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  • 10/22/12--07:46: Ad of the Day: Kmart
  • Looking for a killer Halloween costume? Check out this killer Kmart commercial first.

    The dizzying 90-second spot, from Draftfcb in Chicago, distills the essence of a live event held earlier this month in the parking lot of a Chicago Kmart, where Monternez "Monty" Rezell danced his way through scores of Halloween costumes—showing off a tiny portion of the 3,000 or so available online and in-store at Kmart. And it wasn't just a leisurely shoot, either. Rezell, one-half of the Stick and Move dance duo (who appeared on America's Got Talent), was aiming to beat the Guinness World Record for number of costume changes—and he did so, with over 150 changes in six hours and five minutes. (Each costume consisted of at least three pieces, and Rezell needed to change into each one unassisted and remain in it for at least five seconds.)

    The agency invited mommy bloggers to the site to watch the challenge live; created the #Kmartworldrecord hashtag for people to follow and share on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; and streamed the event live on UStream. All good backstory—but the finished spot is pretty amazing to watch, too, unless you're prone to motion sickness. The sweeping frozen-moment camera pans are brilliantly executed (and show off the costumes wonderfully), and the soundtrack—"Like Wolves," by David Condos—lends a supercool, foreboding air to the production.

    The most eye-popping Kmart ad ever? It just might be. Frightfully good.

    Client: Kmart

    Agency: Draftfcb, Chicago
    Chief Creative Officer: Todd Tilford
    Senior Vice Presidents, Creative Directors: Elke Dobrowolski, Howie Ronay
    Vice President, Creative Director: Sean Burns
    Senior Vice President, Director of Content: Brian Cooper
    Senior Vice President, Group Executive Producer: Chris Bing
    Producer: Jeffrey Piper
    Senior Vice President, Group Management Director: Kelly Graves
    Account Director: Kiska Howell
    Account Executive: Alexandra Haake
    Assistant Account Executive: Mallory Beausir
    Social Platforms Community Manager: Vanessa Torres
    Associate Director, Customer Intelligence: Janneke Van Geuns

    Postproduction: Inside Job
    Senior Producer: Celena Mossell
    Editor: Ben Flaherty
    Director, Motion Design: Jon Gallo
    Assistant Editors: Dave Cullen, Justin Tvedt
    Executive Producer: Rene Steinkellner

    Production: Fountain Studio
    Director: Tony Gaddis
    Director of Photography: Andrew Cutraro
    Producer: Tina Moy
    Editors: Casey Stockdon, Bryan Arnold
    Camera: Big Freeze

    Song Credit:
    Artist: David Condos
    Song: "Like Wolves"
    Dancer: Monternez "Monty" Rezell

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    Coke Zero released a pretty mediocre James Bond spot last month, tied to Skyfall, in which the hero hummed the Bond theme throughout. Now, the brand is back with a more dynamic clip—a video showing footage of a real-world train station stunt in which passengers are prompted by a vending machine to walk to a certain platform to get free Skyfall tickets. They have 70 seconds to get there. But the journey is made more difficult by all sorts of invented obstacles—turning the ticket seeker into a stand-in for 007 himself, having to overcome adversity before earning his reward. The singing element remains, as the final task prompts the passenger to hum the Bond theme. Some people are grousing on YouTube that it's clearly actors who are hustling through the station. That's probably true—trying to get people to slip on runaway oranges before they sign a waiver might be a tough sell, insurance wise. Still, people tend to love these kinds of setups—and this clip has gotten more than 3 million YouTube views since Thursday. Via Unruly Media.

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    Cadbury has finally started recognizing Halloween with its Cadbury Screme Egg, and these three Canadian TV spots for it—by ad agency The Hive in Toronto—are as spooky as ads for candy eggs will allow. They do a good job of showing off the Screme Egg's special Halloween wrapper and green-and-white yolk (which looks a bit more like snot than they probably intended). The "Last Stand" ad is a particularly fun homage to Dawn of the Dead and Death Race 2000 (and maybe Ash's rehabbed car from Army of Darkness). Cadbury eggs are surprisingly expressive, as it turns out. The tagline, "Get them while you last," is an inspired touch, too.

