Art & Copy

I’m probably a bit late on this one but I finally sat down with my wife, who works in advertising, and watched it.

There aren’t many movies that I can say I am profoundly affected by but this one is surely up there. It really resonated with me.

I love how the film was sandwiched by these 2 comments…

“The frightening and most difficult thing about what somebody calls a creative person is you have absolutely no idea where any of your thoughts come from really and especially you don’t have any idea about where they are going to come from tomorrow”

and this…

“Creativity can solve anything…ANYTHING!”

If you haven’t seen it, see it
I thought it was a lot more inspirational that Objectified

ah, sorry…a link…

Available on Netfilx Watch Instantly, too. Haven’t seen it yet, but it’s been on my list for some time.

Just watched this. Great film. Super inspiring though makes me wish I was one of those ad guys that started small and was now running a billion dollar business…

Definitely a must see. I agree, better than Objectified overall.


I watched it a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it as well. The whole MTV and Hilfiger segment stuck with me. I guess sometimes you got to believe in the most unbelievable tactic to succeed. Many of those examples used in the film are those incredible “one in a millions” long shots of campaigns.
I wonder how much the actual ad guys really thought they would work.

I don’t know if it is really comparable to Objectified. It is a different subject matter and it is definitely cheesier.
It was very entertaining, for sure though.

added it to my netflix, thanks!

Yea I think it was more interesting, but also a lot more general and vague. Less about the process and more about results. I guess creative processes are really hard to explain though. Still pretty inspirational though. Reminds me of the days when I wanted to go into advertising. Almost got into Ogilvy as an intern then turned out they dont hire non-grads.

Watched this last night, wow, thanks for the recommendation, very inspirational.

I was also considering advertising and/or psychology before I got into design so it kind of reminded me of what I used think I would be doing later in life when I was a kid.

What I enjoyed most were the stories about how some of them were working in staid conservative traditional ad agencies and how they changed the game or busted out.

My favorite line: “If we stop making the ads for them they can’t do shit!”

Well, I watched it and I have to say I found most of the people they interviewed to have a really inflated sense of self-importance which was quite off-putting. Self-admitted “not even proper English”, talking lizards, and a whole slew of conveniently avoided ethically questionable issues just make them subscribers to watered down Edward Bernays. Just watch a documentary about him, go to the source, really.

I’m re-watching Connections, so great. Connections - Wikipedia

I wouldn’t dispute you on this at all, but they are considered some of the best in their industry because they have helped companies become very successful and profitable so I can see how they can justify that self-importance. While I was inspired by stories of creativity overcoming the status quo and challenging the norm, I was at the same time disgusted by the factual numbers that they showed behind the industry. Pretty sickening to contemplate that the average US household watches 8 hours of television per day and the billions spent in an industry devoted to helping sell shit we don’t need more of on this planet. The average city dweller absorbs 5,000 advertisements per day? Sick.

Since high school I have rarely, if ever, been compelled to buy something because of advertising in any form. Some of it I find humorous, amusing, artful, or well executed from a design standpoint, but I never say to myself, hey I need to buy what this is selling. What I really hate is being force fed advertising like when I pay $10 to see a movie and have to sit through 25 minutes of ads after the scheduled start time of the film. I know they try to make these more clever and amusing, but brass tacks they’re wasting my time. I’ve made theater managers refund my cash and told them I don’t pay to watch commercials, I can do that at home for free, but if they insist I can send them an invoice and they can pay me.

So, to me the ubiquitous public advertising is something of a mystery. Is there so much of it because it’s so effective, or is there so much of it because its impact is so small we need to be bombarded with it? Maybe I just hate being told what I should spend my money on, can anyone relate?

An argument about the ethics of selling products to people that they don’t need is for another thread I think.

As they mention in the movie there is a whole boat load of really shit advertising, I imagine it’s very easy to be part of the status quo and do what is safe in terms of marketing message. The movie is all about rocking the boat and having the creativity in some ways to change cultural attitudes in quite a dramatic fashion (lets me be me)… for better or worse is not the question, the fact is there are people out there with the ability, creativity and balls to effect change and that should be encouraging to us all.

Love it or hate it, we live in a capitalist society that survives on consumerism… the least we can do is buy into companies and products who want to be part of our lives to enhance it not just make money from us with empty promises.

Lets be frank.

A lot of ads are crap. Though they (and even the good ones serve a purpose) - to let us know about new products. While it is quaint to say we should all be without any ads, how would anyone know about the latest product released. Ads are nothing more than focused communication centered around a specific product or service. Wouldn’t the lack of ads be more disconcerting? Apple releases a new phone and tells nobody, and 3 months later you walk into a shop and see and new one that would better fit your needs and you bang your head on the desk thinking “why didn’t I know about this sooner?” If anything, I for one would like more ads, but more targeted. If I didn’t need to read all these blogs for 8 hours a day to find out what was happening but had ads for things I might be interested in on the day they are released and didn’t have to wade through too much info, it would be a godsend.

