AT&T “Butterflies”

Butterflies flutter in a tight shot opening this AT&T spot touting the wireless network’s exclusive mobile distribution of the 2008 Beijing Games. The image is claustrophobic — and the sound design more appropriate for an insect invasion than the beauty and grace usually associated with butterflies. The spot shows U.S. gymnast Nastia Liukin preparing to perform a vault routine. She raises her arms and arches her back and sends the butterflies swirling around her. A deep breath, a clenched fist, and she’s off — racing toward a gold medal, leaving the butterflies (her nerves) behind. Nicely understated in its approach, the ad offers a cinematic, sensory experience that captures the charged and uncertain moments just before an athlete takes the global stage in competition. The spot ends with footage on a mobile phone showing her successfully completing her dismount amid applause and cheers. –Eleftheria Parpis