The fake, unauthorised outdoor ads were strategically placed around Paris this past weekend, and were made to look nearly identical to the originals.
The ads were prepared by an impressive array of artists, a team that includes Neta Harari, Jimmy Cauty, Banksy-collaborator Paul Insect, Escif, and Kennard Phillips. In all, some 82 artists contributed from 19 different countries.
Brandalism says the 600 fake ads critique "the corporate takeover of the COP21 climate talks," while exposing "the links between advertising, consumerism, fossil fuel dependency and climate change".
Major brands like Volkswagen, Air France, Total, Dow Chemicals, and GDF Suez were among the many companies targeted. Heads of state were also included in the campaign, including Francois Hollande, David Cameron, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Shinzo Abi.
A smiling President Barack Obama swims with one of his daughters, while oil burns in the background. (Credit: Brandalism)
British Prime Minister David Cameron (Credit: Brandalism)
Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe (Credit: Brandalism)
Here's what Brandalism's Joe Elan had to say in a statement:
By sponsoring the climate talks, major polluters such as Air France and GDF-Suez-Engie can promote themselves as part of the solution — when actually they are part of the problem. We are taking their spaces back because we want to challenge the role advertising plays in promoting unsustainable consumerism. Because the advertising industry force feeds our desires for products created from fossil fuels, they are intimately connected to causing climate change. As is the case with the Climate talks and their corporate sponsored events, outdoor advertising ensures that those with the most amount of money are able to ensure that their voices get heard above all else.
As Angela Natividad notes in AdWeek, "The objective is to highlight the hypocrisy inherent in those companies associating themselves with an event that their actions suggest they don't really care about." The Volkswagen piece is a particularly good — and timely — example.
The pieces were installed in advertising spaces owned by JC Decaux, which is one of the world's largest advertising firms, and an official sponsor of COP21.
Brandalism, which describes itself as "a revolt against corporate control of the visual realm", got started back in 2012 and has grown to include teams in 10 UK cities. Back in May 2014, it "reclaimed" over 360 corporate advertising spaces with handmade original art designed by 40 artists from around the world.