Monday, May 14, 2007

A Sadder, Duller Place

When Sao Paulo, Brazil voted to ban outdoor advertising, one member of the City Council complained:

"I think this city is going to become a sadder, duller place," said Dalton Silvano, who cast the sole dissenting vote and is in the advertising business. "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."
Brazilian journalist Vinicius Galvao describes what happened next:
[I]n a lot of parts of the city we never realized there was a big shantytown. People were shocked because they never saw that before, just because there were a lot of billboards covering the area....

Sao Paulo's just like New York. It's a very international city. We have the Japanese neighborhood, we have the Korean neighborhood, we have the Italian neighborhood and in the Korean neighborhood, they have a lot of small manufacturers, these Korean businessmen. They hire illegal labor from Bolivian immigrants.

And there was a lot of billboards in front of these manufacturers' shops. And when they uncovered, we could see through the window a lot of Bolivian people like sleeping and working at the same place. They earn money, just enough for food. So it's a lot of social problem that was uncovered where the city was shocked at this news.
The notion that Sao Paolo's well-off citizens were previously unaware of the city's slums is hard to accept, not least because that troubled city's best and brightest are inclined to travel everywhere by helicopter. Still, this is an effect of outdoor advertising that I hadn't really considered before.

On the bright side, the city's blanks signs provide the perfect testing ground for subliminal advertising.

(The photo at top is from Sao Paulo No Logo, a Flickr set by Tony de Marco.)

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