New ad documentary paints an angst-ridden picture of an industry searching for a role

Is one of the problems with adland that it has too many idealists? Or idealists are inclined to join it thinking they can change the world?

One such, I’d say, is creative director Anouk Jans, burned out in her twenties as she describes eloquently in her documentary ‘Kill the Darlings’ premiered at Cannes.

In it she interviews a number of high profile ad people and clients (David Sable, Rob Reilly, Cindy Gallop, Nils Leonard et al) who mostly agree that it’s getting harder but manageable – if you can stand the pressure and the its impact on the rest of your life (assuming there is one.) It’s 40 minutes but well-made and interesting to the end.

Here’s the trailer, the whole film is on YouTube.

More broadly, academic Scott Galloway nails it when he says that direct marketing – personalised communications, increasingly powered by A1 – are coralling advertising into a smaller and less agreeable space. “You’re better off being average at Google,” he says, “than great at WPP.”

It was ever thus, of course. Art director Alan Parker used to make great commercials (or the templates for them) in the basement at CDP because he wanted to be a film director. An idealist about advertising Al was not, although he retained his respect for some of it throughout a stellar film career.

Let’s hope the obviously highly talented Ms Jans finds a more satisfying creative niche.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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