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.”
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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.”

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About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.