Horseracing Ad Featured on Sydney Opera House Ignites Protest
October 11, 2018
An advertisement for The Everest (a horse racing event) beamed onto the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday evening ignited a mass demonstration at Sydney Harbour.
Hundreds of Australians gathered at the Harbour just before 22:00 local time and chanted phrases which indicated that the World Heritage Site was “not for sale” or a “billboard”. This protest action was accompanied by an online petition which received over 290 000 signatures but was rejected by the New South Wales Premier.
Although several displays involving sporting events have been celebrated on the Opera House sails before (such as the Wallabies and the National Rugby League), protestors have stated The Everest is different as it involves gambling.
Sydney Opera House Protest Origins
The planned promotion for The Everest first sparked outrage among Australian citizens when it was announced. Peter V’landys, head of New South Wales Racing, announced that he planned to advertise the upcoming race with a six-minute display on the Sydney Opera House’s sails on a radio show. He justified the action by stating that it would help increase tourism related to the horse race in the area.
While Sydney Opera House senior officials stated that they would not allow V’landys to project any branding on the building, they did come to an agreement to project jockey colours. This compromise still proved to be infuriating for some Australians, who began protest action against the advertisement on Monday.
One particularly notable action included a famed comedy group projecting the term “Advertise Here” on the sails along with the mobile phone number of the radio DJ who had interviewed V’landys. The DJ has since stated that he has received loads of anonymous phone calls and has further gone on to describe the protests as “childish”.
While the promotion still took place, it did not include the planned live draw element it was initially meant to have. V’landys stated that this was due to security concerns after threats of violence were made as retaliation to the advertisement.