A difficult to classify film made by director Bruce Robinson and featuring Richard E. Grant (i.e. the team behind Withnail & I), How to Get Ahead in Advertising is the story of Dennis Dimbleby Bagley, a highly efficient but highly strung advertising executive who is having trouble inventing an advertising campaign for the latest boil cream, as well as trying to reconcile himself to the fact that he is a seller of lies and propaganda. Soon however, Bagley's more ruthless side begins to manifest itself in the form of a talking boil on his shoulder. And it only gets worse from there...
How to Get a Trope in Advertising:
- The Bad Guy Wins: The Boil fully takes over Bagley's body by the end of the film.
- Body Horror: The Boil. Oh God, the Boil.
- Deadpan Snarker: Bagley, very much so.
- Does Not Like Men: Penny.
- Fat Bitch: Penny, the snooty vegan (though she insists fish do not count as meat) who spreads the secrets Julia told her in confidence.
- Gollum Made Me Do It: Initially the Boil can only talk. Eventually it begins to talk over Bagley's whole body and ultimately has him lanced.
- Hearing Voices: How the Boil originally communicates. Others believe it is simply Bagley going mad.
- Jekyll & Hyde: With the Boil as Hyde, all of Bagley's cynicism and depravity rolled into one little pustule.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's never made clear if the Boil is real, or if it is just a manifestation of Bagley's growing madness.
- Mood Whiplash: The film goes from moments of farcical comedy to horror incredibly quickly.
- New Era Speech: The Boil delivers a truly spectacular one at the end of the film, as he rides his horse through the English countryside and waxes poetic on the beauty of advertising.
- Pun: The title of course!