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Brief Published: 12 Jan 2012

Rome Protests over Billboard Advertising Growth


In 2006, Gilberto Kassab, mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil, passed the Clean City Law. It cracked down on visual pollution such as billboards, posters and bus ads – and now opposition council members in Italy’s capital, Rome, are hoping to follow suit.

Billboards are often constructed next to pavements, obscuring bus stops and street signs, not to mention centuries of spectacular architecture. A flurry of protest websites have been launched, and more than 10,000 Romans backed a new law to limit the number of billboards in the city. Telecom Italia, one of Italy’s biggest advertisers, has even removed its advertisements from the city.

It continues a recent international backlash. In March 2011, China banned luxury advertisements, which the government believed served as a painful reminder of the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, creating a politically unhealthy climate in Beijing. And in June, Parisian authorities banned billboards over 12 sqm, and introduced regulations to increase the distance between advertisements and schools.

Such moves send a clear warning to the industry – advertising must be innovative, not intrusive.