(WALRUS, NEW YORK)
Wall Street swine ruined it for everyone, and now you can't have those $75 luncheon steaks you'd grown so fond of. No problem. Go to Maloney & Porcelli for a business meal and launder the extravagance via the online expense-report generator. The thing spits out a mess of small, innocuous receipts for Sbarro, The Panini Experience and Office Supply Hut ("glue-stick clearance, $1."). Evil, hilarious genius.
Consumer-generated ads always suck, except when they don't. The online crafts marketplace went to its own community of artsy-fartsy creators to produce ads on spec. Unlike similar such exercises elsewhere, the results were magnificent. In the best entry, a tin-man-esque assembly-line worker, seemingly plucked from a 19th-century postcard or magic lantern show, is a slave of mass production liberated by the handmade spirit of Etsy.
Due to the pesky law of supply and demand, online display advertising is no solution for the death of media, but you still have to admire the ingenious use of actors Justin Long and John Hodgman ("I'm a Mac" and "I'm a PC") to wrap around content on The Wall Street Journal's website. It's a static display that rolls over into video, as Hodgman ("I'm a PC") warns you not to click on the pro-Mac banner ... so, naturally, you do.
We've since learned the joke goes back to Ernie Kovacs or Sid Caesar, so maybe the four stars we awarded the day after the Super Bowl was a bit irrationally exuberant. We still say the rear end of a hunting trophy hanging above the poor schnooks in the back office -- compared to the noble antlered head on the boss's opposite wall -- says it all. The fat cats in the exec offices don't give a moose's ass for you. Find a better situation.
UNITED BREAKS GUITARS
Once again, consumer-generated ads are typically pitiful, but angry-consumer-generated can be just sooooo fantastic -- such as when United baggage handlers destroyed musician Dave Carroll's guitar and the airline did squat to make up for its negligence, whereupon Carroll penned a lovely music-video ballad about the whole thing and United was its download victim 6.3 million times. Sweet, sweet e-venge.
GWENT POLICE DEPARTMENT
(TRED FILMS, NEWPORT, WALES)
Three teenage girls are giddily engineering romance via mobile texting when their car crosses the center line and all horror breaks out. What makes this driver-alertness PSA especially realistic and haunting is the matter-of-factness of the emergency personnel as they go about their grim business. There is urgency, but no rushing around, because dead bodies don't need to be rushed anywhere.
(KAPLAN THALER, NEW YORK)
The strategy of going back to Wendy's hot 'n' juicy 'n' made-fresh roots is solid. Images of the competition's burgers as frozen hockey pucks are particularly salient. The highlight, though, is another sort of throwback: the irresistible jingle titled "You know when it's real." Remember jingles? They're the Wite-Out of advertising, all but extinct but still sometimes quite useful. This one is more than useful; it's perfect.
LAWSON CLARKE MALE COPYWRITER
(IN-HOUSE -- LITERALLY)
He was a laid-off creative, just another victim of the digital revolution. So he used digital tools -- a website featuring himself, sprawled naked -- to focus some attention on his ... um ... portfolio. It was all done tongue and cheek, in early '70s stylings, revealing wit, cultural literacy and just enough actual shock value to get attention. Then it was just a matter of clicking on his book. The man is now gainfully employed.
The same backlash to executive piggishness that decimated the pricey-lunch trade spelled opportunity for Jet Blue, which offered a mocking invitation to the C-suiters forced to fly with the hoi polloi. "Greetings, bigwigs, muckety-mucks, private jetters, big cheeses, head honchos, captains of industry, big spenders. ... Welcome aboard!" Touting high-frills coach service while simultaneously showing solidarity with the plebes. Nice.
(OGILVY, NEW YORK)
From Post, amid confusing and rather chaotic technological and economic revolution, a reassuring message about its most hoary and familiar product: old and unimproved shredded wheat. It was an inspired move and perfect positioning. Rapid change has half the world out of its mind with uncertainty and anxiety about the future. What better time to offer a reassuring bite of our simple, basic, authentic past?