FROM CREATIVITY: Winners reveal their favorites

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What are your picks for the creative highlights of the last year—your own and from the industry overall?

Jon Kamen, Chairman/CEO,
Seeing our dream become even more of a reality; I'm not sure if Barcode has changed my life, but it's conveniently made it a nicer place.

Frank Scherma, President,
The ability of all our directors and producers to work on so many diversified projects, during a time of transformation in our industry. Just when you think you have it all figured out, it changes and morphs into something else. The willingness of clients, agencies, directors, writers, designers and producers to try something new while blending with the traditional. Those that understand that if we do creative, interesting work, we will be found by our ever so elusive audience.

Bob Friedman, President, @radical.thinking
Clearly, "Nike Battlegrounds" helped create the category called branded entertainment—an event where consumers understand the mutual value of the brand and its content. But "DriverTV," a brand we have launched as a VOD channel, is a branded application whereby brands become the entertainment within an environment developed to encourage the sale of a consumer product. It will help create a new kind of destination for the development and distribution of brands.

Many creative highlights in the branded entertainment category appeared in the form of product placements or traditional sponsorships. While many of these do cut through the clutter and even benefit from the associative value therein, they don't develop, evolve or even enhance the true positioning or value of a brand. Great branded entertainment defines the brand partner for its constituencies over time. It occupies a slot in the consumer's brain that no other product can occupy or it unseats an incumbent brand. Sex and the City did this for numerous brands including Apple Computer and Manolo Blahnik, not to mention the City of New York. And they even did it on a noncommercial, pay TV network, HBO. The Apprentice did it by taking viewers inside the inner sanctum of America's Fortune 500 companies and brands—and it became appointment viewing for those brands.

Justin Wilkes, Head of Content,
Winning the Primetime Emmy for 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America, on the History Channel; producing Madmen on AMC, our first scripted hour-long drama project; producing the second season of Iconoclasts on Sundance; developing and producing The Gamekillers on MTV (and now working on the series for next year).

I think the biggest highlight this year is the industry's overall acceptance of longform storytelling as a viable and effective method of communicating to a consumer. While these kinds of assignments are more challenging to develop, sell to clients and produce, they're ultimately more rewarding creatively, and when done properly have a better shot at engaging the audience than traditional advertising.

Benjamin Palmer, Co-Founder/President, The Barbarian Group
The only advertising that caught my eye was the Sony Bravia work with the exploding paint. I do think it was a tiny bit overhyped (at least in my own head), but I think it's amazing that they're creating a spectacle, and a large number of people online were excited that a new commercial was coming out. How great is that?

Rick Webb Co-Founder/COO, The Barbarian Group
1) Lonelygirl15
2) Ground LLC's Goo campaign in Japan
3) Aleksey Vayner's Goldman Sachs application
4) Sony Bravia
5) The Lost online experience

Ryan McManus, Art Director, The Barbarian Group
I really enjoyed the whole blonde hair on top, black hair underneath creative highlighting trend. This allowed you to sleep with both a cheerleader and goth girl at the same time, which was really, really creative (and something that would usually not happen in the wild). Good show!

Mike Rubenstein, Creative, The Barbarian Group
These guys from Oklahoma—Derek Doublin, Matt Brown and Ray Prewitt—did a video piece called The News that I really can't get enough of. It made the rounds on YouTube in August or so, supposedly simulating the nightly news through the eyes of a PCP addict, but it's really got enough merit as good, clean absurdist comedy. We've pretty much been laughing at that video nonstop for three solid months now, encouraging each other to eat pennies. Beyond that, the American Express ad with Wes Anderson was pretty genius, and Coke "Happiness Factory" was really gorgeous. They're the two ads that I don't mind having to sit through over and over again while waiting for the previews at the movie theater. They're the only ones, though.

Hashem Bajwa, Digital Planner, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
The iPod Nano work is wonderful, especially the online banners that go with it, letting people create their own Nano color animations.

The Uniqlo pop-up stores inside a cargo container.

The Ikea "Dream Kitchen" website.

"The Lost Experience" online added a dimension to storytelling.

Axe Gamekillers and Lynx Jet blurred reality in fun ways.

The interactive novel Cathy's Book has a bit of CoverGirl product placement but also uses multiple forms of media to create a very interactive story for readers.

