Banksy gives his take on advertising

Banksy, the British graffiti artist, film director and painter, has published some comments giving his take on advertising. You get the impression he is not a fan.

His line is that advertisers are laughing at us and intruding in our lives while at the same time forbidding the public from touching their copyrighted images. He has a point.

He says the public owes adverisers nothing and encourages people to take back public spaces and re-arrange as they see fit:

“People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

“You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

“Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

“You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.

- Banksy via The Fox is black blog

Craig Ward who blogs on The Words and Pictures blog has drafted a reply:

“The last time I checked, The Advertisers at least had to pay a lot of money to use the public spaces that their wares occupy – unlike yourself who has decided to remove yourself from that model in the name of art and anti capitalism.

Another criticism often leveled at advertising is that it steals from artists and plagiarises ideas, where as your work is merely ‘inspired’ by one artist; Blek Le Rat. Which I guess is OK. And the fact that you’ve made a comfortable living from it is also fine. I feel like it’s a convenient irony though that the only people who can now afford to own your work are the ad-land Creative Directors and City boys that you so eagerly rail against, while at the same time selling your own brand of rebellious, anti-establishment cool,” read the rest here.

  • Martin Thomas

    Advertisers need to accept that they now operate in a Banksy world.  Their creative ideas will be manipulated, subverted and refined.  The smart ones are already building this into their creative thinking, developing concepts that invite people to play with their ideas. 

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