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Case #926

The Anti-Ad Campaign Making a Difference


Every day in his home office in Portland, Ore., Gary Ruskin types heartfelt pleas and blistering diatribes to politicians, news organizations, corporations and individuals. His mission: To stop advertisers from commandeering every last nook and cranny of American culture.

The successes of Ruskin's five-year-old group, Commercial Alert, may represent the tip of a broad backlash against corporate incursions into health care, education, culture and government. Some believe such activism, known variously as ad-busting, culture-jamming, anti-corporatism and mental environmentalism, is the beginning of the next major social movement in America.


THE STRATEGY: Use the written word to directly contact politicians, news organization, corporations and individuals to stop advertisers from commandeering every aspect of American culture.

WHAT WORKS: Successes by mid- 2003 include: Banning of alcohol ads on NBC, preventing ads on CNN's "Student News" program, writing of new guidelines on marketing sponsorships at the Smithsonian Institute, blocking a Web filter set up to track kids Web surfing activities, preventing naming rights on Candlestick Ball Park in San Francisco, and convincing California to ban the sale of all junk food and pop in elementary schools.

IMPORTANT POINTS: (1) As Gary Ruskin states: "Advertisers must understand that some places are sacred and therefore off-limits to peddling wares," he says. "Governments, schools and other civic institutions shouldn't be an auxiliary megaphone for corporate marketing." (2) Commercial Alert teams up with other public-interest organizations are many religious groups pledged to reducing the damage caused by corporate promotion of alcohol, tobacco, junk food, fast food, drugs, violent entertainment and gambling. (3) This is an international movement. (4) "I think what we're seeing is the beginning of a movement to clean up the toxic areas of the mental environment just like 30 years ago they started cleaning up the toxic areas of the physical environment." (Kalle Lasn, founder of Adbusters)

Location: USA
Setting: Developed World
Extent of Action: National
Year(s): 1998
Outcome in progress
Source: The Washington Post, July 29, 2003


Search for Commercial Alert (NOT Commercialalert.org)

Prepared By: sl, 7/09
Rating: 1
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