Hollywood inspiration for Madison Avenue by Publicis Groupe’s Jennifer Fischer

A view from Jennifer Fischer, Chief of Innovation & Growth, Publicis Groupe ME&T

In June, I was in France for the Cannes Lions, and when I travel, my husband gets bored and shops. Long story short, we now have a new UHD Samsung TV.

To test-drive our new TV this summer, we’ve organised retrospectives of some of our favourite directors. We watched all the movies of David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino in chronological order, please.

Movies like Se7en, Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Django Unchained. We compared. We rated. We debated.

This is what sparked some of the reflections below about what advertising could learn from those talented creators.

Don’t bore me

Memorability comes from being distinctive and interesting. Take Hans Landa, one of the most loathsome villains in cinema, played by Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds.

He is brutal and heinous. Yet, he is charming and polite. He is ruthless. Yet he is playful. He is opportunistic. Yet he is loyal. Or take Jules Winnfield, portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.

He is a hitman, yet he has moral complexity. Advertising rarely gives us the opportunity to develop such complex characters, yet Tarantino could inspire us to make ads that are less sterile, less generic, and less ‘Shutterstocky’.

If not fully Tarantinesque, at least by giving more teeth to our perennial housewives’ characters.

Talk to me like I’m smart

Have you seen The Social Network? It was written by Aaron Sorkin. I love how he plays with words. He writes the most incredible dialogues. Witty and rhythmic.

Most of all, he writes dialogues meant for smart people. Watching Jesse Eisenberg deliver text written by Aaron Sorkin in Social Network is pure beauty. He delivers about 316 syllables per minute – about twice more than in an average dialogue scene.

The copy is crafted for rhythm, and Sorkin creates poetic structures using meters to make dialogues stickier.

Advertising often dumbs things down, oversimplifies, and aims for ‘the lowest common denominator’. Maybe Sorkin could inspire us to craft for elevation, valuing the intelligence and sophistication of our audience.

It’s both substance and style

Se7en, a dark movie if ever there was one. As we follow Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman investigating a series of gruesome murders inspired by the seven deadly sins; every scene has moody lighting, overcast skies, desaturated colour palette, wet streets, a gritty atmosphere, right until the last scene.

As the murderer makes his final move, directly targeting the detectives in a heart-wrenching moral dilemma. Then the sun is shining, and the landscape is open and rural.

David Fincher is a brilliant filmmaker, detail-oriented, meticulously crafting every element of the visual experience, the lighting, the camera movements, the mood, the architecture.

The attention to detail ensures that the environment feels authentic.

Advertising often focuses on what we are communicating. Meanwhile, how we communicate is often stuck in a generic Adland that feels fake. Maybe Fincher could inspire us to create a portrayal of reality that is deeper and more grounded in authenticity and details.

There’s more that can inspire us on the screen. Try watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Or, for a lighter moment, Richard Curtis.

Maybe it’s a good time to make your own watchlist and follow Jack London’s advice about inspiration and “go after it with a club.”