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Where all the superballs went

Posted at 4:25 PM on December 1, 2006 by Euan Kerr

Peter Bigg, the chief executive of the British Television Advertising Awards is in town for the 21st year running to bring his organizations awards reel to screen at the Walker Art Center.

Even he admits the Twin Cities fascination with the BTAA's is, as he puts it,"bizarre." The Walker will screen the show 50 times this year, and half the tickets are already gone with eight shows completely sold out.

He says he sees a welcome return of humor in many of the ads this year. There are also a couple of true spectacles. There is one, an ad for Sony HD televisions where thousands, (tens of thousands? millions?) of brightly colored superballs, those hard really bouncy balls you can get for a few cents at toystores, were sent hurtling down the streets of San Francisco.

"It's surprising in that it was done for real," Bigg says, "With rocket launchers and tipper trucks and helicopters, when actually post-production could have done that all quite warmly in an edit suite somewhere. But it was done for real, and allegedly every powerball in America was bought to be used. There were glazers trucks positioned out of shot all over San Francisco in case windows got smashed and car windscreens got smashed. They found for quite a few days afterwards pools of balls that were in gullies and corners."

Also for the third year in a row the voice of Minnesota's own Garrison Keillor feature prominently in some of the winning ads. Bigg says Keillor was chosen by Honda after the ad agency audition hundreds of voices. Technically Keillor wasn't even on the audition list. Instead someone just happened to hear him on a satellite radio in the agency office and thought he might be a good fit.

When asked if British viewers are aware it's the distinctive pipes of author, raconteur, and radio host Keillor in the ads, Bigg shrugs and says no.

"I think to be honest, nobody really knows who did the voiceover for it. And I think if you were to say who did it it would draw a blank with most people."

Which is just what a shy person would want.

We'll likely air the interview with Peter Bigg on Tuesday on ATC.


Oh, if you are looking for a great family film this weekend (providing everyone in the family can handle subtitles,) check out "The Cave of the Yellow Dog."

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