Same goes in reverse. If we are to critique ads, who are we who make much of the product (a good portion crap, though I am sure no one wants to admit to it) that these ads sell. If we didn’t make it, there would be no ads to sell it. Critique of ads from a IDers perspective seems to me like calling the kettle black.

That’s not be said that the majority of ads are bad, as are the majority of products. We all could step it up a notch. Easier said than done, but if all ads were as good as some Nike ones and all products as good as Apple ones, of course we would all celebrate. Trouble is, in any industry there are lazy and and people with poor talent.

To end, all this says to me is exactly this: Strive for doing great and success will follow.


Painting the idea of an ad-less world is a logical fallacy.

I don’t think the advertising needs to justify its existence. The same way ID doesn’t need to justify its existence. Ads need to be made and yes, it is better if somebody with a great sense for storytelling who can tap into consumer’s subconscious was in charge of it.

That said, I didn’t find much compelling about a bunch of white guys talking about their creativity (that manifested in carefully crafted “multicultural” ipod ads) like it eradicated smallpox. They made good ads, it is not disputed. Does it mean that an ipod ad has the same standing as, I don’t know? Beethoven? Quite disputable.

In my first post I listed 2 examples that in my opinion illustrate creativity and pushing boundaries: Connections and the documentary The Century of the Self and/or books about Edward Bernays. How do you think they compare to Art & Copy?

And blaming our consumerist society on advertising that frequently accompanies this sort of discussion is dishonest. Society is the product of the interactions of its individuals and responsibility has to be taken on individual level.

I have seen the Century of the Self (albeit some time ago) and I remembered it being more about how the early advertisers began to tap into this rich vein of individualism that existed and were exploring ways to exploit it.
Art & Copy is chronologically a lot further along than that… it’s all about how creative they can be with that understanding of what people want, think they want or don’t even know they want.

I’m confused about your comment about their race though. Would you have preferred it if they were black or Asian ? What relevance is it ? These are just some of the best creative minds in the advertising industry in the US who all happen to be white. Why none of them were of a visual minority is a socio-economic argument not a creative one.

I think no matter what industry you work in, if you enjoy what you do then you will speak passionately about it. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Great post, and of course now I have an image of the sheet music of Beethoven’s 5th boxing it out with an iPod add, so…

I slightly agree with your last point, I think the advertising/product driven culture is a bit of a chicken and the egg between the consumer and the corporation. Neither are to blame and both are to blame. Companies make products and advertise them so people will buy them, people buy them because companies make them appealing and they have the expendable wealth (or credit) to make the purchase, the company makes more new products because the people keep buying them, and so on.

I think organic food is a great example of both the corporation and the consumer in action. 10 years ago you had to go to a co-op possibly deal with a diatribe from a soapbox, and maybe some BO just to get some organic free range eggs, now you can go to even the most base level supermarket and find some organic products for sale. Companies (and I include the media when I say companies, because that is what they are) and advertisers noticed a small consumer trend toward organic, natural, authentic food, the companies made a bunch of noise about it to see if people were interested, a broader base of people adopted it and bodda-bing, Wholefoods in every major city.

to play devils advocate, in the year 2200, when they are looking at filling the 2000-2100 wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, maybe an iPod advert will be there? Hard to say.

Anyway, I have to watch the movie in question, haven’t gotten to it… kind of busy, but it is on my list!

There’s things that I do hate about it, annoyances, but rationally thinking, a society that survives on the consumption of disposable, or low quality goods produced from finite non-renewable resources is ultimately not sustainable. Our society does survive, and thrive on this, for the time being. There are companies out there that you speak of, however, more often than not they are non-profit organizations.

I agree about the targeted ads, the internet has been a great format for this, but also creepy at the same time. I’m browsing the web and clearly the ads are trying to get my attention based on my interests being pulled from somewhere, I still either tune it out or find it annoying though. Public ads like billboards, 99% trash, visual noise, if people spend on average 8 hours watching TV per day then why do we need to clog our public spaces with McDonald’s ads and crap like that? I enjoy the hunt and research behind making my purchase decisions, I’ll read customer reviews, blog posts, fan forums and then make a decision I’m comfortable with, if more people would do this then less people would buy crap on impulse or rely on being told what they need. I’m not saying there should be no adds, I’m saying that public captive audience advertising is overboard, smattering a logo all over something doesn’t inform anyone about a new product or service, it’s just marketing competition serving market competition at that point and we have to put up with it defacing our environment. I spent some time in Ireland about 2 years ago and I was struck by the lack or roadside billboards and advertising. The billboards I saw were about 1/4 of the size of US billboards, and much lower to the ground. Most of it was signage for local establishments and in downtown areas the occasional billboard for a product. So yes, it was quaint, but you know what, it was also more relaxed and peaceful. A company might provide a great product that “enhances” our lives, but if they have to disrupt our lives to sell it to us do you think that is worth it?

