World's Best Commercials 1997 | Chicago Reader

World's Best Commercials 1997

Fad being fashionable, the stylistic revolutions that periodically liven up television advertising quickly become its conventions. Accordingly, this anthology of international award-winning commercials doesn't contain much that seems innovative—and it's heavy on patronizing PSAs, including one that subverts its own message. A boy dressed only in underpants walks laboriously down a hallway before and after each in a series of operations funded by a charitable organization. We can see the scars he collects from each procedure; yet his ability to walk doesn't appear to improve all that much, and his near nakedness contributes to the nagging sense that he's been exploited. Only one of the entries surprised me: a Levi's ad that shows two young men—one black, one white—running for their lives from implicitly bigoted pursuers. Deemphasizing the jeans the two men wear in the nearly abstract images, the promotion manages not to trivialize their ordeal. Even when the brand name asserts itself at the end, this mininarrative seems to have a point beyond selling. Otherwise the program is pretty much business as usual.

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