Which is not to say "occupy the user." For some reason, many websites seem to subscribe to the notion that the longer you can keep someone playing electronic games, the more he'll love you, the more he'll patronize you.
But it is you who patronizes him. The Internet is not a digital TV and it isn't digital direct-mail, either. Getting the prospect inside your site is not the same as getting inside his head. But I digress, because these winners do certainly showcase some of the many ways online is changing everything.
Take VW, for instance, the website from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami.
It lets you customize your own GTi and then test drive it -- along with a German helper. Who happens to be dressed in leather. Because she is a dominatrix. (Not to be confused with the dominatrix in the Gold-winning entry from Mini, via Taxi, Toronto.) This stereotype of Teutonic cruelty is funny, sexy (in a "whip me, hurt me, humiliate me" sort of way) and strangely supportive of VW's "German engineering" bona fides. The virtual driving experience is pretty impressive, too.
The other Grand Prix couldn't have been more different. It's from droga5, New York, for Marc Ecko Enterprises.
Ecko, who parlayed his very nearly unique experience as a Jewish grafitti artist into a billion-dollar global wiggawear business, was interested in restablishing his bona fides as a street artist and subversive. So droga5 created a 2-minute film purporting to be a home-video documentation of a vandalism in progress. Only the particular item being tagged was Air Force One.
The shaky handheld seems to trace the route to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, and to capture the penetration of two 12-foot fences as Ecko finally makes his way to the president's plane and scrawls "still free" in spray paint.
That, of course, is his all-power-to-the-people slogan, not his price point. Anyway, it all looks very real, and fooled tens of thousands of viewers -- including, briefly, the Pentagon. Eventually it came out that the plane was a cargo 747 repainted for the shoot in a California hangar. But not before the thing created a viral sensation.
Once again, these efforts are the tip of the digital iceberg, but they do remind us that if you don't think URL, UR dead.