Meet the Adman Who Really, Really Likes Laughing at Adolf Hitler

W+K's Jim Riswold on disarming the hatred

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Anyone who knows Jim Riswold knows he has a bit of a Hitler obsession—or more specifically, an obsession with making the Nazi leader look stupid through art. Speaking to Vice in 2011, the legendary Wieden + Kennedy copywriter explained:

"Bad guys don't mind being called bad guys. But bad guys don't like to be laughed at. I have always thought humour could diffuse fears and deflate even the most evil of egos. Voltaire said, 'I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.' I made Hitler look ridiculous. Hitler is ridiculous. But please don't tell him I said so."

Now, Riswold gets to show off some of his Hitler work in a new documentary called Meet the Hitlers. Directed by Tool's Matt Ogens (who also created the acclaimed doc Confessions of a Superhero), the film explores people named Hitler or related to Hitler, and how keeping that name has molded their lives.

As part of the film, Ogens profiles Riswold, who documents Nazi-themed objects as a way of disarming the hatred and making fun of the consumer culture behind Nazis and Hitler. Check out a scene from the documentary here:

Meet the Hitlers is also launching a digital campaign that includes (created by Trust), which looks at many people with absurd names (including some named Hitler from the movie) and how those names helped to shape their lives.

Soon, an interactive experience at will allow users to experience what it might be like if their last name were Hitler.

Here's the trailer for Meet the Hitlers:

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.