"In 2007, the world’s fourth-largest metropolis and Brazil’s most important city, São Paulo, became the first city outside of the communist world to put into effect a radical, near-complete ban on outdoor advertising. Known on one hand for being the country’s slick commercial capital and on the other for its extreme gang violence and crushing poverty, São Paulo’s “Lei Cidade Limpa” or Clean City Law was an unexpected success, owing largely to the singular determination of the city’s conservative mayor, Gilberto Kassab."
"One sore loser in the battle was Clear Channel Communications. Having recently entered the Brazilian market, the corporation was purchasing a Brazilian subsidiary as well as the rights to a large share of the city’s billboard market. Weeks before the ban took effect, Clear Channel launched a counter-campaign in support of outdoor ads, with desperate slogans that failed to resonate with the masses: “There’s a new movie on all the billboards – what billboards? Outdoor media is culture.”
Although legal challenges from businesses have left a handful of billboards standing, the city, now stripped of its 15,000 billboards, resembles a battlefield strewn with blank marquees, partially torn-down frames and hastily painted-over storefront facades. While it’s unclear whether this cleanup can be replicated in other cities around the world, it has so far been a success in São Paulo: surveys indicate that the measure is extremely popular with the city’s residents, with more than 70 percent approval."
What an amazing and revolutionary idea.
It really shocks me that São Paulo could take this step and that 70% of the residents approve of it. I can't even imagine how Los Angeles or New York would look like without billboards. Is the outdoor advertising a crutch for city planners not to focus on city planning? Is it a crutch for us to feel hip and alive in a city?
The real question is: Is this a one-time event or will other cities follow? Reading the comments on Adbusters, some mentioned that São Paulo had the worst clutter of OOH anybody every experienced. Does it have to get extremely bad before people will stand up against advertising pollution?
A lot to ponder. At least advertisers don't have to worry about breaking through the outdoor clutter anymore.
Check out the YouTube video below for a more in-depth look at this revolutionary initiative.