I Once Embodied The Spirit Of Bill Bernbach.

When I was at advertising college I did two campaigns that perhaps, on reflection, were not what the people who set the briefs had in mind.

The first was for Bishop’s Finger ale. My campaign consisted of pictures of dying Ethiopians and the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise above the endline, ‘When God gets pissed he gets pissed on this’. The team who set the brief declined the opportunity to crit the work. If I recall accurately they said, ‘We don’t know what to say about this’.

So that was that. Except…by some quirk of timing, when the next team came along to crit the next campaign the work was still on the wall. They loved it and gave me the usual stash of marker pens that visiting teams would bring as prizes.

The next campaign was to publicise a scheme to tag children in shopping centres so that they would not be abducted by strangers if they became separated from their parents. My campaign showed testimonials from paedophiles explaining how much they liked kids. The endline? ‘Tag ’em or we’ll shag ’em’.

This time the team (at GGT, I believe) were unimpressed. I think the course tutor was too. If I remember rightly I got a long lecture about how inappropriate my campaign was and how I had wasted everyone’s time. They were probably right.

What does that tell us? That I was a bit of a cheeky bastard, I suppose.

I also suppose that I thought that it was more important to give my fellow students a laugh than just dribble in with another campaign that would be perfectly decent but nothing more.

Oddly enough, in the time since, I had forgotten about doing both of these campaigns, but was reminded of them years later when I bumped into different people from my course who recalled them.

Well, Bill Bernbach did say that if your advertising goes unnoticed everything else is immaterial.

I like to think he was smiling down from heaven as I wrote those lines.