What’s a City Without Advertising?

What would happen if a major metropolis made it a law prohibiting all advertising? That means no billboards, no flyers, no ads on trains or buses.

That’s exactly what São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil with a population of 12 million people (20 million in the metro area), did in 2006:

In 2006, Gilberto Kassab, mayor of São Paulo, Brazil, passed the “Clean City Law.” Citing growing concerns about rampant pollution in his city, Kassab decided enough was enough. But this was no ordinary piece of pollution legislation. Rather than going after car emissions or litterbugs, Kassab went after the billboards. Yes, you read that right: Kassab wanted to crack down on “visual pollution.”

Saying that visual pollution was as burdensome as air and noise pollution, Kassab banned every billboard, poster, and bus ad in São Paulo with the Clean City Law. Even business signage had to go. Within months, city authorities had removed tens of thousands of ads both big and small—much to the dismay of business owners, who said the ban would surely ruin them.

What’s amazing is that the ban has forced business to improvise and create novel ways to interact with potential customers. São Paulo started having a lot more guerilla marketing [unconventional strategies, such as public stunts and viral campaigns] and it gave a lot of power to online and social media campaigns as a new way to interact with people.

Makes you wonder: what other major city will take this cue and follow through with this idea?

 

2 thoughts on “What’s a City Without Advertising?

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