Billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising are found all over the world, and the issues involved in trying to regulate them often strike a common theme, regardless of national boundaries. In Johannesburg, South Africa, a city just slightly smaller than Los Angeles, an attempt is being made to revise the city’s outdoor advertising regulations in a comprehensive way. Here’s what the draft report on these revisions has to say about the “visual environment,” a phrase that often draws blank looks from public officials here in L.A., or conjures up a vast blank space to be auctioned off to advertisers.
“The visual environment is a key to ensuring mental health and psychological wellbeing. It has an immense impact on how we think and act as human beings. Research has shown that the visual environment has a definite influence on human behavioural patterns such as vandalism, attitudes that determine the productivity of office workers or even the crime rate. It also plays an important role in creating healthy communities. A sense of place and identity is created by means of the visual environment that leads to community pride, a sense of security and permanent belonging, human dignity and enthusiastic citizen involvement.”–From South African Manual for Outdoor Advertising Control