The Art Of Pranking: Culture Jamming


Culture Jamming is a form of protest which challenges mass culture’s indoctrination of consumerism due to corporate elites by exposing ulterior motivates of capitalist intent.  Culture Jamming involves creating parodies of brands through the use of art by attacking their identity, showing an alternative perspective of a brand’s authenticity and ethics. It is important for participants to bring a disruptions of corporate semiotics and not to further advertise the brand and therefore as Harold (2004) states

“ revenge is a science, pranking is an art.”

The term “jamming’ was originally used to describe the illegal disruption of radio broadcast between fellow hams, Mark (unknown), and so the socio-poltical, media critical band , Negativland, coined the term “ Culture Jamming” in 1984 for their exposure of media-centric semiotics, challenging the established media “broadcasted” information.

Culture Jamming is seen as guerrilla semiotics as its objectives include sabotaging the process of communication between brands and their audience, Carducci (2006). Brands do not only sell a product, they sell a lifestyle and therefore have created an identity in which they market for their clients to buy into.

Global Peace and Conflict, 2012. Give as example of the famous brand Nike being cultured jam due to their usage of sweatshops

By creating transparency through their constructed identity Culture Jamming does not only disrupt, but sends out message through skilful manipulation of corporate symbols from monolithic power structures to expose their control in discerning our way of life, Harold (2004).


Esso, Unknown.

We can look at this through ESSO vs GRENPEACE

Esso is a trading name for Exxon Mobile Corporations and it affiliated oil companies. Which have said to be a sign of quality and a symbol of service, Esso (unknown).

This can be seen in their advertisement which exclaims their power and efficiency.

Greenpeace, an NGO which strives for environmental care created this to undermine Esso’s identity by exposing their desire for capitalistic gains regardless of ethics towards environmental sustainability and conservation.

GreenPeace, Unknown, shows the famous culture jam.

Esso responded by suing Greenpeace for infringing copyrights and reputable damage states Cammaerts (2007) , in which Greenpeace won and called for action for the public to subvert the company.





  • It gives transparency to hidden aspects of corporate ethics
  • It can lead to individuals changing their beliefs and ideals about our society
    due to awareness of issues being spread
  • It is an easy and cost effective method of protesting
    ,it can be done via multiple mediums and due to social networking sites, it has created a faster means for people to voice their concerns


  • Legal implications
    such as our example with GreenPeace
  • Humour might trivialise the issue
    instead of bringing forth the true intent of the message and action for change
  • It could stand to further advertise the brand

Culture Jamming is an innovative means to protest against the norm of ignorance from the patriarchal capitalist society in which we operate. Offering an artistic method to expel this it disrupts the culture of consumerism through giving transparency to the hidden activities and agendas of corporations via dismembering their own symbols to produce their true meanings.


Carducci, V. 2006. Culture Jamming: A Sociological Perspective. Journal of Consumer Culture. Vol.6, pp. 117-119. Available at: (accessed 23 Oct. 2017).

Dery, M. Unknown. Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of Signs. [online] Available at: (accessed 23 Oct. 2017).

Esso. Unknown. Our History. [online] Available at: ( Accessed 23 Oct. 2017)

Harold, C. 2004. Pranking Rhetoric: “Culture Jamming” as Media Activism. Critical Studies in Media Communication. [online] Vol. 21, p. 191. Available at: (accessed 23 Oct. 2017).


Adbusters. Unknown. Unknown. [online] Available at: (Accessed 23 Oct. 2017)

GreenPeace. unknown. Culture jamming the Esso logo at the entrance to a large station near the Germany-Luxembourg border in Wasserbillig.[ online] Available at: (Accessed 23 Oct. 2017)

Global Peace and Conflict. 2012. Modern Day Slavery. [online] Available at:  (Accessed 23 Oct. 2017).

Logo Database. Unknown. Unknown. [online] Available at: ( Accessed 23 Oct. 2017).

Author: xjaypattersonx

BA Film student seeking to analyze and interpret the messages of imagery which the media displays.

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