Shawn Maher

The Winter Watchlist: G/L’s Top 6 Marketing Documentaries

We are right in the middle of holiday season, and baby, it’s getting cold outside. That means it’s the perfect time to snuggle up with your cozy beverage of choice, a warm blanket in front of the fireplace (or space heater) and something good to watch. So we’ve come up with our favorite marketing documentaries for your viewing pleasure. That way you can consider it time well-spent on professional development. At least that’s going to be our excuse when get caught making hot toddies on a Tuesday afternoon…

Without further ado, let’s get on with the doc talk! 


Art and Copy (Free on YouTube, Available on Prime Video)

For any creative or simply anyone who appreciates a timeless and flawlessly executed campaign, this documentary tells the stories of some of the most successful ones of all time, plus interviews with the creatives and strategists behind them. It’s a masterclass in taking an idea from concept to execution, using as case studies like Got Milk?, VW and Just Do It, plus interviews with Hal Riney, George Lois, Dan Weiden, Jeff Goodby, Lee Clow, Phyllis K. Robinson and Rich Silverstein amongst many other industry luminaries. It should be required watching for anyone in the field and is even available for anyone to watch on YouTube


Untold: The Rise and Fall of And1 (Netflix) 

People of a certain age no doubt remember the iconic street ball brand, which made t-shirts that were far classier than the No Fear fad of the same era. More importantly, And1 helped democratize hoops and produced highly rewatchable videos with some of the sickest moves you’ll ever see on a court. So what happened? Discover more about the marketing miscues that caused their downfall in this Netflix documentary. 


Helvetica (Available to Rent on Prime Video)

How did such a simple sans serif font prove to be such a tour de force of a whole era of design? It may seem simple, but to appreciate the effect of Helvetica in how we appreciate not only graphic design, but also industrial design…just check out that iPhone you have in your pocket. For what would seem on the surface level to be such a simple font could inspire a paradigm shift in the way we think about compelling design. Sure, you may have to shell out the $4 to rent it, but think about it as a professional investment…and a good excuse to stay planted on the couch in your comfort accoutrements of choice. 


Fyre (Netflix) and Fyre Fraud (Hulu) 

This takes us back to the ancient times of 2019, when we had no pandemic and putting thousands of people on a tiny island didn’t cause a second thought. However, in this case, it totally should have. That’s because the brand was built upon a great idea hyped by influencers that masked a monumental level of chaos and criminally neglectful behavior. Why there are two documentaries listed, you may ask? The Netflix documentary was produced by the social media agency that was hired to promote the festival and work with influencers, and it (unsurprisingly) puts the yeoman’s blame on the organizer of the festival. The Hulu documentary, however, was a created by a third party with no vested interest and it paints a bit of a different picture. Interesting to compare and contrast, and anything that buys us a little bit more time snuggled up instead of shoveling snow is greatly appreciated! 


McMillions (HBO)

Let’s go back to the 90s once again, this time for the fast-food game that gripped us all: the McDonald’s Monopoly game. We all got the game board in the newspaper (it’s impossible to write this without severely dating myself) and hoarded the game pieces with the hopes that we would score big and win prizes or even cash! However, it seemed like we just got stupid Baltic Ave over and over again. Did you ever know anyone who won? Of course not, and this documentary investigates the coordinated heist behind it. 


Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? (Netflix) 

In the 90s, Pepsi rolled out a loyalty program called Pepsi Points. It featured a kid who looked like he would’ve been the coolest dude at my elementary school and the offer of a $32 million Harrier jet for anyone who collected seven million points. Everything about it looked totally tubular in that cringey-in-retrospect 90s way, but it turns out that it worked a little bit too well. Find out what happened when someone attempted to redeem his seven million points for the jet and the series of missteps that led to this public relations fiasco in this great documentary. 

But it doesn’t stop there! We’ve got even more great ideas for your viewing pleasure. Add these honorable mentions to your winter watchlist, as well, and thank us later!