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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    What is it about law enforcement that makes it so delightful when they actually try to have fun in social media? It's probably just enjoyable to see the softer side of people who are trained to use deadly force and deal with the bleaker aspects of society.

    The Seattle police set the bar in this regard, of course, with their fascinating and amusing Twitter account. But now, the Instagram account of the Reykjavik, Iceland, police force has been brought to our attention—and it's a real mosaic of cute.

    It's full of fun pics of animals and kids and people on the force doing goofy things. "Police kitty in training," says the caption on the photo above, along with the hashtag #copcat.

    Sure, humanizing any police force can lead to better relations with citizens, and a safer community overall. But this is also just about being real, not taking things too seriously and delivering useful information in a more entertaining package.

    More pics below. Via Demilked.

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    Hollywood movies aren't usually based on prank ads, but Kevin Smith's latest proudly is.

    The comedy-horror hybrid, titled Tusk, is about a crazy person (played by Michael Parks) who wants to surgically modify a sane person (played by Justin Long) into a walrus. The inspiration for the bizarre story came from a similarly quirky classified ad from Britain that offered free housing to anyone willing to act like a walrus, in costume, for two hours a day.

    "Whilst in the walrus costume you must be a walrus," read the ad, "there must be no speaking in a human voice, and any communication must entail making utterances in the voice of a walrus—I believe there aer (sic) recordings available on the web—to me, the voice is the most natural thing I have ever heard. Other duties will involve catching and eating the fish and crabs that I will occasionally throw to you whilst you are being the walrus."

    Smith found the joke ad online and discussed it on his podcast, reports Variety, then decided to turn it into a movie after receiving popular support for the idea on social media.

    The ad's author, Chris Parkinson of Brighton, got an associate producer credit for the movie, visited the set in North Carolina and attended the premiere in Los Angeles. He is apparently a regular writer of joke ads, though most don't yield quite as much success—in addition to the movie, he says this one drew 400 responses.

    That's not really that surprising, though—paying rent by pretending to be a walrus actually seems like a pretty good deal.

    Full text of the original walrus ad below.

    Hello, I am looking for a lodger in my house. I have had a long and interesting life and have now chosen Brighton as a location for my retirement. Among the many things I have done in my life is to spend three years alone on St. Lawrence Island. These were perhaps the most intense and fascinating years of my life, and I was kept in companionship with a walrus whom I named Gregory. Never have I had such a fulfilling friendship with anyone, human or otherwise, and upon leaving the island I was heartbroken for months. I now find myself in a large house over looking Queens Park and am keen to get a lodger. This is a position I am prepared to offer for free (eg: no rent payable) on the fulfillment of some conditions. I have, over the last few months, been constructing a realistic walrus costume, which should fit most people of average proportions, and allow for full and easy movement in character. To take on the position as my lodger you must be prepared to wear the walrus suit for approximately two hours each day (in practice, this is not two hours every day—I merely state it here so you are able to have a clear idea of the workload). Whilst in the walrus costume you must be a walrus—there must be no speaking in a human voice, and any communication must entail making utterances in the voice of a walrus – I believe there aer (SIC) recordings available on the web – to me, the voice is the most natural thing I have ever heard. Other duties will involve catching and eating the fish and crabs that I will occasionally throw to you whilst you are being the walrus. With the exception of this, you will be free to do whatever you choose, and will have a spacious double room, complete run of the house (with the exception of my bedroom and my workshop), and use of all facilities within. I am a considerate person to share a house with, and other than playing the accordion my tastes are easy to accomodate (SIC).

    Due to the nature of this position I will need to audition all applicants before agreeing to take the chosen candidate on as a lodger. Please contact me if you have any questions.

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    IDEA: It might not be the smartest idea to order pizza via smartphone while surfing an enormous wave off Tahiti. But it's good to know you could.

    In advertising's latest crazy product demo, pro surfer Kolohe Andino one-handedly pays for a Pizza Hut delivery while cruising through a barrel in this 60-second BBDO ad for the Visa Checkout digital payment service.

    The inspiration for showing such ease of use actually came from Visa talking to a longtime partner, United Airlines, about the latter's app—designed for airport travelers who typically have only one hand free.

    "That unlocked a creative concept for us," said Chris Curtin, Visa's chief digital officer and svp of innovation marketing. "Whether it's a dramatic, extraordinary, theatrical ad like 'Surfer' or more tongue-in-cheek, like some :15s we did over the summer, we always want the hero image to be a phone in one hand being used by an everyday person."

    Yes, it's a product demo, but it's also brand work.

    "One of the reasons we got into this in the first place is we felt like entering 44 fields of information on a phone was off brand for Visa," Curtin said. "Visa's physical swipe has stood for many things over the years, but one of them is simplicity. We want to make sure that sense of simplicity is replicated in e-commerce."

    COPYWRITING: The scripting process was mostly about finding the right scenario for the demo. After that, "the script writes itself. You just have to document it the right way," said BBDO executive creative director Toygar Bazarkaya.

    The spot opens with Andino on his board in the ocean, waiting for a wave in the pounding surf. "Looks like the whole ocean's, like, about to fold on itself when it's coming in. I think people get hurt every day out there," he says in voiceover.

    Then, we hear longtime spokesman Morgan Freeman: "Visa Checkout is the easier way to pay online. But can Kolohe Andino really pay for pizza inside one of the heaviest waves in the world?"

    He can, of course, as a dramatic surf sequence ensues—including a few taps on Visa Checkout at the critical moment—followed by a party scene, as pizza is delivered to a flotilla of boats. The spot wraps with a call to sign up online.

    ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Doug Liman filmed the spot in August in the days leading up to the Billabong Pro Tahiti surfing event.

    "The experience he has from movies like The Bourne Identity was critical, from getting the right helicopter pilot to the three DPs he picked for the job," said Bazarkaya. A big-surf filmmaker also helped out.

    Andino picked his shorts and used his own board. Overall, the agency wanted a "filmic, epic look that at the same time is authentic and real. Nothing too stylized," Bazarkaya said.

    TALENT: Andino, 20, is a burgeoning star. "We wanted someone who was very well known but not some marketplace name who has endorsed multiple things," said Curtin. "Since this is a fresh new product from Visa and our partners, we wanted it to feel original and not come off as commercial."

    SOUND: The soundtrack has three parts—anticipation before he surfs, suspense during and celebration after. The middle piece, mostly percussion, is a stock track. Music house Ring the Alarm composed the front and back ends and blended it all into one piece.

    MEDIA: The spot broke during Fox's NFL coverage, for which the brand also sponsors the halftime shows. There is also a "massive" digital push, said Curtin, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.


    Agency: BBDO New York
    Client: Visa
    Title: "Surfer"

    Chief Creative Officer Worldwide: David Lubars
    Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
    Executive Creative Director: Toygar Bazarkaya
    Senior Creative Director: Scott Rodgers
    Senior Creative Director: Tom Kraemer
    Senior Creative Director: Jens Waernes
    Creative Director/Copywriter: Josh Gold
    Creative Director/Art Director: Daniel Aykurt
    Executive Producer: Hyatt Choate
    Senior Producer: Tara Leinwohl
    Music Producer: John Melillo

    Senior Account Director: Olivia Farr
    Account Director: Jessica Townsley
    Account Director: Jessica Sinto
    Account Supervisor: Matt Doscher
    Account Manager: Amanda Baizen
    Assistant Account Executive: Cameron Cullman

    Production Company: Independent Media
    Director: Doug Liman
    Director of Photography: Igor Meglic
    Executive Producer: Susanne Preissler
    Head of Production: Marc Siegel
    Line Producer: Naia Hall West

    Editorial: Lost Planet
    Senior Producer: Francess Tom-Sahr
    Editor: Saar Klein
    Editor: Epy Carrieri

    Music House: Ring the Alarm

    Visual Effects House: Black Hole

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    Why do people drink Diet Coke? Is it the caffeine? The lack of calories? The sheer convenience? Or do they actually enjoy the taste?

    Coca-Cola is banking on the latter on with its new "Get a Taste" campaign from Droga5—which, in the words of the company's North America vp Andrew McMillin, "[reminds] fans why they fell in love with Diet Coke the first time."

    Three new ads will show how just a sip of a frosty Diet Coke can make your lame life into something way more exciting. (It's not exactly a groundbreaking concept, but at least it won't get the brand accused of pushing drug use or anorexia.)

    The first spot, "Economy Class," says drinking a Diet Coke can make the hell that is flying coach into an absolutely delightful experience.

    It all begins when a female passenger walks into the back galley, where a flight attendant gives her a rather jaunty once-over and hands her a can of the good stuff. The passenger takes a sip and—poof!—the cabin turns into a rollicking nightclub complete with a John Galliano lookalike nuzzling an Afghan Hound, a waiter's disembodied arm distributing hors d'oeuvres from an overhead compartment, and a bar stocked exclusively with Diet Coke.

    Just as the woman turns her gaze to a dapper gentleman in the corner, though, turbulence hits, and she's jolted back into her economy-class reality, where dudes wear hoodies, not elegant smoking jackets.

    Oh, and by the way—the music here, "Boom! Bap! Pow!" by Suit, is getting to be a popular advertising soundtrack. This is at least its third appearance in 13 months, following spots from Gilt.com and Value City.

    Later this fall, Diet Coke will roll out another installment of the "Get a Taste" series starring none other than spokeswoman Taylor Swift. We have yet to see a preview of that ad, but I'd put money on her being transported via Diet Coke to a world filled with cuddly kittens, freshly baked cookies and repentant ex-boyfriends.

    Client: Diet Coke
    Agency: Droga5

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    DirecTV has gotten lots of actors to poke some fun at themselves over the years—notably Charlie Sheen in the Platoon spot. Now, it's Rob Lowe's turn to look hilariously foolish.

    A pair of new ads from Grey New York outlandishly show what Lowe is like as a cable customer compared to what he's like as a DirecTV customer. As a cable customer, he's literally falling apart (in the first spot) or a complete pervert (in the second spot). As a DirecTV customer, thankfully, he is neither.

    The message? You too can choose not to be a pervert with a combover and a lazy eye. Get DirecTV today! As a nice added bonus, these commercials—directed by Tom Kuntz of MJZ—end with the theme from St. Elmo's Fire. He's come a long way, baby.