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    You've already seen Kellogg's Crunchy Nut cereal personified as a '60s-style, yellow-spandex-clad superhero fighting to restore flavor to breakfast. Now, in a new video created in collaboration with Funny or Die, meet the villains. Like the rest of the campaign, "The Boring Breakfast Brotherhood" plays on comic-book tropes—in this case, the evil conference-room congregation—only, more bumbling. Cue ringleader "Dry Toast," who knacks of Dick Tracy's Big Boy Caprice, and "Greasy Steak," a rebel reminiscent of a pre-Joker Jack Napier. In what's perhaps the spot's most amusing bit of writing, "Oatmeal" appears incapable of saying anything but his own name. (We like oatmeal, but this seems like an appropriate interpretation of how it would be, if it were a person.) The PR agency, Edelman, says its own Kellogg's-dedicated unit Krispr and its branded entertainment arm Matter led this execution, rather than Leo Burnett, which did the TV campaign. What do you think: Is it a sweet bit of branded entertainment, or does the deliberately overcooked style fall short of delicious?

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  • 10/23/12--01:50: The Spot: Heart of Darkness
  • IDEA: Zombies crave braaaains, but they're also fond of heaaaarts. Your heart keeps you alive, after all, and zombies need you alive to devour you. So, it stands to reason zombies know CPR—to resuscitate heart-attack victims and not let that good food go to waste. That's the amusing premise behind this tense and gory PSA for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Advertising is soaked in zombie blood already, but given the target (young people) and the timing (Halloween), Agency59 couldn't resist. It got cult horror auteur Vincenzo Natali on board. The Canadian director turned in a mini masterpiece—a ferocious three-minute spot that packs in great special effects, an entertaining twist and even a short CPR demo. Eat your heart out, America!

    COPYWRITING: The client liked Vinnie Jones and Ken Jeong's CPR videos, both set to the Bee Gees song "Stayin' Alive," which famously has the two-beats-per-second rhythm you're supposed to use for CPR chest compressions. "I think they were expecting us to use 'Stayin' Alive' as well," said Agency59 chief creative officer Brian Howlett. "But we decided to tell this other story." In it, a woman is caught up in a zombie apocalypse when she has a heart attack and drops to the ground. The zombies, step by step, use CPR to bring her back to life. "CPR makes you undead," says the on-screen copy. Soon enough, this is true in the darker sense—as the horde descends on the woman and turns her into one of them. "We wanted to bring a bit of sly humor into the zombie genre," Howlett said of the script. "And the client didn't change a word."

    ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Natali shot over a weekend in August, shutting down parts of downtown Toronto. The film has a cinematic and intensely grim look. The greenish color grade adds to the sense of rot. Natali, who had never shot an ad, was drawn to the material and got several Hollywood friends involved at a fraction of the normal cost, including the special-effects team at Alter Ego—who spectacularly ruined the Toronto cityscapes with CGI and gave the zombies oozing wounds and glowing eyes. Even the length is cinematic, almost trailer-like. "We knew that the longer we set it up, that the turn [i.e., the plot twist] would be pretty funny," said Howlett.

    TALENT: Canadian actress Michelle Nolden, another frequent Natali collaborator (she stars in his upcoming movie Haunter), donated her time to play the lead. She deftly conveys raw fear. "We were looking for someone of a certain age where it was possible she could have a heart attack. She couldn't be a teen," said Howlett. "But she's also athletic and strong. She's not really a damsel in distress." Many of the zombies are people who belong to zombie clubs and often dress up and play undead parts. "We used our casting sources, but we definitely tapped into the zombie pool as well," said Howlett.

    SOUND: Cyrille Aufort, another Natali favorite, composed the score. "It had to convey suspense and speak to the genre, but also inform the turn when it happens," said Howlett. It also keeps to two beats per second during the demo. The Foley and ambient sounds were done by RMW in Toronto.

