John Hegarty to brands: "Mind your own business."


Over at AdAge we find that Sir John Hegarty has a contrarian view on big data, he doesn't want brands to know everything about him. Who does, really, when you think about it? Is it any of Nike's business how often I don't go to the gym? My mother is my travel agent for guilt trips thank you very much.

But Mr. Hegarty was not impressed. He said, "I'm not sure I want people to know who I am. I find that slightly Orwellian and I object to it. I don't want people to know what I drink in the morning and what I drink at night. I think there's a great problem here - throughout history we have fought for our freedom to be an individual, and you're taking it away from us. I think there'll be a huge backlash to that and Nike will have to be very careful."

Developing his theme, Mr. Hegarty added, "To those brands that say 'I understand you' I say 'Fuck off, you don't understand me. Mind your own business, I don't want to be understood by you. I don't understand myself sometimes… and it can be fun.'"

This was said during a "Wired Global Conversation" panel that included John Kamen of, and Bob Greenberg of R/GA. Hegarty was pointing out how bad creativity has become, and it's hiding behind data.

"Our solution to the problem is to constantly think how we can interrupt consumers more, how we can trip them up, how we can shove a message in their face that they don't want to see. We're becoming more aggravating, when surely we should engage consumers and give them something they want to watch and respond to…Instead we talk about what we can do on this platform or that platform…The only space I want to occupy, the only space that's interesting to me, is the one between people's ears. That's where I want my message to go and how I get there is an irrelevance."

Hear hear! Brands are increasingly stalking people, online, via their phone that connects to everything they connect to - twitter, facebook, G+, and soon even via their shoes. You know the old "What's in it for me?" You clicked that facebook like hoping to win a car, but never did. You willingly give up all sorts of information about yourself, so now your tablet knows your every move both geographical and habitual, and that you fall asleep with it on your face on Friday nights. When you buy extra toilet paper & Indian Curries, Target coupons will suggest you get some Pepto-Bismol® too because your smart toilet shared the info of what happens when you eat curry. Ads appear tailored to you in every space conceivable, and you are like the the mythical frog in hot water, not noticing what is going on.

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

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