In the advertising business we all aspire to do something big, something memorable, something great that has never been done before; unfortunately not very many of us get the opportunity to present our big ideas to a multi-million dollar corporation. Many of us sit at our desk, some of us in cubicles with white walls, wondering where our integrity went. We mass produce someone else's creative work with no input on the project and wonder why we are given the title "Creative Director". The recently released documentary, Art & Copy, awakens the creative spirit in all of us, which has been subdued by clients dictating their ideas and being forced to work for agencies that focus on giving clients what they want instead of what they need. This film brings together the biggest ad agencies with the best ads of all time. We learn that Wendy's attempted to cancel the hit ad, "Where's the beef" a week before it aired. Tommy Hilfiger was made famous by one ad in one day—an advertisement he didn't want to run. The common thread between these ad agencies is they all had to sell their idea to the client and the client had to trust that the creatives knew best.
Being in marketing is a little more difficult than most professions because we are selling ideas rather than tangible products. Clients must buy into our ideas and be willing to fork over cash without knowing whether or not the campaign will be successful. The leading creatives from the film, such as David Kennedy, George Lewis, Jeff Goodby and much more, offer noteworthy advice that shows doing what you love and doing what you believe in goes hand in hand. First off, you're going to be rejected. Your ideas will be shot down time and time again, but if you want to be in the ad business, you must pick yourself up and continue doing what you believe in.
For me, there were three primary principals outlined in the documentary that reigned true when creating a marketing campaign—the first being that great advertising should always start with a truth. When we look at the genius of "Got Milk?" we immediately understand there is a truth behind the message. We don't want to sit down at the table for breakfast and pour a nice bowl of cheerios only to realize we're out of milk, nor do we want to grab a bag of Oreos and have nothing to dunk them in. So, how did they boost sales of an industry that was dropping in sales by 4% a year? They started with a truth and insured every customer would stock up on milk just so they wouldn't run out.
Just as important as being truthful is being entertaining. Apple Computer's first commercial aired during the 1984 Super Bowl. This commercial never shows the product or discusses the product and was only aired once. Instead of explaining how it works, the commercial intrigues the audience and makes them feel like their going to be a part of something bigger than themselves. People went crazy over the new Apple because they were curious and entertained.
The last piece of advice, which I found to be most important, is an advertisement should spark human emotion. Perhaps the most famous ad of all time is Nike's "Just do it" campaign. An idea that sprung from the last words of a Utah man's execution changed the lives of many. Individuals began to run for fitness and athletes were recognized as everyday people instead of just professionals on television. People applied the "Just do it" slogan to their lives in every possible way and on a very personal level. Women left abusive husbands; people started getting into shape, dieting and taking chances on life again. Mary Wells stated, "You can create any feeling you want people to have." Nike certainly accomplished this.
Art & Copy reminds us that good advertisement is a great thing. It's when we make false statements, don't stand up for our ideas and create generic emotions that advertisement turns into an evil. George Lewis said, "Great advertising changes the perception of everything." Advertisements have the power to persuade the human mind. Marketing to the public is a great responsibility, and since the average American will see 61 minutes of ads each day and the average child will view 20,000 TV commercials a year, it's one that should be taken seriously and done with integrity. We are in this business to fulfill our need for creativity and to communicate a message that will change the way people view everything they encounter. So, when you finally get the chance to present your big idea, remember, to be honest, entertaining and connect with people on an emotional level. If you're still not feeling inspired, then check out the film Art & Copy. It's a must see for everyone in the advertising business.