Usually when you think about advertising, you feel a bit disgusted at the way we are targeted by the “ad men.” They manipulate us into buying things we don’t need, with money we don’t have. They make things that are not good for us sound indispensable. And everywhere we turn we are bombarded by their pitches. So going into Art & Copy, I my expectations for a documentary about the ad world were very low. Imagine my surprise then when I was treated to a fascinatingly wonderful homage to the men and women who made some of the most iconic ads in the late 20th century.

Filmmaker Doug Pray put together a very smart film by interviewing extremely interesting people and cutting it together with their work, which just happens to be some of the most memorable advertising of my generation. The people behind “Where’s the beef”, “Just Do it”, and even “I want my MTV” are some of the most creative people around. And what they have to say about how they came up with these slogans and campaigns is insightful, strange and very funny. (For example, “Just Do It” was inspired by spree killer Gary Gilmore’s lasts words, “Let’s Do it.”)

But beyond the work, you get to know the personal stories that made these creative geniuses who they are and those stories inform their choices throughout their careers. Going behind the scenes at some to the top agencies is also part of the movie’s charm. Incredibly fun looking offices and a company culture of play no doubt help in coming up with effective, memorable copy. The advertising industry is not for everyone, but this film makes it clear that there are some people born to it. And these are the ones that make the fun ads we remember.

Art & Copy is a love letter to the ad industry and as such is a very effective piece of marketing itself. Missing are the unethical, fast-talking manipulators we usually associate with this field. They’re not hucksters; they’re artists. It is a fun movie to watch and is currently still making the festival rounds and showing in limited screenings. If it is near you, go. Otherwise, check out the DVD.

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