Ad Busting

What is Ad Busting?

In Ad Busting, well-known advertisements of companies are changed or provided with new slogans and thus often criticized in a critical undertone. The word is composed of the English terms ad (advertising) and busting (smashing). Ad-busting is illegal due to the unauthorized alteration and destruction of outdoor advertising and is therefore punishable at least in the sense of the penalty of damage to property.

It is therefore not surprising that Ad Busting comes from the art scene and has its origins there. With Ad Busting, however, it is not always necessary to criticize the company itself, but it is only possible to misuse the logo because of its high profile. Within this framework, a known tagline is modified and placed in a new, incoherent context.

The best known, because also the simplest form of Ad Busting, is the changing of posters at bus stops or walls in the public space, which is created for example by sticking over individual words on an advertising poster. Especially at the time of the election campaign, such ad busting can be seen on many election posters in large cities. In most cases, the texts, often quotations, on your individual posters are either changed or extended in order to redesign the message.

The form of Ad Busting can be used to express ironic wit, critical classification or political protest. There are entire artist collectives in Berlin that have specialized completely in this form.

Large companies fear Ad Busting since critical actions can often have further consequences if recordings of the busted ads spread on social media and in the worst case result in a shitstorm for the respective company, and even worse, can damage the image lastingly.

In the past, Mc Donald’s, Nike or H&M have been the victims of ad busting that have critically questioned working conditions, ingredients or raw material sourcing. The criticism of the company can, however, be constructively understood and sometimes even encourage companies to rethink.

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