Art and Copy Doug Pray

Art and Copy Doug Pray
There's a feeling of desperation to the DVD release of Art and Copy. I was in Sundance when it premiered, with a certain degree of hype, no less. Nowhere, that I can recall in the then infinitesimal marketing push was a comparison to Mad Men made. In general, it didn't premiere as well as predicted and so a year later suddenly the DVD cover features a distinctly Saul Bass-esque cover art with the quote "The Real Mad Men." I wonder if the admen in this film would have approved of this campaign? I doubt it, because the people Doug Pray has assembled to provide discourse on the nebulous and nefarious advertising business seem to be producing high art. It's part of the foul stench of self-congratulation that plagues this film. So much so, from beginning to end, I couldn't figure out what this movie was actually about. It's certainly not about the characters, a group of intellectually superior millionaires patting themselves on the back for making their clients a lot of money. Granted, there's been some great art produced in their advertising business. Indeed, the mad men (and women) of this film do shed some light on how memorable campaigns such as "Got Milk" were born, but there's so much distance from the nuts and bolts of these stories that we don't really learn much. The marketing of Tommy Hilfiger and the Nike "Just Do It" slogan are also great stories, but Pray only grazes the surface with a few sound bites and trivial titbits of information from his subjects. But certainly not enough to truly understand the effect marketing has on our culture, or what kind of brainpower it takes to get people to move one way when they're pointed in the other direction. Rarely does anyone ever mention how many hamburgers or Volkswagens were sold because of their campaigns, as if these people have forgotten that advertising is about selling people shit, and mostly shit that they don't need. As such, Art and Copy is just too esoteric and tonally oblique for anyone outside the advertising business itself to truly appreciate. The DVD contains no special features. (Mongrel Media)