I’ve written before about the influence of advertising on our culture, and it’s huge role in propping up wasteful consumerism. Through its billboards, TV and radio airtime, bus-stops, and thousands of other places, advertising has a massive communications infrastructure ready to serve your marketing needs.
But then, you don’t always have to use that infrastructure to sell things. In theory, anyone can use that advertising network if they are prepared to pay for it. There’s no reason why we can’t have adverts with a positive public message up there some of the time.
Of course, most of us can’t afford a billboard. But if we got together with like-minded people and each chipped in a bit, perhaps we could use just a small part of the advertising network for something positive. That’s the philosophy behind Loudsauce, a crowd-funded media buying platform. Anyone can propose an ad, submit it to the site, and the community will vote for it and pay for it. Reach the funding target, and the ads will go live.
The website piloted the idea in San Francisco recently with a very civil billboard on behalf of the Bay Bridge.
More recently, billboards went up in Times Square inviting people to support Greece by holidaying there. They can do TV too, with crowdsources TV ads for the Occupy movement aired last week on a variety of channels, including CNN.
For some people this won’t be radical enough. After all, the big advertising companies are still making the money from their billboards, and they don’t much care who uses them. Some might prefer to just deface or hijack ads, a la Adbusters. I think there’s probably room for both approaches, especially since most people don’t want to be involved in criminal damage. You can never undo consumerism by out-buying the advertisers, but for specific causes in local areas, funding a billboard could be very effective. WorldWatch has a discussion of the two approaches here.
Loudsauce is just working in the US at the moment. You can find out more about their current campaigns here.