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Miller High Life campaign

Wieden & Kennedy, Portland

Directed by Errol Morris,

It's hard to believe the renowned documentary director of "A Brief History of Time" and "The Thin Blue Line" made these spots, but then, Errol Morris is known for his interesting use of tight close-ups, cropped angles and often stylized settings. In these odd little vignettes of manly behavior the look is half the fun, and for that we can thank the director's uniquely skewed look at life.

Visual Effects

The Gap: "Khakis Swing"


Directed by Matthew Rolston, Venus Entertainment/HSI Productions; stereoscopic freeze effects by Buf Effects, Los Angeles; Francesco Grisi, visual effects supervisor

While not the most interesting use of this rapidly spreading visual effects technique (did you happen to see "The Matrix"?), the freeze frame shots in this spot helped make it one of the best of last year's Gap spots and certainly lent it considerable cachet. It's one of those real "Gee, how did they do that?" techniques, and as a result has been the subject of lots of press coverage. Time consuming and expensive, when it works right (and it hasn't always been a success in commercials) it's captivating, as it was here.


John Hancock: "Sarajevo"

Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopolous, Boston

Directed by Tarsem,; edited by Robert Duffy, Spotwelders, Los Angeles)

"We never thought that that time was the calm before the storm," says a young woman in this stirring appeal for the Sarajevo Olympics Children's Fund, sponsored by perennial Olympics sponsor John Hancock. Young people in their 20s, all children when the 1984 Olympics focused the world's attention on this city, talk about how the war there changed their lives. Intercut with their footage are scenes of the opening ceremonies of the games and horrendous shots of the city engulfed in combat, the most heartbreaking being a shot of kids playing near the wreckage of the burned out Zetra Olympic Ice Stadium. Very powerful imagery here, carefully crafted and layered.

BMW: "Love Triangle" and "More Room" Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis

Directed by Adrian Moat, RSA/USA, Los Angeles; "More Room" edited by Angus Wall, Rock Paper Scissors, Los Angeles, and Dave Henegar, Assembly Line, Minneapolis; "Love Triangle" edited by Dave Henegar)

The editing motif here is the same -- staccato shots of BMW sedans, shot in black and white, cut to engaging soundtracks in heart-pumping style. Alternating between slow motion sequences and rapid-fire cuts are overlapping graphics that make interesting copy lines ("the road loves the driver, the driver loves the car, the car loves the road"), again edited at blinding speed. The result is almost mesmerizing; it's a total visual and aural package that draws viewers in.

Original Music:

BMW: "Love Triangle" and "More Room" Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis

Directed by Adrian Moat, RSA/USA, Los Angeles; music by Johannes Hammers, CHKW, Santa Monica

As noted above, the music in both of these spots is techno-sounding, percussion-driven tracks, and they work in splendid counterpoint to the footage and the editing. These are examples of music that you don't really hear anywhere else, not in the alternative rock scene, not on TV or in the movies, and certainly not on FM radio. With its dance/rave influence this is music on the fringe, put to excellent use in these spots.

Adapted Music

The Gap: "Khakis Swing"


Michael Welsh, Michael Welsh Productions, Los Angeles, music supervisor; Louis Prima's "Jump, Jive and Wail"

Forget about that Brian Setzer cat; Louis Prima invented music like this a generation ago, and his rendition of this swing tune works perfectly in this instance. While The Gap seems to have jumped on the swing bandwagon a little late, they nonetheless captured its exuberance in this hip, sock-hop of a spot.

Volkswagen: "UFO," "Soul," "Flower" Arnold Communications, Boston

Music for "UFO" by Fluke; music for "Soul" by Hurricane Number One; music for "Flower" by Stereolab; licensed and produced by the agency

The music has to carry the pace of these spots, given their sparse nature -- simple visuals of the car against a white backdrop with a single line of copy conveyed in on-screen type. The tune for "UFO" is a spacey, techno-sounding track that plays off the spaceship analogy quite nicely, while the track for "Flower" is a simple mix of drums and keyboard harmonics that has a sixties feel to it. For "Soul" the producers found a guitar-driven rock ballad that repeats the lyric "we don't live in the same world" twice. How appropriate.

Mitsubishi: "Manhood" and "Adulthood" Deutsch, Los Angeles

Music licensed by the agency; Eric Burdon & War's "Spill the Wine"

These are dealer spots, so they have a lot of information to dispense, but the set-up is nice. Here, the opening organ and bongo strains of this '70s classic makes for a nice underscore. The spots are over before you get to the vocal track, but who cares? The connection is made in boomer's minds, and that's the

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