Design Anarchy, The Book

Are you familiar with Adbusters? I first read Adbusters magazine back in September 2001. I was immediately intrigued by the issue’s title, Design Anarchy. I read it in secret, sure that if my clients knew that I read such a rag, they would drop me like the disbelieving sod that they might perceive me to be. At the time, I saw it as a way to gain a broader perspective.

Upon seeing that Adbusters used some of the same mediums to raise money for their cause as other businesses use, mediums that Adbusters themselves shunned, I wrote them a letter asking if they thought it a bit hypocritical to sell what essentially amounts to a mobile billboard with their name on it in order to fund their cause, a cause which calls for the end of needless buying. I received no response.

After that, I lost interest in the magazine and the organization’s mission. A few years later, something totally unexpected happened. Kalle Lasn, the organization’s founder and publisher wrote a book, and not just any book, but a book that is truly a call to the arts, a monument to the underlying currents of the human spirit, a challenge to change the way we treat the planet, and a valid call for the revolution of our society’s commerce tendencies. It’s about time.

Also titled Design Anarchy, the book brought out the same intrigue that hit me the first time I picked up the magazine. Every few pages, an idea is sparked. As I flip through this book, I am inspired by the sometimes purposeless art pieces, stimulated and provoked by the texts, and generally enthralled by the whole work. In these pages I have realized that Adbuster’s mission is very much aligned with my own design and marketing sensibilities. No matter how many people believe that we are masters of spin, ethics and marketing truly do belong together, design and responsibility are soul mates, and advertising and the truth are of the same feather. Has it always been this way? Hell no, but it should have been. It will be in the future.

I have always advised clients to spend frugally, plan incessantly, and be agile with their marketing communications. I have always helped clients to bring out a more compelling truth, and I have felt driven to help them understand the meaning and advantage of responsible marketing.

The marketing model is starting to move in the right direction, but there are plenty of old school players who long for the irresponsible ad spending of yesteryear. That time is over, and I believe that Adbusters has played an important role in bringing about a new, much needed awareness.

Although I believe in a robust commerce model, and I help companies to realize their sales goals, I also believe in Buy Nothing Day, Adbusters answer to Black Friday. How could such a great nation wholeheartedly embrace a marketing ploy with such a negative name as Black Friday? I would much rather subscribe to Buy What You Need When You Need It Day, or BWYNWYNID for short. Not very catchy though.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

Thank you! This is going to feel good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *