If Why met How, What would happen to Which

Once I knew the SCA was my dream school, and had finally mustered up the courage to book myself in for a 10-minute call with Marc, I decided it was time for me to start getting some practice in when it came to reading and answering briefs. 

Although I liked to consider myself somewhat well-informed about the world of advertising, I didn’t really know where to start looking for some fun, and simple briefs I could play around with in my spare time. 

After a few google searches, which, admittedly I did conduct whilst procrastinating at my 9-5 marketing job, I stumbled across a collection of weird and wacky free online briefs.

I flicked through a few of the “briefs” and played around with some ideas, until my eyes became drawn to one question in particular, which read “If why met how, what would happen to which?”

I was intrigued, because it was, quite frankly, absurd. My first thoughts were “what the hell am I expected to do with that?!”, it sounded to me like something the Mad Hatter would say on one of his caffeine fuelled tea-party binges. 

But that was exactly it. It DID sound like a riddle-esque bunch of nonsense, straight out of Alice in Wonderland or a Dr. Suess book. So, using this link my brain made as the catalyst for an idea, I ran with it:

I decided to write a poem. Poetry had never been my strongest form of creative writing but I felt it was definitely the best creative medium for me to use for this “brief”, especially because, as demonstrated in the works of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, and Dr Seuss, telling stories with rhyme and rhythm always amps up the enigmatic, fantastical, mystique of written prose. 

Before I began writing, I figured I ought to do some research on the words why, how, what and which, in order to gather any useful information which could enable me to make further

 links, help inspire some sort of storyline, and aid me in figuring out the trajectory I wanted my poem to take. 

It only took me a few google searches to discover that the words what, why, when, where, and who, are also known as “The Five W’s”, and, according to Wikipedia:

“are questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving….According to the principle of the Five Ws, a report can only be considered complete if it answers these questions starting with an interrogative word”.

Discovering that these words have a valued purpose (to provide insightful, information-rich answers), made it easier for me to personify them, configure a story line where this purpose becomes jeopardised, and create a world in which they exist to serve this purpose. I additionally read that there has been scholarly debate in recent years as to whether “how” should be considered just as an important question to ask as the Five W’s, in investigative practice. The fact that “how” was not considered of importance in previous years, but has now come to be seen as an additionally valuable analytical question provided me with additional inspiration for a point of tension within my poem/story. 

Below I’ve written out the poem I ended up writing, so you can see for yourself what I came up with. It’s by no means my best work…but I am pretty proud of it, as, by combining a little research with my imagination and love for literary “nonsense,” I managed to spin a brief I originally thought was a little too bonkers into a subversive, playful narrative.

Lesson learned: Nothing is too bonkers. 

Just passed the ancient Question Wood

Resided six farmers, not two,

Known as which, what and why,

And when and where and who.

Upon their separate lands

They grow answers on trees,

each unique, and bound to he

who harvests with hands weathered and trusty.

Though traditionally serene and sleepy,

where life beats to the horse-drawn plough, 

One day the answer farms were shaken awake,

when why, happened to meet how…

Bindle stick slung o’er shoulder

Into Why’s fields How had wandered,

Whilst a pair of eyes locked upon him:

“Who is this visitor?” Why had pondered.

Upon approaching, the stranger

revealed he was friend, not foe.

His name was Farmer How

And he had seeds he wished to sew.

It was then that Why recalled

The empty plot he was neighbour to,

And a with glorious realisation he exclaimed;

“It must be destined for you!”

A few moons passed

And How’s seeds had prospered,

Sprouting into his own answer trees,

Whilst a grand friendship between How & Why was fostered.

Though How was warmly welcomed

By What and When and Where and Who, 

Farmer Which became green with envy,

As it was he, that Why was once closest to.

Blinded by brainless contempt, 

The blighted Which concocted a plan

To lose the change-inducing intruder

By turning him into a dead man.

So, dusting off his old slingshot

Which hid, behind one of How’s trees,

and securing a clear view of his victim

he aimed and counted, “1…2…3…”

But before his shot could sling

A voice intercepted; “Stop”!

Why had seen him from a neighbouring field

Whilst tending to an answer crop.

Upon hearing this commotion

The other farmers appeared,

gasping at the scene they were met with

as Which looked back at them, afeared. 

Having been caught red-handed

Which was tried and banished.

And the farmers never spoke of him again,

as if he had simply vanished. 

So now, beyond the ancient Question Wood 

Reside five farmers, plus one new,

They’re known as what, How, and why,

And when and where and who. 

It is here the story ends

And I take my final bow. 

Now you know what became of Which, 

When Why, happened to meet How. 


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