Last night I made my annual trip to Walker Art Center for the 2008 British Television Advertising Awards Show, which runs through December.
Not quite up to previous years, but still entertaining. After watching more than 90 minutes of ads, I couldn't help noticing how many relied on telling stories for which the product was the punch line — or as frequently, a coda.
I don't follow the business any more and don't watch enough television to know whether this is a general ad trend, a British style or the preference of the judges. It may well reflect the influence of viral marketing and YouTube, where straight product pitches aren't likely to have a second life.
Here are a few of my favorites, drawn from winners at various levels.
This one, which won top honours, is typical of the style: Evocative, even mysterious, extended opening, followed by a surprise reveal, then the product tie-in, leading to YouTube play and a variety of parodies and remixes. Best of all, it actually helped restore a company's deteriorating brand.
For a very different approach, this ad shows how an average-looking character simply speaking to the camera can be memorable if the concept is smart and the writing is spot on.
This ad concept works well as a series, not so much because of what it says about the car, but what it says about relationships. Men can laugh at it. Women can laugh at it. And am I being too optimistic to think they might even talk about it?
Finally, no BTAA show would be complete without a provocative public service announcement.