Advertising and inequality have long been observed to go hand in hand. New research from Adfree Cities confirms that outdoor advertising is disproportionately placed in areas of existing deprivation. Continued promotion of unhealthy products like junk food, alcohol, gambling and pay-day loans in areas already affected by higher than average air pollution compounds inequality and reduces social capacity to make change.

Image of a report front cover.

How outdoor advertising placement relates to health and wealth inequalities

Adfree Cities has conducted a first-of-its-kind national survey of roadside advertising to demonstrate a national trend in which advertising in public space is disproportionately located in more deprived and more polluted areas

This new evidence supports policymakers in aligning planning legislation for advertising with public health and equality goals.


Explore the research

The report takes a national picture as well as local case studies from Leeds and Sheffield. Click on the images below to find out more about outdoor advertising in your constituency or ward.

Map of ad locations in England and Wales

England and Wales

  • There is 6 times more advertising in the most deprived decile of England than the least deprived. 
  • 82% of outdoor advertising is in the poorest half of England and Wales .
  • 92% of outdoor advertising is in the most polluted half of England and Wales.
  • The 10 most deprived constituencies have 9 times more ads than the 10 least deprived constituencies.
A map of advertising locations in Leeds.

Leeds

  • 58% of outdoor advertising is in the 3 most deprived deciles vs 7% in the 3 least deprived deciles. 
  • The most deprived decile has 34% of all outdoor ads.
  • 79% of outdoor ads are in the 5 most polluted deciles of the city.
  • The 5 wards with the most outdoor advertising (with 48% of the total) have 27 times as much advertising as the 5 wards with least (with 1.8% of the total).
A map of advertising locations in Sheffield.

Sheffield

  • 56% of outdoor advertising is in the 3 most deprived deciles vs 8% in the 3 least deprived deciles. 
  • The most deprived decile has 32% of all outdoor ads.
  • 91% of outdoor ads are in the 5 most polluted deciles of the city
  • The 5 wards with the most outdoor advertising (with 58.2% of the total) have 32 times as much advertising as the 5 wards with least (with 1.8% of the total).

Take action now: #BetterWithoutBillboards

Regulation of outdoor advertising is worryingly outdated. Current regulations were last updated in 2007, before digital billboards became widespread – that’s like regulating digital communications with laws written before the first iPhone was released.

The need for reform is clear and urgent. Write to your MP today and call on them to support the changes we need to empower communities and local government to say NO to outdoor advertising and its harms.

Together we can create happier, healthier cities free from the pressures of corporate advertising.

Ready to go further?

If you want to take action where you live to help stop the spread of outdoor advertising and create positive alternatives, then check out our resources on

A group of people install an artwork in an old billboard frame.
The ‘Burg Arts Board’ in Bristol, showcasing positive alternatives to corporate advertising.