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.
Advertising comes at us in a variety of forms. We can see and hear ads over a wide range of formats: print, radio, TV, mobile and stationary billboards, internet, embedded messages, mobile, in-store, celebrity branding, aerial, etc. Lately, one of the oldest forms of advertising has been making a comeback while adapting new variations. We’ve all seen the Statue of Liberty standing on the street corner during tax time pointing drivers into Liberty Tax locations. There has been a recent insurgence of “human directionals” enthusiastically twirling their signs and directing us into a new development, cell phone store or going out of business sale.
“Human directionals,” “human billboards,” “sign walkers,” “sign holders” or “sign twirlers” have been around for centuries. They became prevalent in the early 1800s after a tax was excised on
outdoor poster ads in London and businesses had to compete over the limited amount of wall space. Ads were worn on hats, human poster boards or on outrageous costumes. Later in the 1930s when the t-shirt began to be worn as an outer garment, it became a popular tool for advertisements.
Companies that are apt to get their message across not only display their messages by being worn or held up by people, but recently have found other innovative ways to display their walking billboards:
- The controversial GoldenPalace.com has paid athletes to display their web domain atsporting events in the form of temporary tattoos on their backs.
- The back of Jim Nelson’s head was auctioned off to the highest bidder – CI Host, who claim the tattoo resulted in 500 new customers.
- The last example comes to us from Sydney and is a cross between “a bag and a shirt,” which is a TV screen embedded in a vest that shows-yes you guessed it-moving advertisements.
Isn’t it amazing that I can remember the words and melody to hundreds of songs from dozens of years ago but can’t seem to remember what I had for lunch? If I said to you “I don’t want to grow up,” chances are you would come back with “Cause I’m a Toys R Us kid.” It is a well recognized fact that words, when accompanied by music, increase our recall and make us feel better. Hence the advertising jingle, many of which stay with us long after the campaign has ended. The jingle had its musical beginnings in 1926 featuring the Wheaties Quartet singing:
Have you tried Wheaties?
They’re whole wheat with all of the bran.
Won’t you try Wheaties?
For wheat is the best food of man.
They’re crispy and crunchy
The whole year through,
The kiddies never tire of them
and neither will you.
So just try Wheaties,
The best breakfast food in the land.
It might sound old fashioned and corny to us now, but back then it essentially caused a complete turnaround for the failing brand of cereal and revolutionized radio advertising.
Take a stroll down memory lane with me and enjoy: