Unhappy With the World Today? This Ad Has a Silver Lining: Bad Times Make Great Art

Brooklyn Film Fest and TBWA/Chiat/Day revisit the Depression

- Credit by Brooklyn Film Festival

Do you live in an old pickle barrel? Maybe you share a single suit of clothes with your five siblings. Or perhaps your home consists of a hole on the side of the road?

If so, you’re clearly living through some bad times, just like the down-at-heel Depression Era swing dancin’ couple in this 100-second commercial for the Brooklyn Film Festival.

But never fear. According to the spot, created by TBWA/Chiat/Day New York, “Bad times make great art.”

Luckily, the ad’s more amusing than depressing. Take a look:

Did you see who makes a cameo appearance at the end? Yep, that’s Potus 45, thankfully not attempting the Lindy Hop with Melania.

He also figures briefly in this next ad, which insists that really bad stuff—including the Black Plague, Mississippi floods and urban decay—lead (indirectly or otherwise) to artistic triumphs such as the Renaissance, Delta Blues music and mind-blowing contemporary graffiti.

“There is a bigger idea behind the execution, a real truth that new and powerful art is conceived when times and culture are bad,” says agency creative chief Chris Beresford-Hill. “That’s when artists create new realities, to push through the bad times and paint a new picture.”

“It’s rough out there; just put on cable news,” he says. “We’re making that case that all that bad and negativity is being spun into gold by filmmakers—and it’s a strong case.”

That’s a valid point. Still, the campaign seems kind of spare on cause and effect, and, some might suggest, a tad insensitive. (All those folks starved during the Depression and all we got was this lousy dance craze?)

Even so, the initiative effective delivers a simple message without big bucks or lots of high-tech bells and whistles. For that sort of thing, you can watch this recent future-shock extravaganza from the Newport Beach Film Festival.

The 21st annual Brooklyn Film Festival, celebrating independent cinema and auteurs, takes place June 1 to 10 at the Wythe Hotel and Windmill Studios in—where else?—Brooklyn.

Maybe you should climb out of your pickle barrel, or that dank hole in the ground, and take in the show.


Client: Brooklyn Film Festival
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day New York
Chief Creative Officer: Chris Beresford-Hill
Executive Creative Directors: Ian Reichenthal, Guillermo Vega
Copywriter: K.S. Shanti (Anthem)
Head of Production: John Doris
Executive Producer: Chris Klein
Associate Producer: Sarah Haroldson
Dir Business Affairs: Theresa Maranzano
Senior Talent Manager: Eileen Sostre
Account Manager: Rebecca Press

Production Company: Biscuit
Director: Aaron Stoller
Managing Director: Shawn Lacy
EP: Holly Vega
Producer: Kim Bradshaw
Director of Photography: Sebastian Pfaffenbichler

Editorial Company: MacKenzie Cutler
Editor: Ian MacKenzie (TGNOOTL)
Editor: Nick Divers (Anthem)
EP: Gina Pagano
Assistant Editor: Brandon Isralasky, Mike Leuis

Audio & Music: Human
EP: James Wells
Senior Producer: Craig Caniglia

Color: Co3
Colorist: Tim Masik
Senior Producer: Kevin Breheny

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: May 2, 2018 https://stage.adweek.com/agencies/unhappy-with-the-world-today-this-ad-has-a-silver-lining-bad-times-make-great-art/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT