Adweek’s Answer to the Oscars

The Second Annual Maddy Awards

With awards-show juries in the throes of evaluating last year’s crop of advertising, Adweek presents its own Madison Avenue honors, the Maddy Awards. We scoured hundreds of commercials-from last year’s Super Bowl to this year’s-to make our nominations in 10 categories. We also asked readers to cast their vote online. Most shunned our choice for best commercial, opting instead for Budweiser’s Clydesdales entry in the Super Bowl, “Replay,” from Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston (see Web poll on page 24). Will our picks end up sweeping the spring award shows, or will they fall short? -Mae Anderson

Best Commercial

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

It’s an old adage: Simple ideas work best. For its first Saturn brand spot, “Sheet Metal,” Goodby decided the best illustration of the car company’s values-putting people first-was to do just that: present a world without cars. “We wanted to remind people that Saturn was about treating people well,” says executive creative director and partner Jamie Barrett. The striking imagery, directed by Noam Murro, art-directed by Mark Wenneker and elegantly tied together with an understated piano piece by Gregory Czerkinsky, makes the spot a winner. While scenes of mothers “driving” their children to school and fathers “driving” alone to work humanize the concept, the long shots of a Los Angeles highway filled only with people, no cars in sight, are eerily unforgettable.
OTHER NOMINEES: Bubble Teaser Volkswagen Arnold, Boston / Jack and Kelly Pepsi Twist BBDO, New York / Move Nike Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore. / Replay Budweiser Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston

Best Director
Sheet Metal, Saturn
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

The shoot was complicated-involving more than 500 extras and the closing of an L.A. highway for several hours. The result, directed by Noam Murro of Biscuit Filmworks, Los Angeles, is lyrical. Nighttime joggers with flashlights and a school-bus-like row of children add light humor. “It was a unique, original idea that warranted an original approach, and I think we achieved it,” says Murro, 40. His ability to craft beautiful shots without overstylizing helped land him the job, says the agency. The surreal images prove memorable in a way that’s uncommon for the category. OTHER NOMINEES Bubble Teaser Volkswagen Arnold, Boston / Lamp Ikea Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami / Switchers Apple TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. / The Trip Sony Young & Rubicam, New York

Best Performance
Switchers, Apple
TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif.
In what was undoubtedly one of the most talked-about commercial performances of the past year, 15-year-old Ellen Feiss earned a cult following just by describing the day her PC crashed. “It devoured my paper,” she laments. “It was a really good paper.” Feiss’ natural performance was unencumbered by process. Director Errol Morris used his famous Interrotron, a two-camera device intended to create more intimacy during an interview. “It makes it seem like the person is talking directly to the camera,” explains Robert Fernandez, executive producer at, New York. While some questioned the sobriety of the sweatshirt-clad teen, whose eyes are red and droopy, Feiss swears nothing illegal was involved. “I was on Benedryl,” she told Brown University’s Daily Herald last November. “That’s why my eyes were all red, because I have seasonal allergies. But no one believes me.” The spot spawned T-shirts, coffee mugs and look-alike contests worldwide.
OTHER NOMINEES Willie Nelson H&R Block Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis / Vaughn Lowery Kmart TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York / Danny Rutigliano eBay Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco / Lester Speight Reebok Arnell Group, New York

Best Copy
Nike Presto
Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

A chicken chases a man in Nikes while a manic French voiceover is translated into fumbling English. “When a chicken in this neighborhood gets angry, it will chase you down,” says the translator dryly. Creative director Mike Byrne explains, “I saw a program where the guy doing the translation was almost losing patience with the person speaking French. We needed [the voiceover] to help people along.” The writing holds viewer attention and elevates the ad from odd to hilarious. OTHER NOMINEES: Echo California Department of Health Services Ground Zero, Marina del Rey, Calif. / Noah Miller High Life Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore. / Otoscope FedEx BBDO, New York / Turkey Sprint PCS Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco

Best Art Direction
Arnold, Boston

Tight shots of mundane square-shaped objects-a dishwasher, a bar code, an electrical outlet-produced a powerful yet understated illustration of the brand’s nonconformist message. The “squares,” shot in 16mm for an unpolished look, are shown in succession until the last frame: a dome-shaped silver Beetle. OTHER NOMINEES: French Dictionary Levi’s Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York / Sheet Metal Saturn Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco / Swell Target Peterson Milla Hooks, Minneapolis / Wild Horses Nike Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Best Animation
Mountain Dew
BBDO, New York

