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Art of a chain breaking with text that reads "Break the Rules"

There is a fine line between following the rules and breaking the rules. I have spent most of my life walking right up to, and sometimes, jumping right over this line. It’s a constant struggle for me between conformity and dissent. As long as I know what the rules are, I will generally follow them. I don’t want to get into trouble and I want to play well with others in the sandbox.

Yet, sometimes, I find myself asking, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” And this guides my thinking on whether or not a rule was made to be broken. Fortunately, I’ve been in the advertising business for 30 years and have been rewarded for bending, twisting, and sometimes breaking the rules of convention. Every day at work is like a game of Twister.

After all, if you want to create something that is bold you have to take risks. And if I ask myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” and the only answer I can come up with is “The client might say no,” then I am going to break that rule (obviously if the answer to that question is “You might go to jail, Dave,” I might stay on this side of the line). 

There are rules in spelling, such as I before E except after C. I generally follow these rules. If I don’t, 39 people will email me back and let me know that I misspelled something in the Weekly Report. A number of years ago, London-based ad agency AMV BBDO created an ad campaign for Snickers, where they partnered with Google to find the 500 most commonly misspelled words in search history. Snickers bought the misspelled keyword ads and reminded searchers “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” They broke the rules and the campaign was a major success. 

So this week you’ve got homework. Number one, I want you to find a silly rule. Number two, I want you to break it. Don’t forget to ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Disclaimer: I will not pay your fine, penalty, or bail. 

This week, I found a silly rule that my bank has a monthly limit on deposits. Yes, you read that right. I can deposit up to X over the course of 30 days, but I cannot deposit X + $1. I am driving to the bank this afternoon, where I will deposit $1 over my limit. I am such a rebel.