I've seen a season-and-a-half of Mad Men, so I'm pretty confident I understand advertising completely. It's about selling a dream, a possibility, a new outlook on life, through the guise of a new pair of shoes, or something smelly. There is not a purer form of art in the 21st century.
Take a look at this Ralph Lauren Blue advert, circa 2002. It sells a lifestyle; as if, if you buy this aftershave, you'll instantly acquire a yacht, an early-2000s pop-rock song will play every time you do anything, a gorgeous jawline, a beach house, a pretty girlfriend and a gorgeous jawline (did I already say that?).
If you buy this aftershave, you'll have a Ralph Lauren-approved lifestyle. Like I said: pure art. Did I mention that jawline as well?
There's an advert for every type of lifestyle one could covet. Instead of being a preppy sailor, you could wish to be a hard-hitting, popular-only-really-in-the-early-to-mid-2000s rapper, like, say for instance, 50 Cent.
Here's an advert where a bunch of young boys watch 50 work out. It's not that weird, although if your mum is in, I suggest you close the door.
Sometimes you need to get a little more abstract, a little more avant-garde, a little more... strange. This Champion advert from 1984 is just that. Imagine if Luis Buñuel remade Topgun, with a helping hand from David Lynch.
Why are there clocks in the sand? Who is 'James'? Why does the music get so ominous? Why is a guy wiping his sweat with a bottle of water? How does the woman jump in the water, then instantly appear at the end of the swimming pool?
I dunno, buy some Champion and find out.
Other times you just need to terrify your audience into buying you product. That's what Reebok did with this gem. I don't know when it was made, and to be honest, I don't want to. Not going to go into too much detail on this one.
Just watch it, then go take a shower and scrub yourself clean of this legitimate nightmare.
If only Don Draper could see the legacy he left behind.