Mapping the Gendered Landscape of Outdoor Advertising

Authors: Elisabeth Sedano*, University of Southern California
Topics: Cartography, Gender, Urban Geography
Keywords: outdoor advertising, volunteered geographic information, feminist geography, landscape, digital geography
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Outdoor advertising is a ubiquitous aspect of the urban landscape. By offering women’s bodies as objects of to be gazed upon (Williamson 1978) and teaching women to be better homemakers through what they buy (Gudis 2004), outdoor advertising creates a distinctly gendered landscape (Rosewarne 2009). A sign may be viewed by thousands of people, but it is experienced differently by each (Cronin 2010; Sedano 2016). The place a sign sits, the ad it holds, the individual who sees it, with their unique body and history – these are unique to each encounter, and each encounter is just one of the innumerable, ephemeral experiences that make up cityspace. This paper reports on a project to create a visual archive of the urban landscape of outdoor advertising. Ephemeral is a mobile mapping application that lets users map photos of outdoor advertising. The app lets offer their own description of the advertising and their feelings about it, and the project thereby creates a personal, affective cartography of urban space and the gendered experience of the landscape of advertising.
Cronin, A. 2010. Advertising, Commercial Spaces and the Urban. New York: Palgrave.
Gudis, C. 2004. Buyways: Billboards, automobiles, and the American landscape. New York: Routledge.
Rosewarne, L. 2009. Sex in public: Women, outdoor advertising and public policy. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Sedano, E.J. 2016. Advertising, information, and space: Considering the informal regulation of the Los Angeles landscape. Environment and Planning A, 48(2), 223-238.
Williamson, J. 1978. Decoding advertisements: Ideology and meaning in advertising. London: Marion Boyers.

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