25 Best Advertising Movies Ever Made
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AdFreak is your daily blog of the best and worst of creativity in advertising, media, marketing and design. Follow us as we celebrate (and skewer) the latest, greatest, quirkiest and freakiest commercials, promos, trailers, posters, billboards, logos and package designs around. Edited by Adweek's Tim Nudd. Updated every weekday, with a weekly recap on Saturdays.
Trying to name the best movies about advertising is something we've all done, but the results are usually far from scientific. Take Crazy People for instance. Hilarious ads; not such a great movie. So, we decided to try to rank ad-related movies in some relatively accurate way. Thus was born the AdFreak Ad Flick Index, cobbled together from critic and user scores on Rotten Tomatoes, along with critic scores on IMDB. (And yes, if you really give a crap, you can read the methodology, posted at the end of this feature.) Without further ado, here they are: The 25 best movies about the ad industry, as ranked by the ineffable judgment of dubious science. Watch the montage below—and below that, the list, with clips of each film.
Two agencies compete for a sanitary-napkin account by floating very different campaign slogans: "Your own personal air supply" versus "The pad ain't bad!"
• AdFreak rating: 4.00
Renaissance Man (1994)
Laid off from his Detroit advertising job, Bill Rago (Danny DeVito) takes the only work he can find: teaching English fundamentals to under-performing U.S. soldiers.
• AdFreak rating: 4.62
Every Home Should Have One (1970)
British ad creative Teddy Brown (Marty Feldman) is tasked with creating a sexy new campaign to sell porridge.
• AdFreak rating: 4.70
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.
• AdFreak rating: 4.94
Crazy People (1990)
Bitter adman Emory Leeson (Dudley Moore) creates "honest" ads that accidentally go public, with lines like "Buy Volvo. They're boxy but they're good."
• AdFreak rating: 5.18
A glamorous New York graphic artist (Bette Davis) reluctantly marries her ad-agency business partner, but soon both are secretly dating clients and competitors.
• AdFreak rating: 5.23
Take a Letter, Darling (1942)
Two agency co-workers, played by Rosalind Russell and Fred MacMurray, fall in love while working to land a tobacco account.
• AdFreak rating: 5.27
Nothing in Common (1986)
Ad exec David Basner (Tom Hanks) tries to focus on his career at a Chicago agency while dealing with his obstinate father (Jackie Gleason).
• AdFreak rating: 5.30
Three losers, including one played by David Allen Grier, accidentally break up a robbery and are hired to star in an agency's macho new ad campaign for a beer client.
• AdFreak rating: 5.33
The Arrangement (1969)
Miserable ad executive Eddie Anderson (Kirk Douglas), whose only solace is his affair with co-worker Gwen (Faye Dunaway), re-evaluates life after attempting suicide.
• AdFreak rating: 5.44
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.
• AdFreak rating: 5.90
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
An ad exec (Matthew McConaughey) bets he can get any woman to love him within 10 days, just as a journalist (Kate Hudson) bets she can get dumped in 10 days.
• AdFreak rating: 5.98
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 hijinks and marital strife ensue.
• AdFreak rating: 6.28
Catch Us If You Can (1965)
Released in the U.S. as Having a Wild Weekend, this promotional vehicle for U.K. pop band the Dave Clark Five centers around a TV commercial for meat.
• AdFreak rating: 6.37
I'll Never Forget What's'isname (1967)
A philandering ad exec decides to leave the business by smashing apart his office with an ax, then sets off to pursue "an honest job" in this British satire.
• AdFreak rating: 6.40
Art and Copy (2009)
Featuring interviews with modern ad legends George Lois, Lee Clow, Hal Riney and more, this documentary chronicles the evolution of advertising from the 1960s to present.
• AdFreak rating: 6.40
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.
• AdFreak rating: 6.66
How to Get Ahead 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.
• AdFreak rating: 6.82
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.
• AdFreak rating: 6.83
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
Account executive Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) faces a series of home-building disasters, which make it hard to focus on his new slogan for WHAM brand ham.
• AdFreak rating: 7.46
Lover Come Back (1961)
Advertising rivals played by Rock Hudson and Doris Day fight for the same clients and find themselves further entangled after a one-night stand fueled by intoxicating candy.
• AdFreak rating: 7.50
Lost in America (1985)
Albert Brooks co-wrote, directed and starred in this razor-sharp comedy about the perils of quitting your day job in advertising for life on the open road.
• AdFreak rating: 7.72
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)
TV ad writer Rockwell Hunter (Tony Randall) finds the perfect model (Jayne Mansfield) for his new campaign but must feign a romance with her to make her boyfriend jealous.
• AdFreak rating: 7.86
Has adman Harry Joy died and gone to hell, or is he just seeing the world how it really is? This controversial Australian film won awards but also saw hundreds walk out at Cannes.
• AdFreak rating: 7.90
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
When a client dithers too long over picking a new campaign, ad executive Neal Page (Steve Martin) misses his flight home for Thanksgiving and ends up on a misadventure with a shower ring salesman (John Candy).
• AdFreak rating: 7.94
Methodology: The AdFreak Ad Flick Index is an average of the following scores:
• Rotten Tomatoes "Tomatometer" percentage x 10
• Rotten Tomatoes average critic rating
• Rotten Tomatoes average audience rating x 2
• Rotten Tomatoes percentage of audience who "Liked It" x 10
• IMDB average user rating
Check out the complete grid and methodology on the next page.