This program is best described in TVTV 's own words. Here is the onscreen text they provide as an opening to the tape:
“4,400 advertising agencies in America turn out over 40,000 television commercials each year. In total they spend about 50 million dollars on production, over 50 million in fees to actors and musicians, and 4 1/2 billion to put their spots on the air. Yet admen – creative directors, art directors, copywriters, account executives, and film directors – are largely anonymous. They don’t sign their work. They rarely appear on TV themselves. The public perceives admen as high-priced hucksters and con-artists. This program is about how a few admen and on-camera personalities view themselves, and their work.”
0:00Copy video clip URL Title: Adland: Where Commercials Come From.
0:17Copy video clip URL Footage of commercial shoot. Text about the anonymity of most admen and about how this program intends to give them a voice.
1:20Copy video clip URL The Pontiac Choir Boys do a commercial.
1:42Copy video clip URL George Lois, chairman, Lois, Holland, Callaway, New York, explains the power that comes from commercial production – “Poof! It’s like poison gas… Poof! That’s sensational. Oh yeah, that’s great.”
2:25Copy video clip URL Ad for Marine World, a San Francisco aquarium attraction. “Are you wild enough…for Marine World?”
2:37Copy video clip URL Bob Pritikin, partner, Pritikin and Gibbons, San Francisco, describes previous commercial.
3:05Copy video clip URL Choir sings theme song for Marine World commercial.
3:20Copy video clip URL Pritikin describes how he came up with the slogan for Marine World: “Are you wild enough?” (It came from his secretary).
3:50Copy video clip URL Art Twain, jingle writer, demonstrates the nuances of performing the Marine World song during the recording of the commercial. “It’s ‘WILD enough’… you’re saying ‘are you wild ENOUGH.'”
4:20Copy video clip URL Pritikin speaks on the phone about the commercial.
4:35Copy video clip URL Footage of people filming dolphins.
5:35Copy video clip URL More of the finished Marineworld commercial.
5:54Copy video clip URL Gonzo spoof by Hudson Marquez, feeding a cigarette to a camel. “TV is a cannibalistic medium.”
6:30Copy video clip URL Casting. Kenyon and Eckhardt agency in New York. A man is auditioning for a commercial. He is asked to read the line from the commercial (“Just call me Flash”) in different ways – shy, conceited, etc – to show off his acting skills. Probably didn’t get the gig.
8:20Copy video clip URL Lois talks about the simplicity of good strategies for commercial production. “You get an idea over here, but you realize you really got it over here, and when you put it on the air, people got it.”
9:25Copy video clip URL Filming of McDonald’s commercial in Los Angeles. “Let the spirit of McDonald be with us!”
9:50Copy video clip URL Keith Reinhard, creative director, Needham, Harper, and Steers, Chicago, (later to become the worldwide chairman of the agency) describes how they came up with the ideas for the set of the McDonald’s commercial. “French fries grow in bushes in McDonaldland and hamburgers grow in patches.”
10:22Copy video clip URL Howard Morris, Hollywood actor and director, talks with children on the set of the McDonald’s commercial. The children keep repeating how much they love it in McDonaldland.
10:50Copy video clip URL Morris, director of McDonald’s commercial, talks about other commercials he has worked on. Then there is footage of the actual commercial being shot with Ronald McDonald. Morris instructs the actors on their performances. Final commercial plays in color. Captain Crook and the Hamburgler pretend McDonald’s is sold out so they can have all the hamburgers and fillets of fish for themselves.
13:34Copy video clip URL Lois talks about how he gets excited about making a commercial about anything. “You tell me” ‘matchsticks’ and I’ll think, ‘Wow, matchsticks. I never thought of that. What a campaign you could do for matchsticks!'”
13:55Copy video clip URL Brooklyn. Footage of commercial shoot for a department store, Korvettes, for their 25th anniversary. Actor talks about Brooklyn with an older woman. Footage of the final product in color.
16:05Copy video clip URL Footage of commercial for a San Francisco-area car dealer.
