provided that the signs be no higher than 4 feet high, anchored in at least twenty feet of water, with no more than 6 feet of rode tether, nor can they be allowed to infringe on Ivar’s underwater advertising and must maintain a maximum twenty foot swing area. And like shellfish harvesting, the signs can only be set after sunrise and must be removed by sunset on the following days: Thursday – Saturday, and only 5 signs can be placed at a time. Molting signs must be returned. A careful record must be kept daily, filled out in ink, and then returned by Labor Day, to the department of signage no later than the end of this year.
      Good hunting. Capt. Jim – Boaters Resource Center

  3. David Geller May 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    I’m torn. I respect his right to do this – especially if there aren’t any current ordinances or restrictions to prevent it. But, I also think it’s a terrible idea and would be an unsightly mess. I’ve seen advertising boats (with giant, bright electronic displays) in Hong Kong and Shanghai, but they were in highly commercial waters. Lake Washington is a beautiful, almost pristine natural setting that would be horribly disfigured with floating billboards. I think he’d be foolish to move forward with this knowing that there would be almost universal disdain for his idea. That will ultimately cost him business and, potentially, money defending him from legal challenges.

    Also, if there were a motor accident potentially caused by someone being distracted by his floating ad he could find himself having to defend himself and his business. There’s precedent for having to take responsibility when you introduce new things into an environment and change people’s behaviors. Imagine if you flew a kite over 520 and distracted a motorist. You’d potentially be liable for any damages caused by that action.

  4. mike penney May 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Total BS Idea… Nobody wants your idea… Please go away…

  5. Elsie Hulsizer May 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    I not only think floating billboards are a bad idea, I also think they are illegal. My guess is someone has come up with the idea and is floating it as a trial baloon but hasn’t bothered to consult the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development, which would have to issue a permit for a sign.

    There are regulations for over water construction, including billboards,and they are even stricter than the ones on land. The Seattle Shoreline Master Program regulates development over water and within 200 ft of the shoreline. the program is part of the Seattle Municipal code and also part of the state code. To change it requires a vote by the City Council and approval by the State Department of Ecology.

    From the description it sounds like they plan to put the billboards out in the lakes where nothing but aids to navigational are currently permitted. But even if they plan to put them close to land, they would still run into problems because (I believe) they qualify as “off-premise signs” which are specifically prohibited on most waterfront lots.

    If they were planning on painting advertising on the side of boats and ships, that would be a different matter. The City can do little about what happens on a boat or ship if it is being used for navigation.

  6. Toby Barnett May 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    PJ, I agree that advertising is everywhere these days. Like you, my sports are laden with logos and I proudly wear them. Also, look at SeaFair and the hydro races – now if my boat was that fast it could O’Boy Oberto or Miss Budweiser all over it. Yet it appears that these are just floating billboards. Billboards are limited on the interstates and highway, and the water is treated very similar, why not have regulations that limit, not ban, the number of floating advertisement. The richeys probably wont like it.

    • Boyd Godfrey May 18, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

      “I proudly wear them”
      Sooooo these corporations are paying you to advertise for them? Gee-whizz mister, you must be really good at these sports to have sponsors!

      • Deborah Bach May 19, 2012 at 12:17 am #

        That’s pretty much how I feel about labels – that the manufacturer/designer should be paying me to wear them, not the other way around.

        And yes, floating billboards suck. Badly.

      • Toby Barnett March 8, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

        It’s called a reverse sponsorship where I pay companies to wear/use their stuff. Individuals connect with brands different and in my case I like them otherwise I would use their products.

  7. thom May 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    Where is Lady Bird Johnson when we need her?

  8. PJ Walchenbach May 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    My first reaction to the idea of floating billboards was sharply negative. But then I stopped and thought about it and my reaction seemed hypocritical. For example: I drive a car with the company name on all four sides, my cycling kit (uniform) is covered with sponsor logos, i proudly wear my Patagonia and Northface labelled fleece, small planes fly by my office window advertising GEICO and the Sounders, our sports stadiums all have names, it is not uncommon to see corporate sponsors on spinnakers, Windermere now “owns” Opening Day of Boating parade and crew races, Evening Magazine has covered one of the Kenmore Beavers, etc. We are surrounded by advertising and sponsorship, so, I am not sure if I really object to floating billboards or if I am pissed off that I didn’t think of the idea first.

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