The thought of advertising
generally brings a bad taste to my mouth. It seeps into our lives from
so many directions and is completely unavoidable. Although Doug Pray's
(SCRATCH, SURFWISE, etc.) ART & COPY contains spare statistics
about the amount of advertising we are subject to, his new film is not
about the effects of advertising. It's about the craft. It's about
artists. It's about pioneers. It's about those ads out there that are
truly innovative and inspiring.
The beautifully shot film takes an in-depth look into the creative
processes involved in some of the most monumental American ad campaigns
of the last half century. It is interwoven and book-ended with visuals
of a satellite launch accompanied by ad-exposure statistics, and
thoughts from a long-time billboard putter-upper-guy. The creators of
the "Where's the Beef", "Got Milk?", and Apple's "Think Different"
campaigns are among those interviewed, and the ads themselves play a
major role in the narrative.
Adman George Lois, who is probably best known for his Esquire
magazine covers and his "I Want My MTV" campaign, stands out as a
larger-than-life character through his work and his interviews in the
film. He tells the story of making a then-unknown Tommy Hilfiger into
a household name practically overnight by comparing him to classic
designers like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. It seemed like a stretch
at the time, and even Hilfiger seemed reluctant to step into such big
shoes but admits that it forced him to prove himself. Bold-moves like
this defined Lois' career and revolutionary attitude toward
advertising. It's inspiring to realize that someone in such a position
continues to work against the grain in order to create ads that people
actually want to see.
It would be much simpler to make a film about bad advertising or
the effects of consumerism on the human psyche, so it's refreshing to
see a positive film that celebrates craftsmen in their finest hours.
These folks are masters of concise communication and strive to make ads
that not only move products but also appeal to emotions and intellect.
For example, when the film conducts man-on-the street interviews to
capture people's reactions to Nike's "Just Do It" campaign. No talk
about the shoes, only about the desire to chase their dreams.