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The Gap: "Khakis Swing," :30


Venus Entertainment/HSI Productions,

Matthew Rolston, director

The gap won this category last year with its elegant Lena Horne holiday spot, the one where she's singing "Winter Wonderland." Gives you goosebumps just thinking about it.

Could they top that? They did, and more. This year they bulldozed the category with one of the most talked-about ads of 1998. "Khakis Swing" was the best example of The Gap's uncanny ability to make the most out of a few simple parts -- appallingly attractive talent, irresistible music, stylish direction and, of course, its ubiquitous white backdrops.

While branding itself as every shopping mall's epicenter of cool, Gap advertising continues to amuse and entertain with clever, upbeat exhibitions of core Gap product lines.

Here, Khakis swing to Louis Prima's frantic "Jump, Jive an' Wail," as youthful dancers freeze in midair. If this is what they can do with as basic a wardrobe building block as a pair of khakis, imagine what they might do with overalls.


Nike: "Base Camp," "Slow Play," :30s

Wieden & Kennedy, Portland

Shelter Films, Jonathan David, director;

What a wonderful conceit -- golfing Mt. Everest. A natural, if absurd, situation to talk about the technological achievements of Nike's T@C golf shoes and their traction at the point of contact (hence the name) capabilities. In "Base Camp" we're introduced to our intrepid foursome, along with their Sherpa guide, and in "Slow Play" we see them stuck behind other golfers saddled with inferior gear. "We've all heard the stories of ill-equipped golfers on Everest," says one guy in this spot, relaxing in his tent.

From the propping to the locations, its a perfect send-up of all those Discovery Channel travel documentaries. This is hilarious stuff, and remarkably product-centric for Nike advertising.

Adidas: "Rest that Arm," :30

Leagas Delaney, San Francisco

Headquarters, Joe Public, director

Continuing on its "Only in NY" campaign that initially ran locally but broke nationally during last year's World Series telecasts, this spot chronicles the adventures of the five bare-chested Yankee fans with Y-A-N-K-S spelled out on their torsos. Here, ace pitcher David Cone is ordered to rest his sore arm, so the YANKS spring into action, feeding him, signing autographs for him and, in the ultimate expression of love for their team, helping him, um, do his duty in the men's room.

Over the top? Sure, but so is New York.

While there's no mention at all of the product in here -- indeed, not even mention of the brand name, except for an on-screen logo at the end -- these spots capture the sense of rabid fandom associated with baseball's most storied franchise and tie it in with Adidas, which has paid the Yankees an emormous sum for the privilege.

The cast has become folk heroes, the campaign is widely recognized and even George Steinbrenner is happy. What more could you want, except maybe another

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