Chicago Film Fest 2018: The City That Sold America

The City That Sold America.

The City That Sold America makes for a captivating look at how innovative advertisers in Chicago would forever change the country.

The original Amazon got its start in Chicago.  Not the online retailer but the original mail order catalog.  Without Aaron Montgomery Ward or Richard Warren Sears, history could be looking down a very different light.  Their two companies changed the very foundation of the American economy for better or worse.  The two school of advertising would never be the same because of their work.

Montgomery Ward & Co. created Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer during a promotional holiday campaign in 1939.  This creation would forever change pop culture.

The film segues from those two companies and starts discussing Lord & Thomas (now known as Foote, Cone & Belding or FCB.  If Albert Lasker wasn’t hired in 1898, who knows if they’d be around to do.  Among all who got there start in Chicago, Lasker is considered the “father of modern advertising.”  Lasker hired the greatest copywriter of all time in Claude Hopkins.  With copywriters, art editors, and account executives, Stephen Fox argues that they “defined the modern ad agency.”

The second half of this documentary focuses on Leo Burnett and the company he founded in 1935 at the age of 44.  People told him that he was too old and that he would never make it.  Burnett went on to prove them wrong.  His company revolutionized the industry and created icons for generations to come.  It’s likely that one can make a documentary on the Burnett footage alone.  Director Ky Dickens practically gives him the last word with his 1967 “When To Take My Name Off The Door” speech.

DIRECTOR:  Ky Dickens
SCREENWRITERS:  Ky Dickens & Mary Warlick
FEATURING:  Keith Reinhard, Tom Burrell, Thomas Dyja, Jeffrey Cruikshank, Susan Credle, Bob Scarpelli, Bruce DuMont, Stephen Fox

The City That Sold America held its world premiere during the 2018 Chicago International Film Festival.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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