Last week nearly 70 portraits of cats replaced all advertisements at the Clapham Common tube station in London. Responsible for the guerilla action is The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service, or in short CATS, who earlier this year raised over £23.000 to make their feline dreams come true.
The team behind CATS collaborated with Battersea Dogs and Cats Home or Cats Protection, UK’s largest feline welfare charities, to not only raise awareness over stray cats, but also to “encourage positive values in society”. Founder and #CatsNotAds leader James Turner said: "We tried to imagine a world where public spaces made you feel good. We hope people will enjoy being in the station and maybe think a bit differently about the world around them […] Instead of asking you to buy something, we're asking you to think about what's really valuable in your life. It might not be cats, but it's probably something you can't find in the shops".
Cats have been dominating our digital environment for over a decade. From LOLcats to #CatsAgainstBrexit, it appears our feline friends are capable of conveying any message. Needless to say cat propaganda has been ruthlessly effective, as in 2015 an entire exhibition was dedicated to how cats took over the Internet. According to Mashable, the initial Internet cat was popularized in 1998. Written in ASCII code, the cat meowed “Please go away”.
The cat invasion in London is not the first action that challenges public advertising. In 2014 an augmented reality app called No Ad was launched to laminate ads with artworks. In 2015 Brandalism took over 600 ad spaces in Paris during the UN climate talks. That same year a campaign filed under the hashtag #youdontneedthis encouraged Torontonians to scrawl on ads that promoted cosmetic surgery, simultaneously proving we don’t need a Kickstarter to start a revolution, but just a pen.
The guerilla-marketing scheme will be on display for two weeks. Meanwhile the CATS collective is planning its second takeover, for which they are now accepting submissions. Power to the people cats!