Détournement, Coca-Cola, Greenpeace and More Dead Birds on the Sand

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act ~ George Orwell

In the book, Beautiful Trouble: A Cookbook for a Revolution, one tactic used to re-appropriate common cultural artefacts the intended audience are already familiar with (such as Cola-Cola or Pantene), then injecting them with radical connotations, is called ‘détournement‘, which roughly translates from French to ‘derailment’ or ‘overturning’. This tactic, used in the creation of ‘re-configuered’ advertisements creates new connotations for the audience, forcing them to think about their choices and the role they play in enacting the consequences of them:

KNOW YOUR CULTURAL TERRAIN: As an act of semiotic sabotage, détournement requires the user to have fluency in the signs and symbols of contemporary culture. The better you know a culture, the easier it is to shift, repurpose, or disrupt it. To be successful, the media artifact chosen for détournement must be recognizable to its intended audience. Further, the saboteur must be familiar with the subtleties of the artefact’s original meaning in order to effectively create a new, critical meaning.”

But not only that, it works subversively by bypassing mental filters because people are already familiar with the cultural symbols and urban mythology presented, which then, disrupted by imagery and symbolism, present the truth, which often comes as a shock to some because it sits at odds with their beliefs, ideas and what they think they know. However, once you know the truth, you cannot unknown it!

“Advertisements start to feel less like batteringrams of consumerism and more like the raw materials for art and critical reflection.”

It can be used to disrupt the narrative flow of popular media, pillaging it of corporate power, especially in regards to environmental issues such as the irresponsibility of Coca-Cola and the Australian bird population that are chocking to death on plastic.


The Latest Greenpeace Petition: Sign This to Stop Coke Trashing Australia (It will only take 30 seconds of your life.)

Classic Hoax Methodology: Dow Chemical apologizes for Bhopal Disaster

Citation: Beautiful Trouble (Beautiful Trouble, various authors) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

The Labyrinth: Dead Birds on the Sand

The Labyrinth: Dead Birds on the Sand and the Bystander Effect

Dead birds, possibly starved to death with stomachs full of plastic

Dead birds, possibly starved to death with full stomachs full of plastic

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

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Comments

  1. Turns out I could sign the petition after all! Yay!

  2. Hi Michellina, just to clarify, nowadays “détournement” is most commonly used in French to mean “hijacking” (literally to force a vehicle to follow a different course than originally planned). In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word used to mean “overturn” or “derailment”. I think hijacking describes very well Greenpeace’s intention with the advertisement.
    Thanks for sharing, not sure I can sign the petition, since I’m not Australian…

    • Michellina van Loder says:

      Thank you for doing that. I guess the term “détournement” has been hijacked then, lol. :)

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