Friday, September 14, 2007

Sao Paolo: The Clean City

Ignore for a moment that the clip above is an advertisement for Sky Movies, and focus on the small distortions in the landscape present throughout - no billboard advertisements. Empty canvases throughout Sao Paolo. As described in Businessweek:
A city stripped of advertising. No Posters. No flyers. No ads on buses. No ads on trains. No Adshels, no 48-sheets, no nothing.

It sounds like an Adbusters editorial: an activist's dream. But in São Paulo, Brazil, the dream has become a reality.

In September last year, the city's populist right-wing mayor, Gilberto Kassab, passed the so-called Clean City laws. Fed up with the "visual pollution" caused by the city's 8,000 billboard sites, many of them erected illegally, Kassab proposed a law banning all outdoor advertising. The skyscraper-sized hoardings that lined the city's streets would be wiped away at a stroke. And it was not just billboards that attracted his wrath: all forms of outdoor advertising were to be prohibited, including ads on taxis, on buses—even shopfronts were to be restricted, their signs limited to 1.5 metres for every 10 metres of frontage. "It is hard in a city of 11 million people to find enough equipment and personnel to determine what is and isn't legal," reasoned Kassab, "so we have decided to go all the way."
Ah, Brazil. So what are the consequences? Still unclear, as far as I can tell, but a thoughtful post on an interesting blog (with links off, including photos), and another post in Adbusters, both worth a look.

Can we do this in the United States? Yeah, probably not.

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