Photo of a row of vertical posters with a different phrase on each poster: 'Loved', 'Hated', 'Attacked', Defended', 'Trusted', 'Feared', 'But never-controlled'. The text is laid out on brightly coloured backgrounds, in slightly wonky letters spread across different lines

The Guardian’s new ad campaign embraces its divisiveness

The media company worked with Lucky Generals on its first brand campaign since 2019, which taps into the divisive responses generated by the British media – the Guardian included

With our media landscape more divided than ever, most people have a strong opinion on the leading newspapers, whichever end of the political spectrum they might sit on.

The Guardian is tapping into this difference of opinion in its latest brand campaign, Not for Sale, which emphasises the breadth of attitudes people have towards the media company, from being seen as a crucial source of information or as nothing more than a resource to be used when picking up after your dog.

At the heart of the campaign is a film by directing duo Rubberband, which presents the different ways people see the Guardian, offsetting an earnest tone with a dry sense of humour. The campaign extends to digital, print, and out-of-home touchpoints, where designs highlight the range of opinions people have about the Guardian – good and bad.

The campaign’s argument is that the Guardian can only incite so many strong responses because it has an uncompromising approach to reporting, made possible by its reader-funded model rather than relying on the wealthy elite – who have their own agendas with the media – to finance its work (though the company does of course work with powerful brands on partnerships).

Devised by Lucky Generals in collaboration with the Guardian’s in-house team via Oliver, the campaign coincides with the launch of a new digital edition of the Guardian geared towards readers in Europe. It comes as part of a three-year strategy to grow its global reputation, its digital presence, and its number of paying readers.

Photo of a vertical outdoor poster headlined 'Not for sale' in slightly wonky yellow letters on a blue background, shown on a bus stop in front of King's Cross Station created as part of the Guardian's new brand campaign

“With Not for Sale we focused on what makes the Guardian unique in the news landscape – the fact that because it is reader funded (rather than owned by controlling interests like billionaires or politicians) its journalism can never be influenced or controlled,” says Lucky Generals managing director Cressida Holmes-Smith.

“We knew the creative idea had to be as impactful as the paper itself and really drive home the vast range of emotions and reactions its unique publishing model gives it – but in a way that no one would be expecting. From the TV to the OOH we wanted to show just how ingrained the paper is in society but also how playful it can be.”

Photo of an outdoor poster headlined 'Not for sale' in slightly wonky blue letters on a purple background, created as part of the Guardian's new brand campaign