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Pass the Popcorn: the Agency Goes to the Movies


It's been three years, seven months and twenty-one days (and no, that's not a Sinead O'Connor song) since they aired the final episode of Mad Men. That's a long time. For those of us who work at agencies, where everything is always due yesterday, that's a really long time. Without Don and Peggy and Roger and Joan, Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove, and the rest of Sterling Cooper (Draper Pryce) to keep us entertained, what are we to do?

Find new (or not so new) ad agency heroes on the big screen.

Here are some of our favorite films that feature copywriters and art directors ...

The Hucksters (1947)

Clark Gable (audible sigh) plays Vic Norman, a returning vet, eager to reestablish his advertising career after the war. He convinces Adolphe Menjou (a powerful ad exec) that he can secure the elusive account of Evans Beauty Soap, run by an eccentric Sydney Greenstreet. Vic pitches an idea that centers around an earnest war widow, Deborah Kerr (pre-King and I or An Affair to Remember). Of course Vic ends up falling hard for the widow and has to decide what's more important, being straight with her or succeeding at work.
Watch the trailer here:

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)

Before he was Felix Unger to Jack Klugman's Oscar Madison, Tony Randall played Rock Hunter, an advertising copywriter who needed a famous face to promote a. beauty product he was working on. Enter Jayne Mansfield, playing a glamorous movie star who agrees to be in Rock's commercial — as long as he pretends to be her new beau in order to shake up her old beau.
Watch the trailer here:

Lover Come Back (1961)

Randall appears again, this time as Rock Hudson's boss. Hudson, as Jerry, is described as a "slick adman who uses women and booze to woo his clients." A rival female "ad man," Doris Day, as Carol, catches wind of his shenanigans and reports him to the Ad Council. There's a complicated plot involving mistaken identities and a candy that packs the punch of a triple martini. Jerry and Carol spent an intoxicated evening together, get married, get annulled, and get married again just in time ... nine months later.
Watch the trailer here:

Nothing in Common (1986)

Tom Hanks is rising star David Basner at an ad agency, where he drives (really really silly) concepting sessions with his creative team and, thanks to his being "childish, immature, and selfish," hopes to make partner soon. Unfortunately, when his parents decide to split up and his father (Jackie Gleason) becomes ill, David has to decide what's more important ... his career or his family. The supporting cast includes Sela Ward, Eva Marie Saint, Bess Armstrong, and Hector Elizondo.
Watch the trailer here:

Crazy People (1990)

Emory, a.k.a. Dudley Moore, Leeson's demanding ad agency job has taken a toll on his physical and mental health.  He starts developing ads that (OMG!) tell the truth. His colleagues check him into an asylum, but soon find that his truthful ads are a big success. He agrees to create more, provided that his fellow patients, including Daryl Hannah, get to help. The resulting ads are hilarious, like Volvo, they're boxy but they're good. And, Sony, because caucasians are just too damn tall. If you ever thought this industry is nuts, this movie confirms it.
Watch the trailer here:

What Women Want (2000)

Mel Gibson (who no longer warrants an audible sigh ever since he became a bigot and an a**hole) plays Nick, a creative director who is also a rather repugnant male chauvinist (so, essentially Gibson was typecast). When he suffers a freak accident involving electrocution and a variety of female products, he acquires the ability to read women's minds. He uses this newfound skill to outsmart his new boss, Helen Hunt, but eventually realizes that he's in love with her (ooh, lucky her). All right, beginning to think we shouldn't have included this one, but it does give you a glimpse into the often misogynist world of ad agencies. AND, the concept has just been rebooted from the opposing perspective. Taraji P. Henson stars in What Men Want, opening next month.
Watch the trailers here: and

See you at the movies.

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