An Ad Is Not A Film. An Ad Is Not A Film, An Ad Is Not A Film

nike_addicted.jpg

Dear Wieden + Kennedy (and most other ad agencies too),

Please repeat on the conference room white board 100 times: A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film. A commercial is not a film.

Or at least stop your PR people from referring to :30's and :60's over and over again as films. They're commercials. They're ads. No matter how beautiful or creatively fueled they are (and your latest work for Nike certainly is, indeed , beautiful), they're ads. They're just ads. Sorry. No amount of creative puffery can change that. Most movies aren't even films let alone :30 and :60 bits of creativity that sell stuff.

So, please, can we lay off the inflated sense of ego and just realize all we do in this business is sell stuff? We can glamorize it all we want. We can give it fancy names. We can even go to Cannes a week after "real" filmmakers do to make ourselves feel as though we are they're equals. We are not. They make entertainment. We sell stuff.

Sincerely,

The Pompous Assholes From Adrants
(who, at heart, are really, really nice people who totally understand the business of the press release which, for better or worse, must follow a format that is far removed from how normal human beings speak but, for better or worse, we are stuck with and make fun of from time to time which then causes unrest because of that fun-making which, in turn, causes us to profusely apologize to the very nice human whose job it was to write the standardized information delivery transferal, all of which, for better or worse, rightly earns us the the title Pompous Assholes)

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (35)     File: Agencies, Commercials, Opinion     Jun- 5-07  
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Comments

Well said*.

*the preceding comment was directed at The Pompous Assholes From Adrants and not Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam.

Posted by: Corey on June 5, 2007 01:15 PM

A-men.

Posted by: copyranter on June 5, 2007 01:16 PM

And, can we also add to the list anyone on YouTube who shoots a video of his friend jumping from the roof while holding onto a patio umbrella and starts the clip with the description:

“A film by...”

Posted by: makethelogobigger on June 5, 2007 01:46 PM

I’m beginning to resent the term “film” I say let them have it while we move on to the highfalutin “cinema”

Posted by: Rex on June 5, 2007 02:03 PM

I don't know. Since movies, more and more, are designed to sell stuff, maybe advertising should be allowed to be more and more entertaining. Thus restoring balance to the 'film' community.

Posted by: okay. on June 5, 2007 02:10 PM

Here here!

Nobody is more consistently pretentious than W&K.

Posted by: Copy guy on June 5, 2007 02:15 PM

I work in a PR agency. I think I might start calling my press releases "journalism."

Posted by: jerseyprguy on June 5, 2007 02:36 PM

Touche!!! jerseyprguy

Posted by: Rex on June 5, 2007 02:40 PM

What's film?

Posted by: Tom Egly on June 5, 2007 02:55 PM

While you are offering suggestions to the advertising world, would some one else police the art museums. That Roy Lichtenstein guy just used way, way, way, too much advertising and comics in his gallery stuff.

Posted by: call Brad for help on June 5, 2007 03:06 PM

question though...

what should a "viral" be called before it actually goes viral. Meaning those "web films" (sorry I used the "f" word). A "viral" can't be "viral" before it has 100,000 views on youtube...can it?

it's all so complicated.

Posted by: Lucy on June 5, 2007 03:30 PM

Two things:

1) To the comment from Brad: Lichtenstein is considered a "pop" artist, hence his use of advertising. Imagine his work being judged 200 years from now and your appreciation may improve.

2) It's a minor point I want to make about your rant...while we are all in the business of sales, I hate to hear "just" sales. Sales is the driving force of the economy. For each and every factory worker, engineer, accountant, lawyer, doctor, etc. , there is a salesperson making employment possible. Sales is as important a profession as any other.

There, I feel better.

Posted by: Jason Lancaster on June 5, 2007 04:26 PM

Couldn't agree more. Thank you.

Posted by: Carol on June 5, 2007 04:33 PM

He thinks that some rare pieces of advertising are better than just a film.

Posted by: brad called with help on June 5, 2007 04:59 PM

Go get 'em Adrants. Smack all those pompous twits on the agency side down, and hard.

Only problem is, on the technical & production side of things, your complaint is wrong.

Most commercials today are still shot on film, and the directorial, technical, and other creative talent making them are in fact, filmmakers. The best of them use their work in spot making to tune up for moving over into features, and, not surprisingly, all their skills apply from one to the other.

As long as that block of iron otherwise known as a 35mm camera is involved, and a roll of celluloid moves through it, it´s film-making. Couldn't be clearer.

Sorry to bust on your rant, but until it all moves over to digital video, your argument has no back up. Not that that matters.

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on June 5, 2007 06:37 PM

Alphabet Soup,

Your argument is what's commonly referred to as a technicality. It doesn't really alter the overall point being made here.

