The 10 Best Movies About Advertising
Advertising sometimes may only seem interesting to those inside the industry–little does the rest of the world know what goes on! (and maybe it’s better that way)– so it’s actually kind of rare for a movie to be completely centered around the ad world, but a few standouts have been made over the years.
Due to the nice response to my blog about the The 10 Best Advertising Agencies That Never Existed (a list of fictional ad agencies from TV shows), I thought I’d extend the list to movies about advertising! Now I can’t claim to have seen every one–a few are hard to find even in this digital world–but I think I put together the definitive list!
The 10 Best Movies About Advertising (in order of release)
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)
Based on a 1962 book, and then a 1961 stage play, this film was inspired by author Mead’s corporate experiences at the Benton & Bowles advertising agency, which he joined in 1936 as a mail-room clerk, eventually working his way up to a vice-presidency.
Putney Swope (1969)
An ad agency’s only black executive is abruptly promoted, allowing him to rebuild the shop as Truth and Soul Inc. in this dark satire by Robert Downey Sr.
Every Home Should Have One (1970)
Teddy (Marty Feldman) works for a large advertising company. Given the seemingly impossible task of selling frozen porridge, he decides to produce commercials which make the product seem sexy. This leads him into confrontation with the “Keep Television Clean” movement of which his wife is a senior member.
Mr. Mom (1983)
When his wife is hired by an ad agency, jobless Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) must stay at home with the kids. Family hi jinks and marital strife ensue. Martin Mull plays the best sleazy ad exec in movie history as Terri Garr’s new boss, providing a truly funny look at the underbelly of the advertising world.
How to Get A Head in Advertising (1989)
When an ad exec begins to have ethical dilemmas over his work, he sprouts a second head that encourages him to be ruthless.
Crazy People (1990)
A bitter ad executive who has reached his breaking point, finds himself in a mental institution where his career actually begins to thrive with the help of the hospital’s patients.
Advertising hotshot and womanizer Marcus Graham (Eddie Murphy) gets a taste of his own medicine as he’s toyed with by powerful women at his corporation.
A deodorant company with a product called “Smell No Mo” pits two rival ad agencies in a race to come up with a campaign for a new- fangled sanitary napkin called Vorcan.
What Women Want (2000)
A chauvinistic ad exec (Mel Gibson) suddenly gains the ability to hear women’s thoughts, which he uses to create campaigns for female-oriented products.
Advertising Rules! (2001)
A young man critiques an agency’s proposed campaign for automaker Opel and ends up being hired to work on it himself. He quickly tries the classic ad solution: steal an idea.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011)
A documentary about branding, advertising and product placement that is financed and made possible by brands, advertising and product placement. Morgan Spurlock brings us along for the pitch, opening the conference room doors into the elusive world of marketing consumers are not supposed to see. This Sundance favorite challenges the absurd levels of product placement in our everyday lives, and Spurlock’s biting humor makes it all the more entertaining.
The Jonses (2010)
A picture-perfect family moves into an upscale community, impressing the locals and integrating themselves into every aspect of the community. Their sprawling suburban home is jam-packed with all of the coolest gizmos and gadgets that money can buy. But take a closer look at the situation and you’ll start to see something ominous lurking just beneath the surface… They are a living advertisement for the products they use.
Do you have a favorite advertising movie to add to the list? Put it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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