A billboard with a advert for vaping products. Text across the board reads "out of the world flavour" whilst underneath are images of the vape.

Happy New Year! It’s the January newsletter

Happy New Year and Blwyddyn Newydd Dda to everyone except outdoor advertisers! It’s an exciting time of change for Adfree Cities: we’re recruiting a new Arts Organiser to challenge Big Oil greenwash, we’re updating and expanding our newsletter and – most importantly – we’re getting political with a new parliamentary strategy (more on this soon).

Misinformation and new forms of climate disinformation have already been identified as key threats for 2024 so we need to work harder than ever to combat advertising that aims to mislead. It’s a big challenge, but one we’re prepared to meet. Are you with us? 💪

If you know someone who would be interested in hearing from Adfree Cities, please share this newsletter with them and encourage them to join our mailing list.

More vape ads reported to the regulator

A billboard with a advert for vaping products. Text across the board reads "out of the world flavour" whilst underneath are images of the vape.

We’re wasting no time in getting stuck in: already in 2024 we’ve reported vaping company Alfabar to the ad regulator over a billboard advert seen in Bristol in December. The advert promoted the Alfabar Alien, a disposable nicotine-containing vape with “LED light effect eyes”.

We argue that the inclusion of light-up eyes in the product in the first place, and the subsequent prominence of this feature in the advert is clearly designed to appeal to children under the age of 18 and is therefore in breach of advertising regulations.

Due to a glaring loophole in the law around advertising vapes. Ads for nicotine-containing vapes are prohibited in almost all cases, except trade press, point-of-sale marketing (inside shops) and outdoor advertising.

We need your feedback

Screenshot of a survey.

New year, new us. Well, new newsletter at least. We’re looking to make some changes to our newsletter this year and to do that we need your help. This survey asks for your feedback on the Adfree Cities newsletter and what changes you’d like to see.

We’re also thinking about launching a brand new greenwash focused newsletter, exposing the worst greenwash advertising and digging into the companies behind it. The survey is your chance to tell us what this newsletter should look like, and an exciting opportunity to be the first to sign up.

Please take 5 minutes this week to fill it out so that we can keep making all our newsletters as good as they can be.

From the blog

People stand in front of a large banner which is covering a digital ad screen.

Like a Jason Statham film our blog is a whirlwind of action, fast cars and red meat.

🐄 A snappy ad campaign from the less snappily named Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board targets Millennials with positive messaging about the benefits of eating meat. The ads, made by BP’s ad agency Ogilvy, normalise meat consumption at precisely the time we need to reduce it, and greenwash key harms caused by the meat and dairy industry. Read the full blog here.

💪 Good news from Cardiff as 5 digital ad screens were refused planning permission following objections by Adblock Cardiff. Each screen uses between 3 and 4 times the electricity of an average UK home. Read more about this win here.

✊ Activists in Prague took action against a bright digital ad screen piercing the night in the historic Old City. The action brought attention to the wider issue of illegal outdoor advertising in Czechia, a country one activist said is ‘flooded’ with illegal advertising. Read the full blog here.

🚗 More and more people are switching to electric vehicles, but motivated by higher profit margins carmakers have taken advantage of the electric vehicle transition to push larger, heavier electric SUVs, and their ad spend proves it. Read more on this here.

Work with us!

four people stand holding a banner reading "Adblock Bristol" they are smiling. Behind them is a large digital advertising screen.

Adfree Cities is hiring a Big Oil Arts Organiser to lead our work creatively challenging greenwash in fossil fuel advertising. In the role you will co-create artistic interventions to expose misleading greenwash practices of major oil firms, like our previous collab on Darren Cullen’s Hell Bus.

You will become an expert in oil industry greenwash, liaise with other groups, in the UK and internationally, to end Big Oil advertising and sponsorship, and support the Adfree Cities policy team to advance a high carbon ad ban.

The role would ideally suit someone based in Bristol however remote working will be considered for exceptional candidates.

Book launch

Two people speak in front of a crowd. Behind them is a banner reading "stop adverts fuelling the climate crisis".

The Badvertising book launch tour continues with new dates added in Norwich and Brighton.

Authors Andrew Simms and Leo Murray will be introducing the book – which raises the alarm about an industry that is making us both unhealthy and unhappy, and that is driving the planet to the precipice of environmental collapse in the process – and answering questions.

Details of where and when:

Norwich – Thursday 29th February – The Book Hive, 53 London Street, Norwich, Norfolk NR2 1HL.

Brighton – Friday 8th March – with special guest Caroline Lucas MP, The Brighton Reading Rooms, Florence Road, BN1 6DL.

Staff picks

A selection of recommendations from the Adfree team of things we’ve seen, read or listened to recently that explore the wider issues of harmful advertising.

🌳Listen to this podcast from The War on Cars featuring Grant Ennis discussing his book Dark PR, which explores the tactics the PR and ad industry use to mislead us about pollution and climate change.

🌴New research seeks to understand why people fall for fake news about climate change. Worryingly, scientific evidence is not enough to dispel many of the most common lies. An important read for all of us fighting against greenwash.

🌱 Take action against gambling ads by signing this petition from Gambling With Lives. The petition calls on all UK broadcasters, newspapers and online media outlets, as well as well-known individuals and celebrities, to stop advertising harmful gambling products on their platforms.

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