Art & Copy


Yesterday I sat in a darkened cinema and watched old creatives talk about advertising. I was at a documentary called Art & Copy. Conceptually, the documentary project revolves around the idea that:

Advertising = Creativity


Creativity = Advertising

It’s basically an incredibly americo-centric apology for the advertising industry and for unfettered free-market capitalism. If you work in advertising (like me) then you either love it or you hate it. No one in this game simply tolerates it. At least no one who’s very good at it simply tolerates it. Art & Copy interviews subjects who have throughout their careers been simultaneously in love with and repulsed by advertising. Mostly creative directors, (with the notable exception of a billboard poster) they talk about their greatest achievements. Landmark moments in advertising: I want my MTV, Apple’s 1984 super bowl ad, VW’s nobody’s perfect, just do it. Their campaigns were truly groundbreaking and they became successful because they were based on risk.

My only reservation about this film was that it failed to mention how this success was made possible. The thousands and thousands of tiny, low budget campaigns that get no real creative attention and which are under-planned and under-deliver. The account planners who pressurise rates out of publishers which are then supposed to be used to deliver quality content to readers and viewers. The marketing managers who threaten to pull advertising from TV networks and radio stations who fail to look favourably on their commercial operations and turn a blind eye to corporate behaviour which may be perceived to be unsavoury by an audience of consumers.

This film will make you understand that advertising can be, and has been a powerful creative medium. But it will not demonstrate how this is able to happen. Which is disappointing, really.

One Response to “Art & Copy”

  1. All very good, very valid points.

    What I really enjoyed about this Documentary was seeing the men behind “The Man” (He that holds The Account’s). The creative types came across as cheerful hypocrites, highly intelligent and yet lacking in social sense. Their brilliance was, and is, what makes advertising great. But the only people who will ever truly understand them is each other. What a lonely, lonely world.

    I learnt a few fun facts etc but I guess seeing the human component behind the campaigns was truly wonderful. Humanising advertising – this is rare!

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