Herewith, our fourth Golden Eagle Awards, celebrating the rarest of birds: TV commercials of 1990 that managed to soar, even shine. No easy task. The envelopes, please:
1. Levi's Jeans: "Is your fly buttoned?" Sincere, sweet slices from the juicy pie of real life: ads that show a kooky plate juggler, kids catching balls outside Wrigley Field and more - all directed by Spike Lee, buttoned down and beautiful. Levi's, for generations now, has magically managed to have the art of great advertising all zipped up.2. Nissan Sentra: "Bob" sails through bumper-to-bumper traffic, in and out of toll booths, red lights, freeway lanes and parking spaces reserved especially for him. He gets popped by a cop, who - bowing before greatness - backs off apologetically. "Oh . . . it's you, Bob." Fantasies don't get much better than this. The tag line: "Because rich guys shouldn't have all the fun."
3. MTV's "Rock the Vote": There was Madonna wrapped in a bikini and a flag, yelling, "if you don't vote, you're gonna get a spanking," Donny Osmond in a storm trooper's outfit and Iggy Pop wrapped head to toe in tape. MTV's unusually entertaining campaign defined the cutting edge and managed a tough task: hammering home a message about artistic expression and free speech - and how to protect it.
4. Nick at Night: The cable station pushing promos of Donna Reed or "the World's Greatest Ad Man," Darrin Stevens, could have sunk into monotonous mediocrity. But Nick's hip, tongue-in-cheek approach does it exactly right - glorifying an era when frozen chicken pot pies were a way of life and women knew their place was in the kitchen, defrosting them.
5. The Beef Industry Council: You were in Luck, darlin', if you saw the extraordinarily clever spots showcasing best-o'-the-beef from small American towns - like Luck, Wis.; Utopia, Texas; and Manhattan, Montana. Wonderful photography and an offbeat sense of humor made these a Prime Cut all the way.
6. Timex: Unlike those Neanderthals at Miller Brewing Co., who dumped the classic motto, "It's Miller Time," this is a company that knows when it's got a good thing going. "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking" has been revived with some fun true-life stories that make it relevant. And the wry approach is timely indeed.
7. Dakin: No fluff stuff from the plush toymaker. This was a breakthrough campaign that, for the first time ever, nailed the big video game manufacturers for promoting violence and war in their toys. A hit with educational advocates, and a great argument for getting the cuddly old teddy bear out of the closet.
8. The Gap: Remains a breakthrough effort of sheer elegance that stars all ages, colors and occupations with compelling portraiture. These in-house spots continue to make even a turtleneck look like a work of art.