NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- How many favorite spots can you name from the past year? Exactly.
Brand creativity has felt a bit like a zero sum game lately. As marketers and agencies have devoted more creative energy to digital and digitally spirited work, the creativity pool focused on commercials has seemed commensurately drained.
But there were bright spots, in the form of a bare-chested beefcake and a Scottish thespian with a thing for history.
Johnnie Walker's "The Walk," a six-minute-long, single-shot film created out of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London, featuring actor Robert Carlyle recounting the brand's history as he walks down a country road, has been a heavy-hitter on this year's circuit.
But JW may see some stiff competition from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" for Old Spice. The spot, another single-take masterpiece that shows finely sculpted male specimen Isaiah Mustafah going from shower to horseback without a blink, became a pop culture phenomenon and one of the only films to prove that the classic commercial, updated for the online video world, has a very strong pulse. It was the spot that seemed to serve as a wake-up call for the industry; it was the spot that your hairdresser and extended family were talking about; and, arguments regarding a global jury "not getting it" notwithstanding, it's the spot to beat.
Wieden's "Chalkbot" is a sure shot in the innovative ideas category. The effort involved a robot that imprinted encouraging chalk messages, input via a website or Twitter, along the Tour de France Route. Another digital-meets-real-world contender that should receive some bling is Nokia's "World's Biggest Signpost" -- out of the now-shuttered Farfar -- which allowed consumers to control a giant arrow in the middle of London using the Nokia Ovi Maps system.
Strong website players include "Monopoly City Streets," out of Tribal DDB, London, which tapped Google Maps technology to bring the classic Hasbro game to the real world. The Martin Agency and Domani Studios' "We Choose the Moon" site for JFK library has been an equally strong performer and should take Gold as well.
Simplicity was at the heart of some of the year's most compelling digital ideas, proving you don't need a lot of technological bells and whistles to stand out. Ikea's "Facebook Showroom" was an idea that hijacked Facebook's basic functions -- tagging -- to generate excitement and word of mouth for its client while engaging the consumer on a very personal level. This is sure to score at least a Gold Lion.
Crispin Porter & Bogusky's Best Buy Twelpforce also deserves a serious look for carving a great idea out of an already existing platform; it brought the company's customer service reps to the aid of its customers via Twitter. As for the viral category, what could have been more passed around than Volkswagen's "Fun Theory"? Created out of DDB, Stockholm, it took people by surprise on the streets and online by transforming mundane, everyday chores into enjoyable acts.
We're pulling for a final Big Lion for Farfar and Nokia's "World Biggest Signpost," but we also have a soft spot for fellow Swedish agency DDB, Stockholm's "Catch the Goodies" mobile-enabled billboard for McDonald's. Eyes should be on BBDO, New York, as well, which could pull a repeat win for HBO and earn more hardware for the "Imagination" outdoor installation. Or judges may feel a pang of nostalgia for Diesel. The client stepped up to the podium in the past for its print work out of Paradiset and digital out of Farfar, and it may return once with its cheeky "Be Stupid" campaign, via ex-agency Anomaly, which resigned the global account last week.
TBWA/Chiat/Day, Los Angeles, has set itself up for Titanium success with two surefire winners.
The "Pepsi Refresh Project" saw the Super Bowl mainstay skipping the big game to invest in a socially conscious social-media push. The marketer promised $20 million in grant money to fund grass-roots causes and could signal a shift in how advertisers view their budgets.
The agency's "Replay for Gatorade" is another lock for a top prize. The campaign saw Gatorade and TBWA reuniting two high school football rivals 15 years later. The agency followed the players for four months leading up to the game, with documentary episodes appearing online and the game airing on Fox Sports Net.
Do we dare predict a double play for Chiat, with "Pepsi Refresh" taking top Titanium honors and replay taking Integrated? We do.