How is Adbusters magazine paid for

Everyone is a recruiter

-The Große Bergstrasse in Hamburg is a gray shopping mile. Snack bars and shops only attract a few customers in the 600-meter-long street. But salvation is near. The furniture store chain Ikea is planning to open a branch in the so-called Frappant building, a reinforced concrete block. There are already advertising posters in the quarter announcing the Swedish furniture store. But instead of "Do you still live or are you already alive?" or "Put something new on for your home" is written on the posters: "Hey Ikea, you don't live here", "Idiots just buy everything" and "Kill Billy", alluding to the famous bookshelf.

The origin of such anti-advertising lies in the culture jamming movement that attacks Western consumer culture. Whirl Mart activists meet in American supermarkets to push empty shopping trolleys through the aisles. A Reverend Billy founded a choir with 34 singers to sing against Starbucks and Disney with his Church of Life After Shopping. And the Barbie Liberation Organization swapped the language modules from Barbie dolls for modules from toy soldiers in 1993. Instead of "I love shopping", Barbie then said: "Vengeance is mine!" And the soldier breathed: "Let's plan our dream wedding!"

The best known form of culture jamming is the manipulation of brand logos. The San Francisco-based Billboard Liberation Front has been painting over the billboards of Camel, Marlboro and Levi's since 1977. In magazine format, the Canadian magazine "Adbusters" is doing something very similar. Its makers play with the meaning of advertisements and TV spots - and develop their own interpretations. "Professional anti-advertising imitates the feel and appearance of the advertisement. It cuts through the hype and the radiant shine of our media reality, reveals the empty inner workings of the spectacle and re-codes brands," says Kalle Lasn, founder of the magazine and author of the book "Culture Jamming ".

In Germany, the "Greenpeace Magazin" uses this strategy. The journal of the environmentalists regularly publishes anti-advertising. In a McDonald's ad it says: "I have made a firm decision not to pay attention to my diet anymore. Off to McDonald's!" And the TV presenter Jörg Pilawa recommends the sausage from the Rügenwalder Mühle with the sentence: "You should pay attention to organic quality. I don't do it." In the "Lie Detector" section, the magazine also checks advertising statements for their truthfulness. Editor-in-chief Jochen Schildt says: "I have nothing against advertising. Only advertising that brings false facts into the world is fraud." Companies are probably not very enthusiastic about the fake ads. But do you also complain against it? "Yes, but we are legally protected by the reference to 'No report'. No company has ever been able to enforce its claims against us. With the 'lie detector', however, we have to be legally careful." In Germany, anti-advertising is covered by freedom of expression, provided that it is not used to pursue selfish goals. It must be possible to perceive the contribution as objective criticism in a public debate.

Environmentalists who fight for their cause with the hijacked advertisements are one thing. But now every internet user can publish advertising parodies on the internet in addition to private photos and videos.

In the spring of 2003, for example, an advertisement was circulating on the Internet in which a couple in Puma shoes can be seen having sex. The authenticity of the advertising was discussed in blogs and forums. Puma denied having anything to do with it and called on the operators of websites to delete the image under threat of legal action. The network community reacted with scorn and ridicule and accused Puma of being modern, but narrow-minded and conservative. The injunction was unsuccessful. The fake ad can still be found on the Internet today.

What brands need to learn: to have a dialogue with customers

The British spirits group Diageo experienced something similar when it took action against a fake commercial on the video portal YouTube. In it, a naked woman balances a bottle of Guinness on her back during an orgy. A user requested that the video be copied and distributed as often as possible so that it would live forever on the internet.

In contrast to anti-advertising, it must be decided on a case-by-case basis whether brand parodies are protected by the freedom of the arts. But Arno Lindemann, managing director of the Hamburg advertising agency Lukas Lindemann Rosinski, says that such content cannot be controlled or prohibited anyway. "The increasing influence of consumers on brands and their perception cannot be prevented. Consumer and advertising criticism is created quickly and spread quickly. And it is able to change the image of a brand."

Walter Brecht, CEO Central and Eastern Europe of the brand agency Interbrand, recommends seeing anti-advertising not as a danger, but as an opportunity. "At one point or another it can catch or crack, but still: Dealing with such advertisements is not crisis management. They shouldn't pose a threat to brand owners. Ten years ago we would have said: The brand belongs to marketing. Today the brand belongs to the company, investors and the public, "he says.

