who:: AdBusters. is a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age, whose aim is “to topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st century.”.
To this end, Adbusters Media Foundation publishes Adbusters magazine, operates a website and offers its creative services through PowerShift, an advocacy advertising agency.
what: “Can activists harness the entrepreneurial spirit? It's time we try” . [www.antipreneur.org]
Adbusters’ newest endeavour, the Blackspot Sneaker, produced by a dedicated organisation called Antipreneur, is not simply a shoe, but a grass-roots effort at reforming consumerism and the corporate structure at large. Adbusters is marketing and selling these shoes which, according to the organisation's website, are intended to remind consumers that behind every sneaker-clad celebrity lies a corporation spending millions of dollars each year convincing youth to buy into someone else’s vision of what is cool. They hope that the Blackspot will help put the power to define cool in the hands of consumers and youth themselves.
The shoes, which are the first goods that AdBusters has ever produced, are manufactured with ethically produced materials, fair labour and eco-friendly production techniques. Blackspot features organic hemp and vegetarian rubber and a toecap that is 70% biodegradable and is manufactured in a unionised factory in Portugal.
AdBusters plans on using the uncopyrighted Blackspot symbol to create a Blackspot music label and other products.
why: the initiative intends to be the first global anti-brand counterattack against multi-national and giant corporations by fighting the corporations head on. This means creating real alternatives like a new breed of bottom-up enterprise that does things differently: promotes ethics over profit, values over image, idealism over hype.
“Imagine a chain of restaurants serving only locally-sourced food… or an artist-controlled radio network. Or a consumer co-op for organic clothing.” - claim the promoters of this action. And they state further: “Instead of Nikes? Blackspot Sneakers. Instead of McDonald's, Warner Music and Microsoft? You tell us. SEND YOUR IDEA…”
The immediate goal of the Blackspot sneaker, also known as the Unswoosher, is to provide consumers with an alternative to branded products. While the Adbusters shoe is designed to compete with Nike’s products directly, it is also meant to serve as a symbol for attempting to reform the consumer structure and marketing strategies so often used by major corporations to sell products, as well as to inspire all people to get involved in the marketplace by creating products and selling them instead of allowing corporations to dominate.
consumers first: for Adbusters, one of the intentions of the Blackspot campaign is to give sovereignty back to the consumer. The Blackspot campaign also includes a unique shareholder program. Anyone who buys a pair of Blackspot sneakers automatically becomes a shareholder in the Blackspot anti-corporation: customers will receive a shareholder’s certificate in the shoebox that gives them the right to vote on any or all issues pertaining to the present and future of the Blackspot anti-corporation. AdBusters anticipates open debate on issues like what to do with the money that is raised from sales of the sneaker and future prototypes of the shoes.
a new era: “We hope this blackspot sneaker venture is the beginning of a new era in ethical, worker-friendly, environmentally friendly production in the shoe industry. The Blackspot will be sold only in independently owned retail stores worldwide.”