"Swear Jar" wins the Commercial Excellence Emmy

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And the Emmy goes to...something that has never appeared on TV.

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Bud Light's "Swear Jar," from DDB, Chicago and director David Shane, the Emmy for Outstanding Commercial.

The spot shows a descent into bleepy vulgarity after an office implements a swear jar, with the intention to use all profits to buy beer. It only ran on the Internet, originally promoting Anheuser-Busch's Bud.TV, which was launched in February 2007 but quickly turned into the Pets.com of branded content destinations. By April, due to complicated age verification processes, hit-or-miss creative and usability flaws, site traffic had dropped below measurement service comScore's minimum and Anheuser-Busch representatives resigned the site to a quiet exit.

None of that stopped "Swear Jar," though, which quickly escaped Bud.tv's gilded cage and garnered over 3 million views on YouTube and, according to the agency, over 12 million around the web.

According to Emmy organizers, commercials platformed on the Internet are eligible to win, provided they meet all other requirements. "Swear Jar" arguably had an edge in that it didn't have to meet Federal Communications Commission decency standards, only those of Anheuser-Busch. It's unclear if voters were made aware "Swear Jar" didn't have to meet decency standards, and whether that distinction would have altered the results.

"Four of the commercials shared a similar, familiar look of mainstream ads, whereas 'Swear Jar' was in complete contradistinction if not aggressive repudiation of the conventions of those ads, says Emmy Awards director John Leverence. "The broadband latitude given the producers of 'Swear Jar' didn't guarantee them an Emmy-winning edge, but it did allow them to be highly (inventive) within the context of conventional television advertising. Each vignette in the spot started with an ordinary office situation and then, with the lure of the case of Bud Light and the rules of the swear jar, the extraordinary occurred and the horizons of our notion of entertainment were suddenly and unexpectedly broadened."

Since the spot's debut in 2007, Shane has split from Hungry Man, and is now at production company O Positive.

Nominees in the category included Leo Burnett/Joe Pytka's, "Brother of the Bride," FedEx's Super Bowl spot "Carrier Pigeons" from BBDO, New York and MJZ's Tom Kuntz, Travelers "Delivery" from Fallon and MJZ's Rupert Sanders, and Coca Cola's Super Bowl effort "It's Mine" from Wieden + Kennedy, Portland and MJZ director Nicolai Fuglsig.

Imaginary Forces won in the Outstanding Main Title Design category for its opener for Mad Men.
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