Sunday, 19 October 2008


Back in December, 2006, the mayor of the 11-million-person Brazilian city of Sao Paulo banned all outdoor billboard advertising, citing advertisers' unwillingness to comply with the city's rules on what sort of billboards can be placed where. The statute's most visible impact promises to be at eye level and above. The outsized billboards and screens that dominate the skyline, promoting everything from automobiles, jeans and cellphones to banks and sex shops, have come down. All other forms of publicity in public spaces, like distribution of fliers, has also stopped. The law also regulates the dimensions of store signs, and will force many well-known companies to reduce them substantially by a formula based on the size of their facades. Another provision, much criticized by owners of transportation companies, outlaws advertising of any kind on the sides of the city's thousands of buses and taxis.Having just read a book about mass and popular culture, (An introduction to theories of popular culture, by Dominic Strinati) and being slightly alarmed at the thought that we are not a free as we think we are, and are in-fact more controlled than we are aware of, this comes as a pleasant and interesting surprise. It's a radical statement saying no to advertising, a move in the direction of communism perhaps?. It reminds me of the fall of the Berlin Wall, apart from the other way around. But, how do advertising and marketing companies get to their consumers in Sao Paulo now that they aren't allowed to parade their products along the skyline? How has this affected the way people think? Will this new society become less controlled and more free to think on their own? Freer than the rest of us? Maybe we should give it a go, although the streets of Sao Paulo do look rather empt, eerie and less colourful, as photographer Tony De Marco shows...

No comments: