Wayne Garland, Quadrant, October, 1976, pp. 27-29.
Wayne Garland recently left Sydney for a job in New York as an advertising copywriter. Before he left, Quadrant asked him what he thought about the present state of Australian advertising. This is what he wrote.
My first job in advertising was as ninety-ninth in charge of not rocking the boat at USP-Needham in Sydney.
I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I did read the trade magazines a lot and barely a week went by without Bryce Courtney having his photograph in it.
Bryce was creative director of McCann Erickson then and he was always shown with a pipe out the side of his mouth.
I never did work out what Bryce was saying but at the time he was “it.”
Bryce just spent three months in hospital this year having a very serious back operation.
No one knew about it until it appeared in the corner of a two bit trade magazine.
Which is really sad, because he is one of the nicest guys in the dirty business of Australian advertising and has done more than most in trying to make it respectable.
But no one knew.
John Singleton had a two week stint in hospital, too, around the same time, with a bad cold virus.
But this time, sadly enough, everyone knew about it.
Depending on who you spoke to, John was the long-lost carrier of bubonic plague or had had a massive coronary and was having Dr Christian Barnard fly in to operate on him.
That, dear friends, is The Penalty of Leadership.
Australia is not the land of the ocker, it’s the land of the knocker.
If John Singleton’s car gets a flat tyre, it’s around town that night that an attempt has been made on his life.
It is that bad.
Having been away for a good few years, it struck me as particularly sad that our preoccupation with others’ achievements and the resentment of them had not faded away but only gained in venom.
As you read this I’ll be taking a rather frightening step for a coal miner’s son from Newcastle.
I’ve landed a staggering job, at an even more staggering salary, with one of the dynamite new advertising agencies in New York.
This is Mecca to a copywriter.
It’s like climbing Mt Everest. And the only reason I think I can do it, is someone called John Singleton.
You see, when I was striving, stumbling, trying to get along in this business, unlike everyone else who put me down or got in my way or laughed, John instead taught me everything he knew.
How if it didn’t sell it didn’t work.
He taught me how 90% of an ad is the headline and to never strive to find the right one.
Never to write cleverly because most people aren’t clever and everyone is wary of clever people anyway.
He taught me about the inherent drama that exists in every product, be it sheep dip, tampon or baked bean.
He and Peter Kenny introduced me to eyeball-to-eyeball research where a writer and art director worked with the consumer in a deliberate search for a believable proposition about a product instead of a shoot-from-the-hip award-winning-overnight cliche.
And he taught me, most of all, that a copywriter owes a piece of himself, not just to the company he works for, but more importantly to the industry he works in and to never slacken for total saturation of yourself in the success and furtherment of your industry.
One of the best things he ever did was to give me a book to read one night long after his wife had nodded off with the boredom of us talking about advertising.
We were sitting on the run-down porch of a seedy house he rented in Paddington long before Paddo became the place where the Leo Schofields of this world flocked in.
(Now he gases alternately from his beachhouse, luxury town-house or harbour-front mansion when he isn’t swishing through town in his drophead Rolls. How times change.)
It was titled The One Hundred Greatest Advertisements.
One page 23 was the one that I love most of all.
“The Penalty of Leadership.”
It ran for the Cadillac Motor Company in 1915 and is possibly the most famous advertisement ever written.
Yet here in the land of the ocker-knocker we have the critics of Singleton shouting out when in return they can only offer such drivel as “Qantastic,” possibly the worst advertisement of all time.
“The Un Usual” for 7 Up which is just plain dreadful and took up half a page in a trade magazine being explained by some out-of-touch account man.
“Shell Oil,” which I don’t know what is about at all.
“Dukes,” which again is so totally out of touch with reality.
“The 2GB-Son of Wireless” campaign, and look what happened there.
“The Glad Bag Horseface.”
The list is endless.
The list is as endless as the list of John’s critics.
To all of them, next time your mouth opens to criticise, condemn and shit-can, remember The Penalty of Leadership.
And to John himself, thanks mate.
Thanks for everything.
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- New party formed "to slash controls"
- The Workers Party
- Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
- The great consumer protection trick
- The "Workers" speak out
- How the whores pretend to be nuns
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From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
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- Singo and Howard on Young People
- Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
- Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
- Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
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- Political branch formed
- Government seen by new party as evil
- Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
- Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
- Singo and Howard on Licences
- Singo and Howard on Gun Control
- Singo and Howard on Human Nature
- Singo and Howard on Voting
- Singo and Howard on
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- Singo and Howard on Qualifications
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- Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
- Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
- A happy story about Aborigines
- John Singleton on Political Advertising
- Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
- Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
- How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
- The Discipline of Necessity
- John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
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- The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
- Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
- Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
- Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
- The impossible dream
- Why can't I get away with it?
- The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
- Time for progress
- The loonie right implodes
- Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
- John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
- Censorship should be banned
- "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
- John Singleton on Advertising
- John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
- Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
- Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
- John Singleton defends ockerism
- Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
- The Census Con
- Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
- Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
- Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
- John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
- John Singleton on elections: "a Massive One-Day Sale!"
- John Hyde's Progress Party praise
- King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
- Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
- Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
- John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
- Save Parramatta Road
- 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
- Smoking, Health and Freedom
- Singo and Howard on Unions
- Singo and Howard Smash the State
- Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
- Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
- A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
- Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
- Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
- John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
- Thoughts on Land Ownership
- 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party
- The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
- The great Labor Party platform: first or last, everybody wins a prize
- The politics of marketing - laugh now, pay later
- Singo and Howard call Australia fascist and worse
- The mouse will roar
- Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
- Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
- Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
- Hancock's playing very hard to get
- Harry M. Miller and The Australian disgrace themselves
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- John Singleton mocks university students on civil liberties and freedom of choice in 1971
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- I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree
- Ralph Nader vs John Singleton on Consumer Protection
- John Singleton's first two "Think" columns in Newspaper News, 1969
- Singo and Howard on Ballet
- Product innovation comes first
- Protect who from a 'mindless' wife?
- A party is born
- Tiny Workers' Party gives us a hint
- John Singleton on the ad industry, consumerism and innovation
- Workers Party Economic Policy Statement, December 1975
- Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
- John Singleton and Howard on Government Largesse
- Counterculture must exclude government handouts
- John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
- John Singleton believes in the Workers Party
- Write-up of John Singleton's 1978 speech to the Australian Liberal Students Association
- Singo in 1987: "Joh doesn't go far enough ... I want absolute deregulation of the economy"
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- Singo and Howard on Totalitarian Socialism and Voluntary Socialism
- Rip Van Australia on Ripoff Vandals Taxing Australia
- Singo and Howard beg for tolerance
- John Singleton's 1985 advertising comeback
- Singo and Howard Demand End to Public Transport
- John Singleton and Howard on Fred Nile, Festival of Light, FamilyVoice Australia and the Christian Lobby
- Capitalism: Survival of the Fittest
- Return Australia Post to Sender
- Singo and Howard on Public Utilities
- John Singleton and Howard say monarchy should be funded by monarchists alone
- John Singleton on cigarette advertising
- Singo in 1972 on newspapers' demise
- John Singleton farewells Bryce Courtenay
- John Singleton on Australian political advertising in 1972
- Gortlam rides again
- Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
- John Singleton on trading stamps, idiot housewives and government
- 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
- Singo asks two prickly questions
- VIOLENCE, TV BAN, DRINK - SINGO SPEAKS HIS MIND
- Why John Singleton can't keep a straight face
- Why John Singleton Defends Smokers Rights
- Tony Dear on Paul Krutulis, the Workers Party and murder
- An Ode to Busybodies
- Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
- How many tits in a tangle?
- Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
- John Singleton wants the Post Office sold and anti-discrimination legislation scrapped
- A speech from the Titanic
- A crime must have a victim
- John Singleton vs Australia Post
- Minimum wages the killer
- Has Fraser got his priorities all wrong?
- John Singleton says "the royal family should be flogged off to the U.S."
- John Singleton vs Don Chipp and the Australian Democrats
- John Singleton vs Don Lane
- John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
- John Singleton's 1986 reflection on the Workers Party
- Bob Howard in 1978 on libertarianism in Australia
- John Singleton on the stupidity of anti-discrimination laws
- Thou shalt know the facts ... before thou shoot off thou mouth
- Charity: An Aesop Fable
- Bob Howard announces the Workers Party in freeEnterprise
- New improved moon
- Announcing people ... YES, people!
- Creativity in advertising must be pointed dead on target
- John Singleton on barriers to, and opportunities for, effective communication
- Wayne Garland on John Singleton on Advertising
- John Singleton schools ad course
- John Singleton: advertising awards
- Mr Singleton Goes to Canberra for Australian Playboy
- John Singleton on his TV career for Australian Playboy
- John Singleton sacked for telling the truth about Medicare