Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with hating something. We all need something to fight for—or against. It’s what makes change happen.
Graham Douglas, Miami Ad School Alumnus, Creative Director @ Vimeo, Promoter of the Positive Power of Hate
When Miami Ad School copywriting alum Graham Douglas came to speak with our students at Miami Ad School @ Portfolio Center, he didn’t come to chat about his career and his achievements. Actually, he came to talk about hate.
Yes, his career has taken him to Minneapolis, Chicago, Amsterdam and LA—where he spent several years at the renowned 180 agency. Then Graham joined Droga5 where he spent three years as a Creative Director. In the years since, as one would expect, Graham’s done a lot of freelance work for global brands like adidas, Puma, Spotify, Prudential, Sony, Boost Mobile, Kraft, Activision, BMW, Ford and Coca-Cola. Now, Graham’s career has taken another turn and he’s just become Creative Director at Vimeo.
But recounting the high points of his truly epic career was not why Graham was here. Graham was here to help students explore the productive power of their hate. (Yes, really.)
Advertising is in love with “Love.” We’re asked to love everything, from fast-food cheeseburgers to toilet paper, bathroom cleaner to 6,000-pound luxury SUVs.
If we love all these different, ordinary, inanimate things, how strong is this “Love,” anyway?
Graham suggests we harness an equally powerful emotion: hate. In today’s “shinny-happy” world, we’re not supposed to hate anything. But, the fact is, we all hate something.
“In reality, it’s unavoidable. We all hate things,” Graham admits. “I hate green bell peppers, poverty and racism. Big things and little things, like dog shit on the sidewalk and prejudice. All of you have this really strong toolkit of things that you hate, and it’s one you probably haven’t gotten to use very much.”
“So, I’m going to encourage you to try hating something, and see where that gets you,” Graham continues. “If you pick something that you hate, and you feel you have some passion for it, then try and change something.”
It’s become a sort of tradition that graphic design student Rachel Eleanor Phillips draws some finely-crafted doodles for each Industry Hero guest speaker. She always manages to capture the essence of the presentation, and the speakers always end up asking for a copy.
Hate can be a good thing. It can shine a bright light into the dark corners of our world so we can right wrongs. Hate can save lives.
One thing Graham hates more than anything else in the world is leukemia. Over ten years ago, Graham’s twin brother was diagnosed with the disease. A bone marrow transplant was his brother’s only hope for survival. Despite being a twin, Graham wasn’t a suitable donor. Now his brother’s only hope lay with the kind people who had registered as bone marrow donors.
This was how Graham found our how small the pool of potential bone marrow donors was. Of the 10,000 people who need a bone marrow transplant every year, only half find a compatible donor. Graham and his family got to know, up close and very personal, the inefficiencies of the bone marrow donation system. He was angered and frustrated by the dysfunctional process.
Fortunately, In his brother’s case, a compatible donor was found. But Graham never forgot what it felt like to have his brother’s life hang in the balance. He hated the needless barriers that kept good people from joining the donor pool. He raged at the fact that 5,000 people die of blood cancers unnecessarily every year. He spent ten years looking for a way to change that, and here’s what he did:
“Help, I Want to Save a Life”
Graham put a bone marrow donor kit inside a package of adhesive bandages. It made the donation process as simple as it could possibly be. You’re already bleeding, just capture small bit of blood on a swab, put in an envelope and drop it in a mailbox. What happened when the process was made that simple? Bone marrow donor registrations increased by over 300%. Just think of all the lives saved.
That’s the positive, life-affirming power of hate.