Plane Stupid issues 48hr subvertising challenge

It's that time of year when every airline starts aggresively advertising for your business. Well, we've had enough. Plane Stupid is inviting all of you to take part in its very own subvertising competition.  From Thursday 22nd April - Friday 23rd April, we'll be launching 48 hours of sticker-whacking, subvertising, adbusting pandemonium.

The aviation industry spends millions every year telling us that we're no good to anyone unless we keep flying with them. So it's time to hit back! Like tobacco adverts, aviation advertising needs to become a thing of the past. But until then, let's subvertise. Any poster, advert or billboard is fair game.

Whether you're a first time activist looking for an easy way-in, or an old timer looking for some light's time to take to the streets and reclaim some public space. Taking part is easy:

  1. You can download a choice of designs from our Flickr site, or use your design skills to make your own.
  2. Print them out on standard, non divided, A4 sticker paper (available from most printers and stationers).
  3. Then find your nearest aviation advertisement.
  4. Stick 'em up punk!
  5. Take photographs, set up a new temporary email adress in an internet cafe (under a pseudonym) and email your images to

The group who stickers the most adverts in the 48 hour period wins. Wins what? Prizes! We got the bumper crop of 5 spray cans, Culture Jam by Kalle Lasn, Do It Yourself, A handbook for changing our world, by the Trapese Collective and Scribbleboy by Philip Ridley to give away.

Of course don't feel limited to individual stickers, think big! You can write your own message on large stretches of blank wall paper to cover whole bill boards. Make up some wall paper paste, get a paint roller, a stick it up. If necessary - attach the roller to a broom handle for those hard to reach places. Helpfully, there's some great how-to guides on t'internet.

One last point. Please be respectful about where you sticker. Corporate nasties are fine.....but the local old people's homes may not appreciate your art on their walls!

Use your head, and remember to dress well for the occasion - caps and scarfs are the in thing this subvertising season. Some officers of the law may be convinced that subvertising is borderline illegal, so take a friend as lookout, keep an eye open for CCTV and don't get caught.

Sticker fun with Plane Stupid

Plane Stupid Towers is delighted to announce our collection of sumptuous stickers. If you are lucky enough to have access to a computer and printer all you'll need is to download the designs from our flickr site and print them out on standard, non divided, A4 sticker paper (available from most printers and stationers).

Ok, so one or two of them are in the tradition of somewhat abraisive satire, but with designs ranging from the cutting edge illustration of Ben Whitehouse, to the classic 'government health warning' label, we hope there's something here for everyone.

In no way are these stickers intended to go on airline adverts, airports, or other places where they might cause people to think about the impact of flying. When going out and about with them we urge you to wrap up warm, making sure you wear a nice hat and scarf for any cctv cameras.

If you happen to see any of our stickers in interesting locations, please take a photo and email it to us, we'd love to compile a gallery.

Aviation billboard subvertised in North London

Last Saturday morning eight young climate change protestors decided they'd had enough of being bombarded with aviation advertising and took control of a billboard. At a time most of us would be asleep (or just getting in from a night on the lash) they were hanging a banner saying "stop airport expansion" over the advert.

Although just a small example of direct action this subvertising was just the start of a wider campaign to counter the millions and millions of pounds worth of advertising the industry forks out for every year. Tackling climate change means rethinking what is and is not acceptable. When aviation is 13% of our climate impact, posters on every last square foot of blank wall inciting us to fly is certainly not OK. It's time we declared public spaces no-go-zones for crappy adverts flogging us shit we don't actually want or need. Take your advert for cheap flights and shove it.

Advertising executives, be warned. Plane Stupid grew up watching Blue Peter. We've bought loads and loads of marker pens and sticky backed plastic, and have been saving egg-cartons for months. Your precious pseudo-art that litters the public realm is going to get rebranded. We have high-viz jackets and we know how to use them.

