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Updated: Jan 31

Nisha wrung herself from the police grip, calling to Ren; ‘Boiling kettle. On my desk…get it.’ Ren stood thunderstruck. ‘Just press the button! She begged, eyes boring into him. She had that look in her eyes, and he understood it.

Ren staggered—unable to turn away from police roughing Nisha onto the backseat. He ran upstairs, in a haze of disbelief.

Upstairs, on Nisha’s computer screen, the cursor blinked awaiting instructions. E-mail; No subject. Attachment; DefenceMinistryClassified.doc. Addressed to the newspaper editor. An electric urgency hung in the air, poised. Hearing heavy boots coming up the stairs, Ren tapped, ‘Send’.


This was produced in response to a challenge to tell a story in less than 100 words. This story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.


Ai Weiwei, Kaws, and The Clash stand as cultural rebels challenging the status quo through art and music. Ai Weiwei's dissent against Chinese policies, Kaws' subversion of mainstream symbols, and The Clash's punk defiance weave a contemporary rebellion narrative. Beyond borders, hunger strikes echo the rebel archetype, resonating with Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolent resistance spotlighted in "Veeram." Characters in "Hackers," "Fight Club," and "The Hunger Games" embody rebellion against societal norms, while Adbusters, Apple, and Benetton embrace the rebel archetype in their business narratives, challenging and reshaping societal dialogues on a global scale.



Archetype → Rebel

Rasa → Veeram


January 2024

Artistic expressions channelling archetype in rasa

  • Ai Weiwei's art serves as a powerful tool for dissent, challenging the Chinese government's policies on human rights, censorship, and political corruption. Particularly his art installations carry deep symbolism and political messages. They critique traditional Chinese culture and push the boundaries of what is acceptable within the societal framework. For example, his use of traditional Chinese materials subverts their conventional meanings to convey dissent; they become a form of language to communicate dissent and rebellion. Ai Weiwei has faced personal risks, including imprisonment, for his provocative art challenging the Chinese government. His willingness to endure such consequences underscores his commitment to the cause.

  • Artists like Kaws engage in subversive practices that challenge mainstream culture. While Kaws is not traditionally associated with political activism, his art disrupts and reinterprets popular symbols. It challenges the established narratives around iconic characters. By altering recognizable symbols, he prompts viewers to reconsider their preconceived notions about these figures. Kaws started his career as a street artist, creating unauthorized interventions in public spaces. This roots his work in a form of cultural disruption akin to the rebel archetype's challenge to authority. 

  • The Clash emerged during the punk rock movement of the 1970s and early 1980s, a genre known for its rebellious attitude and DIY ethos. They embodied the rebel archetype through their music, lyrics, and overall ethos. Their work resonated with a spirit of defiance, challenging societal norms and advocating for change. lyrics often delved into social and political issues of their time. Songs like "London Calling" critique the state of the world, addressing concerns such as nuclear threats, social unrest, and the impact of media. The band consistently took an anti-establishment stance, expressing scepticism toward authority and institutions. Their song "White Riot," for example, reflects a call for rebellion against racial tensions and the prevailing system. "Combat Rock," one of The Clash's most successful albums, features the rebellious anthem "Rock the Casbah." The song protests against cultural repression and celebrates the liberating power of music.

Published ideas of archetype in rasa

  • The 2021 article “Anatomy of a Hunger Strike” discusses hunger strikes as a form of protest. It outlines the risks and impacts on the human body during prolonged hunger strikes, emphasizing the potential physical and mental harm that hunger strikers face. The rebel archetype, as portrayed in "Veeram," and the individuals engaging in hunger strikes share some common themes related to defiance against authority, sacrifice for a cause, and a willingness to endure physical and psychological hardship.

  • The rebel archetype often involves defying oppressive forces. In Veeram, if the protagonist resists tyrannical rule or challenges societal injustices, it aligns with the archetype's spirit of rebellion against oppression. The 2019, National Geographic article titled: “How Mahatma Gandhi changed political protest” explores the life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, focusing on key aspects of his journey as a leader and advocate for nonviolent resistance across the globe.

  • "No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies" by Naomi Klein explores the impact of globalization on corporate practices and the rise of powerful brand-driven culture. The book critiques the branding strategies that dominate the consumer culture, exposing the negative social and economic consequences of a world increasingly defined by logos and corporate power. Klein advocates for grassroots resistance and social activism to counter the influence of these "brand bullies" and promote a more just and ethical global economy.

Characters channelling archetype in rasa

  • The main plot of "Hackers" involves Dade Murphy and his group of friends uncovering and exposing a conspiracy involving a malicious hacker and a corrupt corporation. Dade, also known by his hacker alias "Zero Cool" and later "Crash Override," throughout the story continues to defy authority figures, including law enforcement, corporate entities, and schools. Dade's character embodies individualism and an anti-establishment sentiment. 

