for the 2019 subvertisers international week of action (19-25 march) i took a fire extinguisher full of paint to some of the most obnoxious advertising in melbourne: the video screens that play ads, with audio, on the platforms at melbourne central train station.
the screens used to play advertising interspersed with segments from sky news (the pay-TV news channel that makes the free-to-air corporate news look progressive) but now they are playing ads interspersed with bullshit celebrity news from the USA, which is perhaps a marginal improvement, but i can’t be sure.
i was disappointed to only be able to spray 3 of the 12 video screens that play on the 4 platforms at melbourne central before my extinguisher was exhausted, i guess next time i’ll need a trolley and at least 4 fire extinguishers.
the haters were out in force this day, with me being told i was an idiot that was costing taxpayers money for the clean-up (lol), and that public space costs money and without advertising, taxes will rise (lmao) — looks like the time that sky news played in the tunnel had it’s intended effect, with average joe plebs going in to bat for the top end of town.
the advertising company will have to pay for the clean-up, but this will have a negligible effect on their bottom line. the huge fees they collect by selling our public space and our captive attention make the cost of clean-up insignificant. and they certainly won’t get tax-payer funding from the state or federal government to polish “their assets”.
advertising companies are quick to say they fund things, but we, the community, fund advertising in it’s entirety, with companies factoring the cost of advertising into the cost of their products, and advertising being a tax-deductible business expense (meaning the government subsidises for-profit advertising via tax breaks for all of the wealthiest companies in the world).
to say that my actions are costing the public is to miss the waste and huge cost that i am protesting — advertising is wasting billions per year ($570 billion worldwide on media spend alone) on a practice that is extremely damaging to our society, and for which we, the public, pay twice: once financially, once psychologically (then our democracy pays, then the planet pays, then the third world pays, etc. etc.)
any financial assistance that comes from advertising companies to local councils is minuscule and token in relation to the money they take away from colonising and degrading our public space. we can easily fund things much more efficiently, without all the negatives of advertising, and if we can release the strangle-hold that neo-liberalism has our democracies in, we will have much more money for everything (except corporate hand-outs).
of course there was support as well, but my protest often serves as an outlet for people’s hatred of graffiti (even though i have about as much in common with a graffiti artist as i do a house painter), and i think the giant spray-can makes that happen even more so.
i was released from the police station after being interviewed, awaiting charges of criminal damage, the police were rather pleasant which was grand :)