What's the BADvertising Institute
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What's the BADvertising Institute

· The BADvertising Institute is the name we've given to the business of immunizing the world against tobacco advertising.

· We do this by offering "honest" images to young people via slide shows, PowerPoints, posters, billboards, workshops, and this award-winning website.

  • We teach educators to do the same.

· We focus our efforts on driving the tobacco moneychangers out of the temple of childhood, but our name is deliberately broad enough to take on any and all corporate affronts to honesty.

· The BADvertising Institute is based on an art exhibit called The Joy of Smoking ...A Spoof on Cigarette Advertising, created in 1986 by artist, Bonnie Vierthaler. In 1987 Vierthaler, with a little help from her frineds, developed The BADvertising Institute as a means of getting these life-changing images out into the world.

We call ourselves an Institute as a spoof on The Tobacco Institute... if a bunch of death-dealing corporate drug-pushers could gain an air of legitimacy by calling themselves an Institute, why couldn't we?

The BADvertising Story

In the spring of 1986 Bonnie Vierthaler began "doctoring up" cigarette advertisements, super-imposing images from medical journals to make the ads honest. "I'm an artist. I wanted to use humor to address the questionable practice of advertising harmful products," she said. The resulting images were unexpectedly powerful.

Within months, The Joy of Smoking ...A Spoof on Cigarette Advertising was a full-fledged art exhibit of matted and framed collages, traveling to schools, hospitals, legislative hearings and health conferences.

"Everywhere I displayed my art, conversations with tobacco victims and their loved ones continually reaffirmed the effectiveness of these images. Their need was desperate. Each picture was indeed worth a thousand words," says the artist. "I discovered that children were especially interested in this issue. They wanted to see each and every piece on display. They wanted to talk. They had questions. They wanted to know why their parents were smoking, and how they could help their parents. I was amazed that an art exhibit could be such a catalyst for creative concern."

"When the exhibit was on tour in Lancaster County, PA (tobacco country) people got together and said "this exhibit should be in every school in the United States". Two weeks later they called me with a proposition -- you make 30,000 copies of a few of your favorite pieces from the show, and we'll stuff envelopes and send them to EVERY SCHOOL in the United States.

We did it! It took two hundred people two days and nights, but we did it. We filled a truck with mail sacks of posters for schools in every zip code in the country!

Since then, images from The Joy of Smoking have been featured on national television and talked about on radio. They have also been featured in newspaper and magazine articles, on billboards, bus cards and T-shirts. I get letters every day from people all over the world who want help. They want the exhibit for their school; they want help to quit smoking; they want to help others quit; they want to help kids to learn about tobacco -- about advertising.

To address all these varied needs, we created The BADvertising Slide Kit and Posters and they have been used widely by tobacco prevention programs in schools, hospitals, and tobacco control programs internationally. Our BADvertising art has been seen on TV programs, billboards, bus cards, and T-shirts, and in popular and professional publications nationwide.

In 1995 I realized that the process of actually creating the BADvertising collages had a profound effect on me and it probably would be en effetive learning tool for others, as well. And indeed it was! Since then BADvertising Workshops have been teaching young people how to do their own BADvertising, and Train-the-Trainer Seminars to teach educators how to conduct the BADvertising Workshops.

The original Joy of Smoking...A Spoof on Cigarette Advertising art exhibit is no longer available to art, science and children's museums...it was turned back into pulp in a flood in 2007.

Update: BADvertising-China

In 1997 my BADvertising presentations at the 11th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Beijing were very well received. I had been studying Chinese on my own and this conference brought my two interests together. Someone at the conference suggested that I could teach English in China as a way of bringing BADvertising to China. By 1999 I was packing my bags, and in the Fall of 2000 I began teaching Spoken English in the Economics Department at Xiamen University.

When my students asked me what kind of work I did in the US and I told them about my BADvertising work they got very excited and wanted to do the same thing in China.

Things are different in China,
and so is BADvertising....

By teaching Spoken English and lecturing in Chinese Universities, Junior Highs, and High Schools, I've connected with thousands of Chinese students, teachers, professors, administrators, and education departments...learning more about Chinese youth and their concerns, and raising awareness of the tobacco issues.

Students at Xiamen University were inspired to carry the work forward by forming a new association called Green Breathing, to bring Smokefree Air to China. We initiated the Smokefree Marathon campaign in Xiamen and the Smokefree Campus campaigns at Xiamen University, as well as numerous consciousness-raising campaigns in schools, universities, and public places.

Green Breathing has been featured in numerous Chinese newspapers and TV programs and has received international recognition for our innovative activities.  Our co-founder was elected as the Chinese representative to the Coordinating Committee for GYAT, the Global Youth Advocacy Training Network, addressing the tobacco issues worldwide. 

Coming full CirclE  (2012)

Stay tuned...

What's the BADvertising Institute
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© 1995, 2000, 2005 Bonnie Vierthaler