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once you got beyond the retro, new age feel of Arnold Communications' 1998 Volkswagen Beetle campaign, what were the high points of last year's advertising? If a quick review of our television winners is any indication, it was the supremacy of humor as a selling tool.

Whether subtle, as in VW's "Drumstick" teaser spot, or over the top, as in Cliff Freeman's Fox Sports "Rope" commercial, it was comedy tonight in 1998.

Funny ads dominated our collection of Best TV spots, in some cases making up all the commercials in a given category. And humor also dominated the Best work in Magazine, Radio and Out of Home.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the comedy experts performed well in our competition this year. Cliff Freeman & Partners has probably cemented its reptuation as the best agency in the country for creating comic selling propositions with its work for Fox Sports and, two campaigns that won, respectively, our Entertainment & Media and Technology/Communications categories. In addition, a spot for Staples was included in our collection, although not a category winner.

Other notable performances in TV this year included Wieden & Kennedy's work for Miller High Life and Nike [email protected] golf shoes and BBDO, New York, which placed three spots in our collection, for HBO, Mountain Dew and FedEx.

Worth mentioning here are two achievements on the production side:, which has four different directors represented on their work for five different brands, and director John O'Hagan of Hungry Man in New York, who directed two of the most outrageous ads in the Best Awards, the spots from Freeman and Dweck & Campbell's kooky Dial-A-Mattress execution. Radical directors, in fact, did three Alcoholic Beverage spots, and director Errol Morris' High Life campaign was cited for Best Direction in our Craft category.

Section writers: Television categories -- Anthony Vagnoni; Magazine, Out of Home, Radio -- Robert Goldsborough; Interactive -- Matt Carmichael

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