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You don’t need it

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These stickers help you detourn advertisements for things you don’t need, and they’re free as a sticker (via SASE), stencil, or EPS in English or Spanish from the Anti-Advertising Agency.

Related:

Wikiffiti: [citation needed] stickers

46 thoughts on “You don’t need it

  1. An advertising campaign from the anti-advertising agency, utilizing resources we might need to make stickers don’t need to point out other things we so very obviously do not need. It’s all so dreadfully unnecessary!

    But I didn’t need to tell you that.

  2. WE know that we don’t need it… but other people are so obliviously material-minded and bound that posting a little sticker like this might completely revamp someone’s mindset about existence. Think about it. Then make it.

  3. I’m not a big fan of this culture jamming stuff. I don’t see the relevance to Make, unless you think the whole point of being a Maker is just to poke your finger in the eye of “corporations”. I always thought that people were doing it for the same reasons that I am: because I am very curious and love to understand how things work. I guess there’s a non-geek contingent out there that’s into Make for entirely different reasons. I must live a sheltered life.

    I wonder how pleased the Make people (and their vendors and sponsors) would be if I showed up at the Maker Faire with this “anti-ad” campaign against their products and their vendor’s products?

  4. I agree with NT7S, enough of the “culture jamming” stuff. Who are you/we to dictate what others do or do not need? These sorts of defacement campaigns, however “gentle” come off as arrogant and somewhat hypocritical.

  5. I can understand why this kind of stuff ends up here. There is a mindset in modern consumer society that something only has worth if you paid money for it. Consider how many times someone has made a comment that “this person has too much free time” here.

    On the other hand, going out and posting our version of “this person has too much free time” comments is not going to bring anyone around to our way of thinking.

  6. @NT7S: I share your curiosity to understand how things work, and for me it extends to culture and society, including advertisements. Just as we void the warranties on our hardware by doing things we’re “not supposed to” do with it, this culture jamming stuff is about hacking the blind consumer cattle drive and taking a grain of salt with any packaged product, whether it be electronic or not.

  7. @SCOTT, NT7S, etc,

    I, along with Packard Jennings, am the person making the stickers. Oh how I wish you could have seen my presentation at last years Maker Faire. If you really have no idea how this project could be related to other projects featured on this site it’d be difficult to bring you up to speed without 30 minutes and slides, but I’ll get some of it down here.

    All these projects are about power. The gadgets and tech we all love so much are not neutral – many come out of military research. With our talent we use that power for other ends – not just as consumers of tech but as creators/hackers, etc. The results can be silly, or increase our personal convenience, and our work can be generous, serve other people, give them some of that power. I think you’ll see examples of all of those things around here.

    This project is small, simple, and reminds people of things they already know. It gives people back a small sense of agency over their public space. It doesn’t involve a Roomba, or circuits, or welding, but it doesn’t need to. But in a much broader way it accomplishes the same ends.

  8. I have had a “You Don’t Need It” sticker in my bag for a few weeks. Every day I walk past this ridiculous sign for Jamba Juice announcing breakfast. I always think about putting the sticker on it, but I am too chicken. I like having little reminders of how silly these essential products are… especially in NY.

    @NotoriousBRK You said, “Who are you/we to dictate what others do or do not need?” Exactly.

  9. I love this project! I love the low-tech use of bumper stickers to subvert…I tried this approach with my local taggers and graffiti hawks. I got a bumper sticker that said “Graffiti sucks!” and put it on anything that had graffiti on it. I wasn’t making a point about not liking graffiti. I just wanted to gauge the taggers reactions, which were quite ironic — for people who deface public property, they were mighty defensive of those individual space. I learned a little more about what drives people to tag in the first place…Would love to see that project done on a larger scale.

  10. Make Magazine is as much a magazine targeted to hipsters as it is targeted to people who like making things. So thats how it ended up here – it appeals ot the hipster mindset who are at least half the audience of this magazine.

    If you aren’t convinced, note how many of the Make projects are focused on art, music, and expression versus the act of the making itself.

  11. Hmm, I was trying to write a comment on this, but I can’t really figure out a way to do it without writing a whole essay on the subject.

    We are constantly being bombarded with some kind of weird consumerism logic telling us that we need to buy things to get happy.

    michellek pretty much nailed it:
    ‘@NotoriousBRK You said, “Who are you/we to dictate what others do or do not need?” Exactly.

  12. Stupid. “Need” is based in the eye of the consumer. A diamond necklace is needed for certain purposes. Just because you do not need it does not mean that I do not. Baubles trinkets and bling exist because people enjoy them.

  13. “Who are we to dictate what others do not need?”

    Last I checked, we have Capitalism here in the US. In Capitalism, you vote democratically with your money. Given that background information, you can’t vote responsibly if you aren’t informed about your choices. This sticker is a kick in the buttocks to get people to inform themselves (IF they are intelligent enough to ask the basic “Why is this sticker here and what was its maker thinking?” question). I would put these stickers on gas pumps, fast food restaurant menus, milk that doesn’t have ‘rBST free’ wording on it, pesticide-laden foods, anything with ‘high fructose corn syrup’ in it, etc… If you have to ask “Who am I to dictate…?”, then you aren’t well informed of what those products do or what their processing does to me and to you. Self preservation gives me the right to dictate.

