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WGUC Reviews

The British Television Advertising Awards

The British Television Advertising Awards
Now Showing at: July 18th, 20th and 21st at the Carnegie Arts Center
Review by: Larry Thomas

So you ask a friend…want to go to a movie tonight? Friend says…what are we going to see? You say…two hours of British TV Commercials. Quite likely what friend says back to you can’t be repeated on radio. But it’s true, and for the most part, a good time should be had by all.

The program is a collection of the top winners from The British Television Advertising Awards. Some are short…ten seconds; some are long by comparison…three minutes or so; and as in any other collection of short films, the quality is just as varied. Since they’re British, there’s more cheeky humor involved, although we may have no clue as to what product or concept they’re promoting. The British accents also make some of the dialogue tough to understand.

On the down side, their idea of social-agenda PSAs is almost unbearable. I know it’s a good thing to encourage the populace from drunk driving, domestic violence, and the like, but these are done with such a sledge-hammer approach it’s hard to imagine why they should be award winners. There’s also a long-form airplane safety item done completely with kids that is totally annoying and pointless. And comparing the ultimate award-winner to some of the other entries…what were they thinking? The Big Kahuna is very ordinary when stacked up against some of the brilliant items in this package. And there are some really dazzling commercials included.

The funniest is an ad for Salmon Fish Fingers, the overseas version of our frozen fish sticks. The most beautiful is a wonderful animated piece featuring the music and images of The Beatles for the video game “The Beatles Rockband.” And for me, the best of show is a long-form history of Johnnie Walker whiskey presented by actor Robert Carlisle…of The Full Monty and others…as he walks through the Highlands of Scotland, encountering props and sets, but still giving the illusion that the whole piece is done in one continuous take. It also sports an original score that dwarfs the popular themes from the diamond commercials from a few years back. This is one where you’ll wish for the ability to press the “rewind” button for more than one viewing.

A series of spots for the BBC, both radio and television, highlighting various programs and hosts, are also real works of art, especially considering what passes for media ads in this country.

If you’ve been entertained, and sometimes amazed, by collections of short films, this is basically the same concept. Only they’re advertisements. And remember…even Ridley Scott got his start making television commercials before giving us Alien and Gladiator.

Cincinnati World Cinema is bringing us this opportunity to view something completely different. “The British Television Advertising Awards” will be shown Sunday at 4 and 7:30, and again on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30. All showings are in the Carnegie Arts Center in Covington. And while you’re in the building, The Carnegie is also having a separate exhibit of contemporary advertising. But wait! There’s more!! You may also partake of a buffet from Europa Bistro with cash bar and social hour at 6 pm each of the days of the film screenings.


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