Billboards covered in oversized foreign-language lettering or featuring inappropriate Vietnamese-language texts to catch public attention have been booming in the capital city of Hà Nội. — Photo tuoitrethudo.vn
HÀ NỘI – Billboards covered in oversized foreign-language lettering or featuring inappropriate Vietnamese-language texts to catch public attention have been booming in the capital city of Hà Nội, in defiance of the city’s regulations on advertising boards, which took effect early this year.
In city gateway areas such as Trần Duy Hưng, Nguyễn Thị Định, Nguyễn Thị Thập, Hoàng Ngân and Linh Lang streets, advertising boards and panels in Japanese and Korean are the biggest. Some are bilingual, but the Vietnamese text is always smaller and hard to read.
In the city’s downtown, many advertising boards in English have been installed in the Old Quarter, including Hàng Bông, Nhà Thờ, Tạ Hiện and Hàng Trống streets.
Nguyễn Xuân Hòa, owner of a jewellery shop on Hàng Bạc Street, said recently that most of her customers were foreigners and the texts of her outdoor advertising had to be big and eye-catching.
“Locals areh quite familiar with English texts here,” she added.
According to city regulations on outdoor advertising, foreign languages must include Vietnamese translation and the size of the foreign language lettering must be smaller than the Vietnamese one, and placed below the Vietnamese version.
Fines for violating the regulations range from VNĐ10-15 million (US$45-65) and the boards must be removed.
In local restaurants and shops, advertising boards featuring odd texts make both foreign tourists and locals laugh. The advertising board of a food vendor in the Old Quarter features "the genuine grilled pork and noodle", including a small line saying "the next shop is newly-opened". A shop on Lý Thường Kiệt Street installed a board saying “products from the US in Vietnamese prices" in order to catch the eye of consumers.
Nguyễn Văn Thường, deputy head of the city’s Culture Management Office said current regulations do not stipulate requirements on the content of advertising boards. He said it was necessary to re-examine and remove advertising boards with improper contents.
Trịnh Cẩm Lan, deputy head of the Hà Nội-based University of Social Science and Humanities’ Philology Department, said the use of foreign languages on advertising boards was being abused and damaged the image of the city.
Lan said the Trung Hòa-Nhân Chính area could be called Seoul as half the advertising boards and panels were in Korean.
It is easy to understand that business owners want to focus on their target customers, but the Law on Advertisement demands Vietnamese translation on advertising billboards.
In South Korea, few boards and panels are written in English although it might create difficulties for foreign tourists. In Paris, Lan said, French was among the compulsory elements for any advertising board.
According to Lan, the Law on Advertisement should be disseminated and enforced. Violators must be fined accordingly and have their boards removed. – VNS