    MEDIA: It's primarily an online campaign, based at TheUndeading.ca, but the film premiered at a live event in Toronto's Dundas Square and aired in its entirety during a show on Canada's Space network. A scripted initiative on Twitter has 20 characters desperately trying to get from Dundas Square to a zombie-free "safe zone" at Canada's Wonderland amusement park—where, at the conclusion of the campaign, the client will hold live CPR training.


    Client: Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario
    Agency: Agency59, Toronto
    CCO: Brian Howlett
    CW: Ketan Manohar
    AD: Naeem Walji
    Agency Producer: Maggie Kelly
    Production Company: Cartilage Inc.
    Director: Vincenzo Natali
    Executive Producer: William Cranor
    Producer: Matthew Kloske
    D.O.P.: Jeremy Benning, C.S.C.
    Visual Effects: Alter Ego
    Editing: Married to Giants
    Music: Cyrille Aufort
    Sound Design: RMW
    Starring: Michelle Nolden

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  • 10/23/12--15:50: Ad of the Day: PlayStation
  • PlayStation's live-action heroes are back, and they're beating the crap out of each other.

    Last year, Deutsch L.A. created “Michael,” a two-minute paean to the hardcore gamer. In that spot, actors recreated a host of characters from the console's hit games, congregated in a bar and toasting the deeds of the everyman holding the controller. Today, the agency has reprised a handful of those characters for a Michael-Bay-style fight sequence—part of "The All-Star," another two-minute teaser also shot by “Michael” director Simon McQuoid, for the upcoming melee title, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.

    Slated for release Nov. 20 in the U.S., the game lets players pit protagonists from different games against one another. The ad features only four of those protagonists: God of War's Kratos (the big blue muscle-head), Uncharted's Nathan Drake (the scruffy bro touting the shoulder holster and driving the jeep), Infamous's Cole MacGrath (the balding guy with lightning coming out of his mitts) and LittleBigPlanet's SackBoy (the little boy made out of a sack). And as the spot draws to a close, a "Michael"-esque gamer also makes a cameo, in the form of an awkward apology to Kratos, whom he is ostensibly controlling and has just let unceremoniously catch an exploding gas tank in the face.

    That’s the kind of storyline likely to delight the console’s diehard fans. The execution is also a rich bit of film work—it builds suspense well, and is packed with details; there are 23 Easter eggs (hidden allusions) sprinkled throughout the spot, according to Deutsch. The agency also teased the ad’s launch with 15-second cuts, including one featuring the apparently gibberish letter that the mistress of ceremonies is punching out on the typewriter. Fans quickly identified the language as Lombax, from the game Ratchet and Clank and deciphered the meaning as “Dear Copernicus, we have received your letter and regret to inform you ... ,” an almost equally arcane reference to a character from the same title.

    In other words, the ad goes heavy on the inside baseball. While it may feel a little stilted or stunted to the lay eye, it’s still in essence just a teaser—the main event is the game itself. For the less clueless, the spot adds another layer to the fun, further blending the digital fantasy with reality, and smartly amping anticipation for the game's release. Viewers will know right away on which side of that line they fall.



    Chief Creative Officer: Mark Hunter
    Group Creative Director: Jason Elm
    Creative Director: Sam Bergen
    Copywriter: Liz Cartwright
    Art Director: Stephen Lum
    Director of Integrated Production: Vic Palumbo
    Director of Content Production: Victoria Guenier
    Executive Producer: Paul Roy
    Production Company: Imperial Woodpecker
    Director: Simon McQuoid
    Executive Producer: Doug Halbert
    Line Producer: Anita Wetterstedt
    Production Services Company: Unit + Sofa, Prague, Czech Republic
    Executive Producer: Filip Hejduk
    Line Producer: Petra Ondrickova
    Editorial Company: Cut & Run
    Editor: Steve Gandolfini
    Managing Director: Michelle Burke
    Executive Producer: Carr Schilling
    Head of Production: Christie Price
    Postproduction Facility: The Mill
    Lead Flame Artist: Tim Davies
    Colorist: Adam Scott
    Executive Producer: Ben Hampshire
    Producer: Adam Reeb
    Visual Effects Supervisor: Hitesh Patel
    Music: Stimmung Music
    Composer: Robert Miller
    Sound Design, Audio Post Company: 740 Sound
    Sound Designers: Eddie Kim, Andrew Tracy
    Executive Producer: Scott Ganary
    Audio Post Company: Lime
    Mixers: Mark Meyuha, Andrew Tracy

