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Will 'Brandalism' Work?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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What is brandalism?

While researching this post, we surfed and came across what seems to be the commonly accepted definition, or mantra, of brandalism. The definition goes, "Any advertisement in the public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It's yours to take, re-arrange, and reuse. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head."


There has been more outcry than usual about the pervasiveness of outdoor advertising, and AdLand and the anti-advertising community are butting heads at harder velocities. No one enjoys getting messages they don't need or want, and certainly no messenger wants to waste time on an uninterested listener.

So what gives?

Let's back up. In the UK, six artists traveled around several cities and postered their own "brandalism" over existing, paid work as a protest against the London Olympics branding regulations. They think the regulations were put into enforcement to protect commercial interests, and that was the last excuse the team wanted to hear. But there's more. The group, including a Banksy collaborator, claims to be putting up a fight against advertising. One of the members of the group is even quoted, saying "... the advertising industry takes on responsibility for the messages they force-feed us everyday."

Okay. Let's calm down.

Advertising is continually put down by those who think it is responsible for being there in the first place. People are beginning to argue that outdoor advertising is littering the skyscape. So what is their solution? Do they organize boycotts on brands who use outdoor advertisements in their cities? Do they fight the legal battles to get outdoor ads banned from cities? Do they patron businesses and organizations that swear not to use such media as put of their advertising arsenal? 

No, they use their art to replace the advertising. Of course! If it's your art, its not pollution. We're sure the public understands that.

The truth is, the problem these artists have is with the system. Everything is about consumption and pushing more product to more people for more profit. We get it; that's not how a global economy can survive. But throwing your angst on the messengers isn't the right way to prove it. Of course you'll get attention, but you won't get an answer.

Advertising can do good. And whether the artists like it or not, it looks like they believe that as well.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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