Subvertising: If you’re gonna look, then look again…

Art by Matt Bonner

Art by Lindsay Grime

Art by Michelle Tylicki

What is subvertising? Broadly, it is the art of making spoof advertisements from corporate and political actors with the aim of making the public think of the damage caused by those actors. The term was coined in 1991 by the cultural critic Mark Dery, and is a portmanteau of the words subvert and advertising.

Subvertising can take place physically on our high streets, with billboards hi-jacked to give an alternative message. They can also appear digitally as memes and spoof political slogans.

Art by Eloise

Art by Yasemine Akyuz

When we the public are constantly bombarded by corporate and political advertising (most of which are dubious, think greenwashing), we are not only being forced to look but forced to accept a reality. Subvertising uses the same techniques but presents us with an alternative viewpoint. We are no longer being brainwashed, but given a choice.

Mostly the targets are actors with a high carbon footprint – car makers, airlines, oil and gas companies – who would have us believe they are greener than grass while committing to hollow targets of net zero by the year 2050. Too late. We need action now, not in 2030, not 2040 and certainly not 2050. Other targets are political parties, along with advertising companies employed to make corporate publicity.  

Art by Matt Manson

Art by Soofiya

Art by Paul Insect

Subvertising organisations such as Brandalism, state: “We revolt against the corporate control of our culture and space. We are an international collective of artists and activists that confront the power of big business and their public relations advertising. Intervening into ad spaces that usually celebrate consumption, Brandalism use ‘subvertising’ as a lens through which we can view the social and environmental justice issues created by late stage capitalism.”

Adbusters claim: “We’re a global collective of writers, artists, designers, musicians, poets, philosophers and punks. Since 1989 we’ve been smashing ads, fighting corruption and speaking truth to power. We’re trying to forge a new way of living, create a whole new cultural vibe to escape the capitalist paradigm and halt humanity’s slide into a 10,000-year dark age.”

Art by Noel Douglas

Art by Noel Douglas



Barclays AGM Installation


Bristol Rising Tide – Too many Billboards


All images from: Brandalism

Interesting article from: The Guardian

As always, thanks for looking (twice) ✌☮🕊 

Ford, TVTA.