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    McDonald's is all about transparency. Just rub some of its fries against a sheet of paper and see what happens. Soon, you'll be able to look straight through it and watch Tribal DDB's latest video in a series for McDonald's Canada in which the chain shares the skinny on how its food items are made. (Skinny—heh.) Now, as far as I'm concerned, McD's fries are a food of the gods, so I always assumed they fell like greasy, salted manna from heaven. It turns out they start as humble potatoes that get harvested, washed, peeled, cut and fried up. Good to know. In the film, we see shots of a conveyor belt packed with fries. I'd like to ride one of those. These clips work well enough, I guess, but they feel kind of forced and pandering. (And there's a persistent overcast grayness to this one that makes it unappetizing. Couldn't they wait for a sunny day to film outdoors?) It also seems cowardly to disable YouTube comments. Might some snarky trolls hit below the ever-widening belt? I guess we'll never know. Time for a gut check, McDonald's. Credits below.

    Client: McDonald's Canada
    Title: "From Farm to Fries"
    Agency: Tribal DDB, Toronto
    Creative Director: Louis-Philippe Tremblay
    Copywriter: Ryan Lawrence
    Art Director: Benson Ngo
    Agency Producer: Melanie Lambertsen
    Account Director: Miles Savage
    Production Company: Family Style
    Directors: John Weyman, Torey Kohara
    Line Producer: Liz Dussault
    Editing, Postproduction: School
    Audio House: RNW
    Talent: McDonald's employees, suppliers

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    Somewhere between Crank Yankers and Ashton Kutcher, pranking unsuspecting people for the benefit of your brand has become popular. Case in point: LG set out to prove that its IPS monitors have super life-like colors by installing a false floor of monitors in an elevator and recording people's freaked-out reactions when they made the floor appear to fall away underfoot. Of course, it's a big hit on YouTube—the second of the year for LG. Sadism is a peculiar creative strategy, but there's no denying that people love watching other people get scared almost as much as they like watching other people get kicked in the balls. Too bad they didn't catch any good screamers. Agency: SuperHeroes in Amsterdam.

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  • 10/24/12--11:31: Ad of the Day: Apple
  • I swear to you, I pulled up this new ad for the iPad mini on YouTube, and before I even managed to put in my earbuds, I said to myself, "Those two iPads had better not be playing 'Heart and Soul.' "

    Here's a question: How long will it be before the iPhone is taken off the market briefly and reintroduced as the iPad nano? Will they have to redo this spot as a Bach trio? One hopes. Baroque music is awesome.

    What is more awesome, though, is that Apple has managed to sell what is basically a much larger iPod touch in not one but two different sizes and somehow the response has not been "That's just the same product three times!" but instead "How many of these am I allowed to buy?" If there were ever direct proof that, to quote Marshall McLuhan, invention is the mother of necessity, the iPad is it.

    And of course, the success is partly due to Apple's unbelievably skilled marketing apparatus, which takes one look at Microsoft's Busby-Berkeley-meets-electronica ad for the Surface and runs fast in the opposite direction. Take a look at the two spots side by side—they appear to be making fun of each other.

    The Microsoft spot is 100 percent flash and filmmaking and overstatement—it's obviously a product that will cure cancer, put mankind on Mars and bring peace to the Middle East. The Apple spot is about a product that is just … well, it's just adorable, isn't it? Also, some of our readers have uncharitably (but entirely correctly) pointed out that the, uh, surface of the Surface appears to be covered in fingerprints in the very last shot of the Microsoft spot—something that would probably cost two managers and a vp their jobs if it happened at Apple. (Seriously, does anyone wonder why Disney and Apple get along so well? OCD is a very effective marketing strategy.)

    The iPad mini, here, is simple. It's clean. It makes sense. It's kind of funny. It's perfect.

    Just like the iPhone 5.