Posted by: Steve Hall on June 5, 2007 06:47 PM

W+K have won all the industry awards, several years in a row, make millions and great ads. On the other hand you have a blog. Advertising has to change it's "formula", no one will tell me what to buy but if you gain my attention by entertaining me I may consider looking into your company.

That's that.

Posted by: Gui on June 6, 2007 01:30 PM

No Steve, my argument is not a technicality.

Here´s a short list of commercials directors who cross over into film and vice versa: Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Ridley and his brother Jake, David Fincher and a cast of hundreds more. You wanna tell one of them the spot they are working on is not a film? I'd love to see that in a pre-pro meeting with an agency.

There are companies that specialize in director crossovers between features and commercials, Villians for example, and many more that have separate features and commercial divisions under the same roof, under which there are crossovers all the time. (RSA, @radical.media) The skill set of making films and commercials is largely the same on the creative side, as are the technical requirements. That´s my point.

Just because the purpose of a film is to sell something doesn´t by itself automatically disqualify it from being a film.

In the end your rant is only about a semantic quirk of American English, which happens to have more than one meaning for the word film.

In Spanish, for example, there is no such distinction, and the word cine is used for what you call film, and the words cine publicitario for all you call commercials. But they're almost the same thing, get it?

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on June 6, 2007 02:51 PM

No Steve, my argument is not a technicality.

Here´s a short list of commercials directors who cross over into film and vice versa: Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Ridley and his brother Jake, David Fincher and a cast of hundreds more. You wanna tell one of them the spot they are working on is not a film? I'd love to see that in a pre-pro meeting with an agency.

There are companies that specialize in director crossovers between features and commercials, Villians for example, and many more that have separate features and commercial divisions under the same roof, under which there are crossovers all the time. (RSA, @radical.media) The skill set of making films and commercials is largely the same on the creative side, as are the technical requirements. That´s my point.

Just because the purpose of a film is to sell something doesn´t by itself automatically disqualify it from being a film.

In the end your rant is only about a semantic quirk of American English, which happens to have more than one meaning for the word film.

In Spanish, for example, there is no such distinction, and the word cine is used for what you call film, and the words cine publicitario for all you call commercials. But they're almost the same thing, get it?

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on June 6, 2007 02:56 PM

No Steve, my argument is not a technicality.

Here´s a short list of commercials directors who cross over into film and vice versa: Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Ridley and his brother Jake, David Fincher and a cast of hundreds more. You wanna tell one of them the spot they are working on is not a film? I'd love to see that in a pre-pro meeting with an agency.

There are companies that specialize in director crossovers between features and commercials, Villians for example, and many more that have separate features and commercial divisions under the same roof, under which there are crossovers all the time. (RSA, @radical.media) The skill set of making films and commercials is largely the same on the creative side, as are the technical requirements. That´s my point.

Just because the purpose of a film is to sell something doesn´t by itself automatically disqualify it from being a film.

In the end your rant is only about a semantic quirk of American English, which happens to have more than one meaning for the word film.

In Spanish, for example, there is no such distinction, and the word cine is used for what you call film, and the words cine publicitario for all you call commercials. But they're almost the same thing, get it?

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on June 6, 2007 02:59 PM

AS - by using the term 'film' to refer to anything on video, or a TV show, or an actual feature-length movie, it cheapens the meaning of it when applied to a:30 spot. Now, you can say it was shot on tape or that it was 'filmed' but a film is about two hours long, costs way too much, and usually sucks.

A commercial is two of those three depending on who you ask, but it's still a commercial, not a film. (BMW films can get away with calling their stuff films, shorts even, because they’re playing around with and extending the commerical format as part of a series in that case.)

Posted by: makethelogobigger on June 6, 2007 03:43 PM

AS, I don't dispute "filmmakers" cross over. That's not an issue. But just because they do doesn't suddenly make the work they do for marketers a film. It's still a commercial no matter what their ego may think.

Posted by: Steve Hall on June 6, 2007 05:31 PM

Of course most ads are commercial clips. But Jonathan Glazer, Levis? Thats film.

I could list a few more.

Posted by: Charles Edward Frith on June 6, 2007 05:43 PM

Hey Alphabet soup...
You're taking this shit far too seriously. Film is what you wrap dead fish in to stop it from stinking. Just like we don't do art in the ad biz, finished or otherwise. Art goes on the walls of the Louvre, what we do today is used to wrap tomorrows dead fish... When you've run out of the aforementioned film.
Steve, tell these people to relax!
Cheers/George

Posted by: George Parker on June 6, 2007 09:19 PM

Isn't it all going digital anyways?

