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.