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Brandalism Is Back, With A Critique Of The "Brand Police"

The U.K.-based art movement pushing back against corporate advertising is going for the gold with its latest installation critiquing the handling of the London 2012 Olympics.

Amid the fervor for the start of the 2012 Olympics, advertisers, businesses and artists in London have found themselves in a rather restrictive situation vis a vis public expressions that may be construed as either ads or art. Working with the British Parliament, The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is regulating ambush marketing with an iron fist the likes of which unseen from other committees during previous Olympics, drawing outcry from the general public. With brands such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Adidas shelling out tens of millions of dollars to be the official sponsors of the Olympics, the LOCOG has been cracking down on anyone seeking to piggyback off the immense marketability of the games without forking over the money to do so. At the same time, London authorities have reportedly taken a hard line on graffiti in the run-up to the games. That environment, combined with what they have deemed an over-commercialization of proceedings spurred a group of artists to create a collective anti-ad effort called Brandalism (read about it here).

After launching its initial salvo, Brandalism is back with a new posting criticizing Olympics authorities. A billboard in East London’s Bethnal Green features police officers in formation with the ripped Olympics tagline "Inspire a Generation" up for an ulterior interpretation. The artwork also displays the "Official Protester" logo, an initiative created by Space Hijackers.

One of the "installers" of the piece, Charlie Dempton, said, in a statement: "The absurd use of 'brand police’ to protect corporate interests, the eviction of residents from their homes, the rounding up of graffiti artists with no legal basis—these are some of the Olympic legacies of London 2012."

The group says the new artwork is a prelude to a protest against "the corporate takeover of the Olympics" scheduled for Saturday (July 28) by the Counter Olympics Network in Mile End, in defiance of a ban on the protest by Tower Hamlets Council and Transport for London.

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