A Rollercoaster of Emotions (sparked by 80 minutes of ads)

British TV

Clever. Funny. Smart. Shocking. Sad. Inappropriate. Happy. Touching. Gross. Creative. Entertaining.

These are just a few of the things that crossed my mind while attending a sold-out screening of the 2009 British Television Advertising Awards at the Walker Art Center during its final night.  This annual popular collection of ads reminds us just how different television standards are across the pond.

The commercials themselves always are pretty entertaining, but I found myself equally struck by the audience reaction to many of them.  While most of these award-winning ads successfully tap into some intense emotions to engage the audience, it seems odd to be sitting in a full auditorium laughing at the trials and tribulations experienced by a couple living in a nudist colony or the intoxicated antics of a drunk sock monkey, only to shift gears to the dead silence of an emotional ad titled “Pain” about funding for the Study of Infant Deaths.

With anti-binge drinking, child abuse/neglect, homelessness, and “drug mule dogs” as subject matter, this year’s ads seemed exceptionally heavy, but I found it interesting to see how many storylines drew you in to the characters.  Many of the spots were longer than I’m used to seeing here in the States and several felt more like branded content than an “ad.”  Of course, the installment also included a number of concepts that were simply cool visuals, but it seems that a compelling – and sometimes shocking – storyline was the prominent theme running through many of the 2009 selections.

You can check out this year’s list of winners at the British Television Advertising Awards Web site. In the meantime, following are a few of my favorites:

Barclaycard Waterslide

PG Tips “Monkey’s Christmas Message”

Enjoy the Everyday: Golf

Orange Rewind TV