The Christian-themed cartoon series Davey & Goliath ran for 30 years, starting in 1958. Looking just as they did back in the day, the clay-animated boys make an inspired comeback in a Mountain Dew spot that tweaks the original with modern-day slang. To lend an authentic look, the Hartford, Conn., animation house Wreckless Abandon spent three months on the production, shooting 24 images of the foam Latex puppets per second and adding splices, dust and graininess to make the 35mm film seem more like 16mm, as though it “came off the cutting-room floor.” OTHER NOMINEES: Arrow Lugz Avrett, Free & Ginsberg, New York / Penalty Serta Perfect Sleeper Doner, Southfield, Mich. / DRUM Starbucks Fallon, Minneapolis / Microwave Chips Ahoy Foote, Cone & Belding, New York

Best PSA
California Department of Health Services
Ground Zero, Marina del Rey, Calif.

In this no-excuses anti-smoking spot, healthy and sick actors say similar phrases. “I tried to quit smoking and gained five pounds,” a woman says. Another woman, obviously ill, says: “I lost 25 pounds.” “When you’re trying to hold a mirror up, you’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t make them think, ‘That’s not me,’ ” says Court Crandall, creative partner at Ground Zero. OTHER NOMINEES: Elton John MAC Cosmetics AIDS Fund and the Elton John AIDS Foundation Area 17, Boston / Quitnet New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services BBDO, Minneapolis/ Susan American Legacy Foundation Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami / Main Street USA Ad Council DeVito/Verdi, New York

Best Soundtrack

Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

If only all commercials could be this much fun: the unassuming but surprisingly mellifluous actor, the dance steps, the zebra. But mostly, the song: a clever reimagining of the Sinatra classic “My Way,” with “eBay” replacing the title words. The result is an amusing sing-along that finds an easily digestible, entertaining way to deliver a slew of product points. Elias Associates in Los Angeles arranged the tune for the Noam Murro-directed spot. The voice is Patrick Tuzzolino; the actor is Broadway veteran Danny Rutigliano (he played Timon in The Lion King).
OTHER NOMINEES: Bubble Teaser Volkswagen Arnold, Boston / Real Music Coke Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, New York / Breathe Mitsubishi Deutsch/LA, Marina del Rey, Calif. / Sheet Metal Saturn Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

Best Visual Effects
23 v 29

Element 79 Partners, Chicago

With eerily true-to-life results, Digital Domain in Los Angeles grafted a cyber head onto a Michael Jordan body double to give the illusion Jordan is playing himself as a rookie. The technology-developed for the movie XXX-required scanning Jordan’s head, creating a 3-D model, wrapping the model with a photographic layer of Jordan’s skin and altering the head so it looked 20 years younger. It was the first time the process, which took nearly six months to finish, was used for an ad. “Michael Jordan is one of the most recognizable people on the planet,” says Digital Domain svp Ed Ulbrich. “We had zero margin for error.”
OTHER NOMINEES: Digital Crime Fighting Hewlett-Packard Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco / Fish PBS Fallon, Minneapolis / Slugs Adidas 180/TBWA, Amsterdam, with TBWA\Chiat\Day, San Francisco / Stampede Levi’s Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York

Best production

Young & Rubicam, New York

The spot charts an American grandfather’s journey to Russia to take a trip into space. According to Ken Yagoda, managing partner and director of broadcast production at Y&R, the nearly two-month production was “full of challenges.” Director Joe Pytka filmed airport and space capsule scenes in Los Angeles, then flew to Seattle to shoot a man sitting on a dock, reading a Russian-language book. The last stop, with the help of a Russian production crew, was the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center in Moscow. Alana Davis’ cover of “Carry On” and special effects (a man weightless in a shuttle) by Digital Domain make for a spectacular space odyssey. OTHER NOMINEES: Driver Arnold, Boston / Sheet Metal Saturn Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco / Signs Sony PlayStation 2 TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. / Wild Horses Nike Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.