    Client: DirecTV
    Campaign: Versus
    Spots: "Less Attractive," "Creepy"
    Agency: Grey, New York
    Chief Creative Officer: Tor Myhren
    Executive Creative Director: Dan Kelleher
    Group Creative Directors: Doug Fallon, Steven Fogel
    Agency Executive Producer: Andrew Chinich
    Agency Producer: Lindsay Myers
    Agency Music Producers: Zachary Pollakoff, Amy Rosen
    Account: Chris Ross, Beth Culley, Anna Pogosova, Aaron Schwartz, Meredith Savatsky, Eddie Mele
    Strategy: Michelle Leo
    Production Company: MJZ
    Director: Tom Kuntz
    Producer: Emily Skinner
    Production Supervisor: Daniel Gonzalez
    Director of Photography: Hoyte Van Hoytema
    Editorial Executive Producers: Sasha Hirschfeld, Mackenzie Cutler
    Editor: Gavin Cutler, Mackenzie Cutler
    Assistant Editors: Ryan Steele, Mike Rizzo
    Mixer, Sound Designer: Sam Shaffer
    Visual Effects Company: Method Studios
    Visual Effects Supervisor: Jay Hawkins
    Visual Effects Producers: Carlos Herrera, Christa Cox
    Casting (OCP): Francine Selkirk, Shooting From the Hip
    Casting (VO): Nina Pratt, Jerry Saviola, Avenue 3 Casting

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    Usually when you wake up and something weird has happened at a neighbor's house, you call the police and get the kids in the basement. But not Tuesday morning on a street in Calgary. People there got together and had coffee—at the new Tim Hortons on the block.

    Overnight, the chain secretly turned a residential home at 303 Oakfern Way into a fully functional pop-up restaurant. It opened, much to the surprise of nearby residents, at 6 a.m. Tuesday and stayed open until noon, when it abruptly closed—but not before demonstrating that Tim Hortons isn't just neighborly, it can sometimes actually be your neighbor.

    The stunt, orchestrated by by Taxi Canada, was part of a recruiting campaign, as the chain is trying to fill more than 2,000 positions. "We are inviting people to join us today to have a coffee and talk about maybe an opportunity to work at a local Tim Hortons in the Calgary area," said a spokesman.

    This follows a different stunt last month in which the chain totally blacked out one of its locations in Quebec—for more quasi-nefarious reasons.

    Check out more pics below from the #TimsNextDoor hashtag.

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    Starbucks wants to help you with your communication problems. Just spend more time sitting in one of its shops talking to a real live person instead of text messaging.

    In a series of new ads from BBDO, the coffee chain plays up the difference between the spoken and written word by showing text-message conversations which voice actors also say out loud at the same time—with real subtext instead of cutesy emoji and bad grammar.

    In one of the spots, a man tries to figure out if he's still in the doghouse with a love interest. In another, a woman tries to get the skinny on her friend's date the night before. In a third, a father sets his daughter's mind at ease.

    About halfway through each, the screen goes blank, but the voiceovers continue, and it turns out there's a lot more going on in each scenario than is at first apparent.

    The message is nice, simple, clear and easy to identify with in an era dominated by smartphones and their pitfalls—not just the losses in translation wrought by a format that favors brevity, but also the constant distraction from one's immediate surroundings, and the people in them. The takeaway is also deftly illustrated in the visual minimalism of the ads, reminiscent of other powerful text-and-tech-based commercials that tap into the connected-24-7 zeitgeist like Google's classic "Parisian Love" and Honda's more recent PSAs against texting and driving.

    It's also a bit of an straw man argument that seems to try to prey on popular handwringing about new technology's adverse effects. The premise—that people rely on text messaging as an equivalent replacement for face-to-face contact with the other people they actually want to see—doesn't also hold true. Also, miscommunications happen plenty when two people are sitting across each other at a table. But maybe if humans hang around Starbucks longer, they'll buy more stuff.

    Regardless, all the people in the ads are talking way too slow for people who've been guzzling coffee. Plus, don't they have somewhere else they need to be?

    Client: Starbucks
    Title: "Conversation Films"

    Agency: BBDO New York
    Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
    Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
    Executive Creative Director: Dennis Lim
    Executive Creative Director: Juliana Cobb
    Senior Copywriter: Dana Stalker
    Associate Creative Director: Rachel Frederick

    Director of Integrated Production: David Rolfe
    Senior Producer: Becky Burkhard
    Director of Music: Rani Vaz
    Music Producer: John Melillo

    Worldwide Senior Account Director: Brandon Fowler
    Account Manager: Catherine Wright
    Account Executive: Miranda Hardy

    Director: Peter Jensen

    Audio Post House: Sound Lounge
    Sound Engineer: Tom Jucarone
    Sound Engineer: Glen Landrum
    Sound Engineer: Pat Christensen
    Executive Producer: Vicky Ferraro

    Edit House: Go Robot
    Editor: Adam Liebowitz
    Editor: Joe Kriksciun
    Animator: Christian Matts

    Top photo: rekre89/Flickr Creative Commons

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    Employees at Amsterdam design studio Heldergroen won't be putting in much overtime. Not in the office, at any rate.

    That's because every day at 6 p.m., their desks, tables and other work surfaces, with their computers attached, are hauled up to the ceiling by steel cables normally used to move heavy props in theatrical productions. If you leave a half-eaten tuna sandwich on your desk, you're out of luck.

    Once the chairs and other workplace paraphernalia are cleared away, the space is free for evening and weekend use as "a dance floor, yoga studio … or anything else you can think of—the floor is literally yours," creative director Sander Veenendaal tells Fast Company.

    Zecc Architects built the space, working from a concept developed by Bright Green.

    The time-lapse video above shows how the idea works in practice. In a way, the office space itself is working overtime for Heldergroen, generating lots of publicity and carrying an enlightened message of career-life balance far and wide. (I'd be satisfied if AdFreak loosened my leg irons a little.)