Today's sermon finishes with a short quote from the Gospel according to Banksy, that famed counter-cultural sell out: "Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It's yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head." Amen to that, brother.

Aviation advertising: time to end it


As we know, since the triumph of modern liberal capitalist democracy, neither governments nor corporations have any real power whatsoever. They are no more than the slaves, nay puppets and playthings, of the all-powerful informed voter/consumer/viewer. This is why the government and BAA, who know full well what a catastrophic mistake a third runway at Heathrow would be, have been forced into all sorts of dodgy and disreputable behaviour in order to build one.

As they so often tell us: the consumer demands it, and what the consumer demands, the consumer gets. We know this to be true, as all the statements made by the government and the aviation industry are quite clear on the subject. They have to build new runways to keep up with burgeoning consumer demand. No way round it. Any other response would be, at the very least, undemocratic.

Well, Plane Stupid may have discovered a way to help the government out of this fix. We've been doing some research, and we've discovered that there might, just might, be a way of controlling that demand. This would be truly game-changing, as it would allow us to limit aviation without enraging the all-powerful consumers. Rather than taking the clearly unacceptable step of denying demand, we continue to satisfy it, whilst reducing it. Consumers get all the flights they want, the planet gets a limit to aviation, and the government and BAA no longer have to debase themselves by doing things they know to be wrong. It's a win-win-win scenario.

In order to achieve this, we need your help. The next time you see a poster, billboard, or other static advertising encouraging demand for flights, put on a fluoro vest and hard hat, approach the offending installation, and simply destroy it. It really is that easy.

But what of free speech? I'm glad you asked. Not only might this strategy have a significant role in saving the planet, it also positively encourages free speech. If you're a creative sort, you could go beyond merely ripping the thing down or painting it black, and use that space to provide the public with a bit of light entertainment, or perhaps some useful information. For example, it may be the case that there are still a few people in your local area who are unaware of the enormous threat climate change poses and the enormous contribution to this threat made by aviation. Why not use the space vacated by the flight promotional material to remedy this?

Instead of encouraging mass murder, the billboard would be rehabilitated as a socially and environmentally responsible contributor to the health and well-being of the community. It could even rescue the rather tarnished reputation of the advertising industry. If you come up with a particularly ambitious idea, it might be worth asking the owners of the billboard to contribute to the costs of the materials, as they will be the main beneficiaries.

How did we formulate this brilliant strategy? Good question. We were inspired by the ground-breaking work of the late Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, who banned all tobacco advertising in the UK in 2002. Whilst this was probably the greatest achievement in a generally rather disappointing career, we felt that banning the promotion of suicide without restricting the advertising of genocide clearly indicates that his work was left unfinished. We feel sure that, were he alive today, Tony would be up a ladder spraying obscenities all over the latest EasyJet atrocity, and that the best way to remember him, and cement his legacy, is to carry on his important work.

Aviation advertising: an activist writes


As an activist for the direct action group Plane Stupid, I am often asked "who the hell are you to say which flights are necessary and which aren't?"

"Well Jeremy," I generally respond, "I'm the person you're interviewing about which flights are necessary and which aren't." Then I generally go on to explain in impressive detail that any flight where there is a convenient and more sustainable alternative available, such as 90% of flights within Europe, is one type of unnecessary flight.

However, there are other types of unnecessary flight, some just as unnecessary, or occasionally even more unnecesary, than the short-haul unnecessary flight. One important type of unnecessary flight is the the flight you didn't know you wanted to take until a bilboard told you that you did. Whilst different people may disagree over the relative importance of holidays in the sun, family reunions and high-powered international business meetings, sorry, I appear to have fallen asleep there for a moment.

Whilst different people may disagree over the relative importance of holidays in the sun, family reunions and high-powered international business meetings, I think we can all agree that missing a flight that you didn't want to take, indeed had never considered taking, would not be a huge loss. Indeed, and I speak with a fair degree of confidence when I say this, I think that, as losses go, it would probably be towards the 'small' end of the loss magnitude spectrum.

