Today’s Outdoor Advertisement in Uzbekistan

Issue #4 • 1983

Cultural and historical heritage of Uzbekistan, which used to be the center of ancient caravan trade routes, suggests the presence of rich advertising tradition. Different forms and methods of product advertisement evolved in the markets of Bukhara, Samarqand, Tashkent, Termez, and Fergana – cities through which ran the highways of international trade along the Great Silk Road during Antiquity and the Middle Ages (1, p. 10). Specially trained public criers or heralds played an important role in spreading news and advertising products at the bazaars. Their job was to routinely inform people gathering in large crowds in urban areas. Information delivered by the heralds was quite diverse: from political appeals to purely commercial notices. At that time, this simple method was considered a successful means of trade promotion (

The Antiquity texts from ancient Khorezm, Kushan Bactria and Sogdiana preserved information about different kinds of handicraft and food products, mention of the scale of trade in a particular area, praises to the skill of builders who erected a particular monument… This evidences the emergence of advertising as a factor in promoting goods in the foreign markets in those distant times (1, pp. 51-65).

In the VII-VIII centuries AD advertising developed further, as the Middle Asia entered the common orbit of the Muslim world. Kind of advertisement for locally produced goods was created by numerous Arab travellers who started visiting the region in the VII-IX centuries AD (2).

Later on, symbolic images and aphorisms in mural painting of architectural monuments started featuring social advertising that reflected political ideology of that time. A good example is an inscription on the portal of the Ak-SaraiPalace in Shakhrisabz, dating to the period of Amir Temur’s rule: “If you question our might, look at our buildings”.

Presently, advertising develops as an independent industry and business that generates profit. Along with social and political advertising, its focus gets increasingly commercial. With the development of private enterprise, advertisement is perfected, with new forms and types emerging.

Contemporary advertisement has risen to the level of art. It reflects developments happening in the world, nation, and specific region.

In every time period, including the years of independence, ideological advertising has educational value for society. Thus, text in social advertisement is generally given in the language of state. Social advertisement billboards contain brief and capacious texts, such as “Mustaqillik – Oliy Ne’mat” (“Independence is a Great Benefit”), “Buyuk va muqaddassan, mustaqil vatan” (“Great and Sacred is the Independent Country”), etc. Professional activity of urban population is closely connected with social sector and the use of technology, which is an important factor to consider when creating advertisement. Its design for the capital metropolis and provincial regions is substantially different.

Advertisement in the city should naturally fit into the environment. One example is an outdoor advertisement at one of the central crossroads near the Alai market, at the intersection of three main streets: Shakhrisabz, Amir Temur and Navoi. Placing advertisement here is justified. Continuous traffic of pedestrians and vehicles invites large-size posters and billboards here. Outdoor billboards of different size are installed at the intersection. A prismavision display is installed on the eastern side of the intersection, near the Central Hotel [CityPalace]. Instead of one billboard as it used to be, the structure combines three interchanging billboards. In the city, prismavision display saves rental area, and large-scale dynamic motion catches the eye not only in its vicinity, but also from a distance (Picture 1).

Another prismatron is installed in the opposite, western corner of the intersection. Placing them here is determined by an opportunity to present advertising stream to a large number of potential customers. A car driver, stopping at the traffic lights, will also see the prismatron. In a short time of the compelled stop the car passengers will be introduced to a certain amount of information and advertised services. All this has a positive impact on the effectiveness of advertising campaigns.

The northern side of the intersection (at the Dedeman Hotel) boasts a large video panel that allows displaying several commercials, one after another. This modern outdoor medium is intended for large, open squares and streets. The most prominent video panels stand at the crossroads near the Alai market and ​​the Friendship of Peoples Square. Huge monitors display social and commercial ads, as well as information on the current events, the country’s cultural life, and weather report (Picture 2). On the southern side, simple one-time posters and banners are placed. Usually they feature text and visual information about exhibitions running at the Uzexpocenter; this is a targeted ad without extra ornamentation, which simply answers the questions What, Where, And When (Picture 3).

All major city intersections have ads calling for vigilance and caring attitude for the environment, such as “Vigilance is the Guarantee of Peace in the Country”.

Advertising for peripheral areas is noted for its simplicity; it uses bright colours and text in the language of state. Billboards are produced with minimal cost, since the population density is less than in the cities, which makes the use of electronic digital technology economically ineffective. In the villages they advertise goods that are in demand by rural population.

In terms of target and method, advertising can be temporary, seasonal, permanent and thematic. For instance, with the coming of spring, nature awakens, and weather changes, bringing change in the environment. With the arrival of the new season, people’s requirements are changing, too. Instead of heaters during winter time, city billboards start advertising soft drinks. This is a typical seasonal advertisement. Temporary ad includes billboards and posters advertising new films, promotion campaigns, etc. Permanent advertisement category includes advertisement of social, educational and artistic value. It is considered mass ad regardless of time, place and target audience. Thematic advertisement relates to one specific topic. For instance, on the eve of the Independence Day celebrations, everywhere one can see posters and billboards announcing the forthcoming event.

Compositional structure, the matching of form and content, as well as artistic quality are the constituent components of advertising. The success of advertising campaigns depends on the professionalism of designers, keeping apace with time and knowledgeable in consumer psychology. Sometimes one can see products of advertising companies that replicate advertisement specimens created by their foreign colleagues. The reason is the lack of creative aspiration to find new design solutions, as the country does not have professional schools training specialists for the industry.

Contemporary urban planning and development faces many aesthetic issues. The absence of designers’ commission in the city administration has resulted in disharmony between advertising media and architecture and landscape. Examples can be seen in some sleeping districts (Picture 4) where the ground floors of residential buildings are used for commercial purposes. Every commercial outlet is trying to stand out, using billboards and plaques of different size and colour.

With regard to advertising in the Tashkent subway, in April 2011 commercial ads were removed from all stations and trains of the Tashmetropoliten and replaced by information about safety rules and security regulations in the subway, as well as by social advertisement.

From year to year the country sees a growing number of products and services offered, which raises social and economic importance of advertising. Studying the history of advertisement and stages of its development is one of the relevant academic issues of today. Addressing the problem of training qualified designers can have a positive impact on the development of the whole industry.



1. Хакимов А. А. Искусство Узбекистана: история и современность. Ташкент, 2010.

2. Искусство стран и народов мира (краткая художественная энциклопедия) Архитектура. Живопись. Скульптура. Графика. Декоративное искусство / Ред. коллегия: Баранов Н. В., Веймарн Б. В., Виппер Б. Р., Иогансон Б. В. Гл. ред. А. М. Контор, В. М. Полевой, В. Д. Синюков, А. А. Федоров. В 5 т. М., 1962-1972.


Picture 1. Prismatron

Picture 2. Video panel

Picture 3. Advertising billboards

Picture 4. Example of disharmony between advertisement and architectural and landscape design

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