Think of it as reverse
Fair enough, and fairly entertaining, too. The roundup collects ads that scored at the most recent British Television Advertising Awards, from special mention all the way up to gold medalists. The nominees are pulled from all over the marketing universe: multinational media corporations, car companies, local products and chains, public service organizations, and an awful lot of beer.
The best of the lot hint that the Mad Men of England's advertising agencies swing with a more creative stroke than their US counterparts. An ad for Maltesers chocolate nips is a delightfully cheeky mini-comedy about two bored office gals embarrassing the stock boy, and a Marmite commercial featuring dear old Paddington Bear turns subversive with its tagline: "You either love it or hate it." (Anyone who's tasted that beloved yet nauseating food spread will agree.)
The public service ads are so clever and of such high quality that they argue for the benefits of government-owned television. Especially striking is an anti-handgun PSA that shows a series of slow-motion bullets piercing a glass of milk, a watermelon, a ketchup bottle; the final image, of a young black child staring out at the viewer, echoes with eerie finality.
Other commercials suffer in the cultural translation: If you don't know that John Lewis is the name of a British department store chain/online mall, its head-scratcher of a commercial won't set you straight. Still others never make the connection between message and product. One of the best ads here features a wonderfully demented domino cascade through a Spanish village, and what that has to do with Guinness stout is beyond me.
One suspects that national pride had an effect on the voting. How else to explain the top prize going to an inscrutable spot about a gorilla drumming along to a Phil Collins song other than to note it's an ad for Cadbury chocolates? Especially when one of the runners-up, a
Ty Burr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.