    "We think that doing activities like this makes it easier for people to work here," says Veenendaal. "You know when it is time to relax or do something else that inspires you."

    That sounds awesome. There's just one catch. In the morning, the desks reappear and everybody has to go back to work.

    Via Adverve.

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    A quick and easy way to reserve a car? You'd tap that.

    The characters in Zipcar's new, innuendo-filled ad campaign certainly do a lot of tapping. In fact, they tap anything that moves—as long as it's on four wheels and is unlocked by tapping a Zipcard on it.

    Three new spots were created without an agency by Zipcar's in-house creative team working with boutique production company Hayden 5. They were directed by Pete Marquis and Jamie McCelland, whose previous work for Hello Flo went megaviral.

    "Their work for Hello Flo was definitely something we had noticed, and we felt like their sensibility really meshed with our brand and what we're trying to accomplish," says Zipcar spokeswoman Lindsay Wester.

    Check out the spots below.

    Client: Zipcar
    Chief Marketing Officer: Brian Harrington
    Creative Director: Brendan Stephens
    Associate Creative Director: Mandy Donovan
    Copywriter: Allison Tanenhaus
    Art Director: Kali Winkler

    Production Company: Hayden 5
    Directors: Pete Marquis & Jamie McCelland
    Executive Producers: Todd Wiseman, Jr. & Milos Silber
    Producer: Oscar Boyson
    Casting: Wulf Casting
    Editing Company: Beast Editorial
    Editors: Karen Kourtessis & Valerie Iorio
    Post Producer: Valerie Iorio & Kristine Polinsky
    Color: Company 3
    Audio Post Production: Hobo Audio
    Sound Mixer: Chris Stangroom
    Online: Gryphyn VFX

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    Sometimes you just gotta werk it out, even though you're at work.

    So says Zumba's first TV spot ever, created by 180LA, showing Zumba enthusiasts jerking and twerking almost against their will as the music in their head moves them.

    Some 15 million people every week take a Zumba class, gyrating and wiggling their way to better health through ostensibly fun dance moves. Unlike the name implies, it's not just a fitness-based rumba; it actually combines a mind-boggling number of styles, resulting in the bizarre breakdowns in this video. Which means that no matter your level of fitness or whiteness, you too can Zumba the fat away.

    The bigger focus here is just on the sheer exuberance. (The tagline is: "Let it move you.") The spot broke Monday on TV (and will be joined by a load of print) but is is already a hit online. I guess a lot of Zumba fans are finding it hard to contain their excitement over the video, too.

    Credits below.

    Client: Zumba
    Agency: 180LA
    Managing Partner, Chairman: Chris Mendola
    Chief Creative Officer: William Gelner
    Creative Director/Copywriter: Janet Champ
    Creative Director/Art Director: Marta Ibarrondo
    Head of Production: Natasha Wellesley
    Producer: Kevin Diller
    Account Manager: Jessica DeLillo
    Production Company: RESET
    Director: TWiN
    Managing Director: Dave Morrison
    Executive Producer: Jeff MacDougall
    Bidding Producer: Jenn Ingalls
    Head of Production: Amanda Clune
    Producer: Ed Callaghan
    Service Company: Capital Media Company
    Executive Producer: Christian Allen
    Head of Production: Keely Stothers
    Editorial Company: Beast
    Executive Producer: Jerry Sukys
    Producer: Annie Maldonado
    Editor: Paul Norling
    Assistant Editor: Ryan Dahlman

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    The Internet is getting bent out of shape today over news that Apple's iPhone 6 can get bent out of shape when it's in your pocket. A few brands have latched on to so-called #bendgate with some halfhearted tweets. But so far, it appears KitKat is leading the way with the least objectionable brand tie-in.

    It remains to be seen how damaging this issue could be for Apple, but as one observer rightly points out: "You know you're in trouble when you get trolled by KitKat."

    UPDATE: A reader astutely reminds us that KitKat is the name of the current version of Android—and indeed, Google and Hershey have been working under an extensive co-branding arrangement. So, it's extra awesome that it's KitKat punking Apple like this.

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    "I want to be on TV a lot, and I want to be on the newspaper so people can see how brave I've been during cancer," says young Hannah, speaking into a hairbrush microphone as she carefully relates her experience with the disease, in her own words. 

    According to the video's description on YouTube:

    Hannah was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms tumor (kidney cancer) in February 2014. She underwent 6 months of chemotherapy, radiation to her lungs and flank and surgery to remove her left kidney and part of her right kidney. Throughout her ordeal, she has always been very matter a fact about the entire situation. She understands what's going on and knows what's needed to fix it. She approached us one day and said she wanted to do a "commercial" to explain to other kids what they can expect when going through cancer and show them "how brave" she has been. #teamhannah

    "Cancer is no fun—but it's a little bit fun because you get to go on this camp," Hannah says. "And if you have cancer, don't worry, 'cause I am brave, and you can be brave also."

    Take a look below at this inspiring little PSA.

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    When William Shatner released his first album, The Transformed Man, in 1968, he practically invented the genre of overly dramatic lyrical recitations to music. Of course, it wasn't well received, and he was ceaselessly mocked. But his unique style would become popular again decades later, as the Internet found those old recordings and did what the Internet does best: elevate the absurd to the sublime.

    Then Ben Folds, a longtime secret fan of The Transformed Man, created an album with Shatner called Has Been in 2004, and suddenly, that special Shat style wasn't just hilarious and inexplicable, it was downright in demand.

