John Webster: The Human Adman

I agree with Steve Harrison's assertion that advertising people would be well served to be more educated about the work of successful people who have preceded them. He makes the argument that no budding director would set out without studying the work of the great directors, no writer would be devoid of knowledge of the great writers and their works. But every day, hundreds of advertising people go about their business knowing next to nothing about the greats of advertising.

I've heard the argument that your influences should come from outside of advertising - this is a favorite assertion of young creatives and so-called 'cool people'. I agree, you should have a wide sphere of influences - the whole of life, art, film, writing, design, technology, clouds, oranges. But that's no excuse to not study the work of people who have already done what you're doing, and done it better than you. Times have changed, but the essence of what makes things great is still the same.

Anyway, here to help in this regard is this film about John Webster. He needs no introduction from me other than to say that if you work in advertising and you don't know who he is, this can be your first step to enlightenment. The film was made by Nick Werber, Tom Baker, David Carr and Martins Millers, creative students at the School of Communication Arts in London in conjunction with Patrick Collister. It does contain a few people saying the odd daft thing to camera, but that's inevitable in any documentary about advertising – it is well, well worth a watch. So thanks to them for making and sharing it.


There's a site supporting the film, with full credits and background here.

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