World's Best Commercials: Cannes 'ninety-Two
1992 Directed by Various.
REVIEWED By Pamela Bruce, Fri., Jan. 28, 1994
Like them or not, television commercials are a permanent fixture on the broadcasting landscape. They relentlessly pitch everything from cars to beer, toothpaste, deodorant, and “the itch that is too private to mention” by preying upon the insecurities and desires for instant gratification felt by us masses. And, more often than not, these commercials come across as either bland or obnoxious to the point of insulting the intelligence of the viewer, forcing a rapid reach for the remote control and hitting the mute button for the duration of these intrusive ads. Fortunately, there are creative teams in the international field of television advertisers whose work in 1992 was worthy of being recognized as art at a prestigious festival in Cannes. In this documentary, 97 impressive commercials from all over the world are presented for your viewing pleasure -- a pleasure that demands 100% of your attention span because if you look away from the screen for a mere second, you're sure to miss the punchline. Ranging from the clever to the bizarre, the majority of the winners are from Europe, where such subjects as condom use to promote safe sex -- subjects that the gutless wonder advertisers in the U.S. wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole -- confronts religious morality with humor and ease. For example, an elderly man talks about the dark ages of reusable condoms that “felt as if you were wearing an inner tube” Of course, sex sells in any culture, the only difference being that some of the winners tastefully use a bare female breast to promote chocolate or perfume, as opposed to bombarding the viewer with something like the Swedish Bikini Team. Sex is also a subtle selling point in a British ad for Levi's that is an homage to the underrated 1968 Burt Lancaster film The Swimmer. Some pick parody over sex, as does a British Schweppes commercial featuring John Cleese which pokes fun at those ridiculous and pretentious Calvin Klein ads for Obsession. But it is the Grande Prix winner from Spain that is the most memorable, an 80-second masterpiece for Talens Rubber Cement. Without giving away too much, let's just say it involves a convent and a statue, and coincidentally raises humorous topical implications surrounding the recent Lorena and John Bobbitt media circus. Ah, if only all commercials could be this entertaining.