Taglines: The career where two heads are better than one.
The movie is a farce about a mentally unstable advertising executive, Denis Dimbleby Bagley (played by Grant), who suffers a nervous breakdown while making an advert for pimple cream. Ward plays his long-suffering but sympathetic wife. Richard Wilson plays John Bristol, Bagley’s boss.
Bagley has a crisis of conscience about the ethics of advertising, which leads to mania. He then develops a boil on his right shoulder that comes to life with a face and voice. The voice of the boil, although uncredited, is that of Bruce Robinson. The boil takes a cynical and unscrupulous view of the advertising profession in contrast to Bagley’s new-found ethical concerns.
Eventually, Bagley decides to have the boil removed in hospital but moments before he is taken into the operating room, the boil quickly grows into a replica of Bagley’s head (only with a moustache) and covers Bagley’s original head, asking doctors to lance it, which is done since nobody has noticed the switch from left to right nor the new moustache.
How to Get Ahead in Advertising is a 1989 British film written and directed by Bruce Robinson and starring Richard E. Grant and Rachel Ward. The title is a pun and can be literally taken as “How to Get a Head in Advertising”.
How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)
Directed by: Bruce Robinson
Starring: Richard E. Grant, Rachel Ward, Richard Wilson, Jacqueline Tong, John Shrapnel, Susan Wooldridge, Hugh Armstrong, Mick Ford, Jacqueline Pearce, Christopher Simon
Screenplay by: Bruce Robinson
Production Design by: Michael Pickwoad
Cinematography by: Peter Hannan
Film Editing by: Alan Strachan
Costume Design by: Andrea Galer
Set Decoration by: Robyn Hamilton-Doney
Art Direction by: Henry Harris
Music by: David Dundas, Rick Wentworth
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: May 5, 1989