Please watch before voting

The Power Of Silly


I’m a passionate anti-smoking advocate and I spent a decade working on anti-smoking campaigns. At one point, I felt like I’d seen and worked on every kind of stop-people-smoking idea there could be. We created campaigns based on the adverse health effects of smoking, the passive smoking factor, the effects on your looks, the disgusting smell, the loved ones left behind if you die early, the incomprehensible financial cost and many more. But when I looked back at the body of work, I realised that although we’d worked on different strategies, it all had a similar tone. Serious, sobering and sometimes shocking. Perhaps the seriousness had become expected and, therefore, easy to ignore. Which got me thinking about a potential new way in. What if we were to try a different tone? An unexpected, perhaps incongruous tone. Maybe a very serious anti-smoking message could be delivered through humour, flippancy or even…silliness. This ad is as far as we got, but I still believe there’s more juice in this way of thinking.

The other day I was reading about the growing legend of ‘Pintman’ in the wake of the heinous London terror attack and it got me thinking again about the power of silly to unlock serious issues. As the fallout from this sickening episode continues, we’re living through the full spectrum of shock, confusion, fear, anger, hypocrisy, kneejerk racism, and political manoeuvring. But while that noisy debate goes on and we search for tangible answers and solutions, there’s a place for cathartic gestures of defiance. Manchester had this awesome poem, the bumblebee tattoo and the glorious One Love concert. London has Pintman.

Pintman is the geezer above, who was photographed fleeing from the terror attacks on Saturday night…pint in hand. In many ways, his behaviour is the ultimate ‘fuck you’ to the terrorists. Perhaps more potent than all the protests, marches, hashtags and benefit concerts that are (rightly) sure to come. Because he’s doing the thing that somehow seems to wind these evil morons up more than anything: enjoying life.

The picture of Pintman says – you can try to intimidate us but my pint is far more important than your idiotic, deluded ‘philosophy’. The sad, pathetic men you’ve been brainwashed by wish they could frighten us back into some weird, shit, segregated Dark Ages but, sod them, this is London and a couple of beers with our mates – old, new, black, white, brown, yellow, gay, straight, who cares? – is what we do. We’re human beings hard-wired to love not, like you, automatons programmed to hate.

If only the Bud Light ‘Real Men Of Genius’ campaign was still going – I’d love to see a ‘Mr Running Away From Terrorists Holding A Pint of Lager’ execution. Or perhaps, there can be a film based on the life of Pintman, directed by Michael Winterbottom and starring Peter Kay as the man himself. In the meantime, I like to fondly imagine Pintman jogging down Southwalk Street slightly slower than everyone else, desperately trying not to spill any of his five quid pint. Perhaps he paused for a few moments on the corner of Great Guidford Street to catch his breath and have a sip, then casually stopped outside the Novotel on Southwalk Bridge Road to finish his drink. Was he worried about a bunch of sick fucks with barely a braincell between them? Was he fuck! And why should he be when he’s out with his mates, he’s just got a pint in and it’s Saturday night in the greatest city in the world?