17:00Copy video clip URL Jay Brown, owner of Spartan Dodge, 4590 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, talks about how most commercials are too slick. He attributes his success to his amateurish (“down-to-earth”) commercials.
17:15Copy video clip URL Brown reads letter from fan on television. We then see footage of Brown recording a commercial. Brown talks about the amount of money he spends on television commercials. “The power of the tube… there’s nothing like it.”
19:22Copy video clip URL Lois talks about the type of people who get involved with advertising. “They’re not guys who are overeducated… Harvard business school types… they’re really street educated. They’re really communicators.”
20:09Copy video clip URL Bob Larimer, president, Nadler and Larimer, New York, talks about how commercial-making involves using cliches so they appear original. Irwin Goldberg agrees: “There is no originality… originality comes out of what happens.”
20:40Copy video clip URL Ad for Faberge plays in color.
21:10Copy video clip URL Irwin Goldberg, creative director, Nadler and Larimer, New York, explains the ideas behind the Faberge commercial. Larimer talks about how that commercial was an update on Norman Rock well type cliches. Then the two men talk about how much money is needed for these types of ads. Onscreen text explains that Faberge spends $4 million a year on advertising.
22:30Copy video clip URL Los Angeles. Faberge commercial shoot where a family brings home a Christmas tree (shot in July in L.A. with fake snow). People encourage the child actor, Robbie Rist. “You be real quiet and reserve your energy. I don’t want you getting tired like you did last night.” TVTV interviews young Robbie about his career. The crew prepares to begin the shoot again.
25:49Copy video clip URL More footage of the Faberge commercial. Lois watches the commercial and critiques it. “I’d rather have a girl who looks like Minelli belting it out and showing you products. But it’s so complicated with all the photography… you’re not even sure what you saw.”
26:40Copy video clip URL TVTV interviews a young actress and an older actress named Lucille about their career aspirations.
27:27Copy video clip URL Dagne Crane, actress, New York, talks about why she does commercials and explains the masochism involved in the experience of being rejected or accepted.
28:07Copy video clip URL Commercial with Crane advertising Adorn hairspray.
28:35Copy video clip URL Crane talks about her look and how she gets jobs. “I think I have a face that’s kind of rubber… I’m from Ohio and I think I have a face that kind of looks like that. And lots of women identify with that.” Then there is more footage of the Adorn commercial. “There’s only 30-60 seconds to telegraph the message, so you’re really using who you are to send a message to the human race.”
29:20Copy video clip URL Marshall Efron, actor, New York, talks about how all he cares about is the money involved in making commercials.
29:45Copy video clip URL Crane talks about charisma and tapping people’s spiritual side to sell things. Efron talks about how some actors are better than others. He describes commercial actors as part of a lower class.
30:25Copy video clip URL Repeat of the casting footage of an actor at Kenyon and Eckhart struggling to read a silly line (“Just call me Flash”) without laughing.
30:46Copy video clip URL Footage of child actor Mason Reese, New York, doing a commercial for Dressel’s frozen cakes. He keeps forgetting his lines and then starts demanding food. The director attempts to encourage him not to be nervous about his lines. Reese eventually agrees with him and says “I’ll just pretend I’m talking to a cake.” He really bumbles his lines in a cute way.
32:40Copy video clip URL Mason’s father talks about how they watch closely to see how his acting work is affecting him. Apparently acting gives Reese a major emotional high.
33:28Copy video clip URL Footage of Mason joking around with a man, punching bag of bread. TVTV talks to Mason about his day. Mason keeps repeating “Cake and ice cream, cake and ice cream.” He explains that he would rather swim than have “all that food,” but then says he’d rather have all that food than swim. Mason tries to sabotage the sound recording by clapping into the microphone. Mason’s mother brushes his hair.
35:17Copy video clip URL Mason’s father reads one of Mason’s fan letters from a 28-year-old woman. We then see more footage of Mason shooting a bread commercial.
36:14Copy video clip URL Jack Burns talks about how his agency tries to humanize advertising.
