Laura Jordan Bambach is chief creative officer at Mr President, a London-based independent creative agency. She has been a prominent voice in the industry for over 20 years, winning numerous awards for her work at Mr President, which won The Drum’s Agency of the Year and the AdAge International Small Agency of the Year while under her stewardship. She was also previously a president of D&AD.
Laura Jordan-Bambach: imperfection can change the world
It feels like there’s no escape from Marie Kondo in 2019. From 'Kondoing' the house, your mind and even your friends; an Israeli newspaper went as far to ask her to "fix the Israeli-Palestinian mess".
Every aspect of everything we do – 'Kondofied.'
This bombardment has been driving me crazy and causing arguments over dinner about my creative clutter as I wade in with research on the benefits of being messy. In fact, I’m sorry to have brought it up again.
Whatever side of the messy vs tidy conversation you’re on, one thing the 'flood of Kondo' has achieved is bringing one of humanities least attractive traits back into sharp focus – our great drive for perfection.
'Perfection' is the level to which the privileged few hold themselves to, and more importantly, expect the many (who can least afford it) to conform to.
Crazy standards of all kinds, ‘for our own good’ with no wiggle room, perfection can create feelings of missing out, of emptiness, of loss and of failure.
It can appear in the form of healthy to ‘clean eating’ – where being ever more strict with yourself is a badge of honour. It involves never allowing ourselves or others to slip up on Twitter or arises in the way women are preached at during pregnancy and motherhood.
We have become a society who judges before we listen, and whose quest for knowing more about oneself and each other has resulted in a readiness to tell each other off for folding rather than rolling our t-shirts.
We track ourselves, all in the guise of ‘helping’. It’s enough to give anyone anxiety, which is growing at a crazy rate in young people and unemployed people.
But what if we did less ‘helping’ and more of just being happy with imperfection? And ourselves? Leave people to have their own agency? To halt the root cause of this sense of being lesser, rather than adding to it with another tracking app or Netflix series?
In marketing, we could do more to keep those lovely bits of rub that connect on a visceral and emotional level. The stuff that can’t be put into words. The humanness that an overreliance on data wipes out.
To show the chaos as a life lived, to see imperfection as a difference, and to be ok with that. No judgement. More of the Nike kid jogging, less of the Joe Wicks (sorry Joe).
This month there have been a few campaigns from brands who get it, which fill me with joy.
Mothercare's Body Proud Mums' by McGarryBowen
Firstly Mothercare’s ‘Body Proud Mums.’ I’ve rarely seen anyone’s post-child body other than my own.
And, it made me feel wonderful in my skin in a way I haven’t done for years - an overwhelming feeling of freedom, lightness and energy.
All this from just one photo by the photographer Sophie Mayanne. It was great stuff, and I hope that Mothercare will continue supporting inclusiveness around pregnancy and the self-esteem of mothers.
Virgin Active's 'Enough' by That Thing
Secondly, I feel like a lot can be done with the new Virgin Active global brand platform, Enough.
It makes a stand for doing enough at the gym, while also achieving enough in your life - no guilt trips.
So, it’s not about perfection, but about how enough is good enough. You can go drinking at the weekend, and just drop into the gym during the week sometimes. I like where it’s started a lot and can’t wait to see where it goes from here, as its genuinely changing behaviour and attitudes.
Libresse's 'Viva La Vulva' by AMV BBDO
Finally we can’t really talk about the power of imperfection this month without reference to Viva La Vulva, by AMV BBDO. It is Libresse’s follow-on to Blood Normal and the Channel 4 documentary by Laura Dodsworth, 100 Vaginas.
Dodsworth’s work reminds me of Prue Murphy’s photography in the ‘90s. As so many research papers have addressed, most women don’t look at their genitalia, leaving it to doctors instead.
They don’t poke or feel, and they certainly don’t look at anyone else’s outside of romantic entanglements. And that causes everything from wrong ideas about sexual health, to missing potential FGM cases, and even a feeling of inadequacy, perpetuated by porn, because it doesn’t look ‘right.'
Ladies - there is no right, they are all perfect. And the more we understand about ourselves, the more control we have over our own bodies. These three explorations in understanding the most intimate part of women’s bodies are wonderful examples of celebrating the ‘imperfect’ perfection of us all.
I challenge you all to try to live one day without self-judgement, whether for you that’s body image or Kondo minimalism. Freely let others do as they please.
You gain a lot of time to spend as you like – and I’m off to the gym. Do do enough and no more - there’s beauty in imperfection.
Laura Jordan Bambach is chief creative officer at Mr President, a London-based independent creative agency. You can follow her on Twitter @laurajaybee. Her previous piece 'Jugaard can change the world' can be read here.
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