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This is the year that the game was better than the commercials. In fact, the game was a 10. But absolutely none of the spots were. It's hard not to suspect that a lot of these commercials were created and produced to impress the advertising creative community. That's not all bad. But it is mostly bad.

Of course, we could be biased. We hate the fact that we watched other agencies' spots. There wasn't a single Martin Agency commercial in the whole game. So everything we say should be taken with a grain of salt: we're flat-out jealous.

MIKE "Bulldozer" HUGHES (l)

President/Chief Creative Director

HAL "Roadrunner" TENCH (r)

Executive Vice President/Group Creative Director

The Martin Agency

Richmond, Virginia

Client: Budweiser

Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Director: Tom Routson, Goodby Silverstein & Partners/ Digital Domain

The very best thing about this campaign, of course, is that it's not the Bud Bowl. In fact, this is actually very good stuff, better than any of the lame frog follow-ups since the original "Bud. Weis. Er." And the Borscht Belt Bud lizards are, of course, a hell of a lot more interesting than the Bud chairman. (Mr. Busch, sorry, but you're no Peter Coors.)

Client: Nike; Nike F.I.T

Agency: Wieden & Kennedy, Portland; Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

Directors: Josh Taft, Satellite; Jeffrey Plansker, Propaganda; Anthony Hoffman, Propaganda; Neil Abramson, Palomar; and Frank Ockensels, Mars (Nike). Andrew Douglas, Satellite (Nike F.I.T.)

Come see the softer side of Nike. Nobody produces spots more beautifully than Nike's two great agencies. Those Wieden and Goodby folks just don't get it wrong when it counts. These spots (Wieden & Kennedy's above) look fabulous -- by far the best looking of the game. But how does anybody compete with the legendary Nike spots of the past?

We also like the NBC "Working" promo parody of the "I Can" spot. We're pretty sure we like it better than Phil Knight does.

Client: FedEx

Agency: BBDO/New York

A lot of our friends at the agency don't like this spot as much as we do. It's nothing but color bars, because whoever sent the commercial to the TV station didn't use FedEx. Yes, it is a variation of a theme we've seen before, but everybody else is screaming and yelling and throwing money around like mad and then this nice little spot comes along and has us riveted to the screen.

Client: Intel

Agency: Euro RSCG DSW Partners

Director: Allan van Rijn, RSA/USA

How can such a smart company make such stupid commercials? What are they talking about? Getting viewer votes on the Internet is a cool idea, we suppose, but it's not a relevant idea. Are we the only people not charmed by those space-suit idiots?

Client: Pepsi

Agency: BBDO/New York

Director: Kinka Usher, House of Usher

Pepsi's at its best when it's funny and irreverent. And when Pepsi's at its best, almost no one's better. Overall, though, this is not one of Pepsi's better years. The spots don't seem to have the voice quite right. More important, they're not funny enough. Although, we must confess, we did like the first two thirds of the "Goose" spot, the one with the skyboarder and the extreme bird.

Client: Visa

Agency: BBDO/New York

Director: David Cornell, Headquarters

The elephant story, where the little girl wants a real one and settles for a huge stuffed one, had us going. Mike likes warm spots like these more than Hal does, but we both think this is the kind of commercial that appeals to the real human beings out there. The people who make all those big, expensive, meaningless high-tech and financial services commercials should be forced to watch this one over and over again until they realize just how bad their

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