Art & Copy
Directed by Douglas Pray
Ten years ago, books like No Logo and magazines like Adbusters told us that advertisers were the slimy mouthpieces of American capitalism, pumping up the value of products to help globalized corporations profit at the expense of underpaid third-world laborers. In this documentary, those very same mouthpieces, (the guys who dreamed up the "Just Do It" campaign for Nike, for one) are heralded as rebel visionaries, and you will even hear them say things like "I hated the system, I hated the status quo."
Instead of focusing on the effects of advertising, director Doug Pray interviews the masterminds behind the most memorable ads of the past 50 years. They're businesspeople, actors, and artistes all rolled into one — and what these creatives have in common, Pray shows us, is their their uncanny ability to sell you anything. Early on in the film, the legendary George Lois lisps in his Bronx accent, "I could get excited about selling a new kind of [push] pin."
In between takes of these big-shots (in their sleek, open-concept offices) recalling their humble beginnings, or the triumphs of the "Got Milk?" ads, Pray slips in statistics about the advertising industry. These stats ground the film, and for example, reports that "65% of Americans believe they are bombarded with too much advertising" give counter-weight to a film that willfully ignores the darker sides of the industry. As Pray explains in his director's notes, "I didn't want to make a doc that just trashes trashy advertising. Too easy, too obvious, and why bother?". Leave that to the Naomi Kleins of the world.
Opens August 21