Title and statement of responsibility area
Adbusters Media Foundation fonds
General material designation
- Textual records
- Graphic materials
- Moving images
- Photographic materials
- Sound recordings
- Records in electronic form (born-digital)
Other title information
Title statements of responsibility
- Source of title proper: Fonds title is based on the name of the records creator
Level of description
Edition statement of responsibility
Class of material specific details area
Statement of scale (cartographic)
Statement of projection (cartographic)
Statement of coordinates (cartographic)
Statement of scale (architectural)
Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
- Adbusters Media Foundation
Physical description area
Paper and analogue records:
3.26 m of textual records and other material
45.6 GB of digital graphics and other material
Publisher's series area
Title proper of publisher's series
Parallel titles of publisher's series
Other title information of publisher's series
Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series
Numbering within publisher's series
Note on publisher's series
Archival description area
Name of creator
Adbusters Media Foundation is a Vancouver-based nonprofit society that was founded in 1989 by Kalle Lasn and Bill Schmalz. It is an anti-corporate, activist organization that is pro-environment and anti-consumerism. Adbusters is known for its strategy of culture jamming, which involves rearranging popular advertisements, slogans, and logos to subvert their meaning and expose underlying ideological messages. A main component of Adbusters' advocacy is aesthetic in nature, aiming to "out-cool" brands they perceive as having harmful impacts on global society or ecology, while using graphic design to sell ideas geared toward activism and political change.
The founding of Adbusters links to events in the late 1980s, when Kalle Lasn and Bill Schmalz created a motion picture "anti-ad" that advocated against old-growth forestry practices in British Columbia. Canadian TV stations refused to air the ad. Realizing that corporations held privileged access to public airwaves, Adbusters Media Foundation was created to advocate for a citizen's right to communicate anti-corporate messages.
A major activity of the organization is the publishing of the bi-monthly, internationally-circulated Adbusters magazine. Subtitled the "Journal of the Mental Environment," Adbusters magazine features articles, anti-ads, and calls to action aiming to destabilize pro-consumption messaging traditionally distributed through magazines, television, and the internet. The magazine is entirely reader-supported, receiving no funding from advertising, sponsorship, or government grants. As of August, 2022, 162 issues have been published and distributed since 1989.
Through its magazine, newsletters, and online presence, Adbusters has launched or promoted several international campaigns including Buy Nothing Day, TV Turnoff Week, First Things First, Media Carta, Blackspot Shoe campaign, and Occupy Wall Street. Buy Nothing Day, occurring on the 4th Friday of November, is a protest against consumer culture and Black Friday. TV Turnoff Week, and it's modern analogue Digital Detox Week, advocates for taking a week-long break from televised consumer messaging. The First Things First campaign is aimed at graphic designers, advocating against "selling out" to promote unethical products and industries.
Media Carta was the campaign slogan applied to a 20 year legal battle fought by Adbusters for the right to air anti-consumerism messaging on several Canadian broadcasting networks. The lawsuit claimed the broadcaster's refusals limited Adbusters' freedom of expression. The case was dismissed in the BC Supreme Court in 2008, only to be overturned in 2009 by the BC Court of Appeal.
Occupy Wall Street was initiated by Adbusters in mid-2011, through a mailing list email and a poster featuring a ballet dancer on top of Wall Street's Charging Bull statue. The movement was initially created to protest wealth disparity and corporate influence on democracy in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, and eventually grew to over 900 cities around the world. Adbusters does not claim ownership over the Occupy movement, as it grew to be run by local grassroots collectives.
Adbusters continues to publish its magazine and launch campaigns, with its latest efforts focusing on garnering an international movement to fight for psychological, ecological, corporate, financial, economic, political, and aesthetic change.
Adbusters Media Foundation donated the records to SFU Archives in 2020.
Scope and content
Fonds consists of records created or received by Adbusters Media Foundation through the organization's publishings, advocacy campaigns, legal action, and merchandising. The fonds is a hybrid, containing born-digital materials as well as paper and analogue textual records, graphic materials, audiovisual materials, and artifacts. Records include magazines, books, posters, pamphlets, digital newsletters, digital spoof advertisements, graphic designs, mockups, memes, promotional photographs, marketing plans, operational notes and manuals, financial statements, correspondence, legal records, talking notes, and website captures. Records also include interview transcriptions and copies of newspaper and magazine articles documenting the organization's achievements. Graphic, textile, and ceramic merchandise also make up a notable portion of the fonds.
The fonds has been arranged by the archivist into twelve series:
• Administrative records (series 1)
• Publications (series 2)
• Campaign records (series 3)
• Legal action records (series 4)
• Blackspot campaign records (series 5)
• Merchandise (series 6)
• Talks (series 7)
• Events records (series 8)
• School projects records (series 9)
• Media coverage (series 10)
• Audio/video materials (series 11)
• Website captures (series 12)
Note that the processing of series 4 (Legal action records) is still in progress, and the description is not yet published.
Immediate source of acquisition
Where apparent, original order was maintained; arrangement was provided by the archivist for records with no existing order.
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
Availability of other formats
Restrictions on access
Access restrictions may apply to records containing third-party personal information. Files marked "pending review" must be reviewed by an archivist prior to release. See the file lists and consult the reference archivist for more information.
Series with some known restrictions include Administrative records (series 1), Publications and associated records (series 2), Campaign records (series 3), Blackspot campaign records (series 5), Events records (series 8), School project records (Series 9), and Website captures (Series 10). Legal action records (series 4) is still under review. The remaining series are open with no restrictions.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
The fonds contains copyright-protected materials that fall into two main categories: (i) materials created by Adbusters Media Foundation for which Adbusters is the copyright holder; and (ii) material received or collected by Adbusters Media Foundation for which copyrights are owned by third parties.
For type (i) materials in which Adbusters Media Foundation holds copyright - Adbusters has agreed to make these materials available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license (CC BY-NC). Users are free to copy, share and adapt the materials as they like provided they credit Adbusters Media Foundation as the creator, indicate any changes they have made, and use the works for a non-commercial purpose. All requests for commercial use should be made in writing to SFU Archives.
For type (ii) materials in which third parties own copyright - the Archives will make copies available for private study or research purposes under the fair dealing provisions of Canada's Copyright Act. Use for any other purpose may require the permission of the copyright owner. SFU Archives can assist researchers in attempting to identify copyright owners, but it is the user's responsibility to contact owners and secure any permissions.
Generated finding aid
Further accruals are expected.
Analogue graphic material and objects include 73 post cards, 22 photographs, 24 posters, 20 calendars, 5 pin-back buttons, 5 baseball cards, 4 fabric flags, 3 magnets, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 shoe box, 1 t-shirt, 1 tote bag, 1 coffee cup, and 1 magnetized ceramic cookie.
Standard number area
Name access points
- Lasn, Kalle (Subject)
Genre access points
Description record identifier
Rules or conventions
RAD July 2008 edition.
Level of detail
Dates of creation, revision and deletion
February 2023: arrangement and description of digital records completed (Dayna Fleming).
August 2022: arrangement and description of paper and analogue records completed (Dayna Fleming).
Language of description