This doesn't have any relevance to Austin, but it's still interesting.
A few years ago, Sao Paulo banned essentially all outdoor advertising. Not just billboards but virtually any kind of sign. The Golden Arches are gone. So are signs painted on the sides of buildings. Neon signs, too. Even storefront signs.
The ban was widely lauded at the time. A blow against "visual pollution" and corporate manipulation of virtuous but sadly suggestible consumers.
The advertising is now gone. This is a strictly subjective opinion, of course, but the result isn't pretty. "Cleansing" the city of advertising did indeed focus attention on the underlying architecture. But, judging from the pictures and videos, the city's architecture doesn't warrant attention. It looks drab, blandly utilitarian. Even seedy.
I wonder what impact this has had on commerce in the city. Outdoor advertising is actually useful. All those signs served a purpose. They provided information, mainly by cutting search costs. But the ban was motivated in part by anti-commercial sentiments, so I suppose the city's residents got what they wanted. (Maybe I'm wrong, but Latin American and South American countries seem to have an abiding dislike of markets.)