Several dozen marketers and their advertising and production partners vied for four slots in a live contest modeled after Fox's hit "American Idol." Burger King's Subservient Chicken campaign from MDC Partners' Crispin Porter & Bogusky and production company Barbarian Group was one of the finalists. The campaign centered around an actor in a chicken suit responding to commands from consumers over the Internet. Another finalist was Sega's Beta 7, which submitted a viral hoax created using three Web sites, live stunts, e-mail and blogs, developed by independent agency Wieden & Kennedy and production company Chelsea Pictures. A third contestant entered a series of 90-second mini-films, the ESPN Shorts, for Sears and Miller Lite, centering on the love Boston Red Sox fans feel for their team.
The grand prize winner was the under-$500,000 campaign for Pabst's Rainier Beer from WPP Group's Cole & Weber/Red Cell, Seattle. Rainier, for more than 100 years, was as much a part of Seattle's fabric as its famous Space Needle. A red neon "R" was long a familiar part of the cityscape, but the brand had declined precipitously from its 1970s peak. The winning campaign used some old spots the brewer found, coupled with a camp TV show airing at 1 a.m. on Sundays. The effort was helped along when a bear raided a local campground and passed over most of the goodies in favor of almost three dozen cans of Rainier beer, a story which drew news coverage, and inclusion in mock form in further ads.