    I like the diamond example here. The number of wars and deaths in the diamond trade is staggering.

  14. Its funny that these stickers were made to get other people to think about if they “need” something. It’s hypocritical if you were actually to take a step back and truly put some thought into it.

    Do we really “need” these computers we are typing on?

    Do we really “need” that bike we got in an attempt to save the environment, when walking is better for the environment. Since the manufacturing of the bikes have an impact on the environment.

    Do we really “need” that house or apartment we live in? We could just as easily live in a tent in the woods. Other cultures had survived centuries without the things that we try to tell ourselves we need.

    Although, I do agree that people pay way to much attention to things like jewelery, clothes, garages/basements full of tools and machinery they have no use for.

  15. @Peter, iamvain2,

    You’re free to disagree with the stickers and what they point at. They’re a suggestion. When they’re stuck on something, it doesn’t become a law. The point is that you think about it. You decide if you agree or not – and that process of critical reflection in “do I really need that?” is exactly what the company behind the product doesn’t want you to do. Advertising works best when you see it and don’t think.

    So if *you* or anyone else really needs something is up to you.

    And and this point I will also point to MichelleK’s comment.

    As a side note, when did the Make audience become so conservative and strict?

  16. Not conservative but libertarian. You keep your opinion to yourself and I’ll keep mine to myself.

  17. @Peter, iamvain2:

    The advertising tells you that you ‘need’ the product, such as the diamond necklace (thats what they are all about). The sticker is there to remind you that that it is really up to you, not them to decide. (Or rather what Steve Lambert said :)).

    On a side note: Why buy diamonds anyway, cubic zirconia is cheaper and has a higher refractive index (prettier), and you don’t waste your money supporting the corrupt diamond industry. But that’s just my opinion.

  18. @ Steve Lambert.

    If your stickers are meant to be a suggestion, you might want to change the wording. You claim you want people to think, but this tactic can be counterproductive, because it is abrasive and comes off as very preachy and I-know-what’s-good-for-you. I would bet if your stickers read, “do you _really_ need this?”, or “are you sure this is what you want?” they might be a lot more effective. (If we could come up with a suitable metric, I would gladly make that bet.)

    I agree with Scott and NT7S – I fail to see how this culture jamming stuff is Make related. Even after reading Becky Stern’s explanation, which I think stretches the connection a bit too thin. (If I understood her correctly: Make is about how things work -> things can be extended to culture, society, and adverts -> wave hands -> Make is about how to hack culture.) Perhaps I’m wrong – but I thought it was about Making things. By which I mean physical objects. This isn’t adbusters.

    And then there is the uncertainty of what “need” really means. If by need you mean “required to sustain life,” I would think you’re being too stringent and counter with the question – “why stop at life? If you really think about it – your breathing and pooping is contributing to increased carbon emissions and pollution – so it would be better for the rest of us if you kicked off.” Not that I would seriously wish you actually did so – but I would hope it would illustrate the problem with taking things to extremes.

    Need can mean required or it can mean wanted. Your sticker comes across as either obvious (there is not much that I _require_) or presumptuous (how does he know what I want?).

    Oy. I must be rambling.

  19. @ MÃ¥rten

    Do you really have such a low opinion of people that they cannot think for themselves? The masses are all sheep, that kind of thing? Please give people more credit than that.

    I would want a diamond over a cubic zirc precisely because it is more rare and costs more, which adds to its exclusivity, which gives it a type of social status, which would give me a “special feeling.”

    Of course, that would be if I wanted a bauble in the first place, which I don’t. But if I did, I would definitely choose the “real thing” over the “glass” and then probably learn how to make my own ring and setting or whatever.

    I accept the status of a diamond because long ago I realized that as much as I wanted to think I was an independent free thinker who could not care less about what others thought, that in actuality I DO care what other people think. As does anybody who lives in a society. You care as well, or you would not have bothered to comment and influence me and the other readers.

    There is need, and then there is everything else which makes life worth living. Why be a drip and tell people that you think their opinion is stupid? Or did I just do that? I am sorry. I am rambling again, and really, I think I understand where you and the culture jammers are coming from and agree much, but I don’t think it belongs in Make, but that’s just my opinion.

  20. @Peter

    It’s not about being able to think, everyone is very much affected by advertising, it’s well researched and very effective. It certainly doesn’t exclude me nor anyone else just because they are ‘more intelligent’. It works on simple psychological principles that all of us share. If it weren’t effective, companies wouldn’t spend billions of dollars on advertising campaigns every year.

    (And about the diamonds, as I said, it was my opinion, if you want to buy one just because it’s expensive thats ok. Though my main objection to diamonds is the unethical diamond industry and not the price).

  21. I think I came off a little abrasive.

    Peter’s comments about the wording, is really what I was thinking. I just didn’t put it the same way. I think by asking a question instead of a just having a statement would be more thought provoking.

    Those diamond marketers have to be the best marketers on the planet. They have everyone believing diamonds are actually rare!

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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