A blog for the New Zealand creative advertising industry, now at www.campaignbrief.com/nz. Email news to: michael@campaignbrief.com

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Things are not alwaays what they seem

An extract from the diary of Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett
Gonin DSO who was among the first British soldiers to liberate
Bergen-Belsen in 1945.

"I can give no adequate description of the Horror Camp in which my men
and myself were to spend the next month of our lives. It was just a
barren wilderness, as bare as a chicken run. Corpses lay everywhere,
some in huge piles, sometimes they lay singly or in pairs where they had
fallen.

It took a little time to get used to seeing men women and children collapse as you walked by them and to restrain oneself from going to
their assistance.

"One had to get used early to the idea that the individual just did not count. One knew that five hundred a day were dying and that five hundred a day were going on dying for weeks before anything we could do would have the slightest effect.

(Story continued in comments )

6 Comments:

Anonymous David MacGregor continued said...

It was, however, not easy to watch a child choking to death from diphtheria when you knew a tracheotomy and nursing would save it. One saw women drowning in their
own vomit because they were too weak to turn over, and men eating worms
as they clutched a half loaf of bread purely because they had to eat
worms to live and now could scarcely tell the difference.

Piles of corpses, naked and obscene, with a woman too weak to stand
propping herself against them as she cooked the food we had given her
over an open fire; men and women crouching down just anywhere in the
open relieving themselves of the dysentery which was scouring their
bowels, a woman standing stark naked washing herself with some issue
soap in water from a tank in which the remains of a child floated.

It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have
no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was
not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and
thousands of other things and I don't know who asked for lipstick. I
wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of
genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance.

I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick. Women
lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you
saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their
shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the post
mortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At last
someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were
someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they
could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to
give them back their humanity"
Source: Imperial War museum

This isn't copy writing. But this year I'd like to suggest a return to
copy writing. Vivid, well told stories that connect with people.

I remember an op-ed piece in Campaign (Oct '86 - why do short term
memories elude me, but I remember this kind of detrititus?) by John
Webster, who's campaign for the reconstituted Cadbury mashed potatoes
topped Campaign magazine's list of favourites…but I digress, the short
article suggested that, instead of effected (and affected) commercials
produced by art directors, giddy with the possibility of new technology,
advertising should look to what rates on TV - at the time it was
Eastenders (which was almost reality tv before there was reality tv).
Tell simple, engaging, human stories (even if they are fronted by dodgy
Martians).By the way, I came across the lipstick story on the web site of British
guerrilla (graffiti) artist Banksy. It's well worth a visit.

http://www.banksy.co.uk

David MacGregor
Founder / Creative Director
Idealog magazine

6:20 AM NZDT

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David,
You're obviously still in the post Christmas / New Year, 'reflective phase' - however, good on ya for a couple of intelligent postings.
I trust there'll be lot more of this sort of thing in Idealog......

Cheers and all the best for '06!

6:20 AM NZDT

 
Blogger nzcreativecircle said...

Tried to upload that jpeg but it arrived broken. FYI everyone The best way to deal with pics is to send them to neilfrench@nyc.com and they can be added to your post.

6:24 AM NZDT

 
Anonymous Charlie Farley said...

Back then, lipstick contained large amounts of pig fat.

12:29 PM NZDT

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More people should hear about this dark period in our history. I met a survivor of The Holocaust when I was at school. He was in his 70s and it still reduced him to tears to talk about it.

10:05 AM NZDT

 
Anonymous cock features said...

Sounds a lot like an agency I once worked at.

10:25 AM NZDT

 

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