Image shows the Hell Bus parked on a busy thoroughfare with lots of people walking by.

Adfree Cities Newsletter – September 2023

The Hell Bus tour has begun! As you read this, the mobile anti-greenwash exhibition is drawing crowds in Sheffield and will soon be zooming off to Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham. Read on to find out more and how you can get involved.

This month we’re also offering you the first sneak peak at some very exciting work coming soon from Adfree Cities on the role advertising plays in supporting the meat and dairy industry.

This blog originally appeared as our September newsletter. If you’d like to be the first to get all the latest news and campaigns from Adfree Cities then please consider joining our mailing list.

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Hell Bus lands in Sheffield

A crowd of peopel stand outside a bus which has been redecorated as an exhibition of Shell's greenwash

We’re thrilled that after months of planning, and quite a few head-in-hands moments, the Hell Bus has landed in Sheffield on the first leg of the anti-greenwash tour! Brainchild of the incredible artist Darren Cullen (, the Bus is a hilarious satirical takedown of corporate greenwashing by Big Oil, and Shell in particular.

The Bus is jam-packed with propaganda-busting art installations, and will be visiting cities including Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol on the tour, which is a collab between Adfree Cities, Darren Cullen and Switch It Green. Come on down to visit the bus (opening hours 11am-7pm) or to one of the events we’ll be hosting in each city.

Our mission on the tour is to highlight the greenwashing of the oil giants, to campaign for a tobacco-style ban on high-carbon advertising, divest from fossil-financing banks, and engage with local activists and politicians on the need for new legislation to curb the harmful effects of billboards and ad screens on our streets.

Confirmed dates are as follows:

  • Sheffield: 25th – 29th September
  • Manchester: 1st – 4th October
  • Liverpool: 7th – 8th October
  • Leeds: 9th – 11th October
  • Birmingham: 12th – 15th October
  • Colchester 16th – 18th October
  • Bristol 30th – 1st November

Factory farming

A graphic shows people staring at a billboard ad for meat and dairy whilst  behind the advert we see rows of factory farming sheds full of cows.
Image: Lindsay Grime.

Eating meat and dairy is deeply embedded in our culture and identity. But behind the products we buy, intensive animal farming is causing immeasurable suffering and inflicting colossal damage on nature and the climate. The vast majority of people in the UK say they would support a ban on factory farming, and yet our purchasing decisions continue to support this destructive industry. Why?

In a game-changing new pamphlet, Adfree Cities will demonstrate how advertising messages uphold the destructive factory farming industry and the tactics advertisers use to pull the wool over our eyes. The pamphlet will be published later in October and we will be presenting the research in a webinar as part of Ethical Consumer Week 2023. Register here.

Grab your camera – it’s Adspotting time!

graphic image of a man pointing at a large advert. the word "Adspotters" is in the top left of the image.

We’re in need of data about outdoor advertising across the UK – and you can help. September saw the return of Adspotters, Adfree Cities’ citizen science project. We’ve had loads of great photos of transport ads already and can’t wait to see more from you wherever you are.

Taking part in Adspotters is easy. All you need to do is send us photos of any ads you see on the theme of transport (cars, planes, trains and anything in between). It only takes a few minutes and you can submit as many or few photos as you like, as often as you like.

New report slams ad watchdog’s failings on greenwashing

The UK’s advertising regulator, the ASA, is failing to protect citizens from the public health and climate impacts of high-carbon advertising. So concludes a new report co-authored by Adfree Cities and Badvertising, which uses recent examples to highlight how the ASA has failed to hold polluters like Barclays, BP and Coca-Cola to account over their advertising malpractice, and is allowing greenwash ads to proliferate.

The report calls for greater controls to be placed on high-carbon advertising and for the government to deliver an effective regulatory framework of statutory powers, mechanisms, and resources to regulate greenwash and high-carbon advertising.

The report picked up some great press coverage, including The Drum and Business Green, with some spicy quotes from Adfree’s Veronica.

Read the full report here.

Dates for the diary

Adfree Cities has loads coming up in the next couple of months. Here’s a few dates for the diary, and keep an eye on our Events page for updates.

  • Throughout October – the Hell Bus continues to tour the UK. Find all the dates and locations here.
  • November 6th – Adfree Cities’ Nicola will be speaking about advertising and factory farming at the opening event of Ethical Consumer Week 2023. Register for the webinar here.
  • November 29th – the release of the fantastic Badvertising book, which tells the story of why ads are bad and what we can do to fight back. There will be launch events in London (date tbc) and Bristol (November 29th). Pre-order the book here.

Staff picks

This month, Charlotte, James and Veronica take a turn sharing something interesting they’ve read, listened to or watched.

🌷Lock up your daughters… and your sons! Big oil companies are advertising to young people through placements in video games, including the popular Fortnite. Read more here

🌻This report from the New Economics Foundation argues that it is economically unsound to continue advertising flights and holidays involving flights when that is pulling money out of the UK economy. Read the full report here

🌼Advertising agency Havas London may see its prized B-Corp status revoked, after the agency pitched for and won the controversial Shell account. It’s kicked off a debate about the questionable ethics of making adverts for polluting companies, and Havas has already lost clients as a result of its decision to work for Shell.

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, so get in touch!

If you know someone who might like Adfree Cities, please forward them this email and encourage them to join our mailing list.

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:

In solidarity,

The Adfree Cities team.

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