Say YES to movies about advertising

Gael García Bernal stars in NO, which looks at advertising in political campaigns. Via The Atlantic
By Olga Verkhotina

Most people – if they’re thinking clearly – take advertising skeptically.

A frequently quoted 2004 study by a marketing services consultants Yankelovich Partners suggests that sixty-five percent of Americans feel “constantly bombarded” by ads. Fifty-nine percent feel that ads barely have any relevance to them.

But yet, one popular TV series about ad men still wins Emmy Awards and Golden Globes. Advertisers know our habits, and they don’t want to give up.

In November 2009, Filmworks screened the Emmy-winning Doug Pray documentary Art & Copy, which told the stories of the most influential ad creatives of our time and shared their perspectives on advertising as an art. The creatives not only grabbed the attention of millions of people and sold the products with billboards, print ads, and TV commercials, but they also made a huge cultural impact with their work.

In the 1990 Tony Bill comedy Crazy People, an ad executive (Dudley Moore) gets tired of his job where he “has to lie” to people. So, he decides to tell the ugly truth with each and every ad campaign he gets to work on. After his colleagues get scared that his ads are too honest, they throw him in a mental institution. However, he only finds more inspiration there, and he goes on to create the biggest advertising hits of his day, all of which catch people with their honesty.

On May 10, Filmworks will present the latest example of advertising in the movies with the 2012 Pablo Larraín drama No, starring Gael García Bernal. Bernal stars as a charismatic young ad man who creates an advertising campaign to free Chile from fierce military dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1988. While critics have said the film leaves out many details in Pinochet’s overthrow, the criticism the movie makes of advertising results in an appealing “love letter to democracy.”

For more movies about advertising, see this list from Ad Week magazine.

Olga Verkhotina studies journalism at Fresno City College. She is the Filmworks media relations and communication intern.