Take This Pitch And Shove It

TNYT looks at São Paulo’s radical, but righteous, move to eliminate outdoor advertising from the city.

Imagine a modern metropolis with no outdoor advertising: no billboards, no flashing neon signs, no electronic panels with messages crawling along the bottom. Come the new year, this city of 11 million, overwhelmed by what the authorities call visual pollution, plans to press the “delete all” button and offer its residents an unimpeded view of their surroundings.
The law is “a rare victory of the public interest over private, of order over disorder, aesthetics over ugliness, of cleanliness over trash,” Roberto Pompeu de Toledo, a columnist and author of a history of São Paulo, wrote recently in the weekly newsmagazine Veja. “For once in life, all that is accustomed to coming out on top in Brazil has lost.”

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. I happen to find outdoor advertising engaging, dynamic and aspirational — adding vibrance to otherwise monotonous city environments. In many places it actually adds what little color you have to urban sprawl. Times Square would be boring little neighborhood if it weren’t for the sights and sounds (and smells, but that’s another matter).
    I’ve never been to Sao Paolo, but if it’s anything like Mexico City, I should think outdoor advertsing is an improvment. In Mexico City, it masks the poorly-constructed, crumbling artifice that constitutes much of the urbanscape.

  2. The problem is that the law banned the advertising in private places – almost 15k ad faces – but preserve and increase the ads in the public spaces, from 2k urban furniture structures to more than 14K, that will be offered next year to intenational players like JCDecaux, Clear Channel and others. The “visual polution” is not the problem.

  3. I guess we can expect far less outdoor entries in Cannes.