    Client: Apple
    Spot: "Piano"
    Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab
    Chief Creative Officer: Duncan Milner
    Executive Creative Director: Eric Grunbaum
    Creative Directors: Simon Cassels, Jon Lancaric
    Art Director: Luke Martin
    Copywriter: Chris Trumbull
    Executive Producer: Mike Refuerzo
    Agency Producers: Hank Zakroff, Mallory Gordon, Tessa Kocourek, Christina Villaflor
    Production Company: Green Dot FIlms
    Directors: Mark Coppos, Rebecca Baehler
    Director of Photography: Fernando Cardenas
    Editorial Company: Nomad Editing
    Editor: Jenny Mogen
    Postproduction Company: D-­Train
    Lead Flame Artist: Ben Gibbs

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  • 10/24/12--21:20: Portrait: Iris
  • Specs
    Who From left, managing director Sarah Aitken, CEO Americas Jeremy Cochran, cd Tim Clarkeand director of strategy Esty Gorman
    What Marketing, advertising and experiential agency
    Where New York offices

    One of the most stunning architectural holiday visuals in New York last year were the cascading snowflakes and Champagne-like bubbles projected on the facade of Saks Fifth Avenue. The projection-mapping program is an example of the experiential work created by Iris, which also produced the retailer’s holiday shopping bag, in-store merchandising, point-of-sale signage and commemorative bottle of scented blowing bubbles. Iris is keeping mum about its plans but is working to outdo that display this year. 

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    In the Olde Booke of Branding Wisdom—well, if there is one—is writ an important lesson: Just because your brand’s been around for a century doesn’t mean you can stray off message. History hands us few better examples than the one illustrated by the ads here—suited, as it turns out, to the nippy weather nearly upon us. Founded in 1912, ChapStick is today so dominant that its trade name often stands in for the entire lip-balm category. Its promise of sealing and protecting is virtually built into our consumer DNA, so how could anyone mess it up? Just watch.

    In 1968, Suzy Chaffee whizzed onto American TV during that year’s Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. That she came in 28th in the Women’s Downhill might have been more upsetting to her had she not realized the attention the cameramen were giving her in that silver body suit. Chaffee did look terrific, but she also knew a thing or two about being out in the cold. And somewhere in the marketing department of the A.H. Robbins Co.—makers of ChapStick lip balm—the light went on.

    By the 1970s, Chaffee was back, this time as Suzy Chapstick. In TV spots and print ads like the one above, Chaffee was the ideal messenger for Robbins’ core brand, and the message couldn’t have been easier to remember: It’s ChapStick Weather, said Suzy, so protect your lips. It was the ultimate “duh” directive; it was also perfect. “They were leveraging the expertise of an individual who knew something about chapped lips,” said John Parham, president of brand extension agency Parham Santana. “It’s a modern, classic ad—and very believable.”

    ChapStick stuck with it, too, going on to hire other highly popular female athletes (Dorothy Hamill, Picabo Street) to deliver much the same message. So how did this do-right brand wind up with the ad opposite—one that raised cries of confusion and rage from countless women when it appeared late last year? Parham waves aside the widespread accusations of sexism. Instead, he says, an equally insidious disease was at work—presumptuousness. “A lot of brands do this,” he sighed. “ChapStick is 100 years old. They probably said, ‘Let’s go big! Let’s do the it’s-part-of-our-lives strategy!’ But the problem is that it so broadens the focus that the marketing becomes meaningless.”

    By going wide and abstract with a bizarre ad, ChapStick seemed to cling to an abstruse belief that the brand had become more about our lives than our lips. Wrong. The only thing truly lost in those couch cushions was relevancy—that and the goodwill among female buyers that stars like Hamill, Street and, of course, Chaffee had built up over decades. Parent Pfizer pulled the ad and posted an apology. Then (perhaps) it wondered if that time-honored message—It’s cold outside, so protect your lips, stupid—wasn’t so bad after all.

