Art & Copy


We are seemingly increasingly surrounded and bombarded by a surfeit of mind-numbingly boring TV ads, bereft of any creativity and starved of any inspiration.

Whilst some of this sorry band of underachievers, largely through sheer persistence, succeed in ingraining themselves in our subconscious, the majority of them drift past us unnoticed, failing to produce a flicker of emotion let alone alter a mindset or motivate behavior.

Once upon a time, telling a stranger in a bar or at a dinner party that you worked in advertising elicited a mixture of envy and admiration. Now, however, and especially in the United States, telling people that you work in advertising is greeted with the same looks of antipathy and disapproval that I imagine you would receive if you told them you were a Republican, a freegan or a vegetarian.

Last night I went to the IFC with a few friends to see Doug Pray’s documentary Art & Copy, hopeful that this might restore my faith in the ad industry and remind me why I was inspired to become an Ad Man as a youngster, when I probably should have still harbored aspirations of being an astronaut, professional footballer or rock star like most normal kids my age.

The film offers an insight into the minds and lives of the most influential advertising visionaries of our time and the stories behind some of their most famous campaigns.

Hearing advertising luminaries like George Lois, Dan Wieden and Jeff Goodby extolling the virtues of creating ad campaigns with the capacity to inspire people, and to change the way they think or feel, did not so much make Art & Copy a documentary that celebrated or glorified the whole advertising industry. To have made such a film would have required myopia of epic proportions.

Instead, the film served as a poignant reminder that when done well- and that’s a big when- advertising is indeed an art form worthy of adoration, capable of producing messages that can propel a slogan into common lexicon and capture the zeitgeist of a culture.

There will undoubtedly always be ads that irritate, infuriate and disrupt, but whilst there are still those individuals with the vision, passion and artistry to create messages and stories this inspiring, I’ll keep getting out of bed in the morning and I’ll continue to see a glimmer of light within the deluge of waste.

Possibly my favorite ad showcased during the film:


5 responses to “Art & Copy

  1. great post DV – the film did make you feel proud(er) to work in this industry but I was disappointed that it did not talk to any of the new generation of people working in advertising, nor the implications of how advertising is changing in this digital age. are there any campaigns today that are “an art form worthy of adoration”?

  2. Pingback: Art & Copy « Elle Tea

  3. Envy and admiration were emphatically not what I felt upon learning of your ambitions in 2004. I am, however, infinitely admiring of that fact that your most blogged about subjects (apart from Advertising) are Burger King and Facebook. Please phone me to discuss these important issues.

  4. The original Got Milk? ad is one of my favorites too. Michael Bay and Jon Steel, what a combo.

  5. I remember you telling me how much you loved this ad Josh. Not sure I fully appreciated its genius until I moved to NY and started to understand how much people here adore peanut butter though.

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