Oke Müller, Group Planning Director of the TBWA agency in Los Angeles, is also calling on brand managers and advertisers to rethink. "The idea of ​​companies preaching, the target group is listening 'no longer works. We have to learn that we are in constant dialogue with consumers. In this dialogue, you have to plan and accept actions and responses to your own brand behavior . You can never please everyone, but a brand has to be able to make its own point of view credible. "

Many companies have already adjusted to this. The Swedish vodka brand Absolut does not take action against the fake motifs of its legendary advertising, in which the bottle is the star, even if the pictures show the ropes of the gallows and the dead. "We understand and accept that consumers want to play with our brand. This principle is part of Absolut's legacy and still applies today," says company spokeswoman Paula Eriksson.

There is great creative potential in anti-advertising - you just have to see it

But when do invented ads start to harm a brand? For Niklas Frings-Rupp, Managing Director of the Miami Ad School Europe advertising school in Hamburg, the limit has been reached when a brand is accused of defamatory, political or religious untruths. And Claudia Willvonseder from Ikea says: "We do not want things to be put into Ikea's mouth that we cannot represent. It is important to us that it is made clear who the author of such content is."

The Volkswagen group also saw it that way when an invented TV commercial for the VW Polo appeared on the Internet in 2005. A suicide bomber tried to blow himself up in the car. Volkswagen initially wanted to sue the creators of the clip for damage to its reputation, but decided not to do so when the video cheats publicly apologized for their work and declared that VW had nothing to do with the strip. There were no protests on the Internet.

But if you have a sense of humor, you can also use fake advertising for yourself. "With brand parodies, companies get inspiration and ideas delivered free of charge," says Niklas Frings-Rupp. And some companies, like Philadelphia Media Holdings, even pirate themselves. In 2009, the media group's daily newspapers published advertisements for an airline with an unusual pricing policy: the more a passenger weighs, the more they have to pay for a ticket with Derrie-Air - as a fictional airline is called. Billing is in pounds. A pound on the Philadelphia-Chicago route costs $ 1.40, while the Philadelphia-Los Angeles route costs $ 2.25. With this campaign, the holding wanted to prove that advertisers can count on attention in their papers.

Walter Brecht from Interbrand goes one step further. He advises companies with strong brands to siphon off the creativity of users through forums and competitions. Last year, the German daily newspaper with the highest circulation called on its readers to create a campaign for the "Bild" newspaper under the motto "Bild Dir Deine Werbung". With great success. The editorial team received more than 10,000 works within three weeks. The six best ideas were implemented. Editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann on his idea: "This is the democracy of creativity. Everyone can join in, every idea counts. And a nice side effect is: Readers are now even more interested in the" Bild "brand."

If you are being kidnapped, you shouldn't get angry - that only happens to the good guys

In addition to inspiration, real or supposed advertising from below also provides companies with information about how they are perceived. "With fake advertising, consumers let their criticism run wild and reveal weaknesses. A brand must be able to respond to such public reactions," says Oke Müller from TBWA.

A prime example of a humorous response to product criticism is the response from computer game maker Electronic Arts (EA) to an Internet video. A buyer discovered that in the game "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08" the character of the golf star can walk on the water. He promptly put a film on the network. The title: "The Jesus Shot". EA reacted, recreated the scene with the real Tiger Woods and actually let him walk across the water using modern animation technology. "It's not a glitch. It's really that good," said the clip. "Our customers want to contribute their creativity and also show other players. We support that," says press spokesman Martin Lorber about the video.

EA, Ikea, Absolut and Volkswagen: It is noticeable that many of the copied brands are among the most popular. Is it possible that fake advertising is an award?

"Yes!" Says Walter Brecht from Interbrand. "It's like politicians. The fact that a politician is caricatured is an indication that he has enough profile to be caricatured. Brand profiles and personality profiles are not that far apart. Each profile has rough edges, but you stay in memory - which is the main task of a brand. A brand without a profile is not a strong brand. "

For Katharina Sutch, press spokeswoman for the Danish toy manufacturer Lego, the countless Lego videos on the Internet are the best compliment for the company. "Lego bricks and elements are the raw material - creative and cool content only emerges with the imagination and creativity of the hobbyist."

In some cases, users even defend their favorite brands. Last October, the wireless operator Verizon Wireless advertised an Android cell phone - and indirectly turned to its competitor Apple. The Android model is better than other phones that have "no real keyboard" and "no replaceable batteries". Just a few days later, three Apple fans shot back with a spot that stated, "I don't need an android other than R2-D2." R2-D2 is the small, personable robot from George Lucas' "Star Wars" saga.