Artists target Wimbledon with graphic mock adverts over Barclays sponsorship

Artists target Wimbledon with graphic mock adverts over Barclays sponsorship

Billboards, bus shelters and tube stations near Wimbledon have been covered with artwork criticising the Championships’ sponsorship with Barclays bank.

Several campaign groups have criticised the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) for its choice of partner for the tournament, which will take place from July 1 to 14, due to the bank’s alleged ties to defence companies involved in the Gaza conflict.

As the Championships began on Monday (July 1), over 300 adverts in the area around the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club have been covered with posters by the campaign group Brandalism imitating Barclays’ Wimbledon promotional materials.

In one poster, by Darren Cullen, a tennis player lies on the court in a pool of blood next to a crater. The slogan reads: “From Gaza to global warming, we’re making a killing.” Another artwork by Anarcha Art, shows the hands of a tennis player and a banker with the caption “Partners in climate crime and genocide.”

Kit Speedwell, a Brandalism activist, 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.”

Joanna Warrington from Fossil Free London added: “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.”

A spokesperson for the All England Club told The Independent , “Barclays is an important partner of ours and we are working closely with them in a number of areas, including through our Set for Success programme, which is helping to support disadvantaged secondary students in schools across the UK.”

A spokesperson from Barclays said: “We are proud of our partnership with Wimbledon. Like many other banks, we provide financial services to companies supplying defence products to the UK, Nato and its allies. We are also financing an energy sector in transition, including providing $1tn of sustainable and transition finance by 2030 to build a cleaner and more secure energy system.”

Wimbledon announced Barclays as its official banking partner last November, with the bank taking over from HSBC. Following the news, film stars and celebrities, including actress Emma Thompson, called on Wimbledon to call off the sponsorship deal with Barclays.

As the 2023 tournament kicked off, the Oscar-winning actor signed an open letter objecting to the bank on climate change grounds. The letter was addressed to the chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) Sally Bolton.

Other signatories to the letter included Love Actually director Richard Curtis, musician Brian Eno, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden, and retail consultant and broadcaster Mary Portas.

Artwork by Matt Bonner and installed by Brandalism protesting Wimbledon’s partnership with Barclays (Tom Pilston)
Artwork by Matt Bonner and installed by Brandalism protesting Wimbledon’s partnership with Barclays (Tom Pilston)

The campaigners wrote: “Barclays is financing and profiting from climate chaos, and accepting a sponsorship deal from them is an endorsement of these actions.”

The signatories also said Wimbledon’s partnership was not “consistent” with the Grand Slam event’s environmental policies.

Bolton said of the partnership at the time: “We really welcome Barclays this year, they are a fantastic new partner.

“A significant part of their involvement with us is making a significant donation to the foundation, through which they’ll be able to help people in need all over the UK, so we’re really proud of that and working closely with Barclays on developing that relationship.

“Our commitment to being environment-positive is a serious commitment and we really believe that we have, along with other sporting bodies, a significant role to play in that and we don’t shy away from that.”