The British have us beat when it comes to television advertising. While American ads as a whole rely on addictive but mindless jingles and phrases, our friends across the pond are elevating their television spots to short-film cinema. And for two Sundays in a row at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, you can see them at The 2010 British Television Awards, a collection of the year's most thought-provoking TV spots, chosen by top advertising executives and producers from around the world.
This year's most exciting spots include commercials for Volkswagen, Cadbury, the Department of Transport and McDonald's. The winner of the best ad of the year, T-Mobile, features a mass dance-off from a flash mob. In the infectious spot, a spontaneous group takes over Liverpool Street Station last year. Part of the "Life's for Sharing" campaign, the clip provides a charming visual of how quickly joy spreads through a crowd, encouraging the audience to share their joy with others - using their T-Mobile phones, of course.
That mini-movie is an example of what Richard Silverstein, co-chairman and creative director of San Francisco powerhouse Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, calls a real art form. "In general, TV advertising has always been a high form of public art in the U.K. People over there watch commercials as if they are entertainment," he told The New York Times. "[American] companies want everything buttoned-up in a 30-second ad. This often leaves nothing to the imagination, so you get pretty pedantic advertising." It's become quite common for a British television commercial to compete (and win!) at Cannes. 2 p.m. November 28, 5 p.m. December 5. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org. $6 to $7.
Sun., Nov. 28, 2 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 5, 5 p.m., 2010