This is exactly what I want people to think about, I’ll admit that I’ve worked on crap, and that’s why I raise these questions. How many designers designs are influenced by making products marketable as opposed to making them great? Very few of us have this luxury, but great products generate sales, great marketing does not generate great product. I would be willing to bet that Apple could cut it’s marketing budget by 1/2 at this point and do just fine. Jobs and Ives, two guys involved in the product development who are also selling the product, and kicking ass at it, what does this say about other companies marketing efforts?

If all ads were as good as Nike’s and all products as good as Apple it would become the status quo and we’d be talking about doing something better :smiley: . I don’t think it’s lazy people with poor talent, I just think it’s people in the wrong job/career.

Not if you un-couple your world view from capitalism it’s not. If you had said, a world de-void of people selling/bartering then yes I would agree, it is part of the core of our societal evolution, I feel that were are taking it in a very irresponsible direction right now.

I’m not saying that it should have to justify it’s existence, I’m saying that it doesn’t have to be crap and in my face 24/7.

I’ll check them out.

I know this is an easy cheap shot, but the BP situation is a glaring example of what happens when we take advertising at face value, on the surface their branding makes them look like a good, clean, honest company. Clearly it is a lie to cover them and stave off regulation through reputation. I do blame part of our consumerist society on advertising because from birth it is an attempt to indoctrinate people into something that in many cases may not be very healthy for them or fools them into thinking that more stuff equates to happiness. Of course government has regulated the obvious stuff like alcohol and tobacco advertising, but what about all the junk and fast food advertising? Alcohol and tobacco do not amount to the numbers of health claims from obesity and poor diet, something the whole US health care debate seems to have skipped over because that industry is such an economic powerhouse with tons of lobbyists. But, all the ads say otherwise. I’m not saying that it’s all bad, but a vast majority of it is complete bullshit.

BUT, your missing the twisted little beauty of capitalism… you don’t have to go to BP stations or support companies that get their fuel from BP… and thousands of people aren’t (I avoid a BP station like the plague) and their stock drops as a result, I think it is down 30% or so, but people have to take responsibility for their own spending and choose to send a message everyday to the companies that do what they want, and to the companies that are irresponsible. Companies provide products and services for profit, if they don’t turn profits they either evolve or die (unless they are “too bid to fail” I guess). Maybe it is idealistic, or naive, but I think it is less naive than some of the other systems that have been tried and failed. I also understand it needs to be tempered with a strong amount of oversight and regulation by an elected group…

As Churchill once said “Capitalism is the worst economic system, except for all the others.”

Even if we were bartering, I think there would still be advertising. Human nature. Anyway, getting OT, but good stuff.

I don’t think avoiding BP is possible. Lets say people do stop purchasing from them, they get stuck with a large amount of oil/crude/unrefined product in storage, they can just sell underneath the market price. If barrels of oil are selling at $78 a pop and BP markets theirs at 76, well marketplace efficiency would come in and either correct the price of a barrel of oil to 76 dollars or lots of consumers would start buying up BP’s oil at 76 and selling it at 78 pocketing the difference.

I think the stock price is down and continues to fall because of the cleanup fallout and because they’re genuinely losing money. A rig is a billion dollar investment with a projected cash flow curve to match. Who knows how big the EPA fines will be in the end or the payout they’ll have to make to the citizens of the gulf of Mexico (lets not forget that involves more countries than the USA). If this really does continue until August it will devestate a lot of other gulf countries and probably destroy their tourism economies (who wants to go to Cancun if tar balls are washing up?).

Capitalism isn’t so bad, it at least allows you the freedom to move or down depending on the effort you put into it.

Good points John.

I guess you might say who’s to blame? Capitalism, or incompetence? The latter happens in all systems whether we are talking about 3 mile island, or Chernobyl.

I’d go all in on incompetence!

Seriously though, I think a lot can be attributed to misguided greed. What is the potential risk of drilling in the gulf? We’ve learned it can be devastating and extremely destructive. Does it make sense to put the entire ecosystem and gulf economy at risk if 1 pipe/offshore rig malfunctions? Deep water offshore drilling seems exceptionally risky and it’s hard to say it’s worth doing when the reality we’re faced with now is just depressing.

I think all too often we assume that if something worked once it’ll work again and again and that leads people to believe that nothing can go wrong. Then when it does there’s no safeguard because: it wasn’t supposed to happen! Nassim Taleb had a great book ‘the black swan’ I read a few years ago, he really gets into the psychology that drives this mentality: Black swan theory - Wikipedia

This is a horrible situation and I am not minimalizing this on the premise of siding with BP…but let’s not overdramatize this. Look at a map. Cancun is now where even remotely close to where this oil spill is occuring. 60% of the oil evaporates upon reaching the surface within 24 hrs. The whole of the Gulf of Mexico isn’t going to turn into an oil swimming pool soon. Tides and currents being what they are, it is going to be the USA who is affected the most by this.

(here’s a map good map to put it in perspective: Philanthropic Initiatives For Local Communities -