Category Archives: News

Heather Armstrong’s moving talk on paid content

For the last 14 years, Heather Armstrong shared her life online with honesty and wit—work and marriage, raising two daughters, struggles with depression and parenthood—earning her a massive audience. But it took a uniquely modern emotional and physical toll, contributing to her decision to walk away from full-time blogging earlier this year.

Recorded in September 2015 at XOXO, an experimental festival celebrating independently produced art and technology in Portland, Oregon

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Tehran’s Mayor Replaces all Billboards with Art

Managing a big city like Tehran goes beyond providing services. Culture and art should be a part of this too.”

Source: Suddenly, Tehran’s Mayor Becomes a Patron of the Arts –

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Add-Art 2.0 released

Install Add-Art!

Add-Art replaced ads in your browser with art images. We’ve just released an update and you can choose from multiple art sources.

Add-Art Settings

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How to vandalise advertising – a 2m video


Note: This can also be done more quickly with glass christmas ornaments bought at a thrift store.

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UN expert in cultural rights calls for greater scrutiny and control of commercial advertising

Yesterday in the United Nations General Assembly the topics were the same as what the Anti-Advertising Agency worked on for years. Steve Lambert was part of a research meeting by the Special Rapporteur for yesterday’s report.

NEW YORK / GENEVA (28 October 2014) – From food consumption models to burial rituals, social behavior and beauty canons, commercial messaging can deeply influence peoples’ beliefs, aspirations, cultural values and practices, today said the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed.

In her report to the UN General Assembly on the impact of commercial advertising and marketing practices on cultural rights, Ms. Shaheed called for increased scrutiny of the advertising and marketing industry and urged Governments to actively protect freedom of thought, opinion and expression, cultural diversity and ways of life, the rights of children with respect to education and leisure, academic and artistic freedom and the right to participate in cultural life and to enjoy the arts.

“States wishing to protect cultural diversity need to protect their societies from undue levels of commercial advertising and marketing while increasing the space for not-for-profit expressions,” the human rights expert said. In her view, such protection would support and open up the democratic debate, as opposed to interfering with the right to freedom of thought and opinion.

“The increasingly blurred line between commercial advertising and other content, the myriad advertisements people receive daily, the dissemination of such communications through a large variety of media used in a systematic and integrated way and the resort to techniques aimed at circumventing individual rational decision-making raise serious concern,” she added.

Ms. Shaheed explained that her concern is not that change occurs in cultural practices and world views, but rather relates to the disproportionate and omnipresent nature of commercial advertising and marketing in our societies, which contribute to shifting practices towards consumption and uniformity.

The Special Rapporteur noted particular concern about the growing presence of advertising in schools. “Schools should be considered as a distinct cultural space, deserving special protection from commercial influence,” she stressed. “A recommendation to ban all commercial advertising and marketing in public and private schools is one of the most important ones put forward in my report.”

“I also recommend to prohibit all forms of advertising to children under 12 years of age, regardless of the medium or means used, with the possible extension of such prohibition to children under 16 years of age, and to ban the practice of child brand ambassadors,” she stated.

Ms. Shaheed also expressed concern at the increased dependency of print and audiovisual media on advertising revenue coupled with the increased concentration of advertising groups. “This can significantly impact editorial content and cultural programming,” she said.

“In various countries, organizations denouncing excessive advertising and illegal billboards have been largely ignored and have found themselves facing defamation lawsuits by advertising companies,” she said, underlining the dominance of certain specific narratives over others in our societies and the link between power and culture. “They do not enjoy the same support from authorities as advertising companies that complain about their billboards being vandalized.”

The Special Rapporteur also pointed out the sharp disparity between the often slow action taken when removing illegal billboards, compared with the far greater resources devoted to removing illegal graffiti or artistic murals. “What is the space given to art compared to advertising?”, she asked.

Read the report

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Jerry Seinfeld’s Clio Acceptance Speech

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UN Report on Advertising and Cultural Rights

The United Nations has published their report on Advertising and it’s effect on cultural rights. (Download PDF). Artist, Steve Lambert was included in a meeting at the United Nations in the development of this document.

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UN expert kicks off new study on the impact of advertising and marketing on cultural rights

GENEVA (7 February 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, is launching a new study on the impact of advertising and marketing practices on cultural rights, with an up-close look at their effect on cultural diversity and human rights.

Ms. Shaheed will be looking at the effect of commercial sponsorship on academic and artistic freedoms, as well as on the content of art museum exhibits, among other issues. Her report will be considered by the UN General Assembly in October this year.

“One underlying problem”, the human rights expert said, “relates to the impact that advertising and marketing practices may have on cultural diversity and the right of people to choose their way of life”.

“The modification of our cultural and symbolic landscapes through billboards or screens, the increasing encroachment of advertising on our public space and the intrusion of advertising in schools and universities are among the concerns I intend to address in this report,” she explained.

