(San Francisco, CA) — 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 premieres on the PBS series Independent Lens on Tuesday, October 26, 2010, at 10pm (check local listings).
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 (Surfwise, Scratch, Hype!) 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.”
To learn more about the film and its subjects, visit the companion website for Art & Copy at http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/art-and-copy . Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker, and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section, where viewers can share their ideas and opinions of the film.
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 wowOwow.com. 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.
About the Filmmaker
Doug Pray (Director/Producer/Writer) Filmmaker Doug Pray has directed a number of highly acclaimed feature-length documentary films about American subcultures and maverick characters.
His best-known and most recent film is Surfwise, the inspiring, humorous, and often tumultuous story of legendary surfer Dr. Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, his wife Juliette, and their nine children. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures.
Pray’s first film was Hype!, a candid look at the emergence and explosion of the Seattle rock music scene, featuring Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and numerous other bands. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was ranked #14 by Rolling Stone Magazine in its “Top 25 Music DVD’s of All Time.” Pray’s second feature, Scratch, also premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is a dynamic exploration of the world of hip-hop DJs and “turntablism.” It features artists such as DJ Shadow, DJ Qbert, and hip-hop legend Afrika Bambaataa. Scratch was nominated for an IFP Independent Spirit Award and was released theatrically by Palm Pictures and worldwide by Intermedia Films.
In 2008, Screen Media Films released Big Rig, a broad portrait of America told through the eyes of long-haul truck drivers. This massive road film portrays 25,000 miles of U.S. highways, 45 states, and a fiercely independent group of truck drivers who defend their role as America’s “last cowboys.” Prior to that project, Pray directed Infamy, an intense journey into the controversial world of illegal graffiti with six of America’s most notorious vandals (Image Entertainment), and Red Diaper Baby, a feature-length performance film of Josh Kornbluth’s hysterical and emotional stage monologue (Sundance Channel). In between his documentary productions, Pray has worked for numerous clients and ad agencies as a commercial director.
In 2006, he won an Emmy® Award for an HIV-AIDS awareness campaign he shot and directed in El Salvador. He also directed a highly regarded series of short films about workers in London for Dr. Martens; a Sports Emmy®-nominated film about NASCAR for ESPN; and a national TV campaign for gay rights in the workplace for the Gill Foundation, which won Clio and Lion awards at the Cannes Advertising Festival.
After majoring in Sociology at Colorado College, Pray received an MFA from UCLA’s Graduate School of Film and Television. He has served on the documentary juries of the Sundance, Silverdocs, AFI Fest, AFI Dallas, and SXSW Film Festivals, and is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. He was born in Denver, Colorado, grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and lives in Los Angeles, California.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community, or moment in history. Presented by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the series is supported by interactive companion websites, national publicity, and community engagement campaigns. Further information about the series is available at www.pbs.org/independentlens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen.
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