The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service

  • Alex Daish

The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (C.A.T.S) was a crowdfunded campaign that replaced 68 adverts at Clapham Common tube station.. with pictures of cats. The story generated global coverage with stories by the likes of CNN, BBC, Mashable, LadBible, AdWeek, Mic and Campaign.


What would the world look like if people coveted experiences, not things?

I joined a creative hack day hosted by a collective called Glimpse. Born out of frustrations with charities, they wanted to show glimpses of a brighter future, rather than just highlight the problems in the world. Working on the brief about consumerism, we were asked to create a campaign, brand or movement that could inspire people to value people over things.

The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service

We created the Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (or C.A.T.S for short) that would run a crowdfunded attempt to replace every single advert in a London tube station with pictures of cats. A silly attempt to reclaim our public space and hijack the internet with its favourite animal.
Some of my world class punning
The t-shirt I designed as a Kickstarter reward.

£23,131 raised & millions of impressions with no budget

After a slow start, the campaign blew up. We were endorsed by Kickstarter as ‘project we love’, adored by Kickstarter's own UK PR company who were fed up with tech products, the topic of a Washington Post article, a featured Twitter moment, shared in Chinese, and we united Battersea Cats and Dogs Home and Cats Protection in support. Time Out also made us heroes of the week. We were approved by TFL and the takeover is planned for mid-September.

One of the most shared news stories of 2016

When the #CatsNotAds posters were finally installed in Clapham Common tube station, the story was picked up immediately. Within hours we were on the front page of Mashable and the ITV London Newscast. Every major newswire shared it, resulting in over 60,000 news articles across four continents. More television coverage soon followed on CNN, ABC and Nippon, whilst online videos by BBC, MIC, AJ+ received a combined 12 million views. By our calculations, it is the fourth best known crowdfunding project of all time, behind Oculus Rift, Pebble Watch and the game, Star Citizen. Hundreds of people also came to Clapham specifically to see the C.A.T.S, some from as far as America and China. Many then shared their pictures and opinions alongside the other 400,000 people using #CatsNotAds on social. Most importantly, we gave the world opportunity to talk about consumerism and public spaces.
It was then featured in Adweek's Ad's of the Year and Kickstarter's own year end review of 2016.