Is Damien Hirst the world’s greatest marketer?

Harry Lang
5 min readFeb 7, 2024

The artist shows us that while anyone can paint a picture, he’s cornered the market in FOMO on an industrial scale

Visitors to my old house in London rarely commented on the quality of my art collection. Yes, the oil of Battersea Power station (purchased after an all nighter at Fabric and costing exactly one month’s salary in 2001) is very beautiful. And the pixelated nude (OK, quite pornographic) acrylic that hung on the bathroom wall certainly prompted a few debates about whether all art can be considered ‘good’ art (it can’t, apparently). But the one piece that caused the most enjoyment hung above the downstairs loo — it was majestic.

A rugged, albeit petite aviator leaning pensively on the fuselage of his F14 Tomcat as he stares, knowingly into the middle distance. Yes, it was Tom Cruise in his original Maverick guise — a signed piece, no less.

I’d accidentally purchased said artwork at a charity ball, a guest of my friends at Red Bull. There’d been a blind auction and having just witnessed my agency business go through its final death throes and my bank account slip into the red, I was perfectly placed to make a sizable bid.

Yes, I was so broke I had to carry Maverick home on the bus from Central London but boy was I chuffed with my investment the next morning. So much so I begged the auctioneer to take it back.

Luckily for present day me (and, I imagine, even more so for my wife, an artist) the masterpiece remains in our…

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Harry Lang

I'm a UK based CMO and author of 'Brands, Bandwagons & Bullshit' - a guidebook for young people about how marketing, advertising, media and PR work.