Subtitle: Imagination taking power

From What If to What Next: Episode Forty-One

Welcome to Episode 41 of ‘From What If to What Next’. Powerful psychology is used to convince us, often subliminally, that we want and need things we previously never knew even existed. This is especially dangerous at a time when we need to urgently cut consumption of high carbon-generating products and lifestyle choices. It is estimated that in the UK companies spend over £23bn a year on advertising.

Research shows that the more advertising we are exposed to, the more unhappy we feel, the more materialistic, the less we engage in positive social activities and the less we care about the environment. Advertising, in other words, is incompatible with the decarbonisation we so urgently need.

There is a very real, and dangerous, link between living in cities overrun with cars and the fact that we are surrounded by billboards and newspaper stuffed with seductive car ads. What if instead those spaces presented us with different messages, messages celebrating more inclusive cities with far less cars, cities with clean air, cities rich with biodiversity – messages that told different stories? Our What If question for today then is … “What if we reclaimed our public spaces from advertising?”

My two guests on this episode bring a huge amount to this conversations. Rosa ter Kuile is Campaigns and Communications manager at Rising Arts Agency, and part of the Bristol Womxns Mural Collective. Robbie Gillett works part-time from Bristol on Possible’s Badvertising campaign (you can find some of their excellent publications here) and at Adfree Cities.

I hope this episode will help you to see the spaces around you differently, to reimagine what your corner of the world would look like without adverts, and how that might impact your imagination. As always, do let me know what you think. And thanks to Ben Addicott for making it all sound so great.


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