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Lessons we've learned

These are a few of the lessons we and our partners have learned. They come out of local experiences that you can read about here, or more specifically linked to each lesson below.

Most of this is practical advice, the sort of stuff you might want to know once you're embarked on an action—at the brainstorming stage, or later, or even once it's finished. If you're looking for principles to follow when deciding what sort of thing to do in the first place, you can also visit Beautiful Trouble or check out our diagram on having an effect!

A campaign is like a long-term strategy but more detailed, conscious, and intensive; it requires active upkeep by a persistent activist group. As Ivan Marovic writes, "…
Occasionally a fiction can become reality, literally. Neighbors of an Amsterdam squat, briefly misled that the squat was being officially recognized, then helped to save…
This one's a doozy, because both Andy and Mike first learned it before the Yes Men existed, and it's informed much of what we've done since. And certainly not only us,…
We're all gullible: that's human nature! In fact, it's our greatest attribute. To be able to believe nonsense is what distinguishes humans from all other animals, …
It's always better to have fun working on a project than not—for one thing because that's more self-sustaining, and for another because fun is contagious... and if you'…
When you've done something for twenty years, you might feel compelled to do it again, just because. But as we learned in Cape Town (and elsewhere!), that can be…
Almost everything the Yes Men have ever done is about drawing a bit more mainstream media attention to a critical issue. But sometimes a fun project can be more…
If you see something you'd like to try doing, you're better off taking one step at a time. Or, as the old saying goes, walk with the feet at the end of your legs. Just…
More than once—ok, more than a dozen times—we've been certain that they were going to get us: that we were walking into a police trap (Dow BBC); that our indefinite…
There are times when a single humorous action can help spread ideas—like when apartheid-era zombies communicated that nothing substantial has changed in Cape Town, or…
Sometimes a whole project can be summed up in one single picture—of men in suits and cops on bikes protesting together for Occupy Wall Street, or of a bunch of zombies…
Pretty much every Yes Men project has taken its lead from a movement or campaign we respected. It just makes sense. At the very start, in 1999, the (looming) Seattle…
You want to do the media's work for them, for sure, but you've also got to expect that the media will know what they say, and it might not matter what you want them to.…
Our biggest action, in which Andy appeared as a Dow Chemical rep in front of 350 million viewers, was pretty much forgotten even in London just one year later, despite…
Sometimes, what actually happens is far better than what you had hoped for: like when the head of PR for the US Chamber of Commerce barges into the room to insult you,…
Your project is exploding! Or maybe it just sort of went "phht." Either way, there's tons of work ahead. Celebrate, but don't stray too far from the work hub quite yet!
At the best of times, creative humor can help expose what's wrong with the old world so that public opinion can sweep it away. But in periods of incipient fascism—like…
If you have six months to do a project, and then another six months (as we did with our Exxon project), it'll take you that long. Or if you have a few hours, as we did…
One thing we've learned again and again and again is that our targets are very unlikely to sue us—because we can just about always win in the court of public opinion. …