This is not recent, but it was news to me. In Dec 2006 in Sao Paulo (largest city in Brasil) the mayor banned outdoor advertising including billboards, fliers, logos, and banners behind blimps and airplanes. The ban has gone into effect in spite of the avid resistance from advertisers and businesses. The public supports it, but businesses are suing for their "right" to plaster ads on everything. Chain businesses are finding other ways to stand out, for example by using certain architectural themes, or by painting their buildings a distinctive color. They can have smaller signs, the size of which is based on the size of their facades.
Brasil is a democracy in which voting is mandatory for all citizens over the age of 18. Sao Paulo has 11 million residents, and is the 5th largest city in the world and the largest city in the southern hemisphere. The removal of the shroud of billboards revealed parts of the city that had previously been invisible, including favelas (shantytowns, as seen in the photo above) and businesses employing illegal aliens. But in my view, the removal of advertising is a victory for the people, a clearing of visual and mental space. I celebrate their choice. I long for a day when a decision is made in a US city that flies in the face of business.
The NPR story I heard:
Photos of the city without advertising:
I tend to agree with this commenter: