A free standing ad screen on a high street covered in black material and writing which reads "save 100% when you don't buy anything".

ZAP Games and Unavoidable Impact

Adblock Reading has formed from a group of local people who are concerned about the proliferation of outdoor advertising across our town.

Subvertising, pushing back at advertising, has been seen around the area for several years, with adverts on bus stop and billboards being repurposed to give different messages. A local paper covered a Black Friday action in Broad St, where covers with anti-consumerism messaging were placed over digital advertising screens. This was part of the anti consumerism ZAP Games actions.

Reading town centre already has two, massive, digital advertising screens. The one outside the station is proudly advertised on the companies website as having 3,300,000 ‘impacts’ a fortnight (https://maxxmedia.co.uk/). When we saw a planning application for yet another, huge, digital screen to go up across the end of the main shopping street we contacted Adfree Cities for advice on what we could do. Following contact with local councillors, a hastily arranged petition and asking as many people as we could to object, we are hopeful this application will be turned down. We are currently awaiting the decision. Adblock Reading was formed after this.

Since forming, some of the group attended the Adfree Cities launch of their ‘Unavoidable Impact’ report, which was hosted by Barry Sheerman MP at Portcullis House, opposite Parliament. This national survey of roadside advertising demonstrated a national trend in which advertising in public space is disproportionately located in more deprived and more polluted areas. Based on constituencies, it lists Reading Central as having 251 adverts. Reading’s neighbouring constituency of Wokingham, which is the country’s least deprived, has 17 adverts. The full report can be found here .

Adblock Reading plans to engage with our local council to challenge the pollution of our public spaces with outdoor advertising. We want to prevent more outdoor advertising and try to get some of the current advertising removed or its content restricted, so we are not subjected to adverts that are harmful to our health and environment.

If you’d like to be kept up to date with actions and future plans, please sign up via Action Network on our home page.

If you’d like to help organise please email us at adblockreading@gmail.com

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