Culture Jamming

Culture jamming is an interesting phenomenon. Over the past decade, a number of examples of culture jamming have surfaced across the world (some of my favorites below). To the normal person, culture jamming is nothing more than a defaced billboard, an advertisement with some ironic graffiti or any OOH piece that has been “tampered” with.

What is culture jamming? Wikipedia defines it as:

“To create a contrast between corporate or mass media images and the realities or perceived negative side of the corporation or media. This is done symbolically, with the “detournement” of pop iconography.”

One culture jammer (who is also in the industry) Ji Lee, Brand director of Droga5, has launched an interesting campaign to allow consumers to take control of OOH media.

In a great article from the Wired Blog, writer Jenna Wortham describes Lee’s techniques and motivations for becoming a jammer:

“Five years ago, fed up with the corporate grind of his gig as art director at a global ad agency, Lee decided to leave the professional world and begin hacking his environment with graffiti. “The kinds of ads being produced were very dull and boring,” said Lee in a phone conversation. “It was frustrating to see these ads taking up space all over the city, so I wanted to do something about it as a creative person and a consumer.”

Lee decided to create 30,000 cartoon thought bubbles and place them on every ad he could find in the NY city area. That way, any consumer with a felt pen could instantly add their thoughts and change the meaning of the execution.

He called the effort, Project Bubble, and has since produced a book with his favorite, consumer generated executions.

What I like about this “campaign” is that it puts ads in the hands of consumer and allows them to change them however they want. How many times have you walked by an ad and thought, “Are you kidding me? This is the best they could come up with?”

A lot of cool ideas can come from letting consumers change the meaning of your executions and messages. With Droga5 leading the jamming charge, I’m sure we will see some mainstream executions encouraging these conversations very soon.

My Top 5 faves (from a quick Google Image search):




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