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  • Chas Bayfield

Mugs, tote bags and Alcoholics Anonymous

I guess you know you’ve hit a nerve when people you’ve never met are selling tshirts that have one of your ads on them.

It means that whatever it is that you did, someone noticed.

One thing I’ve learned is that advertising needs to do three things for your product.

It needs to tell people who you are.

What you do.

And why it matters.

Much advertising ignores the first two and to be fair, it always has done. The gag or the stunt or the celebrity has become ‘the thing’ and the product is, well, who cares?

How many kids filming themselves screaming through the Ice Bucket Challenge knew what they were promoting, or even cared?

Nike’s Kaepernick ad matters. It makes people reassess their world and it positions Nike as a countercultural brand that isn’t scared to lose friends.

It’s only a few months old and already feels historic and epic.

Around the Easter of 1999, Che Jesus appeared on hoardings around the UK.

The press ripped into it. Churchpeople and MPs alike couldn’t contain their rage.

We’d taken dainty, blue-eyed blond Jesus and turned him back into the rebel leader and revolutionary he always was.

The poster ended up in exhibitions in the National Gallery, the V&A and the Millennium Dome. Today you can find Che Jesus on tshirts, mugs and tote bags.

Using the image of Che was a given – he was already an icon.

I traced the picture onto acetate and laid it over a traditional image of Jesus to create a new face. Trevor Webb (now at iris) added the crown of thorns with a marker pen, Two copywriters tinkering around in the HHCL offices around midnight, creating a new image of Jesus.

Recently, the church I go to church was refurbished.

The Che Jesus poster hangs in the room where the local Alcoholics Anonymous meet every Tuesday.

We had to take the poster down so we could paint the wall and there was uproar.

“You put that right back” they told us.

Apparently it’s a big conversation starter. So much so that we had to rethink our colour scheme and choose one that didn’t clash with a giant red billboard.

It’s easy to get distracted by stuff that glitters, and trends and then gets old.

Stuff that matters keeps on mattering.

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