Lessons we've learned

These are a few of the (subjective) lessons we've learned, each linked to stories of how we learned it. They're meant to help old and new tricksters think through actions, from inception to finish—but again, they're subjective, so don't take them too seriously.

A campaign is like a long-term strategy but more detailed and intensive; it requires active upkeep by a persistent activist group. As Ivan Marovic writes, "Unlike…
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, it's more self-sustaining. For another, fun is contagious: if you're having fun, your…
Forgetting can be just as important as remembering! Like, when you've done something for twenty years, you'll probably feel compelled to do it again, just because. But…
Sometimes speaking to your own group is the most important thing you can do. The mass media is a powerful megaphone that can be used for good or evil. Almost everything…
If you're driven to make a big splash, take one step and then another. Or, as many generations have taught, just "walk with the feet at the end of your legs."
More than once—ok, more than a dozen times—we've been certain that they were going to get us.  We've thought we were walking into a police trap (Dow BBC); that our…
Campaigns are way more important than jokes, or pretty much anything else. There are times when a single humorous action can help spread ideas. Like when apartheid-era…
Sometimes a whole project can be summed up in one single picture. When you see men in suits and cops on bikes protesting together for Occupy Wall Street, or of a bunch…
Pretty much every Yes Men project has taken its lead from a movement or campaign we respected. At the very start, in 1999, the (looming) Seattle protests inspired us to…
You can't totally predict what the media will say. When we went on the BBC, we had no idea that the UK press would report on the (fictitious) "false hopes" of Bhopalis.…
Many actions can become powerful just through the telling. But they do have to be told—by you. For one thing, the media might completely misrepresent you, despite your…
Sometimes, what actually happens is far better than what you had hoped for.  When the US Chamber of Commerce's head of PR was tipped off by an errant reporter and tried…
The most important work comes in the telling. Whether your project's exploding, or whether it just sort of went "phht," there's probably tons of work ahead, telling the …
Fascism—in the White House, for example—makes all the issues so clear they don't need humor for help. During "normal" times, creative humor can help expose what's wrong…
You might want to give yourself a tight deadline. 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…
We've learned again and again that our targets are unlikely to sue us, because we can always win in the court of public opinion.  We were once sued, though, by the US…