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The $80,000 advertising space

October 10, 2018




Imagine if advertising was against the law. In San Paulo, Brazil – it was.  


Back in 2006, the city was a mess of advertising billboards, illuminated sites and shop signs. The city proposed a ban and despite protestations from advertisers, businesses and building owners, it went ahead. 


The Clean City Law meant that 15,000 billboards were taken down and it was welcomed by the public.


The ban had two effects… Firstly the city looked better – some amazing architecture was being hidden behind hoardings and even where it wasn’t, things looked cleaner and more organised. Secondly, it turns out that all that advertising was covering up some serious social issues that, once uncovered, needed to be sorted out. For example, small shanty towns and buildings in need of repair were suddenly exposed. 


By the way, this has also happened at London’s Trocadero Centre to a lesser extent. This image shows what the Trocadero looked like at the turn of the century, in the fifties and now.


Back in San Paulo, they recently decided to re-introduce some advertising in a very controlled way. This has made the available spaces more valuable. 


Last year, the city allowed bids for 32 LED panels positioned on the bridges on the main city ring road. Successful bidders are responsible for maintaining the bridges, including painting, cleaning, lighting, installing cameras and otherwise maintaining the bridges. In addition, 50% of the space on the panels must display traffic and weather information. 


The cost of these panels? Approximately $95 million dollars for the 36-month contract. That’s about $80,000 per panel, per month.


So, as a result if the ban, advertising in San Paulo is now more valuable, more considered and, given the small amount available, far more effective. 


So, how do you increase the value of advertising? Simple. Ban it. 


For more about this story, you can check out this podcast episode, this article, or this Wikipedia entry.  

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