Advertising for Good

Published: July 31st, 2012

By Sarah Parkinson

by Stogov Anton, High Academic School of Graphic Design, Russia

The advertising industry is at the heart of today’s culture of consumption. Glossy magazine spreads convince us that we’ll be respected and envied if we drive a new car, seductive billboards tell us that a new perfume will transform our relationships, and televised juice adds make us believe that a happy home lies in the purchase of the right beverage. We see advertisements for products everywhere every day–from the sides of cars and the windows of storefronts to napkin dispensers and the stickers on our fruit. But what would happen if we could turn the powerful arm of advertising around? What if, instead of advertising for the consumer mindset that has led us to exploit the Earth’s resources, we advertised instead for a new mindset of care, community, and sustainability?

by Trevor Baloyi, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

Helmut Langer, an internationally-recognized graphic designer (and creator of the DMI logo!) has begun to explore that very question. He recently worked with 190 graphic design students at twenty universities across five continents to create posters that advertise for a healthier, more sustainable world. The posters, all designed around the theme “Climate Change,” were originally to be displayed at the United Nations World Climate Change Conference in Mexico, 2010. Although the event was canceled, the posters are now on view at the Musashino Art University Museum & Library in Tokyo.

Although a single poster exhibit is not enough to counteract the immensely powerful pull of today’s advertising machine, it is one example of a new awareness in the graphic design industry that includes books, conferences, and entire studios dedicated to designing for sustainability and social value. More importantly, it’s an example of how people–designers, teachers, engineers, business owners, bankers, lawyers, anyone!–can use their talents and skills to promote a healthier world instead of eroding it.

Someday, hopefully, we’ll live in a culture where people would rather look at the sky than sell it for billboard space. But, until we get there, wouldn’t you rather see posters like these ones in place of advertisements for sodas, shampoos, and SUVs? What other ways can we use our collective talent to promote a new mindset?


by Habbou Yasmina, Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, Lebanon

by Kirandeep, Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad, India



by Jyotirmayee Patra, National Institute of Design, India

by Jean Pierre, Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, Peru



by Pellas, RMIT University, Australia

by Sehyr Ahmad, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates



by Mayu Yamaguchi, Nagoya University of Arts, Japan


by Kanako Tazuke, Musashino Art University, Japan


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The mission of the Donella Meadows Project is to preserve Donella (Dana) H. Meadows’s legacy as an inspiring leader, scholar, writer, and teacher; to manage the intellectual property rights related to Dana’s published work; to provide and maintain a comprehensive and easily accessible archive of her work online, including articles, columns, and letters; to develop new resources and programs that apply her ideas to current issues and make them available to an ever-larger network of students, practitioners, and leaders in social change.  Read More

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