A few years ago, I found myself in the unfortunate position of breaking up with someone I was engaged to; and when I changed my relationship status from “engaged” to “single,” the ads got nasty. I mean really nasty.
I was enraged by the way that predatory advertisers were using of social data to take advantage of my broken heart and feelings of insecurity, so I started buying my own targeted ads. My goal was to call people’s attention to the fact that advertisers were using information like their age, gender, and relationship status in this predatory manner.
In May of 2011, I gave a talk at Ignite Seattle about my Subvertising project.
Since then, I’ve run the odd campaign here and there, especially around Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and other times of year when the romance-industrial complex and wedding-industrial complex are particularly active in their advertising efforts. But I haven’t been very systemic about it.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a rash of ads that are even worse than the original ads that provoked my original campaign, so I’m back at the subverting game. Here’s the ad that was the straw to break the camel’s back.
If you’ve been seeing ads that are clearly meant to make you feel like crap about yourself, please screenshot and share them. Call them out to your friends and followers. Let’s spread awareness of how these ads get in front of our eyeballs and what they are meant to do.
We don’t have to take this kind of advertising lying down!
Update 6/27, 12:30pm: Here are a couple of other problematic ads folks have sent me that have come through their news feeds.