Oct 30, 2008, 06:08AM

The Best Commercials on "Television"

Good TV advertising isn't dead, it's just rarely on TV.

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I can't help but cringe every time some know-it-all blusters about the lack of quality television these days, as if the time of Married, With Children was a golden age, a shining beacon atop TV Hill.

And I don't think I'm alone in this. There's enough collective cringing from television apologists that I've noticed a recent drought of knows-it all and a considerable decline in blustering. If good television is what you want, you can find it. Problem solved. Case closed.

In our current golden age of television, the only thing that seems to be suffering is the commercials. Here, the blustering arises once again: Advertising is dead, television advertising is deader than dead. There are no good commercials these days, and so on.

But, if it takes a DVD box set or hulu.com to find good television, certainly the good commercials are out there as well, waiting to be discovered.

This first commercial, directed by Oliver (brother of Michel) Gondry so neatly plays to the strengths of the medium. It is flash storytelling, shot in a way that would be tedious if it lasted one second longer, and couldn't inspire such curiosity if it was one second shorter.

Ever wonder what happens to all of those foreign language commercials starring Hollywood's almost-stars? They wind up on the never-ending treasure hunt of the Internet, for the abject joy of all who uncover them.

This spot is making fun of its client base. Or it isn't. Or it's making fun of those who make fun of its client base. Doesn't matter: RIP STUFF IN HALF.

This series won three Gold Lions at Cannes. It must have been difficult for the judges to believe what they were seeing; it's brave in a way that commercials rarely are and funny in a way they have never been. Schmaltzy, I know. Watch it anyways.

This is the best commercial I have ever seen. I cannot imagine how this idea was created. I cannot imagine the status meetings that were held around this spot, nor can I imagine the conference call with the director, nor can I imagine the set on the morning of the shoot. One day, this spot didn't exist. The next, it did.

  • Good advertising is dead because none of it jumps out to me anymore. There are numerous ads I could name that simply blend into the background, into the mucky soup of blaring sales pitches and shady ploys and tactics. I see a lot of good ads come from Europe, maybe we could take a page from their book.

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  • "Good advertising," is in most cases an oxymoron. Kodak, 18, says above that no ads jump out at him/her anymore. I'm older than that and agree. And I'm betting that people who are 20 years older than me also agree. British "adverts" are (or were) more clever, and I didn't mind at all seeing them before movies in London (this was before ads appeared in US metroplexes). There's little pride in crafting a smart television commercial, probably because the smart ones don't work for the client.

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  • I don't know if the creative edge of the advertising itself is dead or if we've become immune to it. The envelope can only be pushed so far. When the traditional American Puritan ideals about indecency are coupled with most viewers’ 8th grade reading level, how clever or avant-garde can ads really be and still make an impact with the masses?

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