The brains behind "Got Milk," "Just do it" and all the rest
January 23, 2009
The glamorous world of advertising in the 1960s found a new generation of admirers with the AMC television series "Mad Men." The show has won numerous awards including Golden Globes for best drama and best actor, but the series didn’t have a lot of fans at a panel discussion at Sundance this week.
It is no surprise, though, that the advertising moguls featured in the documentary "Art and Copy" are reluctant to hop on the "Mad Men" bandwagon. They were the young rebels who helped to topple the old guard on Madison Avenue.
Now they are well known as the creators of some of the most recognizable ad campaigns of today’s brand conscious culture.
Their names and faces may not be familiar to those outside the advertising industry, but their campaigns, like Nike’s "Just do it" and iPod’s dancing silhouettes are now global icons.
For filmmaker Doug Pray, the ad men of the 1960s were as dynamic, if not more so than their predecessors, and deserved to be documented. The result is the feature-length documentary, "Art and Copy" that was accepted into this year’s Sundance Film Festival Documentary Competition.
According to the film, the advertising industry will likely hit the $500 billion mark by 2010. And, on average, city dwellers are exposed to more than 5,000 ads per day.
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As one of Pray’s subjects aptly states in the film, "Advertising is like air and water, it is all around you."
The film provides unique insights into the extraordinarily creative minds that helped to expand brand identities from a catchy jingle to a lifestyle. To help dissect the galloping increase in the advertising world’s clout, Pray confronts some of the heaviest heavy-weights in the field including Richard Silverstein, Lee Clow, George Louis, Dan Weiden, David Kennedy and Mary Warlick.
In addition to the fascinating interviews, Pray weaves the film together with footage of a third-generation billboard "rotator" plastering up gigantic images and a group of scientists preparing and launching a communications satellite. And, of course there are clips of all those famous ads from the Budweiser frogs to Apple’s "1984" commercial.
The ad execs though, go behind the scenes to reveal pressures, ethical questions and conflicts surrounding each campaign. One explains that being a creative person is "scary." He explains, "you wonder where your thoughts come from, and worse, where are they coming from tomorrow."
Several of the main characters in "Art and Copy" met up during the festival where they saw Pray’s film for the first time. They told old war stories but also offered a peek into the future.
They agreed the internet is ushering in a new age that poses new challenges for their industry. According to Silverstein, "now the audience has a voice." That was echoed by Weiden who said "I love the two-way dialog but it is going to take a lot of courage for clients."
Clow added, "This is the beginning of the next great revolution, it demands more creativity than ever."