Absolutely Nothing Else

An open day at the studios of 12 female creatives is just one initiative making the work of women designers more visible

It’s pretty obvious why normal people hate advertising. It’s simply because most of it is cringe-worthy nonsense.

And for various reasons, it’s getting worse. In fact, I’m becoming heartily sick of beardy strategic-types with stupid job titles, telling me how ‘game-changing’ and ‘totally awesome’ the ‘brand ecosystem’ is these days. Er, no it totally isn’t. It’s 99.99% garbage.

But of course it needn’t be so. In my experience, things only begin to approach ‘totally awesome’ when people who actually possess some talent and intelligence roll up their sleeves and produce some real work. As opposed to yet another impenetrable, mind-numbing 178-page PowerPoint deck.

And if this ad for The Guardian newspaper from 1987 doesn’t fall into the ‘totally awesome’ category, then I really don’t know what does. What it says is shown in the caption on the right of the ad.

That’s it. Compelling stuff. There’s really only one way to art direct this ad of course. But I’m amazed the client agreed. It has to be handwritten as a message on a cigarette paper, photographed and presented on a broadsheet page at actual size. Absolutely nothing else.

So that’s exactly what they did. Brilliant… sorry, ‘awesome’. ‘Totally awesome’ even.

The purity of the approach is staggering. I can 100% guarantee that whatever disaster or scandal was happening in the world on the day the ad ran, this page will have been the single most memorable thing in the newspaper.

And that, in a nutshell is our job. Simple really. Until the legions of idiots get in the way.

This is an ad, remember. You know, those things with big headlines and big pictures and big (no, I’m-not-approving-it-until-it’s-10%-bigger) logos in the bottom right hand corner and crappy, embarrassing tag lines and cretinous, ugly, banal brand guidelines to strictly adhere to etc etc etc.

But there’s none of that here. Thank god. You never know, someone might actually look at it now.

Maybe, just maybe we could squeeze another percent of greatness out of it by positioning the cigarette paper in a random position on the page, at a random angle.

But let’s face it, this is fantastic as it is. Anyone who disagrees can screw this page up into a ball and … well, you know. 1

Paul Belford is founder of agency Paul Belford Ltd. See paulbelford.com, @belford_paul. Agency: BMP. Art director: Peter Gausis. Copywriter: Tim Riley. Year: 1987


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