    So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Thomson Holidays bases its latest commercial around Shatner's cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" off his 2011 album Seeking Major Tom.

    Thomson wants you to take a vacation that washes away the slings and arrows of your everyday life in the waters of the Caribbean. And in this spot, by London agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay, it woos you with a version of The Velveteen Rabbit—as a neglected, one-eyed teddy bear learns to smile again by vacationing in Jamaica and falls in love with an off-label My Little Pony.

    The brand's previous ad, the award-winning "Simon the Ogre," won hearts and minds with similar fairy-tale storytelling. But of course, it wasn't cut to a track by William Shatner.

    Frankly, the cute bear story would have been pretty darn good without the Shatman. It's beautifully and carefully considered and shot—not surprisingly, given that director Tom Tagholm's credits include the incredible "Meet the Superhumans" spot for the 2012 Paralympic Games.

    But somehow, Shatner's reading elevates the work from a potentially slapstick exploration of the damage popsicles can do to plush into a surprisingly emotional journey that will have you feeling for the trials and tribulations of an inanimate animal.

    Which means it could also give Thomson the fairy-tale sales it's dreaming of.

    Client: Thomson Holidays
    Spot: "A Film About a Smile"
    Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay, London
    Executive Creative Director: Trevor Beattie
    Creative Director: Pat Burns
    Creative: Rachel Miles, Michael Tsim
    Producer: Gill Loftus
    Production Company: Park Pictures
    Director: Tom Tagholm
    Executive Producer: Stephen Brierley
    Producer: Fran Thompson
    Production Manager: Ananda Coulier
    Director of Photography: Martin Ruhe
    Model Maker: Anarchy
    Soft Technician, Teddy Bear Wrangler: Danielle Boyne
    Postproduction: Realise Studio
    Voiceover: William Shatner

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    With creative agencies continuously dishing out new, crazy ideas, it's hard not to wonder: "What do their offices look like?" After all, we've recently seen an Amsterdam design studio that amazingly disappears at night. How else are workspaces pushing boundaries? In an effort to capture the culture and vibe of these creative spaces, we decided to check some out for ourselves.

    First, we visited The Barbarian Group, a digital technology agency based in New York whose clients include GE, Samsung, PepsiCo and Bacardi. Located on West 20th Street in Manhattan, the space is 23,000 square feet and houses all of the company's 125 employees. The shop is known for its incredibly long, half-pipe-esque superdesk, designed with architect Clive Wilkinson.

    In the video above, Barbarian Group executives show us some of their favorite spots in the office.

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    Kirsten Dunst stars in "Aspirational," filmmaker Matthew Frost's latest wry commentary on the nature of celebrity in the connected age.

    The two-and-a-half-minute clip, produced by Iconoclast for Vs. Magazine, finds Dunst accosted by a pair of teenage girls who hop out of their car upon recognizing the actress and start taking selfies with her. Dunst gives a spot-on deadpan performance. She tries to chat with her admirers and invites them to ask questions, but they're only interested in having her tag the pictures so they can enhance their own Internet "fame."

    "'Aspirational' is when you reach out toward something not attainable quite yet but that could be maybe in the near future," Frost tells AllDayEveryDay."It's not really related to the actual film necessarily, but you could say that the two girls are aspiring to be the most popular they can be through social media. It's more about what they can take from her that interests them the most: her celebrity and documenting themselves next to it gets them closer to their goal."

    The film amplifies themes Frost has previously explored, notably in last year's "Scripted Content," one of several shorts he made for Vogue with actresses who appeared on the magazine's cover. In that film, a fan texts with a friend as he debates whether to surreptitiously snap a picture of Jessica Chastain, who's sitting next to him on a park bench.

    "Aspirational" takes the same basic premise a step further. Here, the fans don't care a whit about respecting Dunst's privacy, and just snagging an image won't do. They believe that by sharing the smartphone screen with a movie star, even if it's just in a selfie, their own stock will rise.

    Near the end of the clip, we're treated to an exchange that brings our preoccupation with notoriery (perceived or otherwise) into sharp focus. "I've got, like, 15 likes," one girl brags, and her pal breathlessly replies, "We're going to get so many random followers that we don't even know!"

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    Before GoPro became a household name, the idea of a human being playing with wild African lions as if they were the cuddly Marmadukes of the desert would have probably seemed ridiculous, or dangerous—or both. But then GoPro posted Kevin Richardson’s unforgettable video on its YouTube channel and, 20 million views later, we know that“lion whisperers” exist. And we are better for it.

    Photo: Sasha Maslov

    Indeed, thanks to those videos, GoPro has gone from being a niche tech brand to an almost unprecedented digital chronicler of life in all its forms, from the exotic (Mud Puddles in Palau) to the ordinary but still incredible (a toddler on a skateboard). GoPro is more “now” than any company in its category—the Red Bull of video equipment, if you will. That the brand has undergone this transformation is testament to a truly impressive product, and an equally impressive marketing chief.

    The company’s vp, marketing Paul Crandell “has done an outstanding job tapping into the passion of GoPro fans to build the company’s brand,” says marketing consultant David Deal, adding, “The ascendance of GoPro reminds me of Apple’s early days.”

    That’s not hyperbole. On Crandell’s watch, GoPro’s revenue this year rose an astonishing 87 percent to $986 million. Research firm IDC estimates that the company—which barely existed a decade ago—now has nearly half of the action-camera market.

