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The creative engine in the TV ad world is well-tuned. This is the verdict of the agency creatives, client-company marketing executives and Advertising Age editors who comprised the panel of judges for the Ad Age Best advertising of 1994, awards presented in the special report in this issue.

Although the number of awards in this AA Best competition was about the same as for '93, and down from previous years, the judges gave particularly high marks this time around to more than a dozen of the U.S. and foreign TV spots. Their selections underscore the popularity of three approaches: dazzling special effects; competitive hardball; and increased use of TV and film celebrities.

"Wow!" spots dominate the leader board, including two from London-based director Tarsem: A Diet Coke :60 starring a swimming elephant (who's truly the Real Thing) and a Venetian mini-travelog in which that city's storied canals are filled with wheat for Italian biscuit-maker Mulina Blanco.

Other visual dazzlers include a Statue of Liberty-come-alive for Timex, tap dancing penguins (mechanical) for British brewery Courage, another piece of outstanding animation/graphics for Levi's for Women by Foote, Cone & Belding's San Francisco office and our TV Best of Show for the California Milk Processor Board spot, in which a man who thinks he's in heaven has to think again when the refrigerator contains only empty milk cartons.

Hard-as-nails competitors Visa and Apple Computer continue to hammer at American Express and IBM/Windows, respectively, in take-no-prisoners executions. And no fewer than five winning spots feature entertainment world figures, including Bill Murray, Greg Kinnear and "Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander.

We present the 1994 Best winners proudly, evidence that targeted creativity still pays off. What ad approaches will prevail in 1995 remain to be seen-and judged. Creativity, after all, means bringing something new to the party.

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