Beijing Mystery: What’s Happening To the Billboards? – Jason Leow

OB-AL637_VILLAr_20070611165702.jpg Beijing is tearing down billboards advertising luxury lifestyles in order to keep the display of wealth at bay, while the country’s wealth gap is in effect getting bigger. From Wall Street Journal:

Until recently, the highway leading to Beijing’s Capital International Airport was known as China’s Golden Avenue. Billboards on the 12-mile stretch, prized because it is what visitors to the capital see first, were the most expensive outdoor advertising in China. Not any longer.

In one of the most ambitious attempts ever to sanitize a city’s image, cranes were recently sent in to dismantle many of the 90-odd billboards lining the road. Some billboards still standing have tin sheets tacked onto them, to conceal the ads.

The campaign appears to have started with a crackdown on the advertising of luxury homes popular among China’s nouveaux riches. Now, as part of what city officials are calling a massive “urban reorganization exercise,” the advertising ban has been extended across much of this vast city. The push has sent the advertising industry reeling, in a country where millions of dollars are spent cultivating brand consciousness among new consumers. Banners and posters atop office towers, along highways and construction sites are coming down. Nothing is being spared — not even ads for next year’s Olympics . [Full Text, Subscribers Only]

Photo from wsj.com: In the suburbs of Beijing — right by the Red Snail Lake and the Red Snail Temple, northern China’s largest Buddhist shrine — sits Red Snail Lake Villas.

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