Sunday, September 18, 2016

CATS in Clapham

A friend posted an article on Facebook last week about a crazy transformation of the advertising spaces in the Clapham Common tube station. They've been taken over, temporarily, by cats.

This is courtesy of the Citizens Advertising Takeover Service, or CATS, which raised money through Kickstarter to purchase the station's advertising space for two weeks and shower commuters with images of cuddly felines. Allegedly, many of the animals pictured are in the custody of animal-welfare charities and need homes.

The idea, according to a blog post by one of the people behind the effort, is to make people and companies think differently about advertising -- to consider the social good and positive messaging that can come from ads.

"Back in February we asked ourselves to 'imagine a world where friends and experiences were more valuable than stuff you can buy,' " wrote James Turner. They wanted an eye-catching demonstration of this ideal, something with the power to go viral on the Internet. Hence, CATS.

"We want agencies and brands to be mindful of the power they wield and to use it to encourage positive values in society," Turner wrote. "Things like empathy and tolerance, community and togetherness deserve to be at the heart of our culture."

Apparently it's going gangbusters. A Google search turns up lots of photos of these advertisements online, and one of the station workers chatted with me and said many visitors came especially for the cats. He marveled that these gates, previously emblazoned with ads from British Airways, were now getting so much attention!


  1. I think the cats advertising idea is brilliant and raises some fundamental questions about bombarding people with commercial adverts. When I went behind the old Iron Curtain, it was so refreshing to be in a world that was free of such daily visual assaults that urban westerners took and still take for granted.

  2. I think they should leave this up!

  3. A lovely idea. Much better than business advertising...

    Have you ever been to Postman's Park on your walkabouts? (Don't know where you are in relation to it.) Just read a short piece about the memorial wall; another lovely idea someone had, long ago. The tiles look beautiful.

  4. Maybe next, pictures of beautiful trees? That would be nice. And relaxing.
    We don't realize how bombarded with advertising we are until something like this happens.
    Kinda cool.

  5. I like this idea. What fun to find these cats all over the tube station. Brilliant!

  6. I've never been a friend of business ads, it's great to use the space for charity reasons. Nowadays everything is too much consumer-oriented.

  7. What an amazing idea behind this campaign - thinking of what could be, instead of what is. The fact that they used cats to get peoples' attention is the icing on the cake.

    Although, I knew a woman who had a terrible fear of cats. She might be freaked out if she had to be anywhere near this! Me - I love it.

  8. Cool idea. Sometimes simple obvious things can bring about big changes.

  9. OMG. I absolutely love it. Hard to say what I like better - all those images of cats (I reeely luv cats) or the wonderfully idealistic focus of this group.

  10. 'imagine a world where friends and experiences were more valuable than stuff you can buy,'

    What a novel idea.


  11. I'm not much of a cat lover - I think they need to do dogs next!

  12. YP: Isn't it a great idea? A world without advertising would be like a world without plastic -- unthinkable, and yet beautiful.

    E: Me too!

    Linda: Agreed!

    Elle: I don't think I've been to Postman's Park, though I've definitely walked through that area. I'll have to check it out!

    Ms Moon: They considered trees, apparently! I wonder how much it costs to buy all the ads in a tube station?

    Sharon: It's definitely fun and eye-catching! It must make people wonder what the heck is up.

    Kaki: I agree, and their point exactly!

    Jenny-O: Ha! I never thought of that. An ailurophobe's nightmare!

    Red: Well, whether anything will change in the long run I don't know, but at least it asks some valuable questions.

    Marty: I think both the cats and the idealism win points!

    Alphie: Right? Seemingly simple and yet novel.

    Bug: I would DEFINITELY love to see a dog version! Olga would be happy to pose...