Walker's quirky British TV ad awards adapt online, with new name

Rapping Farmers
A rapping farmer promotes organic milk in this ad from Britain's Yeo Valley Organic. The spot is one of many entered in the British Arrow Awards hosted by the Walker Art Center.
Image courtesy Yeo Valley Organic

The British Television Commercial Awards hosted by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis have been renamed the British Arrow Awards. But one thing hasn't changed: The crowd-pleasing show that accompanies the awards.

The ads are still filled with the same strange delights, which this year include rapping dairy farmers, maze-solving goldfish, and angels tumbling from the skies under the spell of a certain deodorant. (See a selection of the videos below.)

The first of this year's 150 screenings will be introduced in a sold-out event Friday night by Lizie Gower, the chair of the awards committee. She told said the new moniker grows out of a new reality: Television commercials aren't just on TV any more.

"You can see advertising on laptops, on mobile phones, in fact we even have them on bus shelters," Gower said. "To reflect where you can actually see advertising now, we have taken the word 'television' out."

As a result, several of the ads are quite long, three minutes or more. And some are more serious in nature. One campaign of TV ads linked to an interactive website to prevent knife attacks can take 20 minutes or more to watch in their entirety. Each clip tells the story of a knife attack at a party from a different point of view, and viewers can change the outcome of the ad, Gower said. The idea is to help people understand how they can prevent violence. (A condensed version is in the Walker show.)

This is the first year Gower has introduced the awards, and she says she is astounded, and a little bemused by the interest the show generates in Minnesota. While the show does make the rounds at other major U.S. cities, the Minneapolis show is by far the longest run by an order of several magnitudes.

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"Something like 20,000 people will see it [in Minneapolis]," she said. "I can hardly believe I've got that number right."

The Walker show opens Friday night, but tickets are still available for other nights through the end of December.

For more information, visit the Walker's website, or call the box office at 612.375.7600. Your ticket includes one free gallery admission within a week of the ticket date -- a $10 value -- and a $5 discount in the Walker Shop.

Watch some of the entries:

Yeo Valley Rappers

Hovis Hearty Oats - Miss Chief

Barclaycard Rollercoaster

Adland's Creative Circle

Bill Bailey introduces Farming and Countryside Education (FACE)