Evanston aldermen this week gingerly started to explore the possibility of putting advertising on city facilities downtown and along the lakefront.

The City Council Monday approved an advertising policy statement setting out some ground rules for what types of advertising it might be willing to accept.

But the aldermen asked City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz to provide more detail before they would sign off on a request for proposals that would seek firms to manage advertising placements for the city.

The plan envisions that ads might be placed on recycling and trash receptacles and information kiosks as well as on the city’s downtown parking garages.

On the lakefront advertising might be placed on beach houses, lifeguard stands and lakefront trail marker signs.

The plan drew criticism from Aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward.

Wynne said peoples lives are already “so cluttered with unwanted messages and advertising. You can’t even buy groceries at the supermarket without being assaulted with advertising.”

But Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste said he didn’t think the proposed advertising would necessarily be all that intrusive.

Bobkiewicz said he understands that there’s a crticial quality of life issue around advertising, but that the city also faces multi-million dollar budget shortfalls.

He conceded that he’s not sure there’s even a market for such ads, but said he wants to at least find out whether there is one.

“If we can’t come up with something acceptable, then we won’t proceed with it,” he added.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said it may turn out that “nobody wants to play with us.”

“But I think we have to ask the question,” Grover said.

The aldermen last fall approved an agreement with a Florida firm, Creative Outdoor Advertising, to place bus shelters around town that would be paid for with advertising displayed on the shelters.

Image above: An example of a trash can with advertising panels available from one vendor.

Related document

City advertising policy (.pdf)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Ads — Brilliant!

    Congratulations to the council on considering this businesslike and fiscally responsible revenue-generating proposal.  Advertising is a fact of 21st century life. And to the extent that advertisers are willing to pay for the use of spaces to place their message, then it makes sense for the city to explore the marketability of its potentially ad-bearing assets.  Certainly some policies can be developed to govern the program.  But those who grumble about the prospect of taxes and fees being raised as little as one thin dime should welcome this opportunity to boost city revenues without having had to reach into their own pockets to do so.

  2. Ad placement

    <sarcasm>Say, the ad-supported trash bin pictured with this story would look great next to the Tilted Kilt… </sarcasm>

    1. Beach tokens not the answer

      Why put in on the backs of families who are already struggling?


      1. Free beach tokens are the Mayor’s answer!

        The city gives the social service agencies in this town a 1,000 free beach tokens for them to give away.  This program was the doing of the Mayor.   I am  certain some would quickly say it is great. 

        But there is a big problem what is the criteria to get the free tokens and it appears only those using the agencies have access.  Many other residents who many actually be lower income do not have access.

        Some might point out the city recreation department can give them free tokens.  I once asked some questions about their scholarship program – I asked given such a low income criteria who is really going to qualify,  I was told it was up to the management – that is they could modify the criteria as they saw fit!

        It great to see we have no control on this program – but that is not new – until recently over 120  city employees were using city credit cards spending over $100,000 a month on charges.  ( recently Wally put a stop to these charges  they are now closer to $50,000 a month – which makes me wonder how much money we were wasting?)

  3. Let’s do it!

    Great idea!  Lighthouse beach could be renamed "Coppertone Beach" and Dempster Beach could be renamed "Banana Boat Beach".  And they wouldn't have to stop there.  City Hall could become "MoveOn.org Town Hall", all the light posts could be painted with "ComEd", Robert Crown community center could become sponsored by Tootsie Roll, and parking tickets could all have "Pay Pal" written on them.  Think of the revenue!  The glorious revenue!  There are few things we like more than seeing advertisements everywhere which is why we love Vegas so much!

    Now, who do we get to sponsor the vacant repossessed houses?

  4. Agree with Diane- advertising

    Agree with Diane- advertising is so ubiquitous, I am somewhat surprised whenever I hear opposition to it.

    Ads are on buses, trains, benches, your phone, that plane flying over a beach, virtually all websites….everywhere. (And this isnt plastering faces of Mt Rushmore we are talking about here, its Evanston) Perhaps advert-angst is just another generational divide.

    Anyway, bottom line: it is a revenue source NOT extracted from taxpayers.

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