Posted by: dubya on June 7, 2007 12:26 AM

wait a minute.

now tell me how do you judge what is and what ain't film:

.by lenght
is a 3 minute short film cannes winner just a clip then?
or are the bmw Hire commercials film now?

.by purpose
is Castaway a commercial?
or did Sony Bravia Balls entertain me much more?

Posted by: radovan grezo on June 7, 2007 04:28 AM

and while we're at it, any art directors here?

when was the last time you made any art, or directed anything? and does it matter at all? it's just a word and words have no meaning in itself.

Posted by: radovan grezo on June 7, 2007 04:36 AM

while i agree that a commercial, even if it is fantastic and artful, is not a "film", i think that people who are using the term "film" to make their product seem like art are douchebags, even moreso in the world of movies. I would say that 96% of the "films" put out each year are selling more shit than any of our dinky little commercials, so I'm not so sure who should be up who's ass. The people at Cannes are in it for the scene, filmmakers and ad people alike - and they're all pretty far removed from whatever that special something is that makes things good.

Posted by: scott on June 7, 2007 03:39 PM

Not really. Cannes filmakers make the film for other reasons than Cannes. Now the Oscars? That's a different matter.

But agreed. Most (Hollywood) films are pants.

Posted by: Charles Edward Frith on June 7, 2007 03:58 PM

Well, sorry to say, it looks like Steve didn't get it. He just kept on arguing his senseless line. Guess my calling him on it was too much of a slap in the face after he wrote the same sentence 16 times. In terms of netiquette, that many repetitions is practically shouting.

Here's just one example (a recent favorite) that again proves him wrong, Nacho Gayan's Guiness spot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-CbZN4QWu0 Not a film? Please.

When someone puts on a really big show, they are often hiding a really big lie behind it. In this case, the main source of the lie isn't from Adrants, but rather comes from the advertising industry in general, and US advertising in particular: Most ad agency creatives don't understand filmmaking.

This is especially insulting considering that filmmakers have been saving ad agency's asses for so long. But it's an insult that has been institutionalized in US ad production, where common practice is for the agency to edit the film, leaving the filmmaker completely out of the post-production. That's insane. Why doesn't Adrants attack a stupid industry practice like that? Because Steve doesn't understand filmmaking either.

My job is to read spot scripts, analyze them, budget them, and then produce them, all the practical stuff. My direct clients are film production companies, not ad agencies, thank god. The more pretentious the agency people are, the more likely they are to be labeled as completely stupid by the filmmakers, although usually behind the agency's backs. Some of the most famously difficult directors like Joe Pytka and Tony Kaye specialize in telling the agency just how stupid and gutless they really are right to their faces. But agencies keep coming back to this type of director for more work, year after year. Why? Because of the value the director adds to their film.

Ad filmmakers for their part never get worked up about whether a particular spot should be called a film or only a commercial, because the distinction is usually obvious. It's about the quality of the script: Does it have a chance of helping my reel, or not? But whatever the answer to that question, the shoot will be treated in exactly the same way by the filmmaker, and will require all the filmmaker's skills, even if the spot is a piece of shit that is only being made for the money.

As in all things creative, it is much easier to be a critic than it is to actually go out and create something yourself. Adrants and other opinion-ologists such as GP should keep that in mind before spouting off at the mouth. But hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on June 10, 2007 01:32 PM

Then there are some of those Bond movies which are commercials stretched out into movies. The American public laps it up I hear.

Posted by: Charles Frith [TypeKey Profile Page] on June 10, 2007 02:22 PM

Hey... Alphabet Soup...
Someone who posts the same comment three times in a row shouldn't slag Steve for saying the same thing sixteen times... Which I know for a fact he didn't.
Also the reason certain people keep going back to Pytka and Kaye is because they are star fucking masochists.
Finally, as my current "Gong" tally includes two Gold and two Silver Lions from Cannes, eleven Clios, including one in the International Hall of Fame, a Gold EFFIE and a shit load of other bits of tin and plastic... Don't accuse me of merely beiong a critic, rather than someone who can "Create!"
I suggest you put your brain in gear before opening your mouth and letting all that shit pour out.
I would also suggest a large dose of Prozac before you post anymore crap.
Fuck You/George

Posted by: George Parker on June 10, 2007 03:24 PM

Hello George. Didn't see you here. Safe flight back I take it :)

Posted by: Charles Frith on June 10, 2007 04:31 PM

Charles...
I'm just about sobering up now... I'm sure Alphabet Soup will have something to say about that. I'll email you in a couple of minutes before you hit the sack.
Cheers/George

Posted by: George Parker on June 10, 2007 04:34 PM

I liked the Guinness commercial.

Posted by: makethelogobigger on June 10, 2007 07:56 PM

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