If you ever looked at the overwhelming amount of advertising in urban spaces and questioned whether or not you can make a difference, you most certainly can. Meet Rami Tabello, the man behind my new favorite website: IllegalSigns.CA. The Toronto based site tracks illegal signs, as well as lax enforcement through freedom of information requests and old-fashioned sleuthing. Since starting earlier this year, his organization was able to remove 200 illegal signs in just their first 2 months.
I’m still a bit speechless by how awe-inspiring this effort is, so I’ll let them explain…
Everyone should have a hobby. Our hobby is destroying illegal billboards with the rule of law.
The outdoor advertising industry has a global culture of non-compliance with the law. Advertising companies are erecting illegal billboards all over the world, wherever they can get away with it. In Toronto, this renegade, lawless industry has been acting with impunity due to bureaucratic negligence.
Our Streets are where civic capital is created. Illegal billboards monetize our civic capital, under no colour of right, by treating citizens as consumers first. Illegal billboards commodify what is unique about our neighbourhoods by turning our Streets into pages of a mass-market magazine, without regard to the law. Join us as we fight to legalize and democratize Toronto’s visual environment. Join us as we fight to Reclaim the Streets.
Another amazing tidbit pulled from a piece on illegalsigns.ca in Canada’s Marketing Daily:
Les Abro, president and CEO of Abcon Media, acknowledges the outdoor advertising industry has a history of flouting signage bylaws. “It is widespread. It’s the nature of the beast—you either do it or you don’t do any business,” says Abro.