A few years ago, I knew a guy who had literally thousands of rap records.
Just about every rap track ever recorded.
Nothing else: just rap.
No rock & roll.
No modern jazz.
No world music.
No novelty songs.
He thought everything else was rubbish, except rap music.
So that’s all he ever listened to.
I don’t get it.
I like a little of everything.
I don’t want anything to be all one way.
Life is boring that way.
And it doesn’t work.
The differences in the separate parts are what makes the whole work.
Faris Yakob calls it ‘recombinant thinking’.
George Lois calls it 1+1=3
The Impressionists called it juxtaposition.
Sergei Eisenstein called it counterpoint.
It’s what you look for in a partner.
Whether it’s a life partner or a creative partner.
If you’re identical then one of you is redundant.
So why does everyone in advertising think all advertising should be done just one way?
If all advertising was similarly stylish, subtle and classy wouldn’t it soon all look the same: ordinary?
If all advertising was post-modern, surrealistic, iconoclastic humour wouldn’t it stop being funny?
If it was all loud and brash and hard sell, wouldn’t it get crass and boring?
If everything was just another big money stunt?
Or always the latest new media gimmick, or high-tech equipment?
Without being different isn’t everything just wallpaper?
Isn’t that the whole point of being different?
We have different products that are made for different people.
We have different media that works for different consumers.
We have different sexes, different sexual orientations, different ages, different races, different religions, different tastes, different everything.
Why are we always arguing that everything should be done only one way?
In foundation year at art school we did an exercise about colour.
You get a cardboard box and fill it with different objects.
Then you paint everything in the box the same colour.
Then you put tissue over the top (so light can get in) and you cut a small hole to look through.
When you look in the box, everything is the same colour.
So there is no colour.
Colour disappears and everything goes different shades of grey.
Because you can’t define anything without a comparison.
Everything needs something to stand out against.
Or it becomes just like a mass of wallpaper.
Of course, our job is to make our ads stand out from the wallpaper.
But if we make all ads like our ads, then we can’t stand out.
So why is everyone in advertising always arguing that there’s only one way?
That isn’t creative.
Bob Brooks was a great director, a tough New Yorker.
He was talking to Oscar Grillo, a terrific, crazy Argentinian animator.
Bob was grumbling about London.
He said, “The trouble is nothing goddamn works here: not the trains, the government, the unions, nothing.”
Oscar said, “Of course nothing works, that is why we come to live here. What do you think we want: fucking Switzerland?”