Subvertising: 5 Clever Ways to Subvert Your Surroundings

(Check out our complete collection of Subversive Marketing and Culture Jamming.)

Subvertisements are an excellent means of turning the commercial world around you upside down, make humorous or critical commentaries on consumer society, or even get rid of ads altogether. Subvertising can sneak up on you, entertain you, and possibly lead to premature enlightenment. Get started by removing those pesky ads that always pop up while you’re surfing the web – or better yet, replace them with the creative works of up-and-coming artists:

Add Art

AddArt is a FireFox extension that automatically substitutes artwork where you’d normally see banner ads. Currently, AddArt is in development but you can get AdBlock which at least pastes over ads with a neutral color. Subvert your web browser and skip the adverts you never click anyway.

Drinking Too Much?

Blocking or replacing ads with art are both well and good, but with a little Photoshop work you make your own public service subvertisement on a subject of your choice. This series of well-rendered Aboslut ad spoofs is definitely double-take material.

Sweat Shops and McDonalds Heart Attacks

Alternatively, take things a step further: issues of global equality and health are fair game too. The tag on the left is a none-to-subtle reminder of the origins of so many clothing products in sweat shops. On the right, the McDonalds logo is neatly transformed into a harbinger of death – you won’t see that on their commercials.

Enjoy More Pollution - There is Nothing Real on TV

OK, so enough fun and games online: you can also just go right out and start editing advertisements and billboards on their own turf. Take down a major auto manufacturer by adding a few words, or cover up a pair to make a point about SONY. Subvertising in public can be complex and thought out, or might simply take advantage of what is already out there.

Tip a Billboard

Editing not enough for you? Well, here we start getting into some serious territory, but: you can also follow these step by step instructions on how to take down a billboard altogether. Watch for the ‘danger zones’ and don’t get squashed in the process. Otherwise, check out a site with good links to further resources and more basics about subvertising.