"Outdoor advertising companies would have you believe that cities can’t actually afford to buy back their public space."

Banning advertising inside cities


Mon, Oct 12th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

With public infrastructure — such as transit — which rely heavily on advertising for funding part of their functioning, The Guardian looks at what happens when cities ban billboards in order to reclaim urban spaces.

Piccadilly line commuters and tourists at Times Square notwithstanding, I think it’s safe to say that most people don’t actually love outdoor advertising. Even David Ogilvy, widely considered the father of modern advertising, expressed his disdain for the medium back in 1963. “Man is at his vilest when he erects a billboard,” Ogilvy wrote. “When I retire from Madison Avenue, I am going to start a secret society of masked vigilantes who will travel around the world on silent motor bicycles, chopping down posters at the dark of the moon.”

While Ogilvy never did get that motorbike gang together, the UN has recently revved into the debate. Last year, Farida Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, called on member states to be mindful of the influence of commercial advertising and marketing on public space. “The constant bombardment of our senses intrusively impacts our cultural lives,” she says. Outdoor advertising bans are a much-needed step to “re-balance the use of public spaces”.



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