For once, see commercials with wit, artistry
by Dwight Hobbes
Riddle me this. How did British television programming earn its reputation for quality fare? By competing with the commercials, that’s how.
In the United States, commercials basically are for fixing snacks or hitting the can. Brits probably get all that done ahead of time so they won’t miss the ads. That’s how good their commercials are, at least as represented by the annual British Television Advertising Awards.
A godsend of originality, dry wit and actual artistry, BTAA shows that manufacturers
can separate folk from their money and, at the same time, appeal to something
besides a penchant for ogling flesh and the unabashed worship of luxury status
symbols. Not that British advertising excludes either one, but their industry
realizes there are more ways to skin a consumer than by crassly dangling hotties,
hunks, diamonds and high-end cars like so much raw meat in front of a dog.
may explain why it’s a screening of the British Television Advertising
Awards coming up at Walker Art Center, instead of an evening of the best selections
from the Clios, the American industry’s pat on its own back for comparatively
uneventful fare—there’s scarcely been an innovate U.S.-made commercial
to speak of since that talking Chihuahua put Taco Bell on the map.
In fact, one thing all but one or two of this year’s BTAA winners have
in common is a refreshing shortage of pretty people.
Nearly 10,000 people attended last year’s sold-out screenings of the British
Television Advertising Awards. This year’s winners are even more innovative,
racy and side-splitting. U.S. celebrities Spike Lee, Carrie Fisher and Roy Scheider
promote mobile-phone company Orange, while David Beckham pitches Adidas. Trojan
Condoms takes a Gold Award for an explicit viral campaign that was spread by
Honda Accord’s entry—inspired by Rube Goldberg and Fischli and Weiss’
The Way Things Go—wins Best Commercial of the Year and is sure to delight.
2004, U.K., color, video, 65 minutes.
Formed in 1976, the British Television Advertising Awards (BTAA) exists to highlight
the best in television and cinema advertising at two separate events: the British
Television Advertising Awards and the British Television Advertising Craft Awards.
December 3 - 30, 2004
The Theatre at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis
410 Oak Grove Street, Minneapolis
$8 ($5 Walker members). Receive a $1 discount for each ticket purchased online
($3 service fee per order applies), or become a new member and receive two free
tickets as your gift for joining.
Friday, December 3: 7 and 9:30 pm
Saturday, December 4: 3, 7, and 9 pm
Friday–Saturday, December 10–11: 7 and 9 pm
Friday, December 17: 7 and 9 pm
Saturday, December 18: 3, 7, and 9 pm
Monday–Thursday, December 27–30:
3, 7, and 9 pm