“Partners in climate crimes and genocide”: guerilla billboard hacks slam Wimbledon’s sponsorship deal with Barclays as tournament opens.

01 Jul 2024

Press contact: Kit Speedwell, 07547 320072, brandalismproject@gmail.com

Above: art design by Anarcha Art, installed in Wimbledon by Brandalism activists. Photo: Tom Pilston.

Hard-hitting billboard hacks surrounding the Wimbledon tennis tournament see a fresh round of pressure over its banking partner’s financing of the fossil fuel and weapons industries. 

More than 300 commercial billboard, tube and bus shelter ads near the tournament have been replaced with artworks strongly criticising the bank’s financial support to the arms trade and companies worsening climate breakdown, in a guerrilla ad takeover by anonymous art collective Brandalism.

One Barclays-branded artwork shows a tennis player lying in a pool of blood on a tennis court by a bomb crater, with the words: “From Gaza to global warming, we’re making a killing”. Another installed on a billboard close to the tournament shows a player with tennis whites stained with blood and oil as soiled banknotes spill from their pockets. 

Above: art design by Lindsay Grime. Installed in Wimbledon by Brandalism. Photo: Tom Pilston.

Organisers of the tennis tournament are facing growing calls from climate and Palestine solidarity campaigners to end its sponsorship deal with Barclays, reportedly worth £20 million

Kit Speedwell from Brandalism said: “Wimbledon’s cherished strawberries and cream image has been thoroughly sullied by its decision to partner with Barclays, the most toxic bank in Europe, while the bank continues to pour millions into the arms trade and fossil fuel companies driving climate chaos. Wimbledon must stop providing cover for Barclays’ grotesque lack of morals and immediately end the sponsorship deal.”

Above: art design by Darren Cullen. Installed in Wimbledon by Brandalism. Photo: Jack Chapman.

According to experts, Barclays is Europe’s largest funder of fossil fuels since 2016, and is a major lender to weapons companies supplying Israel. Last year alone, Barclays provided over £17.5 billion to fossil fuel companies driving up emissions and pollution, a 10% increase on the year before. Since 2019, they have provided over £6 billion in loans and underwriting to companies supplying Israel with weapons and military technology.

Last year, celebrities like Emma Thompson called out Wimbledon for the deal, saying it was inappropriate given Barclays’ role driving the climate crisis. A spokesperson for the AELTC has called Barclays an “important partner” and flagged the bank’s support to the Set for Success programme; however, campaigners say this deflects from the major harms caused by the bank’s financing activities.  

Arto Lindse from Brandalism said: “Wimbledon is guilty of a double fault. After being asked to drop Barclays last year, this year they have once again refused to cut ties with Barclays – Europe’s top funder of fossil fuels and a major funder of arms manufacturers complicit in genocide. All the social and sustainability initiatives that Wimbledon celebrates are empty gestures amid this toxic partnership.”

Above: art by Matt Bonner. Installed on tubes in London.

Andrew Simms from the Badvertising campaign, which is calling for a tobacco-style restrictions on advertising and sponsorship for fossil fuel companies and their financiers, said: “When May broke global heating records last month, it was the twelfth consecutive month to do so. Heat extremes threaten fans and athletes alike and the core business of Wimbledon’s polluter sponsors, Barclays and Jaguar Land Rover, is locking in more lethal climate extremes to come. If they were players, the match referee would disqualify them for dangerous behaviour.” 

Major festivals sponsored by Barclays have already dropped the bank after growing pressure from music artists over the bank’s ties to the Israeli military, making Wimbledon’s continued sponsorship ‘untenable’, according to campaigners.

Above: art design by Matt Bonner. Installed in Wimbledon by Brandalism. Photo: Tom Pilston.

“Wimbledon, our national treasure, can do so much better than Barclays, which is hijacking the tournament’s sustainability efforts to hide its multitude of sins. The sponsorship deal is now untenable given public trust in Barclays is plummeting. It’s time for Barclays to stop leeching off Wimbledon,” said Joanna Warrington at Fossil Free London, a campaigning organisation which will be holding protests at the tournament.

Barclays updated its climate policy in March 2024. However, the plans have been criticised for only covering 1% of Barclays’ financing, and for loopholes that mean “sustainable” finance can go towards oil and gas extraction. Barclays’ own investors have dubbed the bank’s sustainability work “totally dishonest”.

Tony Burdon, CEO of Make My Money Matter, said: “Wimbledon says it is proud of its partnership with Barclays. But Barclays was Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels in 2023 – the hottest year on record. Barclays is the new Shell, and is using Wimbledon’s great reputation to cover up its role in financing the climate crisis. No decent organisation should be sponsored by Barclays, and if Wimbledon is serious about its legacy, and its commitment to the environment, then it must drop them.”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is staging a public demonstration outside Wimbledon on July 1st to mark the first day of the tournament, saying that Wimbledon’s organisers are “allowing Barclays to use tennis to try and improve its reputation, and hide from accountability for its role in enabling Israel’s war crimes”.

Above: artwork by Matt Bonner, installed in Wimbledon by Brandalism activists. Photo: Tom Pilston.

Featured art design by Anarcha Art.


Photos with artist names and locations in Wimbledon: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/2/folders/14FjgL2Y485YC2OBdXIO91ErxGtWCXJ2G 

Brandalism is an international collective of artists and activists that confront the power of big business and their public relations advertising. The collective uses ‘subvertising’, the art of subverting advertising, as a right of reply to counter advertising by major polluters. http://brandalism.ch/  

Artists: the posters were designed by artists Anarcha Art, Matt Bonner, Darren Cullen and Lindsay Grime.