Imagine a modern metropolis with no outdoor advertising: no billboards,
no flashing neon signs, no electronic panels with messages crawling
along the bottom. Come the new year, this city of 11 million,
overwhelmed by what the authorities call visual pollution, plans to
press the “delete all” button and offer its residents an unimpeded view
of their surroundings…
The outsized billboards and screens that dominate the skyline,
promoting everything from autos, jeans and cellphones to banks and sex
shops, will have to come down, as will all other forms of publicity in
public space, like distribution of fliers.
The law also
regulates the dimensions of store signs and outlaws any advertising on
the sides of the city’s thousands of buses and taxis.
Here is the full story. As far as I can tell (my last visit was eight years ago, however), most of it is not down yet. In any case I suspect the city is more attractive with the commercial angle. The underlying buildings are mostly ugly, so a fanciful clutter will do better than an attempt at sleek postmodernism.
By the way, it was already the case that most of Sao Paulo’s 13,000 or so outdoor billboards were installed illegally. The goal is to clear the space entirely, so that any single offender sticks out very obviously and can be prosecuted. But of course the tipping point matters. Whatever change ends up in place, I expect a slow creep back towards the status quo ex ante.