Outdoor Advertising: The Beginning of the End?

15 December 2006

SAO PAULO, Brazil: Viewed from the adland enclaves of Madison Avenue, Higashishinbashi, Charlotte Street and the Champs-Elysées, the southern hemisphere's largest city São Paulo and Auckland, New Zealand's business capital, may seem far distant.

But recent events in those two cities should replicate the effect of an icy finger running down the spines of outdoor advertising executives worldwide.

On January 1 in São Paulo a new law comes into force. It will ban all so-called "visual pollution" - a term that includes billboards, electronic signs and even fliers. Implementation of the law comes seven years after it was passed by Mayor Gilberto Kassab, who argues that a total ban removes all possibility of confusion.

"When you prohibit everything, society itself becomes your partner in enforcing the law," he told The New York Times.

Meantime, 7,477 miles away in Auckland, New Zealand, a report supported by over half the city's councillors proposes a ban on all billboards in much of central Auckland and in retail areas such as Newmarket.

If the full council accepts the recommendations, the changes are due to be publicly notified in January 2007 and public consultation will begin.

As a trickling stream becomes a torrent if fed by time and distance, the trend to ban outdoor could spread. Man the ramparts!

Data sourced from AdAge (USA) and New Zealand Herald; additional content by WARC staff