Close-Up: A film that reminds us of the joys of advertising

Art & Copy shines a light on some of the larger-than-life characters who made advertising what it is today.

D&AD would like to take you to the movies later this month: we're hosting the UK premiere of Art & Copy in Soho. If you haven't already heard about it, you should have: it's the first film in a long time (or possibly ever) to really explore the period in which advertising in the US crossed the threshold into popular culture, and some of the personalities responsible for getting it there.

Art & Copy was four years in the making and had its North American premiere as an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival 2009. So, no, this isn't some navel-gazing industry film, but a beautifully made, entertaining and provocative piece of work.

Art & Copy is a powerful and often very funny film about some genuinely important characters in the advertising business in the US - in effect, the next generation of real-life Mad Men.

It documents how together they brought about a genuine revolution in the way that agencies and consumers thought about advertising and even advertising people.

Many of them emerged as larger-than-life figures who commanded an extraordinary amount of respect from their clients. And that respect was (and is) richly deserved and beautifully portrayed.

The likes of Lee Clow, Dan Wieden, Hal Riney, Cliff Freeman and a small number of others achieved something remarkable in this period: they helped to make advertising into one of the attributes of the great brands, not merely a delivery mechanism for product claims. In other words, they made the advertising into something that consumers actively "bought" just as surely as they were buying the products themselves. In doing so, they paved the way for a generation of creative people who experienced far greater creative freedom than their predecessors (hard to believe as that may sometimes be).

I loved this film, because it's such an accurate and, yes, highly entertaining encapsulation of an incredible period in the business, a period I was lucky enough to experience first hand. And it lets some of the US industry's real characters let rip. George Lois alone is worth the entry price. It also reminds you why you got into the business in the first place: to make things happen, to change things creatively, to open people's eyes to creative possibility.

Credit where credit's due - this film wouldn't have happened without some serious blood, sweat and tears on the part of the One Show, and its chief executive, Mary Warlick, in particular, who produced the film. A trailer can be seen at

D&AD is holding two private screenings at the Charlotte Street Hotel Cinema on 27 November, at 5.30pm and 7.30pm.

- Tim O'Kennedy is the chief executive of D&AD.


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