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“Advertising…changes the perception of everything.”
George Lois

Last night the local chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) had a special screening of the feature length documentary Art & Copy. The film was directed by Doug Pray and an official selection at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. It’s a look at advertising and creative inspiration.

It’s currently playing in theaters in select cities and if you don’t catch it this time around make a point to pick it up when it comes out on DVD. It’s a super look behind the scenes of the people who wrote the words & campaigns that are forever imprinted in our brains:
“Got Milk?”
“Just Do It”
“Where’s the beef?”
“I  (heart) New York”

Over the years plenty of film and TV writers and directors have migrated from the advertising world. The the vast majority of advertising is not good or memorable but that doesn’t mean it can’t be. Advertising has been around since people were kicking stone tires and offers many opportunities for you to ply your trade as a writer and meet like-minded creatives. Feature film cinematographers often dip back into the advertising world for both financial and creative reasons.

Just remember that as someone points out in the film,”Great advertising is truthful.” So if you are going to work in advertising aim to be in that (what 2%?) minority. And even if you have no interest in writing ad copy (or even seeing another ad again in your life) I think you’ll benefit from watching Art & Copy and learning a little bit more about the creative process and the culture it has helped produce. (You’ll at least be surprised to learn where the creative inspiration came from for the slogan “Just do it.”)

I guess I should make my obligatory Midwest plug by pointing out that though Doug Pray now lives in L.A. (and who also directed the engaging documentary Surfwise) grew up in Madison, WI.

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Scott W. Smith

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