The Special Rapporteur has already laid the basis for her study through a first series of meetings with experts in New York. She has also reached out to all UN Member States and other interested parties to seek their views, for example on the use of private data for commercial purposes, the use of neuromarketing or behavioural targeting, and possible regulation to differentiate commercial speech from non-commercial speech.*

“Many ethical and human rights issues are at stake”, Ms. Shaheed stressed. “I am particularly interested in the mechanisms that can ensure a variety of narratives and values in the public space and through mass media, beyond what is often referred to as ‘commercial culture.’”

The Special Rapporteur’s study on the impact of advertising and marketing practices on cultural rights will be made available online in September / October 2014, during the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s webpage on the ongoing study, including the questionnaire for all interested stakeholders (deadline: 3 March 2014)


Ms. Farida Shaheed took up her functions as Independent Expert and then Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in August 2009. She has worked for more than 25 years promoting and protecting cultural rights by fostering policies and projects designed in culturally sensitive ways to support the rights of marginalized sectors, including women, peasants, and religious and ethnic minorities. Ms. Shaheed has been the recipient of several national and international human rights awards, and is an experienced participant in negotiations at international, regional and national levels. Learn more, log on to:

See the Special Rapporteur latest reports

For inquiries and media requests, please contact Ms. Mylène Bidault (+41 22 917 9254 / or write to

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Beware of Advertising This Holiday Season

Its that time of year again, the most wonderful time of the year to be exact. Who doesn’t love the holiday season? Houses are decorated with lights, bellies are full of cookies and eggnog, and the streets are covered in snow. As consumers, we flock to plazas, malls, and department stores to buy gifts for our loved ones. Along the way, on billboards, on the radio in our cars, in the stores, and with modern technology on the Internet, television, and our phones, we cannot escape the influences of holiday advertisements. A study conducted by Walter-Smith found that the average American is exposed to as many as 5,000 ads per day. That number is greatly elevated when you include the increase of advertisements published during the holiday season.

Since we are exposed to such a large number of ads, it is important that we are aware of all of their effects, several of which are detrimental. The main purpose of advertisements is to speed up the production and consumption circuit model; therefore, they seek to shape a consumer’s ideas about what they need and want. They create a market for a product by tricking the consumer into thinking they absolutely must have an item, or they won’t be accepted.

In other words, advertisements form a symbolic complex for their product, as explained by Walter Percy, the author of “The Loss of Creature.” They show the consumer the ideal result that he would experience from purchasing a given product. This registers in the consumer’s mind and after purchasing the product, if it does not produce the same result as was advertised, “he will only be conscious of the disparity between what it is and what it is supposed to be.” This can be very dangerous to society. With the help of technological advancements, advertisements in this day and age are greatly doctored and edited. In many cases, it is impossible for the consumer to have the same experience with a product as advertised. When the reality does not match the ideal, the consumer is dissatisfied. In turn, this dissatisfaction leaves the consumer vulnerable to the influences more advertisements, and the cycle continues.

This cycle is the disease our society suffers, known as consumerism. In the dictionary, consumerism is defined as “a modern movement for the protection of the consumer against useless, inferior, or dangerous products, misleading advertising, unfair pricing, etc.” However, I disagree. I feel as though we are threatened, not protected from the side effects of consumerism, advertising being one of them. We need to become aware, especially this holiday season, that as mere consumers, we are disinherited. We are deprived of our title over being. Our only rights are the rights of the consumer, where we are expected to blindly accept the claims made by advertisements. Advertisements make us slaves to the symbolic complex.

I invite you to take a look at those holiday magazines you were sent, the ones with lots of pictures of little kids playing with the season’s hottest toys. Children are greatly subjected to the negative effects of advertisements. Advertisements often greatly exaggerate the quality of their product. If the child who receives the toy is not having as much fun as the little kid they saw in the countless toy magazines he searched through, he too is subject to dissatisfaction. If the child’s real experience does not meet the ideal he has created in his head since seeing the advertisement, he will not have a very happy holiday at all.

Therefore, please be careful this holiday season and be aware of which advertisements your daughter is exposed to. Studies of the popular toy, the Barbie doll, have shown similar effects on girls as the advertisements of the weight loss, clothing, and cosmetic industries have on women. Barbie was introduced by Mattel in 1959 and has remained popular still today. So popular in fact that one Barbie doll is sold every two seconds worldwide. Barbie herself is seen as the platonic ideal of what a teenage girl should be. She is clean, slender, well-dressed, well-groomed, has money to spend, has social status, has great hair, and is sexy but doesn’t have sex. Barbie teaches little girls how to be successful in the world of femininity, because she is advertised as the quintessential, perfect, American teenager. However, many girls forget that Barbie is fake. In reality, she would be disproportional, anorexic, and unable to bear children. Her lifestyle, for many, is unattainable. It is unfair, to our children especially, that we are subjected to the advertisements and negative influences of Barbie when they will only induce a sense of failure when we cannot reach an equal level of perfection?

