The Man Who Repurposes Media For His Own Purposes

Ad Age sent a writer to Vancouver, BC to meet Kalle Lasn, “advertising’s angriest and most prolific heretic.”
I always imagined the Adbuster as a young turk, but I was wrong. Born in Tallinn, Estonia, in 1942, in the middle of World War II, Mr. Lasn spent his early childhood in a German “displaced-persons camp” before emigrating to Australia and earning a degree in applied mathematics.
He spent five years running his own market-research firm in Tokyo and “made big bucks” before immigrating to Canada in 1970. The philosophical underpinnings of his life’s work include the French Situationists and the philosophy of détournement, which literally means “turning around,” but more practically, as Mr. Lasn explains, the concept involves “rerouting spectacular images, environments, ambiences and events to reverse or subvert their meaning.”

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Unfortunately, he’s gone from being obsessed with ads to being obsessed with Jews.

  2. Yes Dan.
    I’ve gotten much “write a protest letter” literature from both major Jewish organizations and Civil Rights groups about Adbusters and his anti-Semitism.
    The article Dan linked to above is a list of Jews in the Bush administration. Said article claiming that said Jews started the war in Iraq on orders from their leaders in Jerusalem.
    There was another article sometime this year, that repeated the charge and was written by some guy who supposedly has ties to all sorts of Holocaust-denyers and whatnot.
    Pretty scary stuff.

  3. VoxUnpopuli says:

    Wow. Dan, you made that comment without irony?
    That’s EXACTLY the kind of smear of “antisemitism” Kalle says the neocon apologists would make in an ad-hominem attack of his critique of the disproportionate number of Jewish men who make the US foreign policy decisions effecting the middle east.
    HALF is disproportionate.
    That’s not antisemitism, as your “obsessed with Jews” comment tries to lead people to believe.
    That’s not even anti-zionism.
    That’s math.
    And you just twisted it.

  4. Vox, I never said he was anti-Semitic. I don’t know if he is or not.
    What I said is that he’s “obsessed with Jews.” When you count ’em up and put asterisks by their names, that’s an obsession.

  5. Oh Boy, here it comes. Let’s drop this before it becomes just plain silly. We all agree to disagree on American and Israeli policy in the Middle East.

  6. Maple Leaf says:

    Disingenuous much, Vox?
    The whole point in highlighting “the disproportionate number of Jewish men who make the US foreign policy decisions effecting the middle east” was to bring up the distasteful claim that Jews were not loyal American citizens and would naturally put the interestes of Israel above those of the United States. The same way we hear that Catholic Quebeçois would put the interests of the Vatican above those of Canada.
    Lasn was roundly disowned by most of the Canadian Left for this article and for the overall antiSemitic direction his publication has taken.
    Aryan Nation and its followers, ironically, have roundly embraced him.
    This isn’t about Middle East policy. It’s about a vicious claim that Jews will always be more loyal to Israel than to whatever nation they are citizens of.