In 2006 the mayor of São Paulo, Gilberto Kassab, passed the “Clean City Law” with the intention of curbing pollution — visual pollution included. This required the removal and ban of all (most) outdoor advertising such as that on billboards, store fronts, and transit.
Today the law is still in effect and according to a recent survey 70% of the population has found the ban beneficial to the city. According to a newdream.org article,
Unexpectedly, the removal of logos and slogans exposed previously overlooked architecture, revealing a rich urban beauty that had been long hidden.
While many great aspects of the city were revealed by this movement, some of the shantytowns that may have preferred to hide behind such large signs were exposed. The same article sited that, having these inequalities suddenly
… [brought] to light incited residents to improve conditions and begin discussing solutions. No longer could actual problems be masked by artificial solutions.
The documentary below discusses the ban and its effects. Apparently several years ago there was talk of a reversal of the ad law, but as of today it appears to still be in effect. As one of (or the only?) democratic countries with this type of legislature, hopefully the success of São Paulo’s visual pollution curb can inspire other like-minded cities to follow.