Marketers: Visually Polluting Your Countryside Since 1913

Product: various
Date: 1913

1913 cow-shaped billboard

Billboards cluttering up the highway. Stories-tall advertising destroying the beauty of the countryside. It’s a modern problem, born of the car culture that rose to prominence in 1950s America.

That’s all true, at least in North America. But billboards — and vocal opposition to their intrusion on a city or country view — have been around much longer than that. A photo essay page from a 1913 London Illustrated News shows half a dozen ad boards from around France.

1913 advertising billboards

1913 advertising billboards

1913 advertising billboards

1913 advertising billboards

The central image of the photo essay is a cartoonist’s rendering of the famous Angelus by Millet, as the cartoonist envisioned it would have to be painted in the early 20th century.

1913 advertising billboards

The text with the photo essay described a new tax on advertisers that, it was hoped, would decrease the number of such “landscape advertisements.”

“To the great joy of lovers of beautiful landscape, the French Government have taken a definite step in an attempt to lessen the number of advertisement-hoardings set up in the open in picturesque places, if not to abolish them, by placing upon the unsightly structures a tax…”

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One Response to “Marketers: Visually Polluting Your Countryside Since 1913”

  1. Louis Rondeau on April 6th, 2009 10:31 am

    Fascinating stuff! Thanks for the info!

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