In what could be considered a companion to Netflix’s The Social Dilemma, makeSHIFT looks at the changing demands within the advertising industry and how it adapts to the evolving technological landscape and its relationship with consumers. Directed by Casey Suchan and Tim Cawley, the full-length documentary takes viewers through an abbreviated history of modern advertising, its adaptive nature, and highlights the challenges and milestones along the way.
Advertising has always had to rely on innovation to reach its audience. While these businesses ultimately fund the entertainment we all enjoy in both television and film, having to endure commercials was frequently seen as an intrusion. During the halcyon days of television advertising, “Commercials were like a tax you had to pay to watch what you wanted,” observed David Droga, former creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi and head of Droga5.
And while the days of scheduled television programming were indeed one in which the advertising industry was able to thrive, it was not a lengthy relationship, as time-shifted television began to give control back to the consumer of side-stepping ads altogether. This was exacerbated by the advent of the Internet and social media.
“…looks at the changing demands within the advertising industry and how it adapts to the evolving technological landscape...”
make|SHIFT serves as a love letter to the elasticity of the industry, featuring a host of early innovators and those currently testing new frontiers. It demonstrates how technology is front and center in the current landscape and how consumers are actually dictating the direction, as the relationship between brands and their buyers edges ever closer in the age of social media.
Early ad trailblazers such as Alex Bogusky of Crispin and Porter Advertising (now Crispin Porter Bogusky) share their tales of trial and error. This includes his company’s infamous “Subservient Chicken” ad for Burger King, which was one of the most visited early internet sites and sparked as much controversy as revenue for the fast-food establishment. The directors also sit down with a host of ad industry heads to share their knowledge and talents that helped them navigate the changing landscape. Agency founders such as John Boiler (72andSunny), Jake Goldman (10up), Justin Lewis (Instrument), David Littlejohn (Humanaut), Karim Marucci (Crowd Favorite), and Nick Mountford (Active Theory), are but a few who highlight their challenges to adapt.
The film provides an engaging modern advertising timeline and ultimately is a celebration of artists who attempted to craft innovative, engaging ways in which to reach the public. While it sometimes dips into the dead-end journeys (John Boiler amusingly recounts efforts to create the “iTunes-killing” Zune), it remains focused more on the industry’s highlight reel.
make|SHIFT serves as a lively look into the ad landscape. It also is an inspirational account for young artists looking to enter the marketing/advertising industry. It shows them the necessary pliability one needs without having to shed artistic creativity completely. All of this is engagingly told by those who have managed to innovate ways to communicate with consumers for decades.