Sir John Hegarty on challenging the status quo

“It’s our job to get out there and fight for great ideas; it’s creative people that will make the change," Sir John Hegarty said at Design Indaba Conference.

For advertising stalwart Sir John Hegarty life is the greatest of all art forms and he believes "the person you are is fundamental to your creative being".  

Bringing with him more than 40 years experience working in the creative industry, Hegarty shared his own creative philosophy and looked specifically at the concept of irreverence as the underlyng motif in all this work at Design Indaba Conference 2013. 

For Hegarty irreverence is about challenging the norms and how this can lead to great advertising and communication. He added that the dialogue between art and society reveals the importance of challenging and questioning the status quo in the fields of both advertising and communication.

"I always say to creative people that the word they must use most often is why. If you keep asking that, you will constantly discover new things," Hegarty believes.

In today’s world people are faced with more choices and options than ever before, and it has become the role of the advertiser to make people decide which products to choose. By drawing on irreverence, the advertiser is able to question the norm and encourage people to consider the possibilities of something new, Hegarty explained.

Irreverence, though, can also be an unsuccessful force in advertising, Hegarty pointed out. Using the punk subculture as an example, Hegarty believes it is unproductive to challenge norms without providing an alternative. “Punk wanted to break down everything and pull everything down. But when something is pulled down, we need to put something back in its place, otherwise it becomes something negative,” he explained.

Together with craft, humour is an essential element for advertising as it engages people with ideas that they might not fully understand: “humour connects people with an idea”.