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    If you're being tailed by a bulbous, yellow stalker, it can mean one of two things: Either Donald Trump is off his meds, or you followed Mellow Mushroom on Twitter. The Atlanta-based pizza chain is returning the favor of a Twitter follow by sending its felt-covered hippie-shroom mascots to shadow some of its online followers in the physical world. Fitzgerald + Co. orchestrated the "Follow Us and We'll Follow You" campaign and contacted friends and family of the restaurant's recent social-media converts to coordinate the stalkings, which are captured in a series of YouTube clips. It's all here, from the faux horror-flick music to the groundbreaking use of the mushroom-cap cam to get the requisite "scary" shots from the stalker's POV. Some folks seem blithely oblivious to the beast, while others are fairly freaked out as they're stalked in shopping plazas, restaurants, parks and office lobbies. Adding a delicious element of claustrophobia, they're even followed into elevators. (I rode up to the sixth floor yesterday with a dude who wasn't bulbous or yellow, but man he smelled like fungus.) At one point, a guy in sunglasses turns and asks a big yellow mushroom, "What's the scoop?" I'll answer that: The notion of being stalked—either online or IRL, but especially when one follows the other—unsettles most of us on some level, allowing the campaign to successfully tread a fine line between goofy and edgy. Sure, those Sid and Marty Krofft-style dome-tops are probably harmless. Then again, they might kill you in horribly painful ways, especially if they've passed their sell-by date.

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    This month, Radio Flyer started airing TV commercials for the first time in more than 20 years. But that doesn't mean you'll be seeing more of its iconic red wagons on your tube. Instead, the brand is using its media buys to peddle products it's less known for: two-wheel scooters.

    "Our market share in two-wheel scooters isn't that big and we're aggressively going after that category," said "chief wagon officer" Robert Pasin, whose grandfather Antonio Pasin founded the company in 1917. "We just really wanted to make a lot of noise and communicate to consumers that we're in this business."

    Created by Atlanta-based agency Leader Enterprises, the spots launched in early October, and promote the brand's red "Shockwave" scooter (aimed at boys) and pink "Groove Glider" scooter (aimed at girls). The ads are running some 230 times total on Nickolodeon and Disney XD, estimated Pasin.

    That reflects the brand's goal to directly reach kids older than those who are normally using its products, he said.

    In the past, Radio Flyer has run print advertising for its wagons in magazines like Parenting and AARP. "A lot of grandparents buy wagons for their grandkids; its kind of a traditional gift," according to Pasin. "Most wagons are bought for kids before they're even one [year old]."

    The new scooters, meanwhile, are aimed at kids ages 5, 6, 7 and 8, who will continue to use them as they grow up.

    "[These] kids are very involved in the purchase decision," Pasin said. 

    Radio Flyer began working with Leader Enterprises, its primary agency, earlier this year, Pasin said. That role was previously played by McKinney, which announced it would lead creative on the account just last year. 

    "We want to be the No. 1 brand in anything with wheels for kids," Pasin said. "We're No. 1 in wagons, No. 1 in tricycles, No. 1 in pre-school scooters." In 2008, Radio Flyer reported its share of the wagon market at 80 percent. Today, its market share is "basically the same,” he said.

    Conquering the two-wheel scooter category is likely to be an uphill fight for Radio Flyer. Razor leads the market, and says it has sold 25 million scooters since launching in the United States in 2000. Still, it’s a reasonable extension for Radio Flyer, said Sean McGowan, a toy industry analyst at Needham & Company, given the wagon company already has “a brand name and a color palette that stand for durable, relatively safe fun for kids, and for wheeled goods.”

    Radio Flyer experienced 31 percent growth from 2007 to 2010 according to Inc. Magazine, reaching total annual revenue of $103 million. "Our sales were down in 2011," said Pasin, noting that they are back up in 2012. 

    But the brand's decision to advertise two-wheel scooters wasn't a reaction to a single year of soft sales, according to Pasin. "We're very much about long-term growth," he said. "One off year is not ideal, but it doesn't drive us to do things that are for the short term at all."

    Overall, the U.S. toy market shrank 2 percent from $21.7 billion in 2010 to $21.2b in 2011, according to research firm NPD, effectively reversing similar growth from 2009 to 2010.

    "You don't come out with a line of scooters in 2012 because you had a tough 2011," added McGowan. "You come out with a line of scooters in 2012 because you've watched what’s happened in the past 20 years."

