“I think advertising is poison gas.”
“It should choke you up; hit you in the face”.
These are the word of George Lois, well known for Esquire Magazine, Tommy Hilfiger and his biting and intense presence.
Lois was one of a dozen advertising giants featured Friday night at the Portland premiere of Art & Copy, a new film that told the story of the ad industry and some of its most prominent innovators. The film was precise, well-cut, and very entertaining. There wasn’t a dull moment. It was also very familiar, as there was quite a bit of footage from Portland’s Wieden+Kennedy, as well as interviews with founders Dan and Dave.
David Kennedy opened the film and introduced the audience to a video of Dan Wieden, who apologized for not being able to be there. He told us we were in for a great surprise, and we were. Kennedy was also there after the film to answer questions from the audience.
The story of Bill Bernbach started with an overview of the ad industry before and after he became involved in it. It was explained that advertising was saturated with ingrown mediocrity. Only those from the right school with the right connections could participate, and Art Directors has no input in the creative process. But he had a tremendous way of understanding how to cut right through the tradition in the way of a product selling. He put Art Directors together with the Copywriters and changed everything.
Mary Wells and Branff Airlines
Highlights of the film included interviews with Mary Wells, a copywriter for McCann Erickson. Her advertising campaign, “The End of the Plain Plane” for Branff International Airways was a turning point in the airline’s success. She explained that her origins in theatre largely contributed to how she approached advertising.
The End of the Plain Plane – Branff International Airways
Viewers were introduced to Lee Clow of TBWAWorldwide, whose biography was covered via scenes of sun, surfers and sand. His entrance into the world of advertising seemed like a vibrant color in a mess of gray soup. A smell that woke up the senses. It also marked him as a ‘dangerous person’ within the confines of the agency he originally worked for.
“I think fear is a very great depressant. It is okay for ideas to get killed. Ideas are supposed to be killed. But it is important to be in an environment where one has a community where they can get help in picking themselves off the floor”.
Hal Riney, The Image-Maker
Hal Riney’s interview and work left the audience completely absorbed and silent, especially after viewing “Morning in America”, Ronald Reagan’s 1984 Presidential re-election campaign.
Morning in America
The Birth of “Just Do It”
Dan Wieden talked about some of the more interesting effects of the “Just Do It” campaign, especially those that extended beyond sports. Some of them included
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Rich Silverstein was a stark and minimalist contrast to Jeff Goodby, who was interviewed in what looked like the agency’s server closet. They talked about the “Got Milk” campaign as the camera cut between Silverstein’s almost neurotic antics and Goodby’s relaxed creative messiness.
No character was as extreme as George Lois, who shocked the audience again and again in ways that are much better explained through the screen.
Expect a pleasant and enlightening journey through some of the most successful ad campaigns in history.
-The real history of the phrase “Just Do It”.
-The great Greek guy from New York.
-A great quote from Dan Wieden at the end.
-David Kennedy explaining the Totem Pole in the middle of the W+K atrium.
-An introspection into the secret lives of billboard rotators.
-TBWAChiatDay and the story behind Apple’s ad campaigns
Dan Wieden, Dave Kennedy, Lee Clow, Rich Silverstein, Jeff Goodby, Bill Bernbach, George Lois, Mary Wells, Hal Riney and others.
Missed the Film?
You can see it at one of Art&Copy’s various showings.
Amber Case is a cyborg anthropologist, consultant, writer, and analyst from Portland, Oregon. You can contact her at caseorganic at gmail.com, or on Twitter at @caseorganic.