John Benet is a 22-year U.S. advertising vet, working primarily as a freelance producer. Here we meet him as he’s packing up for a trip to Shanghai to work on a series of TV commercials for McDonald’s. In “Sunshine,” directed by Partizan’s Doug Nichol, he shares his thoughts on his chosen career, China and its growing ad industry.
It’s an experience many Western ad folks have had, as global agencies continue to increase their Chinese presence. Guys like Montrealer Johan Vakidis, executive creative director at AKQA Shanghai.
One of the film’s best lines—“When we travel, we want to experience something different, but it just feels the same. And it’s my job to sell that sameness”—perfectly encapsulates the double-edged sword many in the industry ponder from time to time.
For anyone in or aspiring to work in advertising, Benet’s observations pull no punches pointing out the highs and lows. There may be fine dining on the 97th floor of the Shanghai Park Hyatt, but then your creativity is ultimately used to sell French fries.
There’s a great review over at Short of the Week, where Jason Sondhi writes, “Nichol has caught the man right at the moment that the well of self-justification runs dry, as Benet finds it harder to find value in his work, and by extension, himself.”