ABC television show, The Gruen Transfer, has put the controversial question to top industry figures about whether advertising should be permitted on national icons such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and Uluru.

Interviewees included, Richard Herring, CEO of APN Outdoor Advertising, Todd Sampson, CEO of Leo Burnett Sydney and Russel Howcroft, national managing director at George Patterson Y&R.

Herring focused on the benefits that such a project could bring to Australia: “The advertising would need to be in keeping with the icon. You’ve got to be sensitive about it. But it would still have enormous impact. The impact of advertising on something like the Opera House or Uluru would be global. It’s hard to put a dollar value on it, but it would most likely be in the tens of millions. That money could then flow back to help maintain and preserve those icons for future generations. Government money could then be redirected from our precious national icons and used to support things like public hospitals.”

Sampson also answered in the affirmative: “They’re already advertising on the Opera House. They’re advertising for Pink Ribbon Day. It goes pink and everybody knows. They’re using it as a public billboard. It’s pink, nobody complains and everyone’s okay with it.”

Howcroft mentioned the monetary aspect of such a project, “You could go with a global brand. Maybe Apple launching its latest iAd on the side of the Opera House. The Opera House gets a million bucks for doing it for one day. That’s pretty good.”

The show is due to be broadcast on Wednesday 16th June and is being supported and promoted by national newspaper advertising.