36:45Copy video clip URL Lois: “Basically people are in this business because they enjoy selling.”
36:55Copy video clip URL Ed McCabe and Sam Scali, partners, Scali, McCabe, and Sloves, New York, talk about how Johnson’s baby shampoo was made by advertising. Lois: “I’ve gotta play ball a few times a week, I’ve gotta have sex, and I’ve gotta do advertising. I can’t explain it.”
37:40Copy video clip URL Shep Kurnit, chairman, DKG, Inc., New York, talks about how many people get burned out in this business.
38:14Copy video clip URL Man says that advertising is no tougher than any other business.
38:32Copy video clip URL Kurnit says that advertising is definitely different than other businesses – “Your product is the product of your mind. Our inventory goes up and down in the elevator every day.”
38:55Copy video clip URL Lois talks about how advertising is a constant battle.
39:37Copy video clip URL Man admits he will do anything to make a good ad: “I’ll work with a monkey if it will make better advertising.”
40:05Copy video clip URL Jerry Della Femina, president, Della Fermina, Travisano, New York, and staff listen to jingle. Della Femina talks about how he enjoys his job. “I’m very sincere about selling things.” “I can’t believe that women really have orgasms over whiter whites and better laundry.”
41:53Copy video clip URL Ad for Feminique personal deodorant spray.
42:35Copy video clip URL Della Femina talks about how people hassle him for making an ad for vaginal deodorant. Apparently they are offended by the fact that someone is selling the product at all. He then talks about how he enjoys working 18 hours a day. “I’ve always said that what they don’t understand is that I’d do it for free.”
43:49Copy video clip URL Jim Callaway, president, Lois, Holland, and Callaway, New York, talks about how a successful ad gets discussed by people. When people are discussing the ad instead of the product, then it is an even bigger benefit to the product. Lois agrees.
44:30Copy video clip URL Ad for Olivetti typewriter, which features the slogan, “Who is the Olivetti girl?” The Olivetti (a typewriter) girl in this case is actually a male secretary working under a female boss.
44:50Copy video clip URL Ad Age Creative Workshop. Lois talks about his choices in the previous commercial. Apparently he was not trying to make any sort of feminist comment, he was merely trying to sell typewriters to women. We then see a different version of the commercial where the female boss is so impressed with the male secretary’s work that she asks him out.
46:20Copy video clip URL Faith Popcorn talks about the Olivetti commercial. She thinks there will be a new way of advertising since the old way is old.
47:02Copy video clip URL Footage of the shooting of McDonald’s Christmas commercial. King Moody, in Ronald McDonald costume, talks about the few perks he gets playing that part. Reinhard claims that the ads for McDonald’s are subtle since they sell the product through the characters instead of convincing people to buy the product.
49:18Copy video clip URL Morris says he likes making commercials because it requires the same skills as a film, but with less time to get your point across. “It combines all of the skills that are required in all the other performing arts, but with more precision. Every shot has to be more perfect.”
50:23Copy video clip URL Reinhard talks about how much money McDonald’s spends on airtime. Onscreen text says it is $36 million.
50:50Copy video clip URL Finished McDonald’s Christmas ad.
51:04Copy video clip URL Lois talks about how he determines how well-known a product is. “If my wife doesn’t know a product, it ain’t famous. I ask my wife, I ask a cab driver, and I ask some body else. If those three people don’t know, it ain’t famous.”
53:00Copy video clip URL Commercial for Ovaltine. “My old pal Ovaltine.”
53:18Copy video clip URL Lois explains that its actually harder to sell Ovaltine than one would think and about how convincing the commercials are when they have something like a popular celebrity in them. We see the commercial again.
54:14Copy video clip URL Lois explains the prejudice many people have against the advertising business. “A lot of actors say, ‘I’ll do a commercial and make a few bucks and then I’ll get out of there.’ That’s real different from the attitude of the people really in it.”
55:15Copy video clip URL End Credits. We see a clip of each person in the program with their name.
58:40Copy video clip URL End of Tape.