Independent Lens "Art & Copy" on WXXI-TV

Independent Lens "Art & Copy" on WXXI-TV

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 10:00pm

Pictured: Lee Clow, surfer and chairman and chief creative officer of TBWA WorldwideChiatDay, in front of a full-size iPod billboard inside the Los Angeles office. Clow has been largely responsible for Apple's ad campaigns since 1984.

Credit: Courtesy of Image from the film Art & Copy

An intimate look at the people behind the curtain of modern consumer culture.

George Lois, Mary Wells, Dan Wieden, Lee Clow, Hal Riney, and others featured in Doug Pray’s Art & Copy may not be household names, but the advertising slogans they helped create — “Just Do It,” “I Love NY,” “Where’s the Beef?,” “Got Milk,” and “Think Different” — are embedded in our national psyche. The social and cultural significance of their ads, as well as those of other advertising legends, is brought to light in Art & Copy, a behind-the-scenes look at the real Mad Men (and women), whose creative work in the advertising dream factory has had a profound impact on our culture. A dynamic exploration of art, commerce, and human emotion, Art & Copy, an Independent Lens presentation, airs on Tuesday, October 26 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).

Exploding forth from the “creative revolution” in advertising during the 1960s, these artists and writers all brought a surprisingly rebellious spirit to their work, in a business often associated with mediocrity and manipulation. They knew they were moving culture, not just moving product. Director Doug Pray captures the inspiration and creativity in an industry that exists not only to sell merchandise, but to grab the attention of millions and move them emotionally.

“It was inspiring to meet these creatives and hear their passion for effective communication and their anger at boring clients and market research, but what amazed me was how much their commercial work was a direct reflection of their personal lives,” said Pray. “[For example] how Mary Wells’s zany and theatrical ads were a result of growing up in a family that hardly ever communicated. How George Lois spent his youth fighting on the streets of West Bronx and kept right on fighting the status quo in his ads for MTV and Hilfiger. Or how the late Hal Riney’s depression-era childhood robbed him of the very emotions that he spent a lifetime recreating in his ads for Saturn, Gallo, and Reagan. By interviewing these icons, they became real for me, and I saw advertising as an art form with enormous potential—when done well.”

Onscreen Participants
Lee Clow, chairman and chief creative officer of TBWAChiatDay Worldwide is a surfer, a dog fanatic, and the man behind the Apple ads. His landmark “1984” commercial — which introduced the revolutionary Macintosh personal computer without even actually showing the product — aired just once, during the Super Bowl, but is still considered one of the best ads ever made. While encouraging a whole new generation of computer users to “Think Different,” he also helped create well-known campaigns featuring the Energizer Bunny, as well as the current campaign for the Apple iPod. For Art & Copy, Clow was interviewed at the TBWA Los Angeles office and at Media Arts Lab, the inner sanctum for Apple’s advertising team. He is also seen briefly at his Los Angeles home and at a nearby beach chasing seagulls.

It could be said that George Lois is one of the original “Mad Men.” This former activist and self-described fighting Greek from the Bronx is known for his in-your-face celebrity advertising. He was the mind behind the seminal covers for Esquire Magazine from 1962 to 1972 and captured the MTV generation with his "I Want My MTV" campaign. Lois’s long career also includes notable work for Tommy Hilfiger, USA Today, ESPN, and CBS. Interviewed in the Bronx and his Manhattan home, Lois describes how advertising can be revolutionary.

With his folksy style and world-renowned soothing voice that provided the narration for many of his commercials, Hal Riney created some of the most emotional campaigns of the seventies and eighties for such brands as Bartles and Jaymes, Saturn, and Perrier. He also helped reelect Ronald Reagan in the 1984 presidential elections with his groundbreaking commercial, “Morning in America.” Interviewed in his San Francisco home before his death in April 2008, Riney offers a rare look into his ideas about excellence in advertising and working relationships.

Phyllis K. Robinson was the first copy chief at the legendary ad firm Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB). As a writer, she was at the center of the creative advertising revolution of the 1960s, working on campaigns for Levy’s Bread, Polaroid, and eventually Clairol hair products, where her “It Lets Me Be Me” campaigns developed the concept of the “Me Generation.” Interviewed in her home near Central Park, Robinson explains how her work reflected rather than created the mood of the time.

With the two simple words "Got Milk?" Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby revitalized the milk industry and made advertising history. Goodby, Silverstein, and Partners was responsible for the hugely popular Budweiser lizards as well as work for HP, Netflix, and The Wall St. Journal. Interviewed in their San Francisco offices, Goodby and Silverstein show how advertising is best when it’s entertaining and intelligent.

Mary Wells is full of firsts — she was the first woman to own and run an ad agency, the first female CEO to take a company public, the first person to paint jumbo jets (her high-flying Braniff Airlines campaign in the ‘60s). She and Charlie Moss, a creative director at Wells Rich Greene, created unforgettable ads for Benson & Hedges, as well as the ubiquitous “I Love New York” campaign. Wells remains active in media today, a contributor to the women’s website Interviewed in her Manhattan home, dotted with “Why Not Have a Big Life?” napkins promoting her book, Wells discusses what it was like to create her own big life — and big ad campaigns.

Dan Wieden and David Kennedy used their creativity and disdain for traditional advertising in the early 1980s to co-found Wieden+Kennedy, now one of the world’s largest independent ad agencies, and one of the few who operate outside the global “Big Four” ad conglomerates. W+K helped turn a little-known athletic shoe company into a cultural phenomenon with the slogan, “Just Do It.” Since then, this ground-breaking agency has been creating award-winning work for Nike as well as ESPN, Honda, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and many other major clients. Both men were interviewed at their offices in Portland, Oregon, although it should be noted that David “has left the building” (as Dan phrased it); that is, he’s no longer involved with the day-to-day operations, which might explain why Dan is shown wandering around trying to find his partner’s office.

Several other advertising greats appear briefly in the film, including Cliff Freeman, creator of such well-known slogans as Wendy's "Where's the Beef?” and Mounds/Almond Joy's "Sometimes you feel like a nut… sometimes you don't.” Jim Durfee, one of the original partners of the legendary Carl Ally agency, who helped launch Federal Express and MCI and who wrote the groundbreaking work for Volvo and Hertz, also appears.