Be reasonable. Demand the impossible.

Malcolm McClaren

I first came across the title of this post in 1991 in a book about punk called England’s Dreaming, by Jon Savage. The slogan ran across the front of a shirt worn by a weird looking, curly-haired bloke with leather trousers. That man was Malcolm McLaren. And that picture changed my life.

Having been born in ’72, I was too young to directly experience the ferocious creative energy of punk, but I grew up amid its cultural and aesthetic debris. And coming across this incendiary Situationist slogan as a 16-year old baby Hamlet blew my mind wide open. Off I went on a journey of autodidacticism and amateur anarchism. It was an adventure that eventually led me – by a pretty circuitous route – to advertising. And seeing the epitaph on Malcolm’s recently installed memorial in Highgate Cemetery, reminded me of the power of spectacular, fearless, uncompromising ambition. There’s not enough of it in advertising these days. Nike Fuelband was ambitious. Expedia’s Find Yours campaign was brave. Guardian Three Little Pigs was brilliant. But too many people – clients and ad people – are scared to rock the boat, to stand out, to take risks. But what is there to fear in an industry where the riskiest possible thing is to be boring and anonymous? As Dave Trott said recently, “This could be the most fucking exciting job there is if you want it to be. But if you sit there and just follow the rules it’s just another dull job.” Fuck that. It’s time for some spectacular failure. Cheers Malcolm. Rest in peace, anger or whatever works for you.


About antmelder
Executive Creative Director at Host/Havas Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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