First things first
In 1964 Ken Garland published the First Things First Manifesto not without controversy.
It was published in The Guardian and Garland was invited to appear on BBC TV to discuss it. This declaration was signed by renowned personalities such as Erik Spiekermann and Tibor Kalman. In 2002, AdBusters published and updated version of the manifesto that matched better the contemporary reality of designers, communicators and other professionals involved in advertising.
This is the original 1964 version by Garland:
First things first, 1964
We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, photographers and students who have been brought up in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable means of using our talents. We have been bombarded with publications devoted to this belief, applauding the work of those who have flogged their skill and imagination to sell such things as: Cat food, stomach powders, detergent, hair restorer, striped toothpaste, aftershave lotion, beforeshave lotion, slimming diets, fattening diets, deodorants, fizzy water, cigarettes, roll-ons, pull-ons, and slip-ons. By far the greatest time and effort of those working in the advertising industry are wasted on these trivial purposes, which contribute little or nothing to our national prosperity.
In common with an increasing number of the general public, we have reached a saturation point at which the high pitched stream of consumer selling is no more than sheer noise. We think that there are other things more worth using our skill and experience on. There are signs for streets and buildings, books and periodicals, catalogues, instructional manuals, industrial photography, educational aids, films, television features, scientific and industrial publications and all the other media through which we promote our trade, our education, our culture and our greater awareness of the world.
We do not advocate the abolition of high pressure consumer advertising: this is not feasible. Nor do we want to take any of the fun out of life. But we are proposing a reversal of priorities in favour of the more useful and lasting forms of communication. We hope that our society will tire of gimmick merchants, status salesmen and hidden persuaders, and that the prior call on our skills will be for worthwhile purposes. With this in mind, we propose to share our experience and opinions, and to make them available to colleagues, students and others who may be interested.
Edward Wright, Geoffrey White, William Slack, Caroline Rawlence, Ian McLaren, Sam Lambert, Ivor Kamlish, Gerald Jones, Bernard Higton, Brian Grimbly, John Garner, Ken Garland, Anthony Froshaug, Robin Fior, Germano Facetti, Ivan Dodd, Harriet Crowder, Anthony Clift, Gerry Cinamon, Robert Chapman, Ray Carpenter y Ken Briggs.
Although currently living in different temporal and spatial circumstances, we modestly endorse this manifesto since we consider it to be extremely up-to-date… even after 50 years.
As someone once said, “Although everything had changed, everything was the same”.