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Rebel brands and causes: Anti-message marketing

Anti-message marketing

Anti-message marketing

Members of the public are growing sceptical towards businesses. Concerns relating to the environment and sustainability have reached deafening levels. Political malaise is a widespread pandemic. In 2019 organisations are reacting to this with anti-message marketing 

Brands are encouraging us not to buy their products. Activists are seizing public and digital spaces to bolster understandings of major issues we face. Government stunts are hijacked to raise awareness about lies and negligence. Welcome to the anti-message marketing age, where the best way to make an impact is by throwing caution to the wind.

Anti-message marketing and causes 

The loudest voices in this area of comms are activist groups. Hijack marketing tactics have become commonplace as public consciousness surrounding controversial issues increases along with the sheer volume of information vying for attention. 

Word On The Curb

anti-message marketing

As reported in our weekly Blagger’s Blog, youth-voice content specialist Word On The Curb responded to outrage at the Home Office’s latest anti-knife campaign. Thousands of fried chicken boxes containing messages encouraging people to down weapons were sent to 210 takeaways. The idea was to change behaviour.

Furore ensued— from scapegoating to wasting funds. In response, Word On The Curb asked the public for their suggestions on tackling street violence. Those statements were printed on more fried chicken boxes. These were then posted to the Home Office, highlighting how ridiculous the original idea was. 

Led By Donkeys 

Anti-message marketing

These highly-active activists have been turning heads and making headlines since December 2018. Using cash raised through crowdfunding, the team take over billboards with quotes and images from politicians, shining a light on lies and moral crimes. Examples include Michael Gove on the impact of a No Deal Brexit, and new-PM Boris Johnson brandishing a kipper.  


Anti-message marketing and brands 

It’s not just political campaigners using anti-message marketing. Brands are adopting this technique with increasing regularity. 

Vivienne Westwood   

It’s 2017 and although today’s climate crisis has yet to be declared, we all know more sustainability is needed. Cue British fashion mogul Vivienne Westwood giving shoppers one piece of advice. “Don’t buy anything”. A step up from her long-time mantra, “buy less, choose better and make it last”, with fast fashion contributing more to climate change than air travel the message is vital. 


The Dutch national carrier’s Fly Responsibly campaign asks passengers various questions. “Do you always have to meet face-to-face?” “Could you not take the train instead?”  Ultimately, the anti-message is clear— fly less. Hardly business as usual for an airline. 


Established in 1973, Patagonia was originally a climbing-gear company but switched to focus on environmentally-sound products after its founder saw the damage tools caused to rock faces. Now a market leader in responsible retail, its status was cemented via a Christmas campaign with one slogan. “Don’t buy this jacket”.


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