The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

10 May 2007

Clean graffiti

Step 1: Make a template out of cardboard with the slogan you want to write.

Instead of writing it with a spray can, you will paint detergent on to a dirty wall, so that the grime is removed to reveal your message (clean writing on a dirty wall).

Step 2: Mix some detergent with water.

Step 3: Place your stencil against the wall.

Step 4: Paint your message using the detergent solution. No damage. No permission needed. This could even be seen as socially responsible, as if the owner of the wall wants to remove the “offending message’, all he or she needs to do is to clean the whole of the wall (for the benefit of everybody).

Idea taken from the book “Guerrilla Advertising” by Gavin Lucas and Michael Dorrian, which is subtitled “Unconventional Brand Communication". The book is published by Laurence King, Other great ideas in the book include:

Paint lines and messages (in chalk or water soluble paint) so as not to cause permanent damage. Use this technique to designate a smoking area outside your office with the woirds “Designated Smoking Area” or with an anti-smoking message (such as “Smoke here if you must”). Furnish it with an ashtray. Note that the England ban on smoking in public places such as restaurants and bars comes into effect in July 2007.

Here are two campaigning examples:
• A cut out streetwalker is strapped to a lamp post. After a week of rain, dirt and being defaced, this message is added above the girl: “No woman should be left out on the streets”. The Women’s Information Safe House (WISH), in Vancouver.

• Two hands attached to the underside of a street drain, suggesting an imprisoned person trying to climb out, with the following message tattooed on to the index fingers: “WRONG” “FAITH” to highlight the plight of people who are locked up simply because of their relisious beliefs. Amensty International, in Frankfurt.

About Guerrilla Advertising: The advertising industry is in a state of flux. In an age where we can choose what media we consume the traditional channels of TV, press and poster are no longer always the most appropriate for a brand to reach its target audience. As a result, global brands are opting to implement ever more inventive and original schemes to get their products talked about. Microsoft covered Manhattan in butterfly stickers, Volkswagen made a Polo out of ice and parked it on a London street, and Adidas suspended two footballers high above the streets of Tokyo for a death-defying kickabout. This book shows the best international examples of the varied and inventive tactics that are being used today by big-name brands, non-profit organizations and individuals to promote themselves, their ideas and their products. Over 70 international campaigns are featured grouped according to their approach: Stunts, Street Propaganda, Sneaky Tactics, Site-specific campaigns and Multi-fronted attacks.

Dirty graffiti

Sprayonmud is a specially formulated spray-on product for anyone that wants to give friends, neighbours, colleagues or just anyone at all, the impression that they have been off-road or, at the very least, out in the country for the weekend.

If you’ve got a 4X4 or off-roader, Sprayonmud will send a message to anyone who disapproves or is just plain envious – you use your off-roader, off the road as well as on it.

Sprayonmud is NOT to be used to obscure number-plates or the lights on your vehicle. This, of course, is illegal and while it is not an endorsable offence, if your number plates cannot be read at a reasonable distance – or photographed by a speed camera – you could face a hefty fine. 

Sprayonmud comes in an easy-to-use plastic bottle which is just the right size for hiding in a green Wellington boot. Keep it in your garage, car or anywhere you like. Sprayonmud can be applied to your vehicle in seconds, but just be careful the neighbours don’t catch you using it! And remember, you’ve been visiting friends in the country!

This is from the Sprayonmud website. At just £7.95 including postage and packing it could be a bargain! But there is another use – as spray on graffiti. Just as you can write “Clean me” with your finger on a dirty car, so you could write “SUV off” or “Climate criminal” or “Big cars suck” using Sprayonmud on a windshield or on the car itself as part of your campaign to shame drivers of 4x4s.

Buy Sprayonmud (it can be shipped around the world) from:

From the Guardian: It could be the ultimate accessory for the 4x4-driving city dweller: spray-on mud. A few squirts and neighbours will think you spent the weekend hurtling along muddy lanes looking for a country retreat, rather than sitting in traffic on the way to drop the kids off before your yoga class.

Like many of the best ideas, spray-on mud was dreamed up over a couple of drinks down at the local. "We were in the pub talking about how people drive these huge, pristine vehicles around cities and never have any intention of going near the countryside," said Colin Dowse, a business consultant in Shropshire who markets the product. "With spray-on mud, they can make it look like they've been off-road instead of just driving to the shops and back."

There is nothing special about the mud, which is collected locally, but before it is bottled it has to be filtered to remove any stones and other debris that could mark the vehicle's bodywork.

Alan Weavis, who works in advertising and is based in Hammersmith, west London, bought a bottle of spray-on mud for a friend's birthday. "He's got this huge 4x4 Porsche Cayenne and as far as I know it's never ever been to the country," he said. "I thought it was a funny present. It went down really well with everyone, although he thought I was taking the mickey. Which is exactly what I was doing."