Jason Leow of the WSJ wrote yesterday about the removal of 90+ billboards on China’s Golden Avenue in a bid by the city sanitize the city’s image. He reports that the crackdown appeared to start on the advertising of luxury homes. Now, he went on, as a part of a massive urban reorganization exercise the advertising ban has been extended across much of Beijing.
This is reminiscent of a similar move in New Delhi a few years ago where thousands of illegal billboards were removed so you could actually see the city. At the time there wasn’t actually that much to see but a lot has changed since and presumably the city planners in Beijing expect their city to continue to evolve and would prefer that billboard proliferation not be a part of the outlook.
This of course poses a huge headache for brands that relied on these billboards to get their messages across, however unsubtly. So as the city tries to prevent itself from being one giant Times Square or Piccadilly Circus it will be interesting to see where those ad dollars go that would have promoted all those luxury cars and condos. I suspect the ad agencies will have some ideas on how to spend the money but maybe some PR execs should be putting their thinking caps on too.