From Sao Paolo - Brazil
Sao Paulo: The city that said No to AdvertisingThe “Clean City” law passed last year by the populist mayor, Gilberto Kassab, stripped the Brazilian city of all advertising. So how’s it looking now?
by Patrick Burgoyne
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.”
The law was hailed by writer Roberto Pompeu de Toledo as “a rare victory of the public interest over private, of order over disorder, aesthetics over ugliness, of cleanliness over trash… For once, all that is accustomed to coming out on top in Brazil has lost.”
Border, the Brazilian Association of Advertisers, was up in arms over the move. In a statement released on 2 October, the date on which law PL 379/06 was formally approved by the city council, Border called the new laws “unreal, ineffective and fascist”. It pointed to the tens of thousands of small businesses that would have to bear the burden of altering their shopfronts under regulations “unknown in their virulence in any other city in the world”. A prediction of US$133 million in lost advertising revenue for the city surfaced in the press, while the São Paulo outdoor media owners’ association, Sepex, warned that 20,000 people would lose their jobs.
Others predicted that the city would look even worse with the ads removed, a bland concrete jungle replacing the chaos of the present. North Korea and communist Eastern Europe were cited as indicative of what was to come. “I think this city will become a sadder, duller place,” Dalton Silvano, the only city councillor to vote against the laws and (not entirely coincidentally) an ad executive, was quoted as saying in the International Herald Tribune. “Advertising is both an art form and, when you’re in your car, or alone on foot, a form of entertainment that helps relieve solitude and boredom,” he claimed.
There was also much questioning of whether there weren’t, in fact, far greater eyesores in the city—such as the thousands of homeless people, the poor condition of the roads and the notorious favelas: wouldn’t Kassab’s time be better spent removing these problems than persecuting taxi drivers and shop owners? Legal challenges followed while, in an almost comical scenario, advertising executives followed marches by the city’s students and its bin men by driving their cars up and down in front of city hall in protest...read more"
Hopefully Beirut is Next...
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
A City Without Billboards
From Sao Paolo - Brazil