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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    CMOs are leading the way in steering their companies in a digital-first direction, but while most believe they’re deeply involved in the transformation, only a quarter actually have a clear understanding of what this means and/or have mapped the digital customer journey. 

    Infographic: Carlos Monteiro


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    We are living in what I call the Agility Era--a time when multitudes of people are discussing the importance of being lean and agile. And yes, this makes sense, but for any number of reasons, the leaders of our industry have not been able to make it happen.

    Gone are the days of starting the year and being able to see the majority of your revenue on Jan. 1. The agency of record model is coming increasingly under threat. Even the largest, most established agencies in the world are being forced to fight for their revenue project by project, quarter by quarter, year by year. That is going to have a real impact on the structure of the agency business and also on the people who will lead our business in the future. The new breed of agency leaders will be hungry, curious, determined and committed.

    In this time, the single most important thing in our industry is the ability to act quickly, decisively and intelligently. I speak to leaders from independent agencies and holding companies, and despite the differences, they all agree that the industry model is in a difficult position. The problem is that few are willing to spend the time, the energy or, most importantly, the money to change things. And to be clear, it's not a question of size--it's a question of attitude.

    We are also an industry that runs on talent, and great talent is at the core of solving problems. But imparting change throughout the entire agency has to start at the leadership level. Assess how you work, how you think and how you interact with your employees. Agile leadership--in decision making, business models, strategic hires or creative work--is at the core of succeeding in the Agility Era.

    My time working with agency leaders from around the world has allowed me to identify four key areas where the best of their attributes overlap. They are simple, yet key components to successful leadership in the Agility Era: Let's call them the four "Be's."

    Be entrepreneurial. Clients are demanding entrepreneurialism, so this is your chance to increase your remit rather than see it shrink by becoming more involved in your clients' business. To achieve this, you all have one big asset: your millennials. Use your clients' increasing and changing demands as a reason to spearhead positive change throughout your company's ranks, including the new generation of talent, which is excited to dive in head first. And while you're busy getting them involved, you should be learning from them.

    Be (more) creative. We all know that the advertising industry is by default creative, but recently we've stopped being creative enough. This has led to agency talent leaving for tech companies and other startups. Always remember to put creativity and creative thought at the heart of your business. Promote growth and improvement through embracing the creative values this business was built on. Ensure that the most talented graduates finishing school and the brightest team leaders in the world would want to work for you instead of heading to the "greener pastures" of Silicon Valley.

    Be brave. Many of the leaders in our industry are, or at least historically have been, afraid of change. There's an element of "I'll leave the problem for the next generation," which has left us where we are today. It is much easier to do nothing, but it is always better to do something. Take action and make difficult decisions, and your business will move forward.

    Be big picture. Never make a big decision without understanding the greater context for your business--this goes for acquiring a new company, selecting a vendor, entering a new business pitch or any other number of scenarios. Right now, that big-picture understanding is possibly most important when hiring for roles. When someone leaves an agency, it needs a replacement. But you should also greet each new hire as a chance to reframe the role you're filling and identify what it is that will make you most effective for the future. Don't just think about the future of your business; think about the future of the industry as a whole.

    I know that it's daunting. Change always is. But without big, hairy difficult problems, you don't have the platform to make seismic shifts, and I believe we're on the verge of some of the biggest, most exciting change this business has ever seen.

    Jay Haines (@jayhaines) is CEO of Grace Blue.


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    Beauty tutorial maven Michelle Phan, 27, baking impresario Rosanna Pansino, 29, and fashion and lifestyle guru Bethany Mota, 19, hardly need an introduction. The three women were the first YouTube stars featured in the video service's 2014 marketing push (for which PHD won a Media Plan of the Year), which introduced the online personalities to the offline public. Since the campaign, their careers have skyrocketed, proving that YouTube has become a magnet for innovative entertainment and creative talent that brands need to back. We caught up with the three women to find out about their humble beginnings and where they are today.

    How did it all begin for you?


