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Campaign Promotion: The Thinkboxes Shortlist for April 2008

There's a definite animal theme to the inaugural thinkboxes shortlist. We have the scary - Crusha's animated kittens - and the downright scared, courtesy of the VW Polo ad with its shivering Jack Russell.

And O2's "oxygen" commercial features hundreds of slightly more cuddly creatures, from fairytale frogs and teddy bears to dogs. There's a strong showing from the automotive sector. And while we're on the subject of vehicles, the list contains what has become something of a rarity these days - a bit of contemporary satire. Not that Cadbury would ever admit that its demolition derby of airport support vehicles should in any way make us think of anything resembling a shambles at a new airport terminal numbered somewhere between 4 and 6. Members of the Thinkbox Creative Academy can vote at www.thinkbox.tv. Audi - Gymnasts

This commercial really sorts the girls from the boys. Girls tend to see gymnasts performing a set of (albeit rather austere and aggressive) Busby Berkeley-style routines; while boys see only visual representations of the high-performance, high-precision parts of a machine - in this case, as it turns out, an Audi RS6. This film has hugely excited the gymnastic community, especially in Hungary - it was shot in Budapest, featuring local talent. The creatives responsible at Bartle Bogle Hegarty are Toby Allen and Jim Hilson; the director was Paul Hunter.

Bombardier - Fruit Machine

These sponsorship idents, created for the brand's association with Al Murray's Happy Hour on ITV, dovetail with Bombardier's wider England's Ultimate Icon initiative - in which customers were invited to vote on the person who best represents the pride of England. Winston Churchill eventually prevailed over competition from the usual and not-so-usual (Del Boy, Sooty, Roland Rat) suspects. The idents, featuring iconic names such as Charles Dickens in winning fruit machine lines, were devised by Ben Friend and Simon Brotherson at Mustoes and directed by Bitstate.

Budweiser - Popcorn and Push It

In the first of these two films (both directed by Harmony Korine, with creative input from Chris Bovill and John Allison at Fallon), a group of "good old boys" in a basement studio attempt to create a post-industrial version of the first-ever synthesiser hit, the 1969 classic instrumental Popcorn, with the drummer using beer bottles for drumsticks and other band members improvising with beer cans and bottle tops. They're urged on by the veteran musician Dave Cloud. The second film sees them meting out the pastiche treatment to an even more unlikely number - Push It by Salt-n-Pepa.

Cadbury Dairy Milk - Trucks

Created, written and directed by Juan Cabral at Fallon, this spot features a collection of airport service vehicles borrowing a runway to stage a demolition derby. It is well shot, and it's always fun to imagine machinery having a life of its own after the humans have gone. Like its predecessor, "Gorilla", the spot stands out because it's long (one-and-a-half minutes) and uses an instantly recognisable track. The success of "Gorilla" can be measured by how many different versions and spoofs of the ad are floating around on YouTube. Is this in the same league? Use your vote to decide. Yosspoofs ...

Crusha - Gym Kittens

Crusha's entry, brought to you courtesy of the CST/Exedra team Anna Goodyear and Elaine Jones and directed by Joel Veitch, features animated kittens from the scariest end of the kitten spectrum - as you expect from a brand called Crusha. The scariness is probably something to do with the kittens' piercing blue eyes and the voiceover's gravelly Manchester accent pitched somewhere between Les Dawson and Bernard Manning. Crusha is in competition with the market leader Nesquik - which now, thanks to this commercial, is positoned as the milkshake for wimps.

John Lewis - Inspirations

Four surreal performances created by Tom Hudson and Lee Goulding at Lowe London and directed by Gary Freedman for John Lewis. A huge green box falls open to the strains of English Country Garden to reveal a parasol; a dancer skips hither and yon across a stage, hugging and caressing her way through a forest of cushions on sticks; a girl in a ballgown elegantly descends a helter skelter, then floats through the air to be deposited with a bump in a chaise longue; a Fred Astaire-lookalike doggy paddles upwards through the air towards a suspended chandelier.

O2 - Oxygen

The animals go in two by two. Actually, in this film (Jonny Parker and Nik Stewart were the creative duo responsible at VCCP; Matthew Cullen and Grady Hall directed), they travel in a good deal more than pairs. Fashioned in one hypnotic panning shot, the film follows a message that begins life in O2 bubbles rising from beneath the surface of a pond and is carried, via the mouths of frogs and locust-like dragonflies, to a girl's teddy bear and out through a network of other bears to wolflike dogs on rooftops baying at the moon.

Philips - Karis

This film unveils a Los Angeles-based transgender dancer called Karis as the new face of the Satinelle Ice Epilator. It's a montage of Karis at work and at play, and in his voiceover he reveals that "the toughest bit about looking like a women would have to be my hair". The commercial's rationale is spelled out for us in caption boards at the end: "Like all men he's not great with pain ... So he uses a Philips Satinelle Ice Epilator." The DDB creatives involved included Neil Dawson, Grant Parker, Tim Charlesworth and Michael Kaplan. It was directed by Fredrik Bond.

Volkswagen - Enjoy The Everyday

This ad's genius is in the editing, with car-based scenes and their sounds cut to form a rhythmical sound collage - produced in collaboration with Paul Hartnoll of the techno-dance duo Orbital. Engine tones and snippets of human voices are sampled to create something akin to a melody on top of a beat created by car-door slams and, at one point, the snick of a golf shot. That's what you call a clever subliminal branding device. Graeme Hall and Noah Regan were the DDB creatives behind the ad, which Scott Lyon directed.

Volkswagen Polo - Dog

Created by Dylan Harrison and Feargal Ballance at DDB London and directed by Noam Murro, VW's second shortlisted spot shows a Jack Russell singing The Spencer Davis Group's I'm A Man while he rides in a Polo, and contrasts this confident behaviour with his lack of confidence outside the vehicle. Polo's trademark defensive idea of protection has neatly morphed here into the more lively idea of confidence. VW has had to weigh up one million-plus hits on YouTube against hundreds of complaints to the ASA, but it undoubtedly has an impactful ad here.

The thinkboxes are held in partnership with Haymarket Brand Media, parent company of Campaign and Marketing. These monthly, free-to-enter awards cover all forms of TV advertising creativity including spots, idents, ad-funded programming, iTV, internet TV and mobile TV ads. Up to ten shortlisted entries will be featured each month in Campaign. They will be judged by the members of the Thinkbox Creative Academy and the winner will be featured in Marketing. Intrigued? Of course you are. For rules and more information, go to www.thinkbox.tv.

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