Climate activists use subvertising billboards to call out Toyota and BMW for greenwashing, anti-climate lobbying

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Climate activists across three different social awareness groups have banded together to post over 400 irreverent billboards across Europe, using subvertising tactics to expose automakers like Toyota and BMW for promoting zero-carbon BEVs while simultaneously lobbying to keep combustion vehicles on roads for decades to come. The goal of these billboards is to not only spotlight the harsh truth, but to call local governments into action to ban ads that promote combustion vehicles.

Brandalism is a UK-based artist and activist collective that, per its website manifesto, dreams of a world “emptied of mad empires, manufactured fears, paranoid dreams and marauded lands.” The group declares that it will speak truth against oppression and injustice and has campaigned against such social issues as body image, visceral “advertising pollution,” and of course, environmental issues like climate change.

Earlier this week, the group shared the following Tweet thread, outlining a subvertising campaign aimed at exposing legacy automakers like Toyota for misleading advertisements that are pro-BEV, despite publicly lobbying against anti-climate policies.

We’ve called out Toyota several times for this behavior and were delighted to see activists from Brandalism, Subvertisers’ International, and Extinction Rebellion band together to install over 400 parody billboards across 14 different European cities.

These activists and artists deserve credit for their work, so we highly recommend reading the entire Twitter thread and visiting each of the organizations websites to learn more on join the fight against climate change and social injustice. In the meantime, here are a few examples of their subvertising expertise on display throughout Europe.

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In a recent article posted by Brandalism sharing the reasoning behind the subvertising campaign, a spokesperson for the collective named Tona Merriman spoke to the greenwashing tactics being used by Toyota and BMW, and why there is no longer room in European society for those types of ad campaigns anymore:

Toyota have pushed their ‘Beyond Zero’ sustainability adverts whilst lobbying governments around the world to weaken air quality plans and threatening legal action to protect their profits over a liveable climate. Their adverts are duplicitous. Toyota and BMW use slick marketing campaigns to promote over-sized SUV models that clog up urban neighbourhoods. Electric SUVs are no solution – they’re too big for most parking spaces and their tall bumper size and excessive weight present an increased risk to pedestrians, especially children, involved in road collisions.

With an expiry on gas and diesel vehicles already in place in Europe and the UK starting in 2030, the activists are demanding an immediate end to advertising for all combustion vehicles. This aim is similar to tobacco-style legislation enacted in the 1990s that ended advertising of potentially deadly smoking products.

The subvertising ads calling out Toyota and BMW have been installed at bus stops, on billboards, and on tube advertising spaces in London, Berlin, Stuttgart, Paris, Nantes, Brussels, Ghent, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Norwich, Brighton, Exeter, and Reading.

Headline image: Art by @Fokawolf

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