Advertising Bans Beautify the City

Imagine one of our biggest cities, such as New York, Chicago or LA. If you were to take a walk down one of the major streets, what would you see? Besides getting bumped into constantly for not paying attention well enough, you would see advertisements. They would go as far as the eye could see! To some people, these ads are creative forms of art and entertainment that bring character to the city streets and help amuse and educate the citizens. To others, these ads may be nothing more than corporate America polluting the city with over the top marketing gimmicks and oversized eye sores. But can you imagine if one of these cities banned outdoor advertising all together? Would it bring the metropolis back to its original architectural beauty? … Or would the ban take all of the residents back into some sort of concrete jungle? This in itself is completely subjective, and really depends on one’s attitude towards outdoor advertising.

Any readers who may want to experience this for themselves are in luck, and have been since 2006. Just head to your nearest airport and hop on the next plane to São Paulo, Brazil! It has been almost 8 years since the Brazilian city had passed the “Clean City Law,” one that outlawed all forms of outdoor advertisements! This included transit advertising, as well as storefront and billboard marketing.  Can you imagine driving into Wilmington and not being able to see the massive billboard letting us know of the 12 McDonalds ready to serve in our location? (Yeah 12 seems a bit Mcmuch huh?)  Either way, the law was passed and is still going strong, regardless of critics. Many feared the law would have devastating consequences on jobs and revenue in the city, and rightfully so. However, São Paulo continues to stand, just as the citizens continue to stand behind the law. A recent survey administered in 2011 found that of the 11 million residents, over 70% were in approval of the ban. It turns out that many of the citizens feel that the removal of all the advertising brought back an architectural magnificence that had long been hidden. We will let you decide though.  Did the city make the right decision in your opinion? And what do you see, a primitive concrete jungle, or a simple but yet beautiful city restored in its original form?

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Following the advertising ban,  “Critics worried that the advertising ban would entail a revenue loss of $133 million and a net job loss of 20,000.” Although a revenue loss has not been reported, and the majority of the city citizens are in favor of the ban, we all must wonder how businesses are surviving. James B. Twitchell believes that  producers “have to advertise or drown in their own overproduction.” However, it seems as though companies in Brazil are doing just fine without massive advertisements on billboards, buses, or other sources of outdoor advertising. 


Many people could argue that advertisements in America are brainwashing citizens, or have various negative effects on people. What about the aesthetics that Brazil has focused? Would NYC be as beautiful and attractive if all of the bright lights and advertisements were stripped away? America thrives on advertisements, so to lose them would probably cause more outrage that being bombarded by advertising through all mediums. According to those who live in Brazil, the “Clean City Law”  was a brilliant change to how the city looks. Bans on billboards exist in other parts of the world, such as Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine in the US, as well as some 1,500 towns. Could America ever go beyond banning billboard advertising and deny advertisers of all outdoor ads in general? This shows how different advertising is between various nations.

Austin Johnson, Jade Johnson-Grant, Jami Rogers, Ty Thomas