I sat there stunned. Did Silverman really call Hal Riney “the devil”? True, that in the next breath he also called him “the angel” but that seemed grudging — like he remembered he was on camera and that somebody might see it.

I backed up the dvd just to be sure. Yep, he said it. The devil? Forget for a moment that Riney was the best announcer ever. Forget that his casting, along with his choice of directors, editors and composers was brilliant — across product categories and genres and a couple of decades. Forget all that and look at the conceptual advertising he and his agency are responsible for.

I rest my case – and now you can stop forgetting about all that other brilliance which just further makes the case. Riney made everybody else’s advertising be better. If you were going to pick somebody in advertising to demonize, there are a lot of people that ought to get a shoutout before Hal Riney.

I’m glad Doug Pray made the movie – and glad he dedicated it to Hal – but I don’t think anyone who has followed advertising for a while learned anything new here. The “fail harder” pushpin board has been written up any number of times, ditto the W&K totem pole. It was nice hearing Mary Wells tell her story again, but she’s no stranger to ad people. Of all the people interviewed, I thought Lee Clow came off best. Unpretentious, proud of the work and the effort it took to make it but no chest thumping. (San Diegans – look for Duncan Milner in one of the Chiat-Day meeting shots.)

The interviews are punctuated with graphics (with accompanying sound design) which don’t paint a flattering picture of advertising. I was waiting for the graphic that said “if we spent that kind of money on education we could give everybody in America a Masters Degree..” but it never came. Or maybe it was implied…

If we want to demonize somebody, I think one of the untold stories of the movie is that Clear Channel has a monopoly on radio stations and billboards in the US. <http://www.clearchannel.com/Radio/PressRelease.aspx?PressReleaseID=1563&p=hidden&gt;

I’m not sure that’s good for advertising or our society. I’d like to see that movie….

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