In Britain, you don't skip the ads when you're watching the telly. Otherwise you risk missing the miniature masterpieces produced by British advertising firms. A series of mobile-phone ads, for example, assemble flash mobs -- one in London's Trafalgar Square singing the Beatles' "Hey Jude" karaoke-style, and another in the same city's Liverpool Street train station performing an impromptu dance number. You could search YouTube for hours to find the best commercials from Britannia, or you can find them in one place tonight at the British Television Advertising Awards 2010. See the frighteningly talented eyebrows of two youngsters dance to electronic music in a candy spot. Watch a group of men called the Baaaa-Studs use mobile devices and dogs to herd sheep into choreographed routines that would make the best college marching band seem amateurish. Not all the ads go for laughs; some are poignant (and effective) public service announcements. The show reveals that even the most consumerist art forms can be rich with creativity and wit -- and it's refreshing to see that in Britain, advertisers assume their audiences have a certain amount of intelligence rather than diving toward the lowest common denominator. We hope some American ad execs attend -- they could learn something from their British counterparts.
Jan. 27-29, 2, 4, 6 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 30, 2, 4 & 6 p.m., 2011