Today we explore our advertising culture. And pose the question whether it is time for an overhaul of what messages are displayed in our public spaces.
The writer Anton Chekhov once said; “advertising is the very essence of democracy”. The ability for people in society to use advertising as a tool to tell the world about their ideas has undoubtedly at certain points in history created positive change in the world.
Huge charity appeals for humanitarian disasters such as typhoon Haiyan and the conflict in Syria have relied upon advertising to inspire the general public to donate huge sums of money.
As citizens we are bombarded with messages from an ever expanding number of media channels. On a daily basis we are faced with the difficult task of separating which advertising messages are truthful and add value to our lives from those which are not.
Judging which messages act as nothing more than a public relations smokescreen for activities that hurt our, communities not strengthen them is becoming an increasingly difficult task.
Our receptive sensors are being battered by constant subliminal messaging our filters are tired; all making resistance to the bad messages harder and harder by the day.
Other writers throughout history such as F.Scott Fitzgerald have been less kind to advertising than Chekhov. Fitzgerald once said “Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero.”
At People Like You, we are somewhere in the middle on advertising. We passionately believe in a free open democracy and the right and ability of us all to tell our powerful unique stories. We happened to recently visit the Hohenschoenhausen prison in Berlin.
This was the prison of the Stasi; where political people like ourselves ended up and endured physical and mental torture. Seeing this prison and hearing the stories of those who resided there is an experience we will never forgot.
The visit reaffirmed our belief in an society where freedom of speech is championed and censorship minimal. This is why we love this video by campaign by the campaign group Brandalism calling for a revolt against corporate control of the visual realm.
This week they went and conducted the biggest takeover of outdoor advertising space swapping hundreds of dubious adverts for art.
Advertising in public space is expensive. Normally only the biggest brands with the most money can afford to be in these spaces. It is the likes of BP, McDonalds, KFC cluttering up our public space. These brands in our opinion don’t add value to our communities they attack our environment and public health, they don’t create wellbeing and harmony.
We would love to see a scheme whereby local food co-ops, sports clubs and charities are given free billboards to advertise. Censorship on brands should always be the last resort a far more appealing idea is a people funded takeover of public space outbidding the fast food outlets and sharing messages of compassion, hope and community.
The awesome team at Brandalism provides resources and support for anyone who wants to reclaim their visual space. Check out their resources page, and get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org