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The World’s First Ad-Free City

Can you imagine walking down a city street without seeing a single billboard?

A small city at the base of the French Alps has become the first ad-free city in the world.

Grenoble, which has a population of around 155,000, no longer allows advertisements in an outdoor setting. Instead, they’ve planted trees in each location where an outdoor billboard once stood.

More and more businesses are opting to advertise on online platforms. Grenoble isn’t trying to rid advertising altogether, but took an innovative approach to advertising in the digital age. Since the ban in Grenoble, other major cities like Sao Paulo have followed in its footsteps.

So what does this mean for the future of advertising? Outdoor advertisements are far from fading off the market, but it does show that a shift in the trends is affecting the industry. Social media advertising proves to be some of the most cost-effective forms of advertising while also offering a direct method of contact for the consumer.

 

Walking around an ad-free city from a marketing perspective:

When I wandered the streets of Grenoble in 2016 fresh out of college with a degree in advertising, I noticed a few key characteristics of why ad-free works for its residents.

-The city is innovative, but also very traditional. Old town looks incredibly similar to its yester-years: advertisements where one of the only characteristics showcasing the 21st century in the 18th-century town.

-Technology is booming. Although the exteriors showcase cobblestoned streets, the interiors are booming with technology and start-ups.

-It’s not a major tourist hub. Grenoble isn’t quite like Barcelona, Paris, or Madrid, where competition is much higher for attracting consumers.

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