Branded cities: outdoor advertising, urban governance, and the outdoor media landscape



Abstract:  In many cities both rich and poor, new forms of outdoor advertising are emerging with potentially significant implications for the nature of the urban public realm. Public–private partnerships for advertising-funded provision of basic items of urban infrastructure such as bus shelters, street signs and public telephones have grown as a result of structural changes in the advertising industry and shifts towards neoliberal forms of urban governance. This article critically interrogates the implications of these new outdoor advertising arrangements for the urban public realm, and argues that they have potentially harmful consequences for the accessibility and diversity of the outdoor media landscape. It then proposes three strategies for the democratisation of that landscape. These strategies are not premised on an outright rejection of outdoor advertising, but rather seek to contest the monopolistic capture of outdoor media by public–private partnerships involving urban authorities and outdoor advertising companies.