Gary Neville played his entire career for one club, Manchester United.

He also played for England more than any other right back.

Neville said his greatest source of motivation was indignation.

It provided fuel for him to go beyond what was reasonable.

To have a cause to get angry about.

For Neville it was Liverpool fans, Manchester City, or the FA.

For people in advertising, the cause depends on what we’re working on.

Shirley Polykoff was a young copywriter working on Clairol in the 1950s.

In those days, dying your hair blonde was a thing nice girls didn’t do.

In fact there were many things nice girls weren’t supposed to do.

For Polykoff it was stifling.

She decided to turn it on its head.

She wrote the line “Is it true, blondes have more fun?”

Everyone knew exactly what that was about.

It was about do they have more sex?

Polykoff worked herself up into a state of anger about all the dull stuffy old people who wanted everyone to live like them.

She didn’t see why she should live according to their rules.

They never really lived, they just gossiped.

Well, while they were gossiping, blondes were living.

Doing what those other women wished they had the nerve to do.

The campaign was such a success, she took it further.

Her next campaign had the line “If I only have one life to live, let me live it as a blonde.”

Making the point that it was no good waiting until it was too late.

Too late to wish you’d done all the things that blondes are actually doing.

It’s hard to imagine now, the impact that had on the young women of the 1950s.

Dying your hair blonde became a statement of rebellion.

A sign of independence.

One young woman who was moved by that campaign to dye her hair was Betty Friedan.

Several years later she would write ‘The Feminine Mystique’.

The book that kick-started the feminist revolution of the 1960s.

That advertising captured the anger that she felt.

It tapped into the frustration of a generation of young women.

Years later, another young copywriter used anger as her motivation.

Ilon Specht was working on the L’Oreal account in the early 1970s.

She was sick of women being treated as mere objects by men.

Men who thought a woman’s sole function was to be cute and giggly.

Men who would cross out the word ‘woman’ in her copy and substitute the word ‘girl’.

Who thought the limit of her ambition should be to make some man happy.

All of that made Ilon Specht angry.

She didn’t buy hair colour just to please men.

She bought hair colour to please herself.

And so what, if L’Oreal cost more than other hair colours.

Why shouldn’t she spend her money how she wanted?

She thought the answer to “Why would you pay more?” was exactly the same as the answer to every question in a woman’s life.

The line she wrote was “Because I’m worth it.”

Inside that line is the reason for any woman to do anything.

Not because she needs permission, not because she needs to justify it.

It’s her money she’s spending.

She earned it.

She deserves it.

She’s damn well worth it.

Which is the reason every female celebrity was happy to appear in those ads.

They all knew exactly what that felt like.

And they knew every other woman did, too.


Properly directed, there’s a lot of positive energy in anger.