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“Drive cleaner. Or just pretend to,” says Volkswagen.


“We knew about the impact of fossil fuels but publicly denied it,” says Exxon Mobil. Those are the kinds of satirical advertisements—or “subvertising”—that are gracing Paris’s streets in protest of the corporate sponsors of the COP21 climate change talks. The U.K. art group Brandalism installed more than 600 advertisements, by about 80 artists, in spaces owned by JC Decaux, a large advertising firm and sponsor of the conference. 

In addition to criticizing the likes of AirFrance and Dow Chemical, the guerrilla ads focus on world leaders, like President Barack Obama swimming with his daughter while superimposed smoke and flames flare in the background. 

Brandalism noted in a press release that, in the wake of Paris terror attacks, corporate-sponsored events were permitted to carry on while authorities curtailed mass-mobilization efforts. “The multinationals responsible for climate change can keep greenwashing their destructive business models, but the communities directly impacted by them are silenced,” the release said. “It’s now more important than ever to call out their lies and speak truth to power.”