Saturday, November 9, 2013

10. No to Outdoor Advertising

Living in the city, we are so used to seeing it filled with abundant outdoor advertising - from billboards and store signs to bus wraps and wallscapes - that it's hard to imagine how the city would look like without them, in its bare beauty. While we can only guess what it would actually look like, Dmytro Fomenko, a Ukrainian photographer, tried to capture the streets of Kiev with and without outdoor advertising, and the contrast is glaring.

Images via Dmytro Fomenko
What stands out to me the most is that all these billboards are blocking the city's historic landscapes, like the church, bridge, and monument, from our sight. While I understand that outdoor advertising is an effective way to reach consumers, I believe it shouldn't flood the city to the point where people get caught in a myriad of ads and become confused or no longer pay attention to them. The ads' placement should not disrupt the harmony and beauty of the city's architecture, so smart planning is a must.

Actually, there is a city that decided to solve this problem in a radical way. In 2006, the mayor of São Paulo, Brazil, passed the Clean City Law, which banned all outdoor advertising for its "visual pollution." Thousands of ads had to be removed from all public places, leaving the city looking as bare as it could be. Surprisingly, the law hasn't affected businesses much at all, while the overall effect was found "beneficial" by 70 percent of the city's residents. Some advertisers were actually pleased with the law as it prompted them to explore new, more interactive media channels, like the Internet and social media.

Images via BuzzFeed
While I don't think that fighting the abundance of outdoor advertising necessarily has to be this extreme, I do believe that advertisers and the city administration should work on this issue together and try to give priority to the city's aesthetics.

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