Other Group

Adbusters

November/December 2011 cover of Adbusters magazine, #98 "American Autumn" (link)
Location:

Vancouver, Canada

Formation:

1989

Founder:

Kalle Lasn

Type:

Non-profit

The Adbusters Media Foundation is a far-left non-profit media organization based in Vancouver, Canada. Its main project is the Adbusters magazine, an international bi-monthly magazine that was at one time the top-selling Canadian title in the United States. [1]

The organization, through its magazine, focuses on left-of-center issues such as environmentalism, animal rights, and technology and calls its readers “redeemers, rebels, and radicals.” It was the initial organizer of the Occupy Wall Street protests after it called for “20,000 people” to “flood into lower Manhattan” on September 17, 2011. [2]

Despite being heavily against corporations and advertising, Adbusters uses marketing strategies to bring attention to its campaigns including “Buy Nothing Day,” “TV Turnoff Week,” and “Unbrand America.” [3]

Adbusters Media Foundation claims to be “proud” that it is “entirely supported” by its readers, however, it has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from organizations such as the Tides Center and the Glaser Progress Foundation. [4][5]

Founding

The Adbusters Media Foundation (Adbusters) is a not-for-profit far-left organization that focuses on left-of-center issues such as environmentalism, animal rights, and technology through its Adbusters Magazine and activism. The organization describes its members as “anarchists” and “neo-Luddites.” [6]

The organization was founded in 1989 by Kalle Lasn, an Estonian-Canadian filmmaker, author, magazine editor, and activist. Lasn, who claimed “we will wreck this world,” in his book Culture Jam: How to Reverse America’s Suicidal Consumer Binge — and Why We Must, created Adbusters Media Foundation after he and other radical environmentalists protested the British Columbia forestry industry by complaining to the media and protesting in front of a logging company headquarters. [7]

Adbusters Media Foundation has a public relations arm called the Powershift Advocacy Advertising Agency that creates advertisements for non-profit organizations that align with Adbusters’ ideals. The organization’s main product is its Adbusters magazine, an international bi-monthly magazine that is the top-selling Canadian title in the United States. [8]

In its “manifesto,” Adbusters states it aims to remove “big tech,” clean the “toxic areas of our mental environment,” and “wake up a thoughtless, complacent culture.” [9]

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street was a demonstration that took place in lower Manhattan, from September 17 through November 15, 2011. The New York “occupation,” centered on Zuccotti Park, sparked imitator demonstrations by left-wing protesters worldwide. Extreme-left groups such as Anonymous supported the protests. [10]

Occupy Wall Street was conceived by Adbusters on June 9, 2011, after the organization registered the website domain name OccupyWallStreet.org. The organization sent an email to readers on July 13. It called for “20,000 people” to “flood into lower Manhattan” on September 17 to set up barricades and inhibit Wall Street from operating “for a few months,” while demanding “democracy not corporatocracy.” [11]

The email began by calling readers “redeemers, rebels, and radicals,” and promotes the idea that if the protest is successful it would “propel us toward the radical democracy of the future.” In the email, Adbusters also demanded that President Barack Obama “ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives.” [12]

In total there were 2,644 Occupy-related arrests in New York in 2011, which resulted in 409 guilty pleas or convictions but the New York City Police Department was forced to spend $7 million on overtime related to the protests, and dozens of workers lost their jobs as a result of local economic disruptions caused by the Occupy protest. [13][14][15]

The Occupy Wall Street campaign was criticized due to the amount of money it received from left-of-center individuals and foundations. In total OWS raised just over $700,000 during a six-month period ending January 2012. By January 2012 the protest had only $170,000 left, voted to cease funding for any new projects, and was expected to “go broke” by March 2012. [16]

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised by left-wing individuals including the owners of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, former Nirvana manager Danny Goldberg, television producer and People for the American Way founder Norman Lear, and millionaire Terri Gardner. [17]

Hungarian-born American investor, author, and left-of-center political donor George Soros was accused of contributing large amounts of money to Occupy Wall Street. However, there was no direct link. Soros did contribute approximately $3.5 million between 2007 and 2009 to the Tides Center, a left-of-center nonprofit created to manage the fiscal sponsorship services of its “sister” organization, the Tides Foundation. One of the organizations that received money from the Tides Center was Adbusters, which received a total of $185,000 in grants from 2001-2010, including $58,541 in 2001, and approximately $26,000 between 2007 and 2009. [18][19][20]

Advertising Campaigns

Despite being heavily against corporations and advertising, Adbusters uses marketing strategies to bring attention to its campaigns.

One of its biggest campaigns is “Buy Nothing Day,” which encourages people to not buy a single item on the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday. Adbusters purchased a thirty-second slot on CNN’s television program “Moneyline” in 2002. The thirty-second advertisement consisted of a burping pig, which was a metaphor for Americans who spent too much money on products, and the message “give it a rest.” [21]

For its “TV Turnoff Week” campaign, Adbusters bought another thirty-second slot on CNN which showcased dead air. Kalle Lasn, the founder of Adbusters, has called the viewing of television “a major mental health problem.” [22]

In another campaign called “Unbrand American,” Adbusters bought a full-page advertisement in the New York Times. The advertisement showed a fake stock-market listing with the claims that America had “sold its soul,” consumerism was now the “national religion,” and called for individuals to “take [their] country back.” [23]

