It could be a painter, a composer, a filmmaker, or anybody else whose creativity changed the way we see ourselves and our world. It is someone who connected the dots in a way that had never been connected before. And because they did, they elevated their particular art form to a new level, a level that then inspired future artists to do the same.
Is advertising an art form? Of course it isn’t. Brands pay agencies to create work that will sell their products and services. An ad for a Monet Exhibit isn’t art. The Monet Exhibit is the art. The ad is just a byproduct.
Or is it?
Here’s my argument. Advertising lives at the odd intersection of commerce and art. Yes, advertising exists to sell a product, a service, or an idea. And when it doesn’t succeed, it’s a waste of space, time, and money.
On the other hand, when advertising does succeed, like any other art form, it has the power to re-shape our ways of thinking and being.
Here’s a list of the 10 Most Powerful Marketing Campaigns of All Time.
- “Real Beauty” for Dove.
- “Whassup” for Budweiser.
- “Like a Girl” for Always.
- “Year in Search” for Google.
- “Thank You, Mom” for Proctor & Gamble.
- “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” for Old Spice.
- “Christmas Miracle” for WestJet.
- “Find Your Greatness” for Nike.
- “Share a Coke” for Coca-Cola.
- “Invisible Car” for Mercedes Benz.
There are dozens of these lists. You’ll find them all over social media. Or check out the top Cannes winners for the last 10 years. Or make up your own list of ads that were so powerful, you can’t get them out of your head.
Most advertising sucks, which is to say it is invisible. As an artist in advertising, it is your job to create work that not only moves your brand forward, but also moves your art forward.
Yes, I do believe advertising is an art form, and it needs more people who can take their own life experiences, their own beliefs, their own truths, and turn them into ideas that change our world for the better.
In short, don’t just elevate your brand. Elevate your art. When you succeed, you will inspire future generations to do the same. I believe it is the only way forward.