The Vancouver-based Adbusters Media Foundation is reaping worldwide publicity, including a recent front-page story in the Wall Street Journal, in connection with its annual promotion of Buy Nothing Day, which falls on Friday (November 28). But a local artist who developed the idea and the name is miffed that Adbusters cofounder Kalle Lasn changed the date without his consent last year and no longer plays up his role in its origin.
“Kalle goes on radio or TV for interviews and doesn’t mention me once,” Ted Dave told the Straight. “I don’t want to sound like a whiner. I’ve just come up disappointed because I thought I would get a little bit of credit from this highly credible organization.”
Dave, who once worked as a production artist at the Straight, said he thinks Buy Nothing Day should fall in September—which it did for its first four years—because it wouldn’t be perceived as an “anti-Christmas” type of holiday. He said he originally sent out news releases to several media outlets, including Adbusters magazine, and did several radio interviews. In the early years, he said, Adbusters magazine frequently mentioned his role in the invention of Buy Nothing Day, but that stopped last year.
“I mentioned in the early days that the only way to wreck Buy Nothing Day was to change the name or the date,” Dave said. “That would confuse the issue. That’s why I became a little upset when they first said they were going to do one of the two things.”
Lasn told the Straight that Adbusters is the “worldwide coordinator” of the campaign, sending out television spots to hundreds of organizations around the world. The Adbusters Web site contains a section celebrating Buy Nothing Day, enabling browsers to download a poster. Although he acknowledged that Dave invented the idea, he said the campaign has taken off since the date was changed to the first Friday following U.S. Thanksgiving.
“This is the one thing that we did that has actually launched worldwide Buy Nothing Day,” Lasn said, adding that he had a “falling out” with Dave after the artist objected to moving the date. When asked to respond to Dave’s claim that he isn’t given credit for inventing Buy Nothing Day, Lasn said he recently told a reporter who wanted to contact Dave to call the Straight, not knowing that the artist had left the paper.
Lasn said the three major U.S. networks have always refused to run ads for Buy Nothing Day, but that changed after the Wall Street Journal published its story in mid-November. “Within a few hours of the article coming out, one of the networks, ABC, suddenly got in touch with us and said, ‘Let’s negotiate.’ Suddenly there was a crack in the facade,” Lasn said. “For the first time in five years, a big network suddenly buckled under the pressure.”
He said he is still trying to persuade CBC to allow him to air a Buy Nothing Day spot during the flagship business program, Venture. He also said he hopes to raise enough money next year to place a spot during the CBS evening news.