Thursday, February 26, 2009

The "Clean City

I am coming to the end of my first week with branding giant Coley Porter Bell and it seems all the doubts I started having have been eased due to an incredible presentation by employee Michael Canturi on the 2007 advertising ban in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Each year CPB runs an annual event called Blue Sky in which employees are asked to anonymously submit an idea for a destination they would love to travel to and what they would do there. The most inventive and interesting suggestion wins and the winner receives £2500 to help  send them on their way.

Michael was interested in the effects of the ban and what that had meant for the city and its occupants. The ban came into effect to due a massive influx of corrupt advertising that was littering virtually every available space in the city. Strict laws were put into place banning all billboards and public advertising. Signage on shop fronts was also effected as they were asked to reduce the size of their logos. While this often produced hilarious results with many shop owners simply cutting their sign in half, rendering it illegible, it also acted as a catalyst for incredible creativity with several larger brands in more wealthier areas not afraid to take on the challenge. Street art also flourished as it filled the empty space billboards had left behind.

There where a couple of downsides. The rundown areas of the city started to look even worse as there were no longer any huge billboards to cover up the mess. Residents of large tower blocks were no longer subsidized for having advertisements placed on the side of their flats thus increasing the city's poverty and no cleaning measures where taken once adverts were taken down, which in many cases made the space in question look worse.

On the whole though the new Law seemed to have a really positive effect on the city. Clean, well considered design now decorates the high streets as supposed to a multitude of in your face branding. The newly considered space seemed to created a more 'breathable' environment which resulted in a more relaxed atmosphere. Due to the popularity of the Law other cities such as Milan and Rio are considering a similar approach.

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