Birmingham artist launches billboard poster campaign

Guerilla artists install climate change parody car adverts across English billboards.

A recent wave of parody car and SUV adverts have been spotted on billboards and bus stops across England – in a nationwide ad hack by the Brandalism network.

The guerilla artworks featuring brands such as Range Rover, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Citroen, Lamborghini and Vauxhall were installed by the network’s initiatives in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, London and Exeter.

The billboard posters criticise the car industry for misleading adverts that have driven up demand for polluting vehicles and private car use – resulting in increased carbon emissions from road transport and worsening air pollution and congestion in towns and cities.

Peter Marcuse, from Brandalism said: “Car adverts promote private car ownership as the ultimate status symbol. Themes of power, success and social status are mixed with exotic locations and empty roads to promote a mirage of freedom and mobility. The resulting problems of traffic congestion, worsening air pollution and climate breakdown are left out of these glitzy ads.

“Our towns and cities have become so dominated by private cars that we’re struggling to implement sustainable alternatives as the health and social costs mount. The active promotion of polluting vehicles through advertising campaigns isn’t helping the situation. We need a cultural shift away from cars.”

The parody adverts are particularly aimed at highly polluting Sports Utility Vehicles. Environmental organisations from the New Weather Institute and climate charity Possible have recently launched a petition calling for advertising for SUVs to be banned.

Peter Marcuse added: “Outdoor advertising billboards are used to promote new cars to motorists stuck in traffic. It’s absurd.”

Over 30 artists including Paul Insect, Jimmy Cauty, street artist Dr. D, Fokawolf, satirist Darren Cullen, Matt Bonner and Michelle Tylicki created 45 different artwork designs. One succinct and powerful billboard poster was produced by Birmingham-based street artist Fokawolf and reads: “Ignore the Kids, Burn the Planet” with a picture of an SUV.

A billboard in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter features a great conceptual piece of artwork drawing parallels with smoking adverts of the past – these adverts were banned for public health reasons. The artwork was conceived by the very talented artist Paul Insect.

The Jewellery Quarter saw another large scale design, echoing the lung damage idea. This creative, Remain Humain, chose to focus on the suffering of the unborn foetus due to air pollution.

Opposition to outdoor advertising billboards has continued to grow in recent months, with Adblock groups of residents forming to oppose planning applications for new digital advertising screens. Groups in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and Leeds have recently created the Adfree Cities network. The group argue outdoor advertising can exacerbate inequalities between neighbourhoods as heavy road networks, which contain the most outdoor advertising sites and worst air quality, are typically located in poorer neighbourhoods.

Other artists warned the much vaunted switch to Electric Vehicles will not solve our issues of urban congestion or the air pollution from brake and tyre particulates.