Best Ball

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For me, the highlight of the USA's putt-kicking at the hands and clubs of European golfers in the Ryder Cup chamionship last weekend was not the spate of chip-ins, close iron shots, and drained birdies of NBC's Sunday morning live "highlight reel," although that was one of the most amazing stretches in network golf-coverage history.

No, the highlight for me was a new Travelers Insurance ad that featured some computer-graphic wizardry.

The way I know it was really a really effective ad is that I remember it was Travelers–quick, which airline ran that great add with coach class looking like a third-world free clinic? Great ad, but not great product recognition–and although it ran frequently, it never wore out its welcome with me. I kept looking to see what I might have missed the first or second or third time.

In the spot, a guy trips and falls at the top of one of San Fancisco's 45% angle streets. He begins rolling downhill fast and, as he does, collects an increasing number of things and people, like rolling a snowball down the hill.

The collective ball of humanity and detritus careens downhill like Steve McQueen's fastback Mustang in Bullit, eventually including car doors, as well as whole cars (It wasn't a fastback Mustang, which would have been a nice touch), as well as more people, a bride and groom, street lights and, as Andy Griffith would say, "I don't know what all."

The ball winds up taking on the intimidating dimensions of that rock in Raiders of the Lost Ark before crashing into a neoclassical edifice and exploding into its constituent parts, including the slightly-worse-for-wear wedding couple and the sheepish guy who started it all.

Neat idea, exceptionally well executed.

It is the second insurance ad campaign that has impressed me lately, the other being the Geico Burt Bacharach/Little Richard spots.

By John Eggerton

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