Advertising ban uncovers the good and bad

Effective the beginning of this year, South America’s largest city, Sao Paulo, banned all outdoor advertising.

By all accounts, the billboards – most of them illegal – were truly blotting the landscape. And residents of this city of more than 11 million now seem happy with the uncluttered look and uncovered architecture (unless they work in the advertising industry, one assumes).

In an audio feature, local journalist Vinicius Galvao tells On the Media that the advertising ban has uncovered some other problems in the city, such as the exploitation of migrant workers and the existence of a shantytown. Both issues had been literally hidden by walls of advertising.

Here in Toronto, outdoor advertising is frequently critiqued at , with one of the hot topics at the moment being plans for advertising-funded street amenities. And the battle against illegal billboards has spawned a dedicated website at