The ad that made me want to do ads

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In 1993 this ad leapt out of The Face at me like an advertising version of Anarchy In The UK. I loved everything about it: the look, the headline, the attitude. Most of all, I marvelled at the idea that a well-known brand would commission an agency to create this beautifully crafted ‘fuck you’ to Middle England and then pay actual money to run it in the (kind of) mainstream media. I’d been working at agencies but hadn’t done anything remotely good – or even properly realised that this kind of work existed or was even possible. It was like the boot that kicked the door in and showed me how potent advertising could be, how it didn’t have to be lame or boring. It was as though I could feel the creative team pouring all their anger, frustration and wit onto the page – and I wanted to be able to do the same. Perhaps this sounds a little melodramatic but the ad was my advertising Year Zero – the moment I got the sense that advertising could convey real, powerful emotion.

I loved the rest of that Pepe campaign just as much and, soon after, I discovered the other amazing work that was coming out of Leagas Delaney at the time. Many of those Pepe, adidas and Guardian ads were ripped out and stuck on my wall as inspiration. The Timberland long copy ads were an advertising masterclass  in themselves  (How good was We stole their land, their buffalo and their women. Then we went back for their shoes.?) I went into Leagas Delaney a few times with my portfolio but sadly never got a job there. And just as sadly, I find it rare these days that a piece of advertising provokes such a visceral reaction in me – be it shock, laughter, joy or even disgust. I long for the day when I feel as confronted and challenged as thousands of Home Counties parents no doubt did when they casually flicked through their teenagers’ copy of The Face only to be invited to cut this ad out and stick it up their arse.


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

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