A Look Back

The best commercial moments of 2002.

By Published on .

In this, our last/first issue of the year I've chosen to carry on my one-woman tradition: the end of year listing of those moments in commercialdom that I found most stimulating. Herewith, my completely subjective, they-might-not-show-up-at-the-Effies, self-indulgent yet somehow practical overview of the year's best moments in creative.

Get a cube van -- this spot is moving: FastWeb "Life" from Ata DMC, Milan. This Joe Public-directed spot gives us stirring scenes of a box-topped guy living out the big and small moments of his life, set to Green Day's "Good Riddance." This inspired film makes us reflect on video communication, yes, but also about the boxes we all wear on our heads. (The mind reels further when one considers that this poignant gem came from an Italian agency).

"How did you ever get so . . . uhnnnnnnnn": Mini "This is America." Like many, I assumed the spot's track was an arcane B-side from Country Joe and the Fish or similar, but the ditty, called "Sunshine Pig," is the way more recent work of composing duo Chris and Tad. Alone, the air-organ playing of the actor in the spot and his understated delivery of the payoff line, "This is America, man," could have won Crispin Agency of the Year in the "Moments of the Year" universe. Champs that they are, the Crispin crew did a few other things this year.

Speaking of overachievers: W+K. Nike "Move," Nike "Angry Chicken," Nike "Before," Nike "Off Road." Vast, lush meadows apart in style but single-minded in delivering the Nike goods. ("Wild Horses," on the other hand, goes in the "Alone in the Wilderness" category. Not because of its rugged setting but because that's how I'll feel now that I'm admitting I think the spot's a snore. For me, it prompted the same question as last year's Levi's "Odyssey": Why is my chin dry when those all around me are soaked in drool?)

Start-to-finish execution excellence: Computer Associates "Amnesia." Aside from the obvious - the perfectly directed and edited spills -- the spot gives us grace notes like the familiar half-nod/soundless greeting from the boss, composed in the face of disaster as he sits down at the boardroom table.

Guilty pleasures? Or do they just seem that way 'cause they're just so ridiculously fun to watch? Witness Mountain Dew "Drive," out of BBDO, wherein one of the Dewds, in a manner both fast and furious, retrieves a forgotten can of yellow fizz while seated in his airborne, inverted TransAm. Testosterrific! Ditto the agency's Visa spot "The Sheens": anything involving Charlie makes you feel bad and good at the same time -- and isn't that the sensation that makes the world go round?

Hooray for the director's cut: Goodby's "Sheet Metal." But why oh why is it that I only enjoy the long version?

Real Men of Funny Ads: DDB's hilarious-every-time "Real Men of Genius" spots give Bud drinkers the keys to every possible kingdom -- allowing some to feel superior, some to relate, and all to just laugh and laugh and laugh.

Happy 2003.

(This column appears in the Dec./Jan. issue of Creativity.)

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