U.K. ‘Guerilla’ Campaign Aims to Guilt Creatives Into Leaving the Ad Industry

By Patrick Coffee 

Ever heard of Brandalism? Neither had we…but it’s a U.K.-based organization that looks to “disrupt” the ad industry like some graffiti artist whose name we can’t remember.

The org’s most recent stunt is tied to tomorrow’s official International Day Against Advertising, and it aims to quite literally shame people working at several top London shops into leaving their jobs and doing something more…ethically sound…with their time.

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“Moral responsibility” sounds a bit like Paul Ryan, but far more admirable in theory.

The “Switch Sides” campaign targets creatives at the London-area offices of TBWA, BBDO, JWT and more, with its thesis statement claiming: “We were triggered by a particular concern: that your talent, energy and creativity is sinking into an ever-expanding black hole.”

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The argument continues, “Right now, the world faces multiple social and environmental crisis…We need your skills and your passion. Not to sell us more Snickers bars or BP’s latest sponsorship deal…. but to change the world.”

We predict that this effort be almost completely unsuccessful, but don’t let anyone say these folks are not dedicated or that they don’t have lofty goals. Last November, the org effectively trolled the COP21 Climate Conference with 600 fake outdoor ads shaming companies like VW for damaging the environment and contributing, in their own way, to various insoluble global problems.

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Some ad folks are skeptical of this latest effort, but Brandalism is like, please tell us more…we’re on your side.

The statement on the “Switch Sides” site does acknowledge that people need to make money to support their families and avoid getting their homes foreclosed but doesn’t quite explain how its own members manage to get by. How well do anti-corporate-advertising movements pay? We’re guessing the answer is “not nearly as well as Deloitte.”

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Also, we hear that startups and eco-friendly businesses with very earnest intentions often turn out to be shitty clients.

It’s like you can’t win.