10 October 2010 | dhyder
This film starts off strongly and contains some interesting interviews with some famous and some less well-known admen and women. But aside from brief and half-hearted questioning towards the end of the film, most of the subjects interviewed display the typical pathology of ad industry "creatives": they denigrate their clients for their lack of imagination (Hal Riney says outright that the personality he creates is more important than the product) while presenting themselves as creative artists. Deep down, they know they are whores, and thus they never tire of explaining why they are not.
Countless times we are treating to disquisitions on the creative nature of what they do, how it "reaches so many people" and this "at the same time", as if this meant something. Comparisons to the work of Toulouse-Lautrec are made. The suggestion that the work consists in getting people to buy useless products is rebuffed with the argument that it is impossible to get people to do what they don't want to do. Yet many of the subjects boast that they can get people to feel whatever emotion they want and that they can create mass movements out of thin air.
While there are occasional inserts of ad-industry data which might or might not shock you (likely not), no consequences are drawn. Many of the interviews are intercut with shots and images that flatter the subjects' self-image as mavericks. If the director has any critical distance on his subjects, it is so well-camouflaged as to be indetectable.
Towards the middle of the film, one adman explains that great ads are based on truth, and that people can tell whether you are telling the truth and will react to it. If this film is telling the truth, then Michelangelo missed his calling.