Artist network Brandalism believes that the talent, energy and creativity of ad agency employees is “sinking into an ever-expanding black hole.” The network recently launched a campaign to appeal to those who feel the same, by placing several posters in front of ad agency offices in Manchester and London.
Another began, “If you work for Ogilvy, You shape our desires. Your artwork is seen across the city. But we want your artwork to have more meaning.
“There’s more to life than advertising. We need your creativity, and we’d love to talk to you.”
Ads with the same messages appealed to employees of TBWA, JWT and J. Walter Thompson. Each ad encourages interested creatives to visit Switch Sides, a Brandalism subsite that hosts a longer message to those who work at some of “the country’s top advertising agencies,” and photos of all of the posters in the campaign.
“We speak with people who work in corporate advertising all the time. Many are close friends, and express regular existential doubts about the work they do. Huge industries of artistic labour, and multi-million pound budgets - all in the pursuit of ... what? Another leather sofa? The latest airline deal to Rome?” reads the site. “Your creativity could mean so much more.”
It continues: “Right now, the world faces multiple social and environmental crises. Our rent is unaffordable, wealth inequality is growing, thousands are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea and the climate is destabilising at a faster and faster rate. We cannot consume our way out of these problems.
“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 need more art directors, copy writers, strategic planners, graphic designers, 3D artists, developers and project managers. We need all of you. We have a battle to fight. But, this not a battle against desire. We want more from life, not less.”
Brandalism launched the campaign on March 24, the day before the International Day Against Advertising, a call to “free up the planet from ads” that saw actions taken in at least 7 countries.
"The advertising industry has a profound impact on our values and what we consider important in life," said Brandalism's Robert Marcuse. "The skills of thousands of creative people are needed not to sell us more stuff, but to overcome the multiple social crisis of our times such as climate change, social inequality and child poverty. We want to start a conversation with those working in advertising about how we move beyond consumption and economic growth."
Brandalism made headlines late last year for placing 600 fake outdoor ads in Paris blasting corporate sponsors of the COP21 climate conference. Many specifically called out brands, such as AirFrance for hypocritical actions and Volkswagen for its emissions scandal.
The creative sector is one of the best-performing and most exported industries in the United Kingdom. Other initiatives, such as D&AD’s project Break the Silence, have also called on creative professionals to contribute to social and environmental causes.