Could you imagine if the City of New York banned advertising in Times Square? How about advertising in all public spaces? Well, thatâ€™s exactly what the city of SÃ£o Paulo, Brazil, voted to do last September, by a vote of 45 to one, and it took effect January of this year. Madison Avenue has mostly swept this story under the rug, but itâ€™s real â€” and daunting. In my latest MediaPost column, I said:
Â [I]tâ€™s probably not a bad idea for the advertising industry to voluntarily rein in its own addiction, and begin instituting boundaries, particularly in public spaces.
…Itâ€™s one thing for uncontrollable advertising clutter to denigrate commercial media platforms like television, Web sites, radio channels or print. This kind of clutter can be easily ignored, boycotted, turned off or avoided through ad-blocking technology; it exists only if granted attention. And people are doing just that, in increasing numbers, because theyâ€™ve had enough clutter and irrelevancy. They want more control.
But advertising clutter in public spaces is very different. Public spaces belong to all of us, and they become what we collectively make of them. Moreover, we simply donâ€™t have the same ability to avoid public spaces should we feel invaded. Theyâ€™re immersive and located where we live. That clutter is even extending our definition of public, to include venues such as textbooks, classrooms, movie theaters and planes
…So many advertising venues already are a tragedy of the commons, but must we extend that plight to our public spaces? Canâ€™t we get it under control?
Check out my full column and reader comments here.