Google has itself been a fascinating brand story to watch unfold.

GS&P, the Barbarians and ... Unleashed
Our agency and production players of the year tell us what they're playing, reading and watching.

Hashem Bajwa, Digital Planning Director, Goodby
iPod Top Ten
1 Gnarls Barkley "Crazy"
2 Everything But The Girl "Temperamental"
3 Hot Chip "Boy From School"
4 Erlend Oye "Burning"
5 Bebel Gilberto "Aganju"
6 Black Eyed Peas "Shut Up"
7 The Killers "When You Were Young"
8 Depeche Mode "Precious"
9 Felix da Housecat "Everyone is Someone in L.A."
10 Metro Area "Dance Reaction"

Little Miss Sunshine, V for Vendetta.

The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai.

World of Warcraft.

Will McGinness, Creative Director, Goodby
iPod Top Ten
1 Gilles Peterson
2 Calexico
3 The Artic Monkeys
4 Django Reinhardt
5 Chopin
6 Deerhoof
7 Aretha Franklin
8 Ornette Coleman
9 The Shocking Pinks
10 Wolfmother

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel.
Little Miss Sunshine.
World of Warcraft.

Ryan McManus, Art Director, The Barbarian Group
iPod Top, Um, Something
I don't own an iPod. I own a Zune. I prefer my music strictly controlled, socially crippled and wrapped in a bulky brown package. Just like my men.

I'm not so into the movies of today. I prefer to pop up some Ol' Kentucky Kernel Corn and settle in with the missus for one of the classics: Mean Girls, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 13 Going on 30. Y'know, timeless cinema.

Besides the ubiquitous Call of Duty 2 (you do not want to be in Toujane when I have my trusty scoped Lee-Enfield, my friend), I've recently been obsessed with a game I like to call Crazy Cingular's Creative Charges and Confounding Customer Service Call Chase! (or C6SC2 for short). Look for it on your PSP White.

Mike Rubenstein, Creative, The Barbarian Group
iPod Top Ten
I've been listening to the new Tom Waits Bawlers disc on repeat for a bit
now. The next 10 songs after that are:
1 Bruce Springsteen "Erie Canal"
2 Tom Waits "Pony"
3 Lucero "My Best Girl"
4 Johnny Cash "Streets of Laredo"
5 Alkaline Trio " '97"
6 Humanwine "Rivolta Silenziosa!"
7 Danzig "I'm the One"
8 Boy in Static "Where it Ends"
9 The Advantage "Castlevania 3"
10 Therapy? "Lonely, Cryin' Only"

John Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise was incredibly funny and just about right on my reading level. Someone needs to give him a nature show like the one on Ren & Stimpy. He'd be perfect.

Gears of War definitely takes the cake. We picked up a copy for the office and we tore into it that night, playing straight through till the end. I didn't get home till about 4:30 in the morning. I want a Hammer of Dawn. Okami is a close runner-up. The art direction is absolutely stunning and the gameplay is really slick and intuitive. The dialogue's really well-written, too—you don't get the impression that a whole lot got lost in translation there. It was just a really fun, attractive game to play through.

Rick Webb Co-Founder and COO The Barbarian Group
iPod Top Ten
1 Jarvis Cocker "Black Magic"
2 Afghan Whigs "Turn on the Water (Live in Boston, 1994)"
3 The Killers "All These Things That I've Done"
4 Shellac "Prayer to God"
5 Grinderman "The No P**** Bues"
6 Three Dog Night "Never Been to Spain"
7 Mogwai "Glasgow Mega Snake"
8 The entire Factory Records catalog
9 Ad Frank "The Five Days We Were Friends"
10 Lifestyle "Baby I'm Fine"

I'm reading Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day, but it's 1,100 pages and I doubt I'll be done in 2006. Other recently loved books were Three Dog Nightmare, by Chuck Negron, Wild Highway, by Bill Drummond and Mark Manning (aka The KLF and Zodiac Mindwarp) and Dave Gilmartin's The Absolute Worst Places in America to Live.

Call of Duty 3 and Civilization 4. Those two suck up enough time as it is.

Benjamin Palmer Co-Founder/President The Barbarian Group
iPod Top Ten
I've had nothing but the new triple-disc Tom Waits on my iPod for weeks now.