As such, they would be just the sort of flights which one might consider doing without, on the grounds that they would (and here I refer the reader to the preceding passage) no great loss. So, how would one prevent people from taking flights thery didn't want to take until they were told that they wanted to by a billboard? One method would be to ask Her Majesty's Government to stop people from erecting these troublesome billboards in the first place. This isn't a very good method, however, as Her Majesty's Government are, by and large, the biggest shower of shits you are ever likely to come across.

As an activist for the direct action group Plane Stupid, the method I generally recommend for preventing people from taking flights they didn't know they wanted to take until they were told they wanted to by a billboard is direct action. This can take many forms, although 99% of these forms are what is referred to in the national press as 'mindless vandalism'. So, by way of a summary, I would recommend mindless vandalism in 99/% of cases.

Goodnight, and remember to wear your fluoro vest.

BA blackmails former staff for Heathrow support

BA planes

Sometimes you read an article which is truly shocking. This, dear readers, is one of them. British Airways has been sending leaflets to retired staff, claiming that their pensions are at risk if the third runway doesn't get the green light.

The leaflet urges former employees to write to Ruth Kelly in support of expansion, claiming that their pensions depend upon Heathrow's expansion. A quote in large print from Sigrid Mapp, chairman of the Liason council, which represents retired staff, says: "As pensioners, the security of our pensions depends directly on the longterm success of British Airways and that again depends on the success of Heathrow."

BA have already been rebuked by the Advertising Standards Agency for making false claims about the environmental impact of the third runway in a letter to frequent flyers. Frankly, making nonsense claims to the biggest polluters pales into insignificance compared with blackmailing elderly people who've devoted their lives for your company. If this is how low the aviation industry is sinking, then the forces of opposition must be doing something right...

Yet another ASA ruling on Ryanair

Michael O'Leary sucked into an engine

Seems to happen once a week at the moment: wake up, turn on radio, hear that Ryanair have been scolded by the Advertising Standards Agency. This time it's for naughty adverts with a saucy young lady dressed as a schoolgirl.

Ryanair, ever the tireless defenders of free-speech and justice, have refused to abide by the ruling. A while ago, the boss of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) - Christopher Graham - told the Guardian "Ryanair has been given every opportunity to work with the ASA and get its advertising right. It faces the real threat of formal sanctions, which includes a referral to the Office of Fair Trading under the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988."

Go on Christoper. Save me from writing any more blogs about Ryanair adverts. Frankly, it's getting very dull indeed.

ASA puts Willie in hot water

Willie Walsh

Outspoken British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has had his knuckles rapped for claiming that the third runway would reduce CO2 emissions.

The day after the consultation, Willie wrote to tens of thousands of members of BA's executive club, claiming that the third runway would save 330,000 tonnes of CO2 as less planes would need to stack in the skies above London, and urging them to write in support of expansion.

The Advertising Standards Agency wrote to Walsh, pointing out that the third runway would actually see 2.6 million tonnes more CO2, from the 220,000 extra flights each year, and ordered him to write a correction. Walsh has so far refused to say whether he will comply.

Airline websites mislead public

O'Leary cuddling a plane

Hot on the heels of the Advertising Standards Agency's ruling on Ryanair, the European Commission has found that at least 200 airlines' websites are "misleading" the public.

According to the Commission, common issues include prices on the home page that did not include taxes and charges, 'free' flights that were not free and compulsory purchase of insurance attached to an offer.

Ryanair could face advertising sanctions for "misleading the public"

Ryanair has now been warned it could face advertising sanctions for "misleading the public" and betraying consumer trust as well as bringing "advertising into disrepute."

The boss of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) - Christopher Graham - told the Guardian:

"Ryanair has been given every opportunity to work with the ASA and get its advertising right. It faces the real threat of formal sanctions, which includes a referral to the Office of Fair Trading under the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988."