    "If you want growth in an industry that doesn't grow, you need to move into new categories."

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  • 10/25/12--11:29: Ad of the Day: Ikea
  • Mother London launched a new campaign for Ikea in the U.K. and Ireland last week titled "Entertaining." The first spot is a music video called "Playin' With My Friends" (the song is performed by Masters in France), which stars a group of kids and their wacky friends—an enormous stuffed bear, a giant toy robot, a life-size action figure, and others—preparing a dinner party in an Ikea kitchen while dancing to the goofy song.

    According to the agency, the spot "explores the insight that adults and children all behave better when they're sat around the same table together, rather than the children being sat at the end of the table." At the end of the video, we see that the kids' companions aren't actually oversized toys—they're the parents. Apparently, if you let your children get involved in the entertaining, they'll think you're almost as much fun as a monkey who can carry pots with its feet.

    But the real standout piece in the campaign is Mother's making-of video, which is narrated by one of the spot's stars, Darren the Bear. Before being cast in the campaign, Darren tells us in his thick Scottish brogue, he was just your average 8-foot-tall stuffed bear walking the streets of London, trying to avoid stepping on gum (turns out it's difficult to find shoes that fit him) and working as a cleaner in his local Ikea. All of that changes when he's cast in the music video, where he gets to work with some "proper professional" wee'uns and one rather bothersome "action guy," and receives glowing reviews from his castmates. Now, Darren is taking acting classes—and is even dating one of his fellow students.

    It's a pretty charming story.

    Client: Ikea
    Agency: Mother, London
    Production Co.: Blink
    Director: Dougal Wilson
    Producer: Ewen Brown
    Editing House: Final Cut
    Editor: Ed Cheesman
    Post Production: MPC
    VFX: MPC
    VFX Producer: Julie Evans
    VFX Supervisor: Tom Harding
    Grade: Jean-Clement Soret
    Audio Post: 750mph
    Sound Design: Sam Ashwell
    DoP: Stephen Keith Roach

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    This week, one lucky lady got George Clooney and buried treasure, Will Ferrell headed to Sweden to sell some Old Milwaukee (which isn't even sold there!), and train passengers got a chance to become real-life James Bonds. 

    Many of the hundreds of TV commercials that air each day are just blips on the radar, having little impact on the psyche of the American consumer, who is constantly bombarded by advertising messages.

    These aren't those commercials.

    Adweek and AdFreak have brought together the most innovative and well-executed spots of the week, commercials that will make you laugh, smile, cry, think—and maybe buy.

    Video Gallery: Top 10 Commercials, Oct. 19-26

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    Breaking news, times two: Reclusive rocker Axl Rose has come out of hiding to promote his band's month-long gig at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Vegas. And he's doing some vocals for Litter Genie's new ad campaign. Oh, wait. That's really a pack of yowling cats? Impressive sound-alike! The newest Litter Genie music video, released this week, sobers up from the trippy, herb-induced adventure of its predecessor and goes full hairball, er, hair band. The heavy-metal-loving felines tout a waste-disposal device that "holds two weeks of poo. It's so easy, who knew?" The kitten-voiced tagline, "Buh-bye smellies," is an especially nice touch, as are the performers' dog-collar necklaces and black leather mini-duds. The folks at JWT in New York had to be encouraged after the first video, "I Haz a Catnip in Mah Head," snagged 400,000 views on YouTube in less than a month. More to come, because, you know, why not?

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    If bullets were crayons, grenades blew bubbles and land mines exploded into picture books, kids in war-afflicted areas would be doing a lot better. Pollyanna-ish as that may sound, this PSA for War Child Canada uses arrestingly sunny twist endings to heart-wrenching war-zone setups to efficiently illustrate the charity's mission—helping end armed conflict and creating long-term stability by protecting and educating children. The cause is indisputably worthwhile. Is the ad, from John St., too fantastical to be really compelling? Or does it play with your expectations enough to stick in your head and move you to act?

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    As if there weren’t enough Orwellian examples of creative advertising reviews sans creative, along comes the global HSBC contest and a new poll that finds marketers increasingly are focusing on cost and efficiencies when reviewing their accounts.

