Segments in this Video

Power of Consumerism (01:27)


Writer Pier Paolo Pasolini calls consumerism more powerful than fascism in its power to homogenize a population. (Opening Credits)

Personal Connection with Brands (01:01)

Documentary director and brand designer Marc Gobé describes his adolescent introduction to Coca Cola and his early associations with the brand.

Baby Boomer Consumerism (02:54)

Interviewees discuss the American Dream as it appealed to their immigrant parents and the Baby Boomer generation. The permeation of advertising brought Americans into the Age of Excess.

Origins of Biillboards (01:58)

Car culture in Los Angeles gave way to billboard culture. Interviewees comment on memorable examples.

Emergence of Advertising Industry (02:05)

Vintage video footage of a busy Los Angeles intersection depicts retro billboards and preaches the virtues of advertising. Outdoor advertisers were not respected at the turn of the century.

Volume of Outdoor Advertising (01:31)

The sheer volume of advertising in the United States creates clutter and forces advertisers to be more aggressive. If assembled together, U.S. billboards would cover 60,000 football fields.

Imposition of Outdoor Advertising (02:04)

People can't filter out outdoor advertising, which in essence means advertisers take the public's attention without compensation or consent. Advertising technology is getting smarter and more insidious.

Pushing Boundaries in Outdoor Advertising (01:54)

BMW executives describe the 1.5-acre billboard they erected close to the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

Concentration of Economic Power in Advertising (02:36)

Ridley Scott, director of "Blade Runner," believes we are nearing a state of big brother, corporate imperialism wherein a handful of companies rule the world. Outdoor advertising is power wielded by the economic elite.

Outdoor Advertising & the Brain (00:47)

Processing outdoor advertisements requires attention and energy from the brain in a way that viewing a tree, for example, does not.

Digital Billboards (01:07)

Digital billboards go unregulated in terms of brightness and consume the same amount of yearly energy as a house. Drivers look at digital billboards twice as long as they look at standard ones, which raises the likelihood of accidents.

Outdoor Advertising Excess (01:51)

Competition drives advertising into excess. The public can't choose which billboards to see and which not to see.

Illegal Billboards (01:01)

One resident of the Chelsea neighborhood in New York City criticizes the impunity of outdoor advertisers, even when city codes strictly regulate them.

Grassroots Activism Against Outdoor Advertising (03:42)

Public Ad Campaign aims to illuminate the abuse of public space by commercial interests. Activists paint over illegal ads in New York City.

Street Art v. Outdoor Advertising (04:27)

Graffiti artists and commercial powers compete for public space, though street art is often criminalized. Outdoor advertisers insist that the artistic integrity and likeability of a billboard is subjective.

Anti-Advertising Activism in Toronto (04:02)

Activists execute the Toronto Street Art Takeover to take back public space from commercial powers by replacing outdoor ads with with art.

Defending & Critiquing Street Art (01:31)

Critics of outdoor advertising praise street artists who use art to deliver a political message. A member of the outdoor advertising industry claims that both art and advertising aim to sell.

Challenging Outdoor Advertising in Los Angeles (03:46)

The billboard industry has a powerful lobby, but there is a vocal constituency in Los Angeles fighting against it. The City employs only two outdoor advertising inspectors. Citizens feel they lack power.

First Amendment & Outdoor Advertising (00:43)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that local governments don't violate the First Amendment when enacting prohibition on commercial billboards.

Advertisers' Economic Interest (01:07)

The bottom line of outdoor advertising is money, and a member of the industry staunchly defends this area of commerce.

Consumerism & New Affluence in China (02:42)

Citizens and advertisers in Shanghai, China discuss Chinese advertising culture and consumerism. The Chinese are in a hurry to acquire material things that were previously denied to them.

Ad Culture in Urban Mumbai (02:33)

Mumbai, India is noteworthy for its lack of physical and visual open space. Bright Outdoor Media virtually controls outdoor advertising.

