Berlin citizens' group fights outside advertising

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Berlin citizens' group fights outside advertising
Udo Müller, Ströer CEO shows off his wares. Photo: DPA

A district in Berlin could become an advertising-free zone after a citizens' group collected enough signatures to make councillors consider their demands for a ban on outside adverts.


The group, which calls itself the Office for Freedom from Advertising and a Good Life has, with more than 1,000 signatures, managed to get its plan included in the next district council meeting.

They say the continual presence of advertising in public spaces has reached such a level that it has become detrimental to everyday life.

Advertising manipulates people, presenting idealized cultural ideas, images of beauty and lifestyle expectations, they say on their website.

This adds to people's daily stress, they believe, as advertising is effectively a continual call for people to buy things.

The massive presence of advertising outside begs the question of who and how should be able to shape public spaces, the group says.

Public space, "is the area through which people move and meet each other. The dominance of outside advertising occupies this space of the people with commercial messages and so turns it into a place of consumption where people have no chance to escape the messages of the advertising industry."

Although the district council will discuss the call at its meeting on Wednesday, there is little chance of it becoming policy.

"The debate is important, and the cause is a good one. But it would cost too much money," Jonas Schemmel, spokesman for the district Green party told the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper.

The paper said the district had a deal with external advertising agent Ströer whereby it was granted access to outside advert spaces and in return spent €180,000 a year on maintaining and running the fountains in the area.

"That is not an insignificant amount," said Schemmel.

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