spinhandspun designs

Vodafone Controversy
February 21, 2010, 4:17 PM
Filed under: art-icles | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A recent Vodafone campaign has guerrilla knitters dropping stitches left and right..

The commercial features a trendy group of teenagers who text the ‘Granny Squad’ for knitting lessons, and yarnbomb Dublin overnight.  While their protagonist is initially inspired by an authentic Irish-made hat, the remainder of Vodafone’s campaign is decidedly artificial.

Vodafone’s yarnbombs parade as the work of tea-sipping crafters, yet in 24 hours, their machine-knit installations span impossible-to-reach-statures and three story support beams.  Rather than exhaling a handmade breath of humanity into Dublin’s urban landscape, Vodafone’s cozies uphold the mechanized society guerrilla knitters critique, and undermine the true yarnbomber’s patience, stealth, and artistic vision.

Unlike advertising agencies, guerrilla movements are inherently anti-establishment.  Yet their mainstream assimilation should come as no surprise.  Mad men frequently appropriate counterculture imagery into ads because it appeals to their ultimate target market: youth, whose pre-packaged rebellions signify burgeoning independence.

Here, Vodafone fuses their identity with the craft’s growing popularity by highlighting young (and male!) knitters.  Unfortunately, their assertion that urban knitting is simply cute and fun is retroactive, and defeats the yarnbomber’s original work advancing her craft as an art form.

For mainstream audiences, Vodafone is right to say it “turns out it’s easy to put a smile on people’s faces…” if you’re a multi-million dollar corporation.  But hardworking guerrilla knitters, have no fear; the ad proves that our efforts have been appreciated.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we now face the challenge of advancing the movement beyond its obvious pole, tree, bench, and statue tagging.  Now is our chance to develop new innovations and unpredictable techniques in the realm of guerrilla craftivism.

For more on the Vodafone controversy, check out The Electric Sheep’s hilarious and poignant Podcast below.