Twenty-four prominent artists have completed the world’s first international collaborative ‘subvertising’ campaign on outdoor billboards across the UK as they seek to challenge the destructive impacts of the advertising industry.
Renowned street artists such as Ron English, Robert Montgomery, Broken Fingaz, Know Hope and Banksy collaborator Paul Insect have contributed art works that have been installed by a team of guerilla artists a fortnight before the London 2012 Olympic Games in one road trip. This saw 35 anti-advertising artworks installed in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and London.
The artists have collaborated to challenge the destructive role of the advertising industry in a range of social issues including debt, the environment, body image, consumerism, cultural values and last summer’s riots.
Organisations from arts, academic, third sector and activist networks have provided research and reports that have formed the basis for the artists responses. The artists have also responded to government reports on the 2011 Riots and recent think tank reports that have opened the ethical debate regarding advertising and its detrimental impact on our cultural values.
One of the installers of the artworks, Robert Graysford, 27, said, “We’ve taken over these billboards because the advertising industry takes no responsibility for the messages they force-feed us every day. They claim to give us choice but we have no choice to ‘opt out’ from these intrusions into our public and personal spaces.”
“We’re lab rats for ad execs who exploit our fears and insecurities through consumerism. I’m a human being, not a consumer. So by taking these billboards, we are taking these spaces back. If Sao Paolo in Brazil can ban all outdoor advertising, so can we”.
The strict enforcement of branding regulations for the London 2012 Olympic Games for commercial interests has provoked artistic responses to challenge these.
Bill Posters, who subverted a famous Nike advert of Wayne Rooney clutching shopping bags with the tagline, ‘Just Loot It’ said, “The ad industry creates pressure when they manipulate our needs and desires. Pressure to have the latest gear, clothes and phones. This pressure erupted when kids took to the streets across the country to claim what they had been told that they needed.”
All the artworks can be seen on the Brandalism website at www.brandalism.org.uk.