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Cats Not Ads

Words: Eleanor Kirby
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South West London, the most cat-populated area in the city, hailing just 25 people per cat (as opposed to East London’s 34), has found a way to remind dwellers of the existence of other animals aside from the urban fox.

Preened and plumped, cats seeking forever homes at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and Cats Protection have been selected by Glimpse who describe themselves as “a group of friends who want to use creativity for good”, adding, “we were just some friends with laptops and no one to tell us no”. Their project, “The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service” (CATS), has evolved well past kitten milk, maturing from the wide-eyed Kickstarter campaign (launched in April) into the replacement of adverts with images of cats at Clapham Common tube station.

James Turner, the founder of Glimpse (named for want of creating “’glimpses’ of a world where things are getting better”), explained that the nature of the images was to replace advertisements in favour of creating a space that values friends over commodities. Turner, in an article written for Medium, hides nothing about his projections for the company, “We wanted this to become famous, so we needed something the internet would love. Frame it that way and the answer was obvious, cats”.

Although cats symbolise the depths of luxury and demand, their need to be in the centre of the family atmosphere (or at least at the top of the stairs looking down on it) makes them a refined choice for the project. Their schemes for world domination, one YouTube pixel at a time, makes the cat Turner’s new best friend, gaining his idea backing from over 700 people and raising the £23,000 needed for a tube takeover.

Interviewing Alex Daish, a member of Glimpse, the positivity garnered from looking at an image of a cat is an inevitable topic; “We all know cats are lovely and fluffy, so even in a static image there is a multi-sensory stimulation”, adding his experiences as a cat-owner himself, “We want to try to read the cat and project things onto them, I think this is particularly why they are a great outlet and medium for messages on the internet”.

Clapham Common has ventured a step further than cardboard cut out pseudo-pets; in a city that compromises pet ownership in favour of the return of a flat deposit, the sanctuary of a tube station laden with cats in need can only incite joy to those, who like Alex, “had to hide a cat in a cupboard so the landlord didn’t find him”.

Alex believes that only positivity can come from seeing a few cosy cats, “We want everyone involved to potentially be more mindful of the power they wield and use it to encourage positive values in society. ”. You may still endure your commute lodged within the nook of a businessman’s armpit, but at least you have the spurring memories to pull you through to Old Street station.

Thinking of what else Glimpse may have in store for us, Alex explains the level of brainstorming that went into coming up with CATS, “The consumerism brief led to C.A.T.S. But another one on empathy led to Unitea, a socially conscious tea that would allow people to learn more about and show support for refugees and then there was ‘LinkedOut’, a social network showing employers what you’re like out of the office”. The possibilities to be generated when you give a group of friends, each battling “various levels of hungover”, a laptop and a sofa to nestle in, are endless.

The 68 posters have set up camp at the well-trodden station until the 25th September, no catnip or feather teaser necessary.

To support the charities affiliated with the campaign, please visit Cats Protection or Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, or champion your local animal sanctuary.

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