Editor’s pick

Last year’s Grand Prix tussle was over comedy—bizarre sports or a boxing bear?—with Cliff Freeman and Partners, New York, beating out Leo Burnett London’s heavily favored John West Salmon spot. This year, a showdown between the U.S. and the U.K. seems far less likely.

Even jury president Jeff Goodby admits the U.S. looks less mighty this year. “Looking over the fence at what’s been done in England, I think other countries are having a better year,” he says.

That said, I think the most groundbreaking campaign from the U.S. won’t be seen in Film or Press & Poster, but in Cyber and Media: the BMW Films work from Fallon, Minneapolis. Movie-style advertising in print, TV and the Internet drove viewers to a Web site to see short films directed by Hollywood filmmakers like Ang Lee and executive produced by David Fincher. And the films delivered. Some criticized the effort for hitching its fate to surefire star power, but I chalk that up to jealousy. Who wouldn’t want to work with big-name directors on stories that last more than 30 seconds? It was a brave look at the future of entertainment and advertising, and I expect the Media and Cyber juries to agree.

The Grand Prix in Film, I’m afraid, will elude the U.S. Most likely it’ll go to Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London, for its “Life is short. Play more” campaign introducing Microsoft’s Xbox (see page 24). The musical symphony of “Mosquito” is charming and inventive, and reminds viewers that all work and no play kills creativity, which will resonate. The controversial “Champagne” spot will, too, though I’m tired of seeing spread-eagle birthing scenes in advertising and find the spot to have little more than shock value. I play videogames, and this ad reminds me to play them less, not more. That can’t be good.

My vote for the Grand Prix goes to BBH, London, not for the Xbox but for a 60-second spot for Levi’s Engineered Jeans (shown here). Directed by Jona than Glazer, it shows a young man and a woman crashing through walls to a classical soundtrack until they run up giant evergreens and leap off into a starry night sky. The spot, explosive as it is romantic, has all the right elements—stirring visuals, engaging music, propelling movement, a surreal, haunting quality that’s inviting, not dark and foreboding. It captures the energy and spirit of Levi’s target in a more truthful way than last year’s “Twist.” And the payoff, “Freedom to move,” reinforces rather than detracts from the product claim.

Nike’s “Tag” and “Shaderunning” from Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore., deserve a mention, too. They also explore the “play” theme, but encourage people to do something in the world—wear Nikes, sure, but interact with others or even the weather. They’re fun, they offer wonderful but different musical tracks, and their concepts hook back to the product. My guess is the work will get a gold. But biases against the ubiquitous Nike and the tendency to reward humor may knock it further down.