Funding

The Adbusters Media Foundation is a Canadian-based organization, meaning it does not disclose financial information to American authorities. It claims that it is “proud to be entirely supported by [its] readers,” however; it has received $185,000 from the Tides Center between 2001 and 2010, and $151,000 in 2001 from the Glaser Progress Foundation, a private foundation that primarily funds left-of-center advocacy and activist groups. [24][25]

References

  1. “Adbusters – Activist FactsActivist Facts,” Activist Facts, January 9, 2013, https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/36-adbusters/. ^
  2. “The Original Email That Started Occupy Wall Street,” Economic Sociology & Political Economy, September 19, 2020, https://economicsociology.org/2014/12/27/the-original-email-that-started-occupy-wall-street/. ^
  3. “Adbusters – Activist FactsActivist Facts,” Activist Facts, January 9, 2013, https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/36-adbusters/. ^
  4. David Weigel, “George Soros Would’ve Gotten Away With It, Too, If It Wasn’t For You Meddling Kids!,” Slate Magazine (Slate, October 13, 2011), https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2011/10/george-soros-would-ve-gotten-away-with-it-too-if-it-wasn-t-for-you-meddling-kids.html. ^
  5. “Glaser Progress Foundation,” Glaser Progress Foundation, accessed May 24, 2021, http://www.glaserprogress.org/program_areas/independent_media_media2.asp. ^
  6. “Adbusters – Activist FactsActivist Facts,” Activist Facts, January 9, 2013, https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/36-adbusters/. ^
  7. “Adbusters – Activist FactsActivist Facts,” Activist Facts, January 9, 2013, https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/36-adbusters/. ^
  8. “Adbusters – Activist FactsActivist Facts,” Activist Facts, January 9, 2013, https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/36-adbusters/. ^
  9. “Manifesto: Adbusters Media Foundation,” Manifesto | Adbusters Media Foundation, accessed May 24, 2021, https://www.adbusters.org/manifesto. ^
  10. The Week Staff, “Occupy Wall Street: A Protest Timeline,” The Week – All you need to know about everything that matters (The Week, November 21, 2011), https://theweek.com/articles/481160/occupy-wall-street-protest-timeline. ^
  11. The Week Staff, “Occupy Wall Street: A Protest Timeline,” The Week – All you need to know about everything that matters (The Week, November 21, 2011), https://theweek.com/articles/481160/occupy-wall-street-protest-timeline. ^
  12. “The Original Email That Started Occupy Wall Street,” Economic Sociology & Political Economy, September 19, 2020, https://economicsociology.org/2014/12/27/the-original-email-that-started-occupy-wall-street/. ^
  13. Aaron Morrison, “Occupy Wall Street Anniversary: Police Crackdown On Movement Cost New York $1.5 Million Over 4 Years,” International Business Times, December 18, 2020, https://www.ibtimes.com/occupy-wall-street-anniversary-police-crackdown-movement-cost-new-york-15-million-2102266. ^
  14. Post Staff Report, “Occupy Protests Cost Nation’s Cities at Least $13M,” New York Post (New York Post, November 23, 2011), https://nypost.com/2011/11/23/occupy-protests-cost-nations-cities-at-least-13m/. ^
  15. CBS New York, “Marc Esptein, Owner Of Milk Street Cafe On Wall Street, Says Barriers Put Up Because Of Occupy Wall Street Demonstration Are Killing His Business,” CBS New York (CBS New York, November 1, 2011), https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/11/01/milk-street-cafe-owner-sacks-21-employees-as-consequence-of-occupy-wall-street-demonstration/. ^
  16. Adam Martin, “Occupy Wall Street Could Go Broke Within a Month,” The Atlantic (Atlantic Media Company, October 30, 2013), https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/01/occupy-wall-street-could-go-broke-within-month/332993/. ^
  17. Jessica Firger, “Occupy Groups Get Funding,” The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company, February 28, 2012), https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203833004577249811049566178. ^
  18. “Tides Annual Report 2002 ,” tides.org, accessed May 24, 2021, https://www.tides.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/TidesFoundation_AnnualReport_2001-2002. ^
  19. David Weigel, “George Soros Would’ve Gotten Away With It, Too, If It Wasn’t For You Meddling Kids!,” Slate Magazine (Slate, October 13, 2011), https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2011/10/george-soros-would-ve-gotten-away-with-it-too-if-it-wasn-t-for-you-meddling-kids.html. ^
  20. Carney, “Occupy Wall Street Flush With Cash, But Not From Soros,” CNBC (CNBC, October 13, 2011), https://www.cnbc.com/2011/10/13/occupy-wall-street-flush-with-cash-but-not-from-soros.html. ^
  21. “Adbusters – Activist FactsActivist Facts,” Activist Facts, January 9, 2013, https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/36-adbusters/. ^
  22. “Adbusters – Activist FactsActivist Facts,” Activist Facts, January 9, 2013, https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/36-adbusters/. ^
  23. “Adbusters – Activist FactsActivist Facts,” Activist Facts, January 9, 2013, https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/36-adbusters/. ^
  24. David Weigel, “George Soros Would’ve Gotten Away With It, Too, If It Wasn’t For You Meddling Kids!,” Slate Magazine (Slate, October 13, 2011), https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2011/10/george-soros-would-ve-gotten-away-with-it-too-if-it-wasn-t-for-you-meddling-kids.html. ^
  25. “Glaser Progress Foundation,” Glaser Progress Foundation, accessed May 24, 2021, http://www.glaserprogress.org/program_areas/independent_media_media2.asp. ^
  See an error? Let us know!

Adbusters


Vancouver,
Canada