An annual rite of spring for me is the Winnipeg Art Gallery's screening of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Shortly after moving here in 1982, my mom started taking us to see this display of the world's best TV commercials – and I've gone every year since. The most recent collection was pretty much on par, but not as many laugh-out-loud entries as in years past. A British series for high-speed internet, a beautifully animated two-minute French ad for safe sex and Spike Jonze's Adidas spot featuring the voice of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were definite highlights. If the Lions ever come to your town, check 'em out.
This was coupled with a Tuesday screening of Kubasa In A Glass: Winnipeg TV Commercials (1978-1993) – a 6o-minute collection of extremely rare local advertising – and a who's-who and what's-what of visions I had, until this night, buried deep in my subconscious. The stomach-churning superimposed spots for Clifford's. The provincial government's "Break Free" stop-smoking campaign featuring Luba (!). The reach-out-to-the-youth effort from the local curling association (spiky hair, mullets, denim – to the tune of Bryan Adams' "The Kids Wanna Rock"). From Stan Kubicek's signature moustache to K-Tel slicer/dicers, from Nick Hill to Hunky Bill and his fantabulous perogy-making device – including a gutbusting segment of F-bomb-ridden outtakes from an old local program about RVs – it was all there in shocking LO-FI video brilliance. Our city's advertising sector has a great deal to be ashamed of.