    RSW/US polled 101 marketing leaders at companies like Reckitt Benckiser and Volkswagen and 168 executives at agencies such as DDB and JWT, asking if factors like operations, resources and price are becoming more important in reviews.

    Eighty-three percent of the marketers and half of the agencies said yes, and nearly a third of the agencies said they think marketers are overemphasizing non-creative factors in reviews.

    Yet, when asked if this heightened focus on operational concerns undercut creativity, 77 percent of the marketers said no.

    Of course, you get what you pay for, and if cost is a primary concern, marketers shouldn’t be surprised if less experienced (read: cheaper) talent ends up working on their business. That’s not to say that agencies can’t operate more efficiently. But there are limits.

    “Given the pressures that [marketers are] facing, they need to know that they’re getting the most out of their agencies,” explained Mark Sneider, president of RSW/US, a new business consulting firm in Cincinnati. “They need agencies that can come in and smartly and strategically help manage their business in as efficient a way as they can.

    “But there is a line that marketers are going to keep trying to push,” Sneider added. “And at some point there is a diminishing return to the value they’re going to get out of these agencies.”

    Nevertheless, global corporations these days are driven to deliver shareholder value any way they can. And it’s in that context that HSBC is assessing all its outside supplier relationships, including those related to marketing.

    Underscoring the operational bent of its review, HSBC is using a consulting firm that specializes in procurement and supply chain optimization.

    The high stakes benchmarking exercise also includes the bank’s media business and will last up to five months. Lead creative and media shops JWT and Mindshare are defending.

    Two other mega-marketers recently shifted creative assignments for efficiencies’ sake. Three weeks ago, Johnson & Johnson dismissed three creative agencies and redistributed their assignments among four roster shops. In March, General Motors consolidated its global Chevrolet creative account at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and McCann Erickson, cutting some 70 shops in the process.

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    To promote its new Intense Hydration line, Burt's Bees placed a clever "interactive" billboard on a busy street in Minneapolis. The sign showed a woman whose dry skin was made up of thousands of product coupons. These "flakes" were peeled away by folks passing by over the course of a day, revealing an image of the same model with a creamier (presumably hydrated) complexion. The "before and after" effect can be seen in the time-lapse clip below, and the still images below that. The video sends you to Burt's Facebook page, where you can get your own coupons. The video by Baldwin& has garnered 30,000 YouTube views in a week. That's fairly sweet for Burt's Bees, which, let's face it, isn't exactly the sexiest drone in the hive. It's kind of creepy to think that passersby were symbolically peeling off a human being's skin. But this is Minneapolis, so I guess anything goes. The client was lucky some joker didn't come along right at the beginning and snatch all 1,300 coupons in a skin-care-savings frenzy, forcing them to set up the whole thing again.

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    Lots of insurance policies promise protection from unexpected mayhem. Only DBS in Singapore claims to cover cars sliced in half by lightsabers. And to advertise that promise, Tribal DDB put together quite the eye-catching display: an actual car cut in half and lying in a parking spot. A QR code on the car led curious passersby to the video below, showing a couple of dudes horsing around with lightsabers and precipitating the accident. The footage appears to have been captured by an in-camera, which is part of the ad's offer: Those who sign up for DBS insurance by the end of the year will get a free in-car camera worth $129. The advertiser is promising two more stunts in the coming weeks. Hopefully one of them will show a car waiting snug inside a Tauntaun for a tow truck after breaking down. Credits after the jump.

    Client: DBS
    Creative Agency: Tribal DDB Singapore
    Media Agency: MPG Singapore
    Chief Creative Officer: Neil Johnson
    Creative Director: Thomas Yang, Francis Ooi
    Art Director: Benson Toh
    Copywriter: Theresa Ong
    Photography: Allan Ng
    Producer: Michelle Tan
    Accounts Team: Anthony Wan, Joshua Lee, Jasmine Ng
    Production Company: CRITICA
    Additional credits: Ng Kok Jong, Ellyna Rahim, Pierce Sim, Ng Hwei Yun, Edwyna Yeo


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