Next, open up the higher end, department store magazines; the ones with beautiful women and strong men, posing behind little bottles of perfume or next to cars. Although both men and women are objectified in advertisements, unfortunately, women and girls are more subject to the negative influences of advertisements than men. Weight loss, clothing, and cosmetic industries create what is known as “the beauty myth” which is the equivalent of the symbolic complex of the ideal woman. All of the models in these industries’ advertisements are thin, beautiful, and have the ideal features that all women should strive to obtain. In a film called Killing Us Softly, many of these advertisements are exposed. Advertisements showcasing these “ideal women” often undergo five to six rounds of photo shop before they are published. It is physically impossible for a real woman to look like the advertisement. This disparity creates a huge dissatisfaction among women and girls, described by some as “a dark vein of self hatred, physical obsessions, terror of aging, and dread of lost control.” The “beauty-myth” leads to an increase in destructive habits, eating disorders, and even suicide.

Suicide rates peak just after the holiday season because peoples’ experiences fall short of standards, which is considered the first step or the first symptom of a suicidal mind. Advertisements are the main source of creating such high standards. These “idealistic conditions actually heighten suicide risk because they often create unreasonable standards for personal happiness, thereby rendering people more emotionally fragile in response to unexpected setbacks.” I completely agree with Psychologist Roy Baumeister of Florida State University in his argument that “it is apparently the size of the discrepancy between standards and perceived reality that is crucial for initiating the suicidal process.”

Although advertisements are necessary to our culture of consumerism and a significant aspect of our society, I believe that as individuals, we need to regain our sovereignty over their influences and break the cycle of comparing the symbolic complex to reality only to become dissatisfied. When there is no comparison, expectations, or measuring up, there is no let down and certainly no consequences as significant as suicide. Advertisements should serve to simply inform the consumer about a given product, not to exaggerate the quality or service the product would provide. Also, we should be able to choose when and where we want to view ads, not constantly be bombarded by their influences. Perhaps by simply gaining awareness as consumers that we will never be able to match the symbolic complex created by advertisements, we can appreciate a product or an experience for what it is rather than what it is advertised to be. We should seek to extract the real thing from the package, rather than fixating on the package itself, and ultimately we will find satisfaction.


Click to access Measuring%20Up%20to%20Barbie%281%29.pdf

Peoples and Cultures, Prof. Carie Hersh, Lecture Notes
Walker Percy, “The Loss of Creature”
Film: Killing Us Softly IV

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AAA’s Steve Lambert invited to United Nations

The Anti-Adveritising Agency’s Steve Lambert was invited to the United Nations for a meeting on the impact of advertising and marketing on cultural rights.

In her 2014 report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur will seek to identify main challenges and obstacles posed by advertising and marketing practices to the enjoyment of cultural rights, including the right to education, the right to artistic freedom, the right to enjoy and access cultural heritage and the right to choose one’s way of life. Advertising and marketing practices encompass a diversity of trends and methods used to sell or promote services or products including print, TV, radio, internet and billboards, branding, promotions, and sponsorship of cultural events or products, among other strategies. They also include the development of new practices linked to behavioural targeting and neuromarketing.

Anyone is welcome to fill out the questionnaire on your feeling about advertising in your nation.

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Comic: Aha! Graffiti!

Aha! Graffiti! | Sidewalk Bubblegum Political Comic Cartoon Strip.

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Re+Public – Augmented Reality Advertising Takeover


PublicAdCampaign has spent nearly 10 years investigating the relationship between commercial media and public space. The resulting projects have balanced somewhere between art and activism in an effort to not only question commercial outdoor media, but to improve the visual landscape. While this activism has often taken the shape of civil disobedience and borderline legal activities, it has always focused on the democratization of our shared media environment and a more user friendly approach to public space curation.

Two years ago that focus found The Heavy Projects and Augmented Reality technology. With the ability to leap private property boundaries and to democratize our shared visual environment, PublicAdCampaign sees AR playing a vital role in the democratization of public space and in the cities of the future. We are excited to present two new videos from Re+Public, a creative collaboration between The Heavy Projects and PublicAdCampaign.

check out:


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Selling ad space on city property is not “creative”

Proposals of selling ad-space on things like firetrucks and are often framed as “getting creative” by the city councilmen that propose them. In fact, it’s not creative – it’s poorly thought out, and shortsighted.

These proposals are bad deals that don’t solve fiscal problems (at best, they’re a drop in the bucket). Real creativity would be finding ways to solve the financial issues at their core. The job of government is not to parcel out city property to private industry.

Note that in this story, they never mention how much the shortfall is, what the root causes are, or how much putting ads on firetrucks will bring in.

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“It’s Time to Fight” on Print & Paste

My sliding-scale priced “It’s Time to Fight” letterpress print has been turned into a billboard in Manchester, England by the nice folks at Print & Paste. I was stunned and delighted to see it at this scale.

Steve Lambert - It's Time to Fight - Manchester

Print & Paste is a curated outdoor art space in central Manchester, located just off Oxford Rd opposite the old BBC building. Every month a new artist is invited to exhibit work on a large 16-sheet board traditionally used by advertisers. We aim to support the artist and inspire the public by using the space for freedom of expression, positive social commentary, and the exhibition of original work. Print & Paste is a collaboration between Micah Purnell, Dave Sedgwick, Nick Chaffe, and Jim Ralley. It is facilitated by Daniel Jones.

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AAA material remixed

All the AAA materials are licensed with Creative Commons licenses so you can re-use, remix, and share them. Here’s a couple examples of AAA remixes:

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