Authenticity, Art & Copy

If you are a fan of the history of branding and advertising like we are at Insight180, check out “Art & Copy”, a documentary that delves into the history of the advertising industry and the advent of the artist and copywriter actually working together in the same room. The film does not tout “trashy” advertising, but rather sought to gather insights from the greatest advertising minds of the last 50 years. Director, Doug Pray, describes these great minds as fiercely independent mavericks. Some cast members include Wieden+Kennedy’s Dan Wieden and David Kennedy, responsible for Nike’s “Just do it” campaign, Mary Wells, founding president of Wells Rich Greene and the first woman to own and run an ad agency, Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby of Goodby, Silverstein and partners who conceived the simple yet effective “Got Milk” campaign; additionally, Lee Clow, Chairman and Global Director of TBWA\Worldwide, responsible for the groundbreaking 1984 Apple ad. This all-star cast really shows the audience how advertising works and the ideas behind “good advertising”.

You can view the trailer here:

“Art & Copy” aims to prove that “good” advertising is not out to mislead society, but it helps convey the struggle of the creative side of advertising and describes how the public responds to and feels about advertising.

“Great advertising almost always starts with something true.” This is one of the quotes from the film that resonates for me. An advertisement is like a persuasive argument to the public, urging them to choose your product or service. When the argument is based on a valid foundation or authenticity, it will really stand up, and consequently stand out from competitors. Great advertising is rooted in this idea, combined with creativity and thoughtfulness. Where does that authenticity and valid foundation come from? Branding. If the brand is well defined at the core, then all that’s needed is to find the right way to convey its message to the public.

Throughout the film, various cast members express a rebellious attitude toward the business side of creativity and those who are afraid to take risks. Dan Wieden talks about risk, challenging convention and the creative struggle against the “non-believers”. He then goes on to say, “I think the real risk comes in being willing to try to be authentic.” If a company has things to hide, they can’t be authentic, which hinders them. “Art & Copy” stresses the idea of the product truth: strong ideas, simply presented.

Lee Clow said, ”I think we have higher aspirations for our clients, and are more passionate about what our clients can be, should be, should try to be, than they are. We’re trying to tell them “Hey! You can be more than just a car company. You can be more than just a pet food company. You can aspire to loving dogs, rather than just feeding dogs.” Lee Clow understands that in order to sell yourself through advertising, you need to convince, and the best way to convince is to be more as a brand, in a socially responsible sense.

“Art & Copy” also talks about the consumer’s relationship to advertisements. Rich Silverstein mentions, “We’re trying to entertain society…to connect to society in some entertainment form.” Jeff Goodby notes that advertising is something that millions experience at the same time; A mass communal happening.

The film also notes that ads don’t necessarily need to have anything to do with the product. It’s about people wanting to share what they saw. What a consumer is saying when an ad connects with them is that they are part of something; part of a group that is “in on it”. Consumers want to be a part of that community associated with that brand.

Overall, “Art & Copy” is an amazing insight into the world of advertising. In addition to an in depth description of how advertising works, it’s also an incredibly interesting, turbo-charged history lesson on the subject straight from the history makers themselves. Take a look, and let us know what you think.

–Tara

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