Daria Lanz

Case Study

Dreaming up CATS: The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service


Can you imagine a world where friends and experiences were valued more than purchasable products?
We replaced all the adverts in a London Tube station with pictures of cats for two weeks. The event garnered global attention and attracted thousands of national visitors, and a few internationals too!

volunteering with

this project identifies as

Experiential Design
Publicity Stunt
The brief.
Glimpse is a collective of creative people who use their skills for good. We create our own briefs based on the frustrations and challenges we see in the world, run our own campaigns and offer creative services for NGOs and brands.

London has one of the highest levels of outdoor advertising in the world. The average person sees up to 5,000 ads every single day, whether they like it or not.

In our first ever idea-thon, a group of creatives got together on a weekend, splitting into different teams, with different briefs. One team (Alex Dash, James Turner, Lawrie Millar, Matt Weatherall, Olly Dixon, and Zac Schwartz) were briefed “Imagine a world where friends and experiences were valued more than purchasable products?”

Over the course of the day, all the teams brainstormed different ideas to respond to their respective briefs, and at the end of the day we pitched our ideas to the rest of the teams. When the “CATS” creative team pitched their Tube takeover idea to the rest of us, we all knew the idea had legs. After the hackathon, I jumped at the opportunity to work on the design and bring this wacky idea come to life.
The outcome.
We took over all Clapham Common Tube Station ads and replaced them with cats for 2 weeks. No ads, no products, just cats. All this was crowdfunded through a successful kickstarter campaign. The general public literally clawed back public space from advertisers and brands.

Our CATS appeared on ABC News, Good Morning America, BBC Breakfast News, ITV London News, Nippon, France 24, CNN International, Japanese TV, and even featured in a school textbook about consumerism. It was more successful than we could have imagined. Clapham Common station became a destination rather than a Tube station, with visitors flying in from North America just to see it.

But most importantly, we created moments of joy, curiosity and laughter for commuters passing through everyday, and visitors from afar. Imagine if all our public spaces sparked conversations and curiosity like this!


Global Media Reach


Advertising Value Equivalent


Video Views

"The purrrfect remedy to aggressive advertising."
What we did.
This was our first ever creation as Glimpse. We started as a small group of creatives on a Saturday, creatively problem solving to our brief. By the end of the day, CATS: Citizens Advertising Takeover Service idea was born. A few weeks later we’d gathered a design team, set out a strategy, and launched our Kickstarter campaign.
Kickstarter campaign

This was a hugely collaborative effort. We had a team of volunteers helping with the Kickstarter rewards. It was the first time I’d ever been involved with crowdfunding, and it was eye opening to see how much work was involved behind the scenes. We had hundreds of pledgers we had to produce awards for, from postcards of mocked-up Tube Adverts with their own feline stars, to custom merch.

For one of our higher pledge amounts, we reserved one of the posters for a collage of pictures of the pldgers’ cats. We had one pledger fly over from the United States to see his cat on the poster.

I was heavily involved in the kickstarter campaign, both from a design perspective and project management. I manned the email we set up to organise pledgers and rewards, ensuring everyone who pledged received their custom postcard, or tshirt. I also helped organise the volunteers who helped cut out and format cat photos in photoshop (don’t ask me about cutting around whiskers and cat hair from a photo while still making it look realistic…). It was a time consuming experience but I learned so much from it and am grateful for the opportunity to have.
Tube takeover

I led the design team for the actual Takeover design work. We were a small team at the core but we relied heavily on the wider volunteer group to help with production. We went through rounds of iterations, ‘pitching’ to the original creative team to make sure we weren’t straying from the original idea too much, while also working within TfL’s guidelines. It took awhile to figure out our angle and approach – trying to maintain the silliness of the idea, while also not being too obvious (or not obvious enough?) what we were trying to do. Some rounds looked too much like ads, others looked confused. Finally we landed on the final posters for both escalators and full wall posters, which I think met the brief purr-fectly.

As part of my role I project managed the volunteers, reaching out to our wide network to get help formatting all the cat photos, ensuring they were high enough quality to use and print on the posters. I also worked with the £100+ pledgers to get their feline fur babies into the design for the dedicated poster we reserved for them.
The biggest challenge with this was getting the feel of the posters right. We had no idea how these would land with the public – if they would get it at all. We genuinely had no idea how successful it would be.

There were so many conversations about whether our designs had the right amount of humour, wit, whether they would make people smile, whether it was obvious enough we were taking the piss out of advertising, whether they looked too much like adverts, whether they were obvious enough that they weren’t ads… In the end I think we nailed it, but that’s easy to say in hindsight.

To date, working on this project is still one of the highlights of my career. It was outside my comfort zone, and such an honour to work with everyone who contributed. It was completely volunteer-based, so there were months of long hours and weekend working, and I’m grateful for the opportunity for every minute of it.
Let's make something wicked together
I'd love to hear from you
Made on