  • In "Fight Club," both Tyler Durden (a charismatic and anarchic figure who represents a rebellion against consumer culture and societal norms) and The Narrator, also referred to as Jack, (a cog in the consumerist machine, rebels against his dissatisfaction and disillusionment with modern life) can be seen as embodying aspects of the rebel archetype, although in different ways. His journey involves a psychological and existential rebellion against his own identity and societal expectations. While Tyler Durden is often considered the more overtly rebellious and anarchic character; his actions can be interpreted as a form of sacrifice for a perceived greater good or a radical reset of society.

  • Katniss Everdeen, in "The Hunger Games" trilogy, rebels against the oppressive Capitol in the dystopian world of Panem. Throughout the series, she makes personal sacrifices for the sake of the rebellion and ultimately becomes a symbol of resistance. Her willingness to sacrifice herself for others aligns with the heroic sacrifice within the rebel archetype.

Channelling the archetype in rasa for business

  • The Adbusters Collective is a media foundation known for its anti-consumerist campaigns and subversive artwork. They engage in culture jamming by creating satirical advertisements, encouraging people to question the influence of corporate branding and consumer culture. This parallels the rebel archetype in challenging established norms and resisting the influence of powerful entities.

  • Although Apple no longer channels the Rebel archetype, the company’s 1997 "Think Different" campaign celebrated iconic figures who challenged convention and changed the world. The campaign positioned Apple as a brand for rebels, free-thinkers, and innovators, aligning with the rebel archetype. By associating Apple with influential figures who had disrupted the norm, the campaign positioned the company which also thought beyond the ordinary. The campaign went beyond promoting Apple products; it emphasized the values and philosophy that the brand represented. It represented a departure from traditional marketing approaches. Instead of focusing on product features, Apple highlighted a broader brand narrative centred around the rebel archetype.

  • Benetton's advertising campaigns have often tackled social and political issues, challenging norms and sparking conversations. The "United Colors of Benetton" campaign, in particular, featured diverse models and addressed topics like race, gender, and social justice. Both the "United Colors of Benetton" campaign and the rebel archetype in "Veeram" challenge societal norms. By utilising controversy to make a statement, Benetton's ads could spark debate due to their provocative nature.

Sometimes, businesses find themselves in dangerous waters when trying to engage their audience through emotionally charged popular narratives. Often enough, we see businesses initiating or tagging onto sensitive conversations involving race, politics, skin colour and gender; some nail it, others damage their brand catastrophically, and most end up making their conversations seem unauthentic. Remember how the race to position themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement came out for most brands? Those who didn’t filter the narrative through their own brand personality, or present it through their true views and ideas, had their audiences disengaged, and sometimes even enraged. That awkward Pepsi ad, which only became famous as a tone-deaf disaster of a story, is probably the best example. 

Engaging with popular narratives is a good thing to do; It shows that the brand is alive, current, listening and responding to the world that its consumers live in. But, not every brand can tag onto every narrative. It must be authentic; there must be history, connection or reason; And most importantly, it must be delivered right through the business’ persona, values, and tone of voice.

When we were helping the in-house team at Rithihi—one of Sri Lanka's most beloved saree boutiques—to identify its brand voice and story styles, it became important to demonstrate how to engage with certain topics that were sensitive. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in India, as the death tolls were sky-rocketing, it was insensitive to talk about the beauty of sarees handmade in areas like Banaras, Kanchipuram and Ludhiana, which were devastated by disease. It was important to address this, and convey the brand's authentic emotions towards the catastrophe; However, it was a highly emotionally-charged topic and there was already growing criticism on how some brands were delivering their messages. We created a newsletter with stories that celebrated the skill and beauty of artisanal communities affected by the pandemic. The message was approached through Rithihi's values, while the response to the situation was framed through the brand's personality framework. The stories, as always, were delivered strictly through the brand voice that we carefully identified for Rithihi. As a result, the message was authentic in reflecting Rithihi's true views and sentiments, and it was well received. This story led to creating many meaningful conversations between the business and its audience.

During Sri Lanka's economic crisis in 2022, many hospitality businesses struggled to articulate why it’s still worthwhile to visit the island along with the reasons for the peaceful protests that were sweeping across the nation. It was a challenging message to coin. However, it couldn't be ignored or overlooked by any business inviting people to visit Sri Lanka; especially with the spread of misinformation and sensational news making Sri Lanka appear unsafe. Here's how we helped one of our longstanding clients in hospitality to articulate this message with the earnestness and sense of humour true to their brand voice.

These kinds of emotionally charged narratives are where a brand's true strength in communications is tested. In both these instances, the brand articulation framework that outlined the business values and the voice were the key tools in getting these stories right. 

A well-articulated brand persona and voice are the most important tools you have when navigating through complex or sensitive narratives. They are your frameworks to be truthful and authentic.

If you want to find out more on how we consult and create stories to help businesses navigate through challenging messages, and complex narratives, send us a message.

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