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How To Get Ahead In Advertising

Updated on April 4, 2014

I watched this movie as a young art student when I was living in Kensington Market in Toronto. I used to get movies out of the library to watch sometimes. This movie made a strong impression on me. I went through many changes that year which seemed to echo the plot of this movie in an unusual way. I was also about to end a long term relationship, but it had not occurred at the time that I had watched this film. I identified with the concept of going insane and morphing into a new person. This is what happens in this movie as an advertising executive grapples with ethical ideas about the work he does.

Denis Dimbleby Bagley is a brilliant advertising executive. His creative persona was one that I could relate to. I could understand that this issue of a pimple on his neck is something that happens to a lot of creative people. When they are working on something it takes over their lives. They may see their work in everything they do. This is why he has a nervous breakdown in the movie. He has an ethical conflict with the idea of exploiting people for profit. He becomes fixated on the product he is trying to sell. He develops a boil on his neck as a way to justify the need of an acne cream. We can see that this might be a way of looking at what occurs in this movie.

The boil turns into a new persona. This new persona has a callous attitude which helps him get ahead in his profession. He is admitted to a hospital to have the boil removed. This boil had begun talking to him at some point in the movie. His comical antics make this movie an endless laugh. It is a British farce movie with a very outlandish sense of humor. The boil is removed, but it is his old persona which is lifted away. The boil had a mustache and a particular way of speaking which takes over his body. At the end of the movie his wife leaves him. He walks outside with all ethical issues tossed to the side and abandoned. He is ready to sell any product he can to anybody who wants it. He offers a long monologue as he walks out to a cliff.


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