Ad free world?

In 2006, the government of Sao Paolo banished all outdoor advertising and pamphlets. “The Clean City Law came from a necessity to combat pollution . . . pollution of water, sound, air, and the visual. We decided that we should start combating pollution with the most conspicuous sector – visual pollution”, said Kassab, the major of Sao Paolo. There have been many discussions and different opinions about this. Especially people working in advertising were (of course!) offended and tried to launch a counter-campaign claiming that outdoor advertising is part of culture – without success. Furthermore, surveys indicate that more than 70% of the residents are happy with the new, ad-free look of their city… People feel more relaxed when they now walk down the streets and they even think that their city looks better without advertisements.

I’m quite sure that I prefer to live in an ad-free environment as well. It’s not only the visual pollution but also the influence of advertising on our mind and behavior which bother me – and even though I try to liberate myself from this influence, I often realize that it’s very difficult: I see a creamy, golden, delicious-looking brand new ice-cream on a billboard and maybe a few days later I’m passing a kiosk, seeing the ice-cream and… Needless to say that it was very delicious indeed – no wonder with having every imaginable flavor enhancer inside…

So right now, I’m starting to think about how our world would look like without advertising (not only without outdoor advertising but without any advertising at all). Will people still consume the same? What will change? How do we make our decisions about what to buy? Is it possible to replace advertising with information/education? Will the world look sad and grey? Will their be a demand for other/new products? I think it would be interesting to do a workshop about this topic (with the aim to create utopias)  – let me know if you are interested or if you know someone who did something in this field…

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2 responses to “Ad free world?

  1. you’re right. it’s not easy to educate people on an individual liberty base – i think that the scandinavian countries are quite good with this. maybe a first step is to abolish the system of evaluation that we have in most educational institutions (in germany as well as many other countries). have you watched the german movie “Free Rainer – Dein Fernseher lügt”? it’s not a great movie but I think that some of the thoughts/ideas are quite interesting (even though it’s also questionable)… but when people only get “bad food” isn’t it the responsibility of education to introduce them to “good food”? it’s a very delicate subject aout which i thought a lot during the last months – also in regard to developing work etc….

    and: i grew up without television but still i’m not free from it’s influence nowadays. i still don’t have a television (and don’t like to have one) but whenever i visit friends or my family and the tv is switched on, i can’t concentrate anymore on something else. i think that people who are used to watching tv can handle this much easier…

  2. by the way on this topic: i mostly grew up in an advertising free enviroment, ads were not a part of my childhood days – this is not utopia, but something very real and normal to me growing up in the province of poland in the eighties – and what i realise about my life, that i am almost completly free of the advertising influence… i guess it is partly, because i did not learn to speak this language in my youngest days – maybe for others it functions the opposite way, this of course can be a danger, but for me it turned out this way…

    one can say a lot of bad about an oppressive government, we used to have, but there were also some concepts for instance on tv, which were quite good – even the westgerman television years ago had an educative/informative character and mission, which i feel and talk with some friends, is kind of missing now more and more… but then also, education has to happen on an individual liberty base, otherwise you teach nobody nothing, but just oppress and we would go to another kind of utopia like: the brave new world, totalitaristic state or simply become something like the borg ;)))

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