Jobs and society  |  Successes  |  27.11.2014

Grenoble bans advertising – a Green campaign success

With so  much of our public space today taken up by advertising – in effect,  invitations to consume – it’s refreshing to see what is currently  going on in Grenoble, the so-called capital of the French Alps, where the Green Mayor is standing up to the privatisation of public space by banning advertising.

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After standing on a campaign pledge to ban commercial advertising in  the city, the recently-elected Mayor for Europe Écologie – Les Verts  (the French Greens), Eric Piolle, is staying firm to his promise,  despite the threats of major businesses that investment in the city  will decline. But what is investment if it is not investment in people  and the environment?

As of April, the city will get rid of all of its 326 commercial  advertising spaces, including 64 large billboards. In their place, 50  trees will be planted before spring.

On the few remaining advertising spaces, the city will offer them not  to companies but to local cultural and social groups instead. With  public advertising revenues plummeting across much of the world, the  time has never been better to free up community space for the benefit  of local people.

The French village of Forcalquier implemented a similar ban back in  2009 but clearly on a much smaller scale. So as the first city in  Europe to commit to such a brave move, Grenoble is leading the way in  putting community space before profits and consumption.

It’s often said that advertising is just the generation of  insecurities – that is, so that we buy things we don’t need with money  we don’t have to impress people we don’t know. Under a Green mayor  sticking to his campaign pledges, thankfully Europe has at least one  city, and hopefully more soon, that is turning the tide on consumerism  and instead is putting wellbeing and ecology at the centre.

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