A banner drop is when a banner is hung in a public space to bring awareness to a campaign or a social issue. Banner drops allow a small group of people to bring a large amount of public exposure to an issue.
Don’t Pay banner drops will let more people know about the campaign, encouraging them to join and take action.
Step 3: Pre-planning
Before the action can start, plan how many people you will need to hold / install the banner, and where each of them should stand / access the site.
Ensure that people are prepared to talk to the police / security / public / press should they arrive.
Consider staying beside your banner so it does not get stolen and you can hold it in place if there’s a risk of it being damaged by the wind. This might require shifts of people.
Also consider moving your banner to another location to get more than one shot for social media.
If you have a strong team you can take your banner on a tour and leave it at a site where it gets the most public views for an extended amount of time.
If planning on installing your banner on a bridge over a road, please ensure you have a safer Plan B site in mind if it’s too windy at your original location.
Step 3: Installation
A team of 3 - 4 is best for larger, heavier banners. Use heavy duty plastic zip-ties to secure the banner.
Pedestrian footbridges are easier and safer than road bridges (especially if cycling to the location).
Safety tips for installing above a road:
- If you are hanging your banner above a road on a bridge, safety is the highest consideration.
- Wait for a gap in the traffic to install the banner. If the location is busy, consider installing it very early in the morning. Be aware that wind increases significantly as large trucks pass under the bridge.
- Use mesh banners for safety in the wind. Banners must be hemmed with eyelets every 100cm and it’s recommended to reinforce eyelets with heavy duty waterproof tape (Tesa extra Power Clear Duct Tape - Waterproof Repair Tape, 10 m x 50 mm or Gorilla Tape).
- If installing above a road avoid using padlocks or carabiners which could be dropped. Mesh banners do not need weights when hung from road bridges.
- If the site allows, ideally install all the top fixings along the length of the banner on the inside of the railing and then flip the banner over to the outside. Ensure the fixings can easily take the weight of the banner and are not in a position that they will rub and wear in high winds.
- Fix the rest of the banner in place, ensuring all the edges are secure.
- Material strength. Whatever your banner is made from, be sure it is strong enough not to rip in the wind and that attachment points are also strong.
- If you’re not 110% sure it will be safe, hang the banner somewhere else.
Step 4: Pack-down
Ensure that you use the same levels of safety when you remove your banner as you did when you installed it. If your banner is installed above a road, wait for a gap in the traffic to remove it - making sure nothing can fall into the road from the bridge.
Banner drops are a common form of protest, and legal consequences are very unlikely.
However, you should be aware that you could be committing a criminal offence, particularly if hanging a banner above a road in an unsafe way. Read more about the legal context here.
You should also do some research about the intended location for placing the banner to check whether there are any local byelaws that apply. For example, dropping a banner from a bridge over the river Thames in London would contravene byelaws that apply to the river. There may be similar byelaws in place for particular bridges, so it is best to check.