Advertisers take advantage of tighter Sri Lanka security

Chandi Dharmaratne

COLOMBO, Sept 20, 2006 (AFP) – The fear of bomb attacks in Sri Lanka following an upsurge in violence has spawned extra security checks, making daily life more difficult, but the hassle has also created unexpected marketing opportunities, according to advertising specialists.

At road-blocks, for instance, prominent adverts for products such as the pain-killer “Panadol” compete for the attention of people being searched by heavily armed police and soldiers.

A roofing manufacturer, meanwhile, has perched his product atop high profile bunkers in Colombo.

Security booths, which are submerged during monsoon rains, are sponsored by a water pump manufacturer.

A courier company, ACX, has sponsored road blocks to remind motorists that there is an easier way to deliver parcels than working through slow security checks themselves.

Experts say advertisers are scrambling to get space on fox-holes, barrels and iron-grilled barricades, which are proliferating following an escalation in violence.

The upsurge has seen more than 1,500 people killed in the past 10 months, according to official figures.

A warning from the island’s Tamil Tiger rebels earlier this month of retaliations in the Sinhalaese-majority south prompted tighter security — and thereby more