I read a ton of Herman Melville short stories and then one and a half biographies of him. I haven't been reading many books lately, so when I do, I kind of make a big deal out of it and have a theme of some sort.

Well, I can tell you that Call of Duty 3 came out for the Xbox, and it hasn't turned out to be better than Call of Duty 2, which is the official multiplayer game of The Barbarian Group.

Justin Wilkes VP-Media & Entertainment
iPod Top Ten
1 Bruce Springsteen "Jungleland" (I find it inspiring that he was 26 when he wrote this album.)
2 George Harrison "Something"
3 Elmore James "Dust My Blues"
4 Jimmy Smith "The Preacher"
5 Elvis Presely "Burning Love"
6 Muddy Waters "Hoochie Coochie Man"
7 Jay-Z "Lucifer"
8 Otis Redding "Tennessee Waltz"
9 Pearl Jam "Come Back" (I got back into Pearl Jam after shooting with Vedder for Iconoclasts.)
10 "The Ping Pong Hustler" (The trailer for a new project we're working on.)

The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero, by William Kalush & Larry Sloman; Forever, by Pete Hamill; Flashman in the Great Game, by George MacDonald Fraser.

I've become obsessed with hardbat table tennis.

Bob Friedman President, Media & Entertainment
iPod Top Ten
1 Led Zeppelin "Stairway to Heaven"
2 Jimmy Buffet "Margaritaville"
3 B-52s "Love Shack"
4 The Rolling Stones "Satisfaction"
5 Neil Diamond "Sweet Caroline"
6 U2 and Green Day "The Saints Are Coming" (video)
7 Bob Marley "One Love"
8 Bob Dylan "Like a Rolling Stone"
9 The Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star"
10 Skeelo "I Wish I Were a Little Bit Taller"

Chris Milk Director,
iPod Top Ten
1 The Cure
2 The Daily Show
3 Thom Yorke
4 Space Mtn 5 TV on the Radio
6 Rilo Kiley
7 U2
8 30 Rock
9 New Order
10 The Knife

Indecision, by Benjamin Kunkel. King Dork, by Frank Portman. Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System, by Sharon Waxman. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach.

Babel, Little Miss Sunshine, Borat, The Fountain.

Steve Miller Director
iPod Top Ten
1 Feist "Mushroom"
2 Nick Cave "Into My Arms"
3 Gary Jules Trading Snake Oil For Wolf Tickets
4 Alamo Race Track "Black Cat John Brown"
5 Leonard Cohen "Dance Me to The End of Love"
6 Beck "Black Tambourine"
7 Beastie Boys The In Sound From Way Out
8 Jane's Addiction "Jane Says"
9 The White Stripes "We're Going to Be Friends"
10 Cibo Matto "Know Your Chicken"

Daniel Askill Director,
iPod Top Ten
1 Sufjan Stevens Illinois
2 Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians
3 Kermit the Frog "The Rainbow Connection"
4 Talking Heads Stop Making Sense
5 The Necks Sex
6 Bill Evans Sunday At The Village Vanguard
7 Phoenix "Consolation Prizes"
8 Michael Askill Australian Percussion
9 Sia "Breathe Me"
10 Betty Davis (Miles Davis' nasty funk diva wife)

Sculpting in Time, by Andrei Tarkovsky.

Maya Brewster Executive Producer,
iPod Top Ten
1 The Soup
2 The Incident at Lochness
3 Gnarls Barkley "Gone Daddy Gone" (video)
4 Phoenix "Consolation Prizes" (video)
5 Camper Van Beethoven "She Divines Water"
6 Brazilian Girls "Don't Stop"
7 Hot Chip "Breakdown"
8 Manu Chao "Promiscuity"
9 Scissor Sisters "Filthy Gorgeous"
10 They Might Be Giants "Puppethead"
11 Madonna "Borderline"

Wordplay, The Queen, Casino Royale, The Science of Sleep; the re-release of Renoir's Rules of the Game.

I don't own a gun, nor do I have any intention of being shot while trying to buy an object that is guaranteed to cause calluses on my pretty little fingers, make my ass fat and drop my IQ by 40 points. But if we're talking classic board games: Cranium, Yahtzee, Taboo and Clue.

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