    Behind GoPro’s YouTube channel is a savvy staff of curators. Crandell grew a skeleton crew of 17 to 149 and beefed up the sponsored athlete roster from 65 to 131 to include such names as Olympics snowboarder Shaun White and skateboarding phenom Ryan Sheckler. Meanwhile, the brand’s paid-media strategy, which included its second Super Bowl spot this year, harnesses and amplifies the glorious footage recorded by its cameras—from the top of a Shanghai skyscraper to a fireman resuscitating a kitten, to cite just two of GoPro’s gigantic video hits. “We definitely pour fuel on the fire,” says Crandell. “What’s fun about our content is that there’s something new online for us to consider every day that we walk into the building.”

    “It’s tricky getting the kind of engagement that they’ve been able to accomplish,” says Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, who thinks of the brand as the perfect representative of the marketing zeitgeist. “Traditional brands struggle with maintaining engagement and how consumers try your product, get over it, move on and then you’re dead. [GoPro] has been able to use the Internet and mobile to level the playing field.”

    Which is no coincidence. Launched in 2002 and under Crandell’s tutelage from the early days, GoPro was coming into its own apace with social media itself. (It now boasts 7.6 million Facebook fans while its YouTube channel has amassed 2 million subscribers.)

    It hasn’t hurt that the brand’s core demo is “a self-documenting generation,” in the words of Danielle McCormick, senior marketing director at digital commerce provider Skava, who credits GoPro for enabling consumers to move beyond selfies and “allow us to document entire adventures with extremely high-quality footage.”

    Crandell’s aim is to make sure GoPro stays compelling, sharable and unforgettable. “There’s obviously room to grow,” he says. “We’ve got an amazing assortment of athletes and events. Scaling all of that globally is a big opportunity to create more awareness.”

    And the whole world, it seems, will be watching.

    Picture This | GoPro has become standard-issue equipment for our self-documenting culture.

    View the Brand Genius winner class of 2014:
    Paul Crandell, GoPro | Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle | Michelle N. Fernandez, Canon USA | Camille M. Gibson, General Mills | Trudy Hardy, BMW of North America | Matt Jauchius, Nationwide | Quinn Kilbury, Newcastle Brown Ale | David Melançon, Benjamin Moore & Co. | Shane Smith, Vice | Dana White, UFC 

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    Last October, five relatively unknown filmmakers from around the country found themselves at a place they had probably only dreamed about—on the red carpet at New York’s Lincoln Center, sipping cocktails with Hollywood heavyweights like Ron Howard and Harvey Weinstein.

    Photo: Sasha Maslov; Hair and Makeup: Sophie Haig/Berstein and Andriulli

    For these individuals, it was a chance to launch a career in film. But for Canon U.S.A., the marketer behind the event, it was proof that creativity, crowdsourcing and technology can all combine to create highly successful branding. The event was the culmination of an initiative called Project Imaginat10n, which was shepherded by Canon’s own Michelle Fernandez. “Canon believes we’re all creative,” says Fernandez, a 15-year veteran of the company who heads marketing for its imaging technologies and communications group. “We’re here as enablers to help you with your creative vision.”

    Fernandez has long understood that digitally savvy consumers don’t merely want to be shown a new camera—they want to be shown how using that camera can unlock their own talents and perhaps even make them famous.

    The Imaginat10n initiative began with a photo contest that invited photographers to submit images interpreting one of 10 themes (e.g., “relationship,” “obstacle”). Among 80,000 entrants, 91 individuals were selected.

    Next, with instructions to use those photos as inspiration for their films, Project Imaginat10n put cameras into the hands of five famous people—among them, Jamie Foxx and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone—and opened another five slots to budding auteurs, whose submissions were chosen by a panel of judges including Howard.

    Showing the “filmic journeys” on a screen at Lincoln Center, as Canon’s website explained, demonstrated that “anyone can sit in the director’s chair.” But there was another important goal. Digital cameras are losing ground to hipper, more socially connected gadgets. Last year, shipments of digital cameras tumbled 36 percent, including a 15 percent drop in higher-end equipment. This past summer, Canon dialed back its 2014 forecasts in both categories, acknowledging that consumers who wanted more powerful models had already bought them.

    It was that challenging picture that Fernandez sought to brighten. “[It] was really an opportunity for us to show the difference in image quality, not just on the still side but also on the video side,” she explains.

    Eliott Peck, vp, sales for the imaging technologies and communications group, says Fernandez’s work “really helps differentiate our brand and our company from competitors, and, at the end of the day, [the campaigns] absolutely do drive more sales.”

    The campaign succeeded in generating more than 2.5 billion media impressions, in part because of promotions that targeted the fan bases of each of the celebrity directors involved, including former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy and Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman.

    What’s more, a certain splashy awards show—the movie industry’s biggest event of the year—brought added attention. Amy Tunick, president of Canon partner Grey Activation and PR, recalls that when Django Unchained snared the nomination for Best Picture at 2013’s Academy Awards, “Jamie Foxx ended up—unprompted—talking about Project Imaginat10n on the red carpet. You can’t really pay for that kind of thing.” 

    Hot Spots | Canon's campaign captured the power of photos and of the moving image.

    View the Brand Genius winner class of 2014:
    Paul Crandell, GoPro | Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle | Michelle N. Fernandez, Canon USA | Camille M. Gibson, General Mills | Trudy Hardy, BMW of North America | Matt Jauchius, Nationwide | Quinn Kilbury, Newcastle Brown Ale | David Melançon, Benjamin Moore & Co. | Shane Smith, Vice | Dana White, UFC 


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    The U.S. bobsled team took home one silver and three bronze medals at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. And BMW scored marketing gold.