Challenging Outdoor Advertising in Mumbai (02:18)

Dr. Anahita Pandole challenged the Mumbai government in Court to prohibit advertising in compulsory open spaces. She was targeted and threatened by her opponents.

Commercial Funding for Venetian Renovation (02:13)

The city of Venice, Italy has begun paying for much-needed renovations of historic buildings and canals with enormous and controversial billboards.

Lady Bird & Lyndon Johnson's Crusade Against Billboards (02:07)

Motivated by strong personal feelings, Lady Bird Johnson advocated for highway beautification and the removal of billboards.

Failure of Highway Beautification Act (03:30)

President Johnson signed the Highway Beautification Act, which proved relatively ineffectual. Over the years, the billboard industry continued to survive thanks to flawed provisions and loopholes in the act.

Advertising & Psychology (02:28)

Advertising works on subconscious levels to normalize and standardize certain behaviors, lifestyles, and ideas of self. Consumption is fueled by insecurity and aspirations to wealth.

Marketing to Children (02:12)

Advertisers now target children, who provide a captive and impressionable audience. Brands limit children's imagination when they're introduced into play and learning.

Corporate Spending on Advertising (00:52)

Critics of the ad industry believe companies should spend ad money on making the best possible products and services, which will sell themselves through word of mouth.

Challenging Outdoor Advertising in San Francisco (00:60)

A TV commercial warns San Francisco citizens to vote against a ballot measure that will loosen regulations on outdoor advertising.

Visual Pollution, Environment, & the Individual (03:21)

Experts and activists maintain that the proliferation of outdoor advertising obscures the human connection to place, a connection which has been shown to impact individual and public welfare.

São Paulo's Billboard Ban (02:56)

São Paulo, Brazil banned outdoor advertising when the mayor realized that visual pollution was easy to combat and that advertising was too prolific to be effective.

Benefits of São Paulo's Billboard Ban (02:36)

São Paulo residents comment on the positive effects of the Clean City Law, which included a boost in the newspaper industry and an overall sense of working towards a better community. The city was able to see itself again.

Billboard Ban in Houston (02:36)

In Houston, Texas, neighborhood activists and business heads alike fought for the elimination of billboards. The business interest in preserving cities' beauty has become powerful.

Economic Argument for Beautiful Cities (01:26)

Beautiful cities attract intellectual capital, placing urban beautification in the economic interest of both public and private entities.

Toward an Urban Future (02:27)

Experts make a humanitarian argument for maintaining beautiful cities. In 2040, 75% of the population will live in cities, and experts debate whether the world's citizens will fight to regain quality of living or be "destroyed by greed."

Progress in Fight Against Illegal Advertising (01:51)

Cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Mumbai are beginning to see the removal of illegal billboards.

How Citizens Can Participate in Fight (00:32)

The makers of this documentary offer recommendations to viewers about steps they can take to combat outdoor advertising and hold illegal advertisers accountable.

Credits: This Space Available: Outdoor Advertising and the Fight Against Visual Pollution (05:32)

Credits: This Space Available: Outdoor Advertising and the Fight Against Visual Pollution

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This Space Available: Outdoor Advertising and the Fight Against Visual Pollution

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3-Year Streaming Price: $179.95



With billboards choking cityscapes around the world, a global grassroots movement has sprouted that is uniting concerned citizens with visionary politicians, enlightened business leaders, and outraged street artists in a fight against visual pollution. This Space Available explores efforts to reclaim commercially usurped public spaces as it takes an incisive look at the differences between the Baby Boomer generation, which spawned the excess in advertising, and today’s young adults—the most marketed-to generation in history. Complex issues of economics, urban development, public space, aesthetics, and more are confronted as the documentary grapples with the question of who public space is for. (86 minutes)

Length: 88 minutes

Item#: BVL53486

ISBN: 978-1-61753-891-9

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.