advertising. It makes you spend money you haven’t got for things you
Since the first American ad agency opened in Philadelphia in 1843,
advertising has had an image problem. It is a youthful profession that
has gone through many cycles, from hard sell to soft sell and back again.
It has also boldly changed with the times by taking on new media. Yet
the industry has always been regarded with suspicion, culminating in
what today is called subvertising. Activist artists alter ads in bus-stop
shelters and on banners and billboards by adding letters and images
to change a brand’s meaning or by creating a new advertisement that
resembles the familiar brand but says something completely different.
The new messages range from anticapitalist to the promotion of human
rights and environmental protection. Subvertising is in some ways rem-
iniscent of the attitude toward the industry in its early days, when no
Jordan Seiler, Civilian, Harlan Levey Projects, 2017