Timing is Everything

The Laughing Heart



Wieden + Kennedy, the super-creative ad agency based in Portland, produced a really interesting TV spot for Levi’s, the iconic jeans-maker.

In it, a weathered voice reads a Charles Bukowski poem, which I’ve loved, The Laughing Heart.

But the day — literally — it was to debut in the UK, those crazy out-of-control mobs started rioting, and the scenes we were watching on our TV screens looked alarmingly like some of the scenes in the commercial.

So, the campaign was delayed in Great Britain.

It’s kind of freaky when things like this happen, almost like precognition.

Had that spot aired one or two days earlier, I’m pretty sure some would have blamed the Wieden + Kennedy spot for “inspiring” the rioters.

Here’s the spot:


And here’s the poem:

The Laughing Heart, by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission
be on the watch
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

I, for one, approve of almost anything that uses words designed to make us wonder, to make us feel.