Campaigners hijack advertising boards in Reading

Several advertising boards in the town centre has been hijacked, with the usual brand messaging being replaced with calls to cut fossil fuels.

The subverted advertising can be seen in Broad Street, Station Road, and more locations.

Among the most striking messages are a series told from the perspective of an ostrich, which is quoted saying her family ‘have their heads stuck in the sand’ over climate change.

In other messages, she fears her chicks will die of thirst due to the lack of rainfall supposedly caused by climate change, and announces she will have her ‘ovaries harvested and frozen’ to protect her DNA.

The other boards show ‘Restore Nature Now’ paw prints over advertising for the Star Wars: Jedi Survivor video game and Burger King’s vegan ‘Bakon King’.

The advertising boards have been taken over as part of the ‘ZAP Games’, which are held each year on the run-up to Black Friday with activists targeting outdoor advertising such as bus stops, billboards and digital screens, repurposing them for artistic purposes in an effort to ‘hush the relentless noise of consumerism’.

The ZAP Games originated in Brussels in 2020, with  ZAP standing for Zone Anti-Publicité, or ‘anti-advertising zone’ in French.

The event is organised by Subvertisers International, which claims to be a global movement of individuals and organisations ‘concerned with how advertising affects society’.

It is made up of local and national groups of activists, artists, NGOs, not-for-profits, teachers, parents, scientists and doctors.

Subvertisers International is made up of over 18 active groups in Belgium, France, Germany, UK, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, USA and Australia.

Activists argue that Black Friday, which lands on Friday, November 24 this year, drives an ‘unsustainable model of excessive consumption’ citing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data that every year two million tonnes of waste electronics are discarded by householders and companies in the UK.

The advertising at the bus stops and other places in the town centre is owned by JC DeCaux, one of the biggest advertising companies in the world.

A spokesperson for JC DeCaux said: “This is fly-posting and not paid-for advertising and our teams will be taking this down.”

Fly-posting is an offence under Section 224(3) of the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) 1990.

The advertising boards were previously targeted by climate activists in January this year, with messages accusing Toyota and BMW of misleading adverts on efforts being taken to reduce carbon emissions.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre