Saturday, May 2, 2009

Art&Copy - The Movie. A Review From An AdGuy.

- A View From An AdGuy

- A View From An AdGuy

Toronto Screening - HotDocs

Sunday May 3rd, 2009 - 4pm
Isabel Bader Theatre

This film turned out to be much more then expected.

I am not 100% sure what I expected after I viewed a 12 minute trailer at Shift Disturbers this past week, but it really was much more then a “History of Advertising”. Art & Copy is a perfect combination of ad clips and interviews.

From the opening sequence focusing on the primitive cave art, this certainly was a way to pay homage to Marshall McLuhan who described advertising this way; "
Ads are the cave art of the twentieth century", and then immediately introducing us to a third generation “poster rotator”, who seems to be a “golden thread” throughout the film. We meet this young man who has a simple job, changing endless billboard ads. His great grandfather did it, and so on. He claims to have never met any of the creators of the ads his families long history has posted, but thanks them all when he proclaims; “for generations nobody in my family has ever been unemployed”.

Director Doug Pray takes us on a passage of those who created and lived the business during the golden “Creative Revolution” of DDB and Bill Bernbach, Mary Wells Lawrence, Phyllis Robinson and the legendary George Lois. Ah those who planted the seeds of today’s creative evolution.

And why shouldn't the craft of advertising be admired? "Art & Copy" begins in the late '50s and early '60s as big thinkers on Madison Avenue came up with the idea of pairing copywriters and art directors, melding a business necessity with creative talent.

Mr. Pray offers up a perfect Q&A with some of the greatest names in the field and recounts their successes. The interviews with titans of today like Dan Wieden, Hal Riney, David Kennedy, Lee Clow, Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby make it a complete celebration of creativity. Great advertising is great because it's great creative thinking and Art & Copy is essentially, an ad for advertising -- all of the attractive features of the business are shown in a glorious and shining light, with very little left unasked unless of course, you are a critic of the advertising industry. There have been a few critics of the film, which may come from the fact that the majority of support for Mr. Pray’s film came largely form The One Club, a non-profit dedicated to the craft of advertising based in New York.

Art & Copy offers that great advertising can be great art; great advertising can be artistic, to be sure, but the best ad in the world still has to sell. It’s a pretty simple mantra; “it ain’t creative unless it sells something”.

Many of the great moments of Art & Copy (and believe me I could listen to the rough, give-'em-hell George Lois for hours) came when hearing how many of the icon campaigns were created. Mr Lois is really offers the greatest moments in the film... too many quotable's to list here. He is truly "bow" that finishes the gift this film is. To learn now that Nike’s iconic “Just Do It” came from a headline when Utah convicted murder Gary Gilmore’s final words to his executioners, “Let’s Do It”, gave proof an idea can be found anywhere. I am sure Nike doesn’t have this story in its history books. The film is full of these little antidotes. As each is spoken, it really make the film worthy of our time.

It's unclear if advertising today is better than ever before, but we're certainly in the Golden Age of celebrating the Ad Man and it’s easy to see why AMC's "Mad Men," perhaps TV's finest “advertising based” show or TNT's recently cancelled "Trust Me" are so well received by the general public.

Art & Copy gives a very realistic portrait of the advertising world. It is likely the best recruitment film made.

The film will begin national screenings on August 21st when it goes into major distribution. In Canada the film is distributed by Mongrel Media of Toronto.

Art & Copy will have two more “exclusive” screenings in Toronto later this month when presented by 27Marbles. These screenings will be held at the Royal Theater (608 College at Clinton St.) on May 25th and 26th. The first evening is an “industry screening” at 7pm with all profits supporting Art Building Children’s Dreams (ABCD), a grassroots, not-for-profit, charity that uses art to fund the education of third world children. ( Tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance online (click on logo below for ticket purchase). The second evening is a "student only" screening and tickets are available by contacting Stacey Farber at

1 comment:

Eugene said...

This movie is AMAZING! I've been meaning to watch this for so long but I've always been swamped with school work. I finally decided to watch it to get some inspiration for my creative and it just blew me away. So, so, so inspiring. I've always been aware of old ads but the ones that I saw in the film are so creative. How do you come up with such epic campaigns. It's not just a one-off. It's 3+ ads that are created from one idea. I have a new respect for advertising and I wish the stuff we see today was more like the stuff advertising people came up with back then. Genius.

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