Bus stop ad panel showing an ad for Clear Channel UK's "platform for good" initiative.

Adfree Cities Newsletter – July 2023

Hold on to your hats because this month we’re getting meta – and no, that’s not a reference to big tech. We’re launching a complaint with the ad watchdog over ads for ad company Clear Channel, and we need your help! Find out how to take action below.

We report on wins from across the Adfree Cities network, with the removal of two giant billboards in Hackney, and creative resistance against corporate advertising in Bristol.

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Platform for good? We’re not so sure.

Double bus stop ad panel showing ads for Clear Channel UK's "platform for good" initiative.

We’re reporting ads by major outdoor ad company Clear Channel UK to the advertising regulator (yes) on the grounds that CCUK’s feel-good ads are misleading.

Can a billboard company whose ads promote gambling, unhealthy food, alcohol, insecurities and a culture of material hyperconsumption really say they are a “Platform for Good”? We also challenge the basis of the advert’s claim that Clear Channel’s adverts help “fund” local services.

Read more and take action using our easy template complaint to the regulator, to show that advertising companies are not helping society or the environment…. far from it.

Understanding how advertising shapes our lives

Graphic image in which a large billboard looms over a street as people flee before it. The billboard reads "Bad publicity: an Adfree Cities blog series on how omnipresent advertising shapes our lives"

This month we launched Bad Publicity, our new series of guest blogs in which leading academics in public health, surveillance, degrowth, behaviour change and more explore the ways in which advertising intersects with pressing contemporary social and political issues.

So far we’ve had contributions from Dr Amy Isham on materialism and Dr Eleftheria Lekakis on consumer activism. Thank you to our contributors, and find the whole series on our website as new blogs are published.

Read the Bad Publicity series

What’s your hope for a happier, greener future?

Image by Eleanor Beer (https://www.instagram.com/eleanorbeer/)

Earlier this month, Nicola from Adfree Cities shared our vision for public spaces free from corporate outdoor advertising at an event at Swansea University. We heard about some truly inspiring projects helping to generate positive visions for sustainable futures, including Flickers of the Future from Global Action Plan (check out the winning Bonk for Britain vid!) and Swansea’s Climate Lab which uses art to process emotions around the climate crisis.

Across the network: Win for Adblock Hackney!

Above: before and after two giant billboards were removed in Hackney 

Big congratulations to Adblock Hackney who have worked with Hackney Council and TfL to get two giant billboards removed. The billboards, owned by Clear Channel UK, didn’t have permission to be there – which is surprisingly common. Retweet Adblock Hackney here.

Over in the South West, Adblock Bristol has also been taking creative action against illegal billboards, painting over ads and making the point that we’d rather have trees than billboards.

Lastly, if you’re on Instagram check out our latest videos, including this one on recent greenwashing ads from fossil fuel company Repsol in the Financial Times.  

Cases like this make clear why we need laws to ban fossil fuel advertising altogether, just as we banned ads for tobacco when we knew the harms caused by smoking. And you can help! We have a draft letter you can send to your MP calling on them to support a tobacco-style ban on fossil fuel advertising. Take action today!

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,

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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