A billboard shows a Toyota car advert and an image of cars in traffic. A caption reads "Toyota's Beyond Zero meand flogging gas-guzzlers for decades to come"

Adfree Cities newsletter – February 2023

We know that the negative impacts of outdoor advertising deepen inequalities, and this week we’re making sure that the government knows it too by responding to their ‘levelling up’ consultation. Read on to see how you can share your views, too.

Also this month: work with us! We have a job vacancy at Adfree Cities; we bring you the latest in the fight against gas-guzzling SUV advertising; and a quick update from our energising get-together with Adblock groups earlier this month.

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Look out, it’s an SUV stampede

Last month activists from Brandalism, Extinction Rebellion and Subvertisers International hacked billboards and bus stop adverts across Europe targeting Toyota and BMW for their anti-climate lobbying and their continued advertising of climate-wrecking cars and SUVs.

Just a few short weeks later, we saw on Facebook and in bus stop posters a new ad for the Toyota Hilux, an SUV pickup ever-popular with Australian farmers for its off-roading skills and now apparently the latest accessory for a British urban clientele.

We are reporting the ad to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as a breach of environmental and social responsibility regulations for showing a “herd” of Hiluxes driving through nature. We’ll be submitting a complaint within the next few weeks, so we’ll share that with you when it’s ready. In the meantime, if you want to complain about this breach of environmental and social responsibility too, here’s where you can submit a complaint to the ASA. Please contact us for support with your complaint if you need to.


Levelling up: have your say on the need for ad-free neighbourhoods

The UK government is consulting on changes to the planning system, as part of their ‘levelling up’ agenda. The current consultation is an opportunity to call for badly needed reforms to the planning process for outdoor advertising. Here’s our response to the consultation. We’re calling for:

  • no new billboards in residential areas
  • all neighbourhoods to have the right to be ad-free, not just the privileged ones
  • the energy consumption of digital screens to be taken into account in planning decisions
  • councils to be able to refuse digital screens due to their impact on climate, biodiversity, mental health and vulnerable people
  • priority for small-scale interventions to support local wildlife, rather than digital advertising screens which actively harm biodiversity
  • removing the right of appeal for advertisers when their applications are turned down by local councils

The consultation closes on 2nd March. See our response and how to submit your own.

A photo taken from a low angle shows a billboard decorated with artwork of children playing in a park. To the right of the image person is seen installing the artwork and behind them is a ladder propped against the billboard.

Adblocking groups looking ahead to future wins

We held an AGM for our network of local groups in London on 12th February. This was a great opportunity to meet in person and share adblocking tactics, celebrate local wins, and strategise for 2023. People came from around the country and across London and there was so much inspiring energy to take the national and local campaigns forward. So watch this space!

Photo of lots of people with their backs to the camera standing listening to a man at the front of a room next to a pop up screen with an image on it

Join a local Adblock group, or get advice on starting your own group.


Job vacancy: Adfree Cities parliamentary campaigner

Are you concerned about how the pressures of corporate advertising and consumerism are impacting our mental health, wellbeing, climate and urban spaces? Do you want to empower local communities to improve their neighbourhoods in line with climate and public health goals?

We’re looking for a dynamic campaigner who knows how to shape national policy, work in coalitions and build support among MPs. This role offers an opportunity to work with Adfree Cities and like-minded partner organisations as we take the campaigning of our local city groups to Westminster and seek national policy change.


Thank you for supporting Adfree Cities

If you are interested in Adfree Cities and the work we do, there are plenty of ways to get involved. We’re always interest to hear your thoughts: get in touch!

If you’d like to donate to our campaign as we tackle greenwash, stand up for our public spaces and take on the juggernaut of commercial advertising, you can do so here: adfreecities.org.uk/donate

In solidarity,

Nicola, and the Adfree Cities team

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @adfreecities or join our national Facebook group to share updates and information from organisers and campaigners across the country.

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