Creativity Can Solve Anything (according to local advertisers)

Or so claims the tag line of the new documentary, Art and Copy. The film is at worst a creative ad for the advertising agency and at best an example of the slippery subject of consumerism.

Representing both the everyday and the exotic, advertisements are simultaneously oppressive and liberating. My argument is nothing new, this was the idea of the Situationalists (i.e. the liberation of everyday life) and the Independent Group, a British collective of artists, theorists, and architects whose work eventually gave way to what we now know as Pop Art. So, should I find it annoying that Art and Copy director, Doug Pray claims advertisements to be the “dynamic intersection of art, commerce, and human emotion”? Am I wrong to be disturbed by his statement: “Hate advertising? Make better ads”?

Who regulates advertising? The government bans smoking ads from magazines, but they also commission Hal Riney to create emotional campaign ads that transform Reagan into a mythical saviour.

Advertiser Rich Silverstein describes the field as “art serving capitalism,” but, if art loses its subversive quality, can it still be art?

Capitalism doesn’t just serve the consumer, the consumer serves capitalism. Do advertisements expose or hide this complicated relationship? If Sundance Film Festival calls Art and Copy a major achievement of 2009, is the statement, “creativity can solve anything” validated? Can creative advertising solve our postmodern capitalist condition, or, am I just bitter because I need better advertising?

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