Decolonising advertising
Carl W. Jones

Decolonising advertising is not simply resolved through diversity and inclusion. The whole process needs to be examined by questioning every rule and regulation and investigating all stages of the advertising process from ‘briefing’ to ‘broadcasting’ and everything in-between.

This research focuses on one small part of the process by examining the tools and techniques used to create the cultural codes within 2D advertising messages in Mexico City, broadcast in three different social economic neighbourhoods. The tools and techniques are defined through semiotic & design theory including Barthes, Danesi, Van Leeuwen, and Dare.

The ‘work in progress’ artistic practice presented in this journal aims to explore a solution to decolonize advertising by what Mignolo terms ‘delinking knowledge.’  This was achieved by holding a workshop using ‘decolonised research methodologies’ of ‘co-production’ and ‘Indigenizing’ (Smith) with local peoples at a cultural centre in Iguala, Mexico. The concepts produced were subverted by appropriating the détournement theory of the Situationist International, and these ‘texts’ will be used in a future workshop as prompts with members of the advertising community to inspire a ‘decolonial’ conversation.

The resulting discourse will allow the consumer to resist the racist ‘spectacle’ (Debord), and persuade the Mexican ad industry to question the processes used to generate advertising that re-enforce colonial concepts such as racial and class inequality and a neoliberal ideology that supports a ruling class.

Decolonised methods practiced in this research can now be applied to other parts of the strategic and design process to remove colonial thinking from advertising by ‘de-linking’ the rules, regulations and processes.

This research through ‘artistic practice’ demonstrates that by focusing on one part of the process, advertising can be decolonized one step at a time, and from the bottom up.

Image Caption: Tostadas $10 pesos’ is the translation of the handwritten poster, which is a typical example of signage created by the Lower Social Economic Levels to advertise goods and services to their consumers. Photo by Carl W. Jones 2018 with iPhone 7 in Mexico City.


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Carl W. Jones
Decolonising advertising
Carl W. Jones
Decolonising advertising