    Lots of brands ink sponsorship deals around the games, of course. But BMW didn’t just slap its name on the U.S. team’s sleds; it designed them. During commercial breaks, viewers were treated to stylish spots introducing the luxury automaker’s i-series of electric vehicles that sport the same carbon fibers as the bobsleds. Meanwhile, as the competitors raced down the track at speeds approaching 90 miles per hour, NBC commentators dubbed the sleds “The Ultimate Sliding Machines,” making for what USA Today called a “publicity coup” for the brand.

    Photo: Sasha Maslov; Hair and Makeup: Jessi Butterfield/Exclusive Artists

    For BMW vp, marketing Trudy Hardy, the games were a personal and professional triumph. She had championed the bobsled initiative during her three years leading BMW of North America’s marketing communications and events operations. Hardy was on hand in Sochi to witness the results, just five months after her promotion to her current job.

    Hardy admits to being nervous about the whole thing—a lot was riding on those sleds, to be sure. The Olympics would serve as the launch event for the brand’s entry into the fledgling realm of electric vehicles. Then, there was the inherent uncertainty of the races. “Maybe they don’t win, maybe the sled crashes—all these types of things,” Hardy says. But while there were risks, she adds, there was also an appreciation for “the potential of all the great things that can come out of this.”

    The Ultimate A tie-in with the Sochi Games touted the i-series as the automobile of tomorrow.

    Hardy is used to risks. A 13-year veteran of BMW, she has built a reputation as a straight shooter who tends to go with her gut, and understands the road to success has its share of curves. “It took bravery from Trudy and BMW to tell the bobsled story,” says Scott Donaton, chief content officer at Universal McCann, which chronicled the design and testing process for the sleds in Driving on Ice, a documentary that aired on NBC prior to the games and publicized the team’s tough work preparing for the games. “This was an amazing story about the journey, not just about the outcome,” says Donaton.

    Likewise, the :60 ad from KBS+ that broke during the opening ceremony and introduced the i-series—BMW’s first all-electric/hybrid, emission-free vehicles—was no ordinary auto spot. Dubbed “Hello Future,” its blue-hued nightscapes and crystal-cool auto imagery were made even more memorable by the voiceover—a 50-year-old recording of science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke describing how amazing the future will be. “We just knew as soon as we found that clip of Arthur C. Clarke” that it would work, says Hardy. “It was something that gave us goosebumps—and it still does, every time I watch that spot.” George Peterson, president of the AutoPacific consultancy, lauds “Hello Future” and the i-series work that followed as “compelling” and “alluring” communications.

    The approach is paying off. In May, the i3 set a domestic record for plug-in sales during a debut month, with 336. Domestic sales overall so far this year are up by double digits—an improvement even over last year’s record sales for the import.

    Will the brand establish a sales peak for the second year running? Hardy puts her faith in Clarke’s powers of prognostication, commenting, “The only thing that we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic.”

    View the Brand Genius winner class of 2014:
    Paul Crandell, GoPro | Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle | Michelle N. Fernandez, Canon USA | Camille M. Gibson, General Mills | Trudy Hardy, BMW of North America | Matt Jauchius, Nationwide | Quinn Kilbury, Newcastle Brown Ale | David Melançon, Benjamin Moore & Co. | Shane Smith, Vice | Dana White, UFC 

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    Promoting insurance services has traditionally relied on earnest pitchmen or scenes of car trips gone awry. But exotic birds?

    Nationwide’s spots in the recent past featured scenes like a guy sitting in his living room with three tropical parrots on his head, singing the Nationwide theme song while a dude dubbed “The World’s Greatest Spokesperson in the World” interviewed him.

    Photo: Sasha Maslov

    Not everyone was amused—among them, Matthew Jauchius.

    Nationwide wanted a strong concept to go up against the Geico gecko and the Aflac duck. But rather than doing what the CMO calls this “yuk and a hard laugh” routine, he switched over to the high road. No more talking animals or buffoons with microphones. “We’re trying to change the tone and conversation of the insurance category,” he says.

    So Jauchius championed a new message. “Here’s a conversation that matters,” he says, “to let you know we’re on your side.”

    Sound familiar? It should. “Nationwide is on your side” has been the brand’s tagline for decades. But under Jauchius, who joined the company in 2006 as chief strategy officer, that positioning has evolved into a frank, inclusive message that’s made Nationwide into the trustworthy grown-up of the category.

    “Join the Nation” is a slogan that connotes both the company’s size and diversity. With agency McKinney, ad spots went out of their way to show men and women, old and young, hipsters and regular joes, in activities ranging from learning to drive to rummaging around in a flea market. Nationwide also partnered with the Human Rights Campaign to reach the LGBT community via a direct-mail campaign.

    But the brand didn’t eschew humor altogether. The “Your Car Is Your Baby” series of spots got serious mileage by placing a tree-size infant in place of a beloved set of wheels. The spots, launched last year, tied in with an online contest dubbed “Name Your Car Day” that generated thousands of stories. (In a survey, Nationwide discovered that 25 percent of Americans have nicknames for their cars.)

