40,000 people died on the guillotine in The French Revolution.
But the man who introduced it was an opponent of the death penalty.
How does that work?
Joseph Guillotine was a doctor, and a humanitarian.
He was horrified by the way people were put to death.
They were either hanged or beheaded.
Hanging wasn’t a fast neck-breaking process.
It was slow strangulation.
It could take up to half an hour to die, choking and kicking.
And beheading wasn’t the quick, single stroke of a razor sharp axe.
Often it took a dozen hacking blows with a blunt blade.
It was messy, bloody, and unbelievably painful.
The base of the skull and the spine were crushed and broken.
People writhed in agony.
Sometimes dying from loss of blood before their head was eventually severed.
Nobody much cared, because the purpose was as much about suffering as death.
Dr. Guillotine thought it was cruel and barbaric.
If people had to be killed, at least we should do it as painlessly as possible.
Which is what the guillotine was about.
A quick, simple death.
One clean stroke.
But of course, afterwards he wasn’t seen as a humanitarian.
He was seen as the man who invented the device that killed 40,000 people.
As if it was his decision to kill all those people.
The fact that he designed a more efficient way of doing something seemed somehow to make him responsible for what was done.
At least in the publics’ mind.
But that’s often what happens.
Design is misunderstood.
You see design isn’t what you do.
Design is how you do it.
In the Battle Of Britain, the Spitfire fought the Messerschmitt 109.
Both planes were equally good.
Fast, manoeuvrable, powerful.
Nothing to choose between them in the air.
Except for the way they were designed.
It took 13,000 man-hours to build a Spitfire.
But it only took 4,000 man-hours to build a Messerschmitt 109.
So, thanks to the German designers, they could build three 109s while we were building a single Spitfire.
That’s what their design was about.
Finding a better way to do what was wanted.
Messerschmitt designers weren’t responsible for The Blitz.
Anymore than Joseph Guillotine was responsible for the mass executions of The French revolution.
They built a better product.
That was their job.
I feel the same way about advertising.
Advertising, like design, is how you do something better.
It’s not about what you do.
If the government decides it’s legal, even desirable, to sell something, then that’s what advertising does.
Good advertising does it better.
Another word for advertising is publicity.
Publicising what exists.
Publicising it, not creating it.
Advertising is the ‘how’, not the ‘what’.