Call to reject advertising in Birmingham

Hundreds support launch of Adblock Brum campaign.

A new campaign has been started in Birmingham to oppose corporate advertising.

Adblock Brum has been set up by residents who want to see less adverts – like those pushing new cars, junk food and fast fashion – in our streets.

A petition against the development of fourteen new bus-stop advertising screens in Selly Oak received over 250 signatures when it was launched before Christmas. Permission was granted for the screens by Birmingham City Council, but Adblock Brum co-founder Sara Baker says public opposition to such adverts is growing:

“The combined electricity use of these new screens is staggering: more than the energy used to power 30 houses! We can’t leave our homes without being bombarded with messages designed to make us buy stuff we don’t want or need. We need to resist new advertising infrastructure in order to respond appropriately to the climate emergency and improve the wellbeing of our communities.”

A launch event for Adblock Brum will be held on Saturday 25th January from 2pm to 5 pm at Stirchley Baths. Entitled An Introduction to Adblocking and Subvertising, the afternoon will feature experienced campaigners and activists from Bristol and London who are making the journey to share their successes and experiences of similar campaigns.

Renowned local artists Folkawolf and VoidOne will also be speaking about their work showcasing political installations in place of adverts. Attendees can expect an entertaining exploration of the various tactics available to lessen outdoor advertising in public spaces, and work towards positive alternatives like community art or rewilded green spaces.

Adblocking involves organising to prevent new advertising screens being installed and removing existing billboards. Subvertising is the artistic technique of altering or replacing adverts. Both approaches have grown in popularity in recent years, charting an increase in public opposition to outdoor advertising.

Residents in Bristol stopped the development of nearly twenty new billboards in 2019. Campaigner Leigh Coghill will be attending the event to explain how.

She said: “Advertising companies treat our streets as a sales opportunity, but we don’t have to put up with it. When we get organised, we can take back control of the messages that our families are exposed to. Evidence shows that ads have an awful impact on our mental health, our personal finances, our local economies and so on… by changing this, campaigns like Adblock Brum show we can create happier, healthier, less stressed-out cities.”

You can sign up for the event and updates from Adblock Brum here, and follow on Facebook and Instagram.