    Prior to joining Nationwide, Jauchius cut his teeth with consulting giant McKinsey, which gave him a broad view of marketing, says Jacki Kelley, COO of Bloomberg Media, who worked with Jauchius when she was North American CEO of Mediabrands. “He’s a fascinating CMO because he’s so strategically minded,” she says. “He creates bold, clear intentions for both his teams and agencies and then lines people up against that and is maniacal in producing results. He sees marketing as a critical investment, not as an expense. He gets his budgets increased because of the results. I wish we had more CMOs like him.”

    Indeed, Jauchius is a unique marketing chief. Last year, as part of Nationwide’s sponsorship of AMC’s hit Mad Men, Jauchius himself appeared in a ’60s-style spot. The segment did so well that it ran again this year.

    As for results, since launching “Join the Nation” in July 2012, Nationwide’s advertising effectiveness has grown by 50 percent, while the brand has notched a 30 percent rise in consumer consideration, the company reports. “Under Matt’s leadership, the Nationwide marketing team has done a tremendous job helping us tell our story to consumers in a tone and manner that drives business results,” says CEO Steve Rasmussen. “We are proud of the creative work that comes from Matt and his team and the way his group uses data and analytics to help Nationwide ‘punch above its weight’ among our competitors.”

    Baby on Board | The "Your Car Is Your Baby" campaign gt serious mileage for Nationwide.

    View the Brand Genius winner class of 2014:
    Paul Crandell, GoPro | Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle | Michelle N. Fernandez, Canon USA | Camille M. Gibson, General Mills | Trudy Hardy, BMW of North America | Matt Jauchius, Nationwide | Quinn Kilbury, Newcastle Brown Ale | David Melançon, Benjamin Moore & Co. | Shane Smith, Vice | Dana White, UFC 

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    Actress Anna Kendrick was 28 years old, beautiful, and pissed. “I’ll just give you an endorsement right now,” she huffs. “Hi, um, Newcastle Brown Ale—the only beer that promised me a high-paying role in a Super Bowl commercial and then backed out at the last fucking second like a bunch of dicks.”

    Photo: Sasha Maslov; Grooming: Jessi Butterfield/Exclusive Artists

    She exhales, glowers at the camera, then tells Newcastle to “Suck it.”

    Not exactly the sort of Super Bowl ad you’d expect from a brewer. Kendrick’s rich, prodigious cursing got bleeped, as did every “Super Bowl” and “Big Game.” In fact, the whole ad, a two-and-a-half minute tour de force produced by Droga5, was a complete sham.

    Newcastle Brown Ale didn’t have the budget to get anywhere close to a Super Bowl buy. It did, however, have Quinn Kilbury.

    The ad is but one example of the in-your-face, no-apologies marketing approach that Newcastle has adopted under Kilbury’s leadership. Kendrick’s spoof—part of a two-week, all-digital push dubbed “If We Made It”—appeared five days before the game and wound up getting 5.2 million views.

    Fake Super Bowl ads have been done before, but Kilbury’s smashing of the game’s hoary ad clichés included not only Kendrick’s postmortem but also a bogus storyboard for a potential Super Bowl spot that exploited virtually every trope, including babes in bikinis and cats—cats on skateboards, actually.

    “We’re not competing with Anheuser-Busch—we’re competing with Justin Bieber and cute kittens,” says Kilbury, who believes that effective marketing takes more than just being funny. “It has got to be interesting and compelling, like you have to click on this versus clicking on the cute kitten.”

    Cheers | A faux Super Bowl ad starring Anna Kendrick embodied the brand's in-your-face approach.

    Green lighting all this self-immolating work was Kilbury’s contribution to Newcastle’s strategy of skewering beer marketing conventions, signaled by the debut of the “No Bollocks” (Britspeak for “no bullshit”) tagline in 2012. According to senior director of portfolio brands Charles van Es, what Kilbury brought to the mix is fingerspitzengefühl, a German term for “finger-tip feeling” for a job. Casting Kendrick is a prime example. “She had a lot of interesting projects coming out,” says van Es. “But also, her tone of voice is so 100 percent the brand, That’s fingerspitzengefühl. That’s really exceptionally good marketing.” The faux Super Bowl push included 15 videos, a Reddit ad and a fake native ad on Gawker—content that stands out even amid the firehose of entertainment on the Web.

    Newcastle followed the Super Bowl smash with an online push in July that skewered another American tradition: Independence Day. Lambasting other beer brands for co-opting the holiday just to sell more beer, Newcastle created a whole new holiday called “Independence Eve,” pushing out more videos that cheekily suggested America would be better off if England had won the Revolutionary War.

    While Newcastle, which Heineken added to its stable of brands in 2008, has yet to enjoy major growth in store sales, Kilbury’s efforts did boost the brand’s trial rate from 60 percent to 72 percent between December 2013 and July of this year. And, the buzz around Newcastle’s all-digital efforts has helped the brand expand its distribution and improve store placement, according to Kilbury.

    Droga5 CCO Ted Royer gives much of the credit to Kilbury, who he describes as candid, challenging and enthusiastic. As Royer puts it: “He’s the right mix of honesty, ambition and fun.” In short, a buddy you can share a beer with—and a laugh. 

    View the Brand Genius winner class of 2014:
    Paul Crandell, GoPro | Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle | Michelle N. Fernandez, Canon USA | Camille M. Gibson, General Mills | Trudy Hardy, BMW of North America | Matt Jauchius, Nationwide | Quinn Kilbury, Newcastle Brown Ale | David Melançon, Benjamin Moore & Co. | Shane Smith, Vice | Dana White, UFC 


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