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Two billboards with the same original content; the billboard on the right is an example of subvertising after being vandalized.
The ExxonMobil logo as subverted by Greenpeace.

Subvertising (a portmanteau of subvert and advertising) is the practice of making spoofs or parodies of corporate and political advertisements.[1] Subvertisements may take the form of a new image or an alteration to an existing image or icon, often in a satirical manner. A subvertisement can also be referred to as a meme hack and can be a part of social hacking or culture jamming.[2] According to Adbusters, a Canadian magazine and a proponent of counter-culture and subvertising, "A well produced 'subvert' mimics the look and feel of the targeted ad, promoting the classic 'double-take' as viewers suddenly realize they have been duped. Subverts create cognitive dissonance. It cuts through the hype and glitz of our mediated reality and, momentarily, reveals a deeper truth within."

Subvertising is a successor to détournement, a technique developed in the 1950s by the French Letterist International and later used by the better-known Situationist International.

In 1972, the logo of Richard Nixon's reelection campaign posters was subvertised with two x's in Nixon's name (as in the Exxon logo) to suggest the corporate ownership of the Republican party,[3][4]

See also


  1. ^ Alexander Barley (May 21, 2001). "Battle of the image". New Statesman. Retrieved . Subvertising is an attempt to turn the iconography of the advertisers into a noose around their neck. If images can create a brand, they can also destroy one. A subvert is a satirical version or the defacing of an existing advert, a detournement, an inversion designed to make us forget consumerism and consider instead social or political issues. 
  2. ^ "Clearing the Mindscape". Adbusters. March 4, 2009. Retrieved . So I think that, for me, "subvertising", or "culture jamming", as I call it, is the art of creating a new kind of cool. 
  3. ^ "Exxon Victorious". Time. March 5, 1973. One sure sign that Exxon has arrived as a brand name is that it has become the butt of cartoonists' jokes. For example, a cartoon in Mad magazine shows a picture of the White House with a sign overhead emblazoned Nixxon. The caption: 'But it's still the same old gas'. 
  4. ^ "Sore-Loserman: From political parody to charity's windfall. CNN. 4 Dec. 2000". Retrieved . 

External links

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