In 2006 Gillberto Kassab, centre-right mayor of the world’s 4th largest city Sao Paulo, passed his ‘Clean City Law‘ – requiring the immediate removal of all 15,000 advertising billboards, posters, bus ads and store signs from across the city.
The progress of the ban opened up a lot of debate of the pros and cons of advertising, especially the ‘unsolicited’ type you can’t avoid.
On the one hand, it was argued, ads were necessary to inform the customer, promote competition, support cultural activities, and even stimulate the consumer spending necessary to support the economy.
On the other hand ads were accused of being a violation of privacy, psychological manipulation, promoting consumption and greed, encouraging personal debt and providing an unfair advantage to rich multinationals, compared to smaller local businesses. The presence of so many advertising billboards was also considered ugly !
Six years later the ban is largely regarded as a success, with 70% of residents describing the law as having been beneficial. Even a number of advertising agencies have voiced their approval of the ban.
“Protect me from what I’m going to want”
Photo by Deigo3336, via Flickr