British Arrows Awards

A collection of the best TV commercials from across the pond

A man with no arms playing the drums with his feet.

photo courtesy British Arrows 2017


Why, for more than 30 years, has the annual lineup for best British TV commercials screened at the Walker Art Center In Minneapolis? Don’t we get enough of our own ads? This tradition began in the mid-’80s, when the Walker was fascinated with advertising and design. Commercials deceive us, yes, but they also parrot the cultural phrases du jour, distilling status-quo anxieties into 100-second fantasies. Plus: You haven’t seen these ads yet, and they’re longer, about the length of a short film. The Walker doesn’t actually want you to hop British airlines to shop at Sainsbury’s. Instead, think of the thrill we take in judging Super Bowl commercials. Tickets sell out to watch these funny, cheesy, soulful shorts. Do our stunted attention spans drive the appeal? Maybe it’s more that brevity brings out the best in narrative film.