Banksy’s Message to The Advertisers


Vocabulary list 

• Students read each word followed by the definition, focusing on the correct pronunciation.

• The teacher reads the sample sentence and the students repeat, focusing on the correct pronunciation.

• After reading the list, students try to make their own example sentences using the words that are new to them. 

• Students share their example sentences and the teacher gives feedback, correcting errors if necessary.

take the piss [out of sb/sth] (phrase)

to tease, mock, or exploit someone in a weaker position

When I lived in London, they always used to take the piss out of my accent at work.


butt in (phrasal verb)

bʌt ɪn

to interrupt when someone is speaking, or to interrupt a conversation, particularly when the person interrupting is not involved

Julie has this annoying habit of butting in whenever I am explaining things.


a cheap shot (idiom)

an unfair criticism of someone, often with regard to something sensitive

We can’t have a civilised discussion if you keep on taking cheap shots at me.


flippant (adjective)


being inappropriately casual about serious subject, often rudely and typically trying to be funny

I have a serious problem right now, so I don’t want hear any of your flippant comments.


imply (verb)


to suggest or communicate something indirectly

Why do you keep on talking about my diet? Are you implying that I’m overweight?


trademark (noun)


a logo, name or design on a product that shows it is made by a particular company

A company trademark can only be used with that company’s consent.


impunity (noun)


freedom from punishment or responsibility for one’s actions

A government cannot act with impunity and expect the public to respect the rule of law.

Banksy’s Message to The Advertisers

Banksy is an anonymous street artist whose work has appeared in public spaces all over the world. His messages are controversial, anti-capitalist and anti-establishment. Many consider his work to be some of the most important art of the 21st century. In 2012 he wrote a statement expressing his opinion on the advertising industry. *Note: This quote contains a couple of profane words.



“People are taking the piss out of you every day. They butt in to your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you. You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity. F*** that.

Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head. You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.”


Banksy, 2012



1. Why does Banksy think advertisers make fun of us every day?

2. What does Banksy suggest the advertisers are trying to do?

a. Encourage people to improve their lives.
b. Give people good lifestyle advice.
c. Insult people to make them feel insecure.

3. How is the work of advertisers protected?

4. Banksy believes that people should be able to do whatever they want with advertisers work that is in a public space.


5. What do you think Banksy means when he states: “Asking for permission [to use an advert in a public space] is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head” ?


  • Do you agree with Banksy’s statement? Why/Why not?

  • Do you know what ‘lifestyle advertising’ is? Explain.

  • How do you feel about lifestyle advertising?

  • Do you think you are affected by advertising? How?

  • Do you feel under pressure to buy certain products? Give an example.

  • Could you be happy without buying fashionable products?

  • Should all adverts that have artificially modified images come with a disclaimer? Give your reasons.

  • Do you think there should be more education around how the media and advertising influences people?

  • Do you think consumers are totally responsible for their purchasing habits?

  • “Advertising is legalised lying.” – H.G. Wells. To what degree do you agree with this statement?

Additional Task – Debate
Split into groups, prepare your arguments and have a debate: one side will defend Banksy’s point of view and the other will defend the advertisers. Use appropriate discussion phrases during your debate.