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Advertising as Entertainment

This week we will explore advertising in the movies. Follow me as we take a look at advertising as portrayed by Hollywood on the silver screen. These are my favorites:

1) Crazy People – Our first film stars Dudley Moore as Emory Leeson, an advertising executive whose “honest ads” don’t go over too well with his boss: “Volvo, they’re boxy but they’re good.” After experiencing a nervous breakdown, he is sent to an insane asylum. In the meantime his ads are accidentally sent to the clients, who of course love them and want more of the same. His boss tries unsuccessfully to recreate the campaign and is forced to go to the asylum to ask Leeson to deliver more of the same. This results in a new branch of the agency with Leeson and fellow patients comprising the loony but successful new team.

2) The next movie involves an overworked advertising executive, wrapped up in his work to the neglect of his family. Dustin Hoffman stars alongside Meryl Streep in the much acclaimed Kramer vs. Kramer from 1979. Ted Kramer is just awarded the account of his life when he comes home to find that his wife is leaving him and their son.

3) We move on to Mel Gibson who stars as an advertising executive who believes he is God’s gift to women in What Women Want. A freak accident empowers him with the ability to hear what women are thinking (including female dogs), which he uses to develop campaigns with incredible appeal to this demographic.

4) Finally, honorable mention goes to movies with advertising with characters that work in ad agencies but the movies are not about the field of advertising.

  • Michael Keaton is a Dad who loses his job as an advertising executive and is forced to become Mr. Mom.
  • How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days stars the adorable Matthew McConaughey as an AE who wagers he can get a girl to fall in love with him in 10 days who tangles with journalist Kate Hudson who is doing a story about how to lose a guy in ten days.
  • In Picture Perfect, the single advertising executive played by Jennifer Aniston is passed up for promotion because her boss believes that single women are unstable. She fabricates an elaborate story about her engagement to get the promotion.
  • Last but not least, Steve Martin portrays a very high strung advertising executive that gets a lesson in “taking it easy” when he gets stuck on Thanksgiving weekend traveling with a shower ring salesman who is on a totally different wavelength in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.