IT’s the head-turning advert that is so effective you might just crash your car.
Proposals for two storey-high video screens promoting clothes at a new retail store have been approved by councillors – despite concerns that the firm could play “highly sexualised” material or distract drivers.
Designer clothing store Hollister is to move into the A-listed building at 80 George Street, bringing jobs and a top brand to the area.
The American firm is revamping the entrance to the store and had applied to install two huge video screens stretching from ground floor to first floor.
It intends play footage of surfers from Huntington Beach in California in keeping with other stores.
However, councillors highlighted the fact that they could only vote on the installation of an advert and not control its content. Development manager Andrew McBride objected to the plans unless the screens were aimed away from the street in case they distracted motorists, but the majority of councillors gave the go-ahead.
Hollister is a division of Abercrombie & Fitch, the upscale clothing giant criticised in recent years for running campaigns aimed at teenagers which feature sexual images.
The firm also faced long- running battles with conservative and religious groups in America over its now-defunct A&F Quarterly magazine, which featured nude photography and articles about sex.
Conservative city centre councillor Joanna Mowat told the development management committee: “I welcome the entry of another international player, which shows strong faith in the city.
“But I personally am not a fan and have concerns about welcoming this level of advertisement. It’s a significant infringement on one of the most beautiful buildings on George Street.”
She added: “[It sounds] all very tasteful, with waves breaking on beaches.
“But I’ve done a bit of research and, if they chose to go towards highly sexualised material, it may be very inappropriate for George Street.” Green councillor Steve Burgess highlighted risks to pedestrians and drivers.
He said: “The advice from our transport officers was that the screen could present a safety risk to pedestrians and motorists. The shop is fairly near the pedestrian crossing and people could be distracted.
“Transport wanted to have Hollister have [the screens] parallel with the shopfront so they don’t provide that distraction.
“I would have been happier to see the risk minimised. If you start getting people knocked over we’ll have to think again.”
Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association heritage group, backed the arrival of the retailer, but recommended council officers monitor the footage for “tasteless” material.
She added: “A video wall which was not switched on, or which did not display a whole image facade or was used tastelessly to portray gaudy effects would blight the shopfront and the retail stature of George Street.
“We therefore feel it needs to be monitored and kept under review in an appropriate way.”
Hollister declined to discuss the opening of the new store.