Amazon released a commercial on March 27 criticizing São Paulo Mayor João Doria for covering up the colorful graffiti that lines the streets of the city. Doria responded that Amazon’s concerns are merely an example of corporate opportunism.
In the commercial, Amazon projected quotes from famous books like 1984, along with the question, “Did they cover up the city with grey?” Amazon also took the opportunity to promote the Kindle, its e-Book product. Doria dismissed the commercial as opportunistic and requested that if Amazon was so concerned, then they should make a public donation.
Many in São Paulo see graffiti as beautiful art that cheers up the grey, monotonous city. In this context, there is an important difference between graffiti and pixaçao. For Brazilians, graffiti closely resemble murals, while pixaçao is commonly known as tagging in English and is the use of black spray-paint on walls. Most of São Paulo supports Doria’s decision to clean-up the city by removing the tagging, but many are angered by his move to remove graffiti as well.
Doria has a different approach to politics than most in Brazil. He was elected in 2016 in a campaign during which he regularly said, “I am not a politician, I am a businessman.” The former host of the Brazilian version of The Apprentice brings a brash attitude and a clean record that São Paulo appreciated after the numerous corruption scandals on the national level.
Amazon has since promised to donate hundreds of free Kindles to institutions that promote culture and education. Additionally, they have offered one free e-Book to every Brazilian that has a Kindle. For his part, Doria announced a program that would fund artists to put up more graffiti in designated areas after the clean-up process is completed. This graffiti area will serve as an open-air museum for street art.