    Photo: Kevin Scanlon

    Michelle Phan: I had a blog and was documenting my life as a college student in an art school. I had a few comments left by a few girls asking if I could do a tutorial on how I did my makeup. I didn't think my makeup was all that special, but I try my best to share whatever I can with my viewers. It made more sense to film the makeup tutorial because the process of makeup is so beautiful; it's like watching someone paint. I uploaded my first video, not expecting anyone else to watch it except for those girls. Within the first week, it got over 40,000 views.

    Rosanna Pansino: I moved to L.A. I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do, but I really like the entertainment industry. I started to make videos on YouTube to get more comfortable being in front of the camera. The first video I filmed was with my sister. We decided that we were going to blog us volunteering for Earth Day back in Seattle. It was just really fun, and I fell in love with being creative and creating my own content. Baking has always been one of my many hobbies. After I uploaded my first baking tutorial video, I got a really positive response from the online community, and they started to demand more videos like that.

     

    Photo: Kevin Scanlon

    Bethany Mota:
    I had been cyberbullied, which is funny that eventually I decided to kind of pursue this. Then I started watching YouTube videos and saw girls my age who were talking about beauty and fashion. At this point in my life, I felt like I didn't really have a voice. I saw all of these women who were using their voices to speak to people all around the world. Eventually I decided to make my own [video]. Growing up, I was always a very shy girl. I didn't want anyone in my house to know that I was filming videos, except my mom. I didn't want my dad or my sister to find out because I knew they'd make fun of me. All I remember is, when filming my first video, I was basically whispering. That was my goal, to make sure no one heard me.

    And, now you've all literally become the faces of YouTube premium content. Are you ever surprised at how big your following has gotten?
    Mota: It shocks me every day! Four years ago, I was at a mall, and I heard this girl calling my name. She ran to me, and I got really freaked out. I'm like, wait, I don't know this girl--what's going on? Reading comments, people saying "I love your videos," it's awesome, but seeing them in person, it's just completely different. It's like, wow, there's actual real people who watch my videos.

    Phan: I'm used to everything digital--the pictures, the avatars of the person, the profiles--so when I get to see someone in the flesh, it's really nice. [In the beginning], I was very secretive about my channel. My roommate didn't even know I had a YouTube channel. I was scared that people would think I was weird or vain, but I just had this passion to teach, and it was a little side hobby that I had. I was really shocked that anyone outside of the YouTube space would recognize me in real life.

    I'm sure it only got crazier once the YouTube national campaign rolled out earlier this year.

     

    Photo: Kevin Scanlon

    Pansino: I didn't really know what it was until they rolled it out completely. I stayed up to watch the very first airing of the TV commercial, and I was so excited that I started rolling on the floor. It was so funny [to me]. When we were in New York and going to the different interviews, I saw a few of the billboards and it was just unreal.

    Phan: I just finished shooting my other national commercial for Diet Dr Pepper, so I was thinking to myself, I could have two commercials running at the same time. That's awesome! I saw the commercial run, and it was really surreal and cool too because they used a lot of my videos. It just felt very familiar and really satisfying.

    Mota: I remember when I went to Brandcast in New York, I got into a taxi cab and I heard my voice. I thought my mom was watching a video of me, but it was actually on a little TV screen in the cab. It's really something that I never thought would happen. I never thought I'd be on billboards.

    Phan: I think it was just incredible that YouTube chose three girls to launch this campaign. That's really powerful because you really see how YouTube, or just the digital platform in general, has opened so many doors for working women everywhere, and now they have another path to take in their career.

     

    Michelle Phan | Photo: Kevin Scanlon

    So does this open the door for other opportunities?
    Mota: I've gotten to have my own clothing line [for Aéropostale], which is insane. That's been a big dream of mine growing up. Seeing my viewers wear my clothes and wear the things that I design, you never think that's going to happen. Being on Dancing With the Stars has happened through my YouTube channel.

    Phan: It's been very easy to travel. It's a great way for me to connect with my international audience and also for me to learn about new cultures. I'm getting opportunities that I probably would've never been able to have gotten if I took the more traditional route--like sponsorship deals, having my own makeup line with L'Oréal and starting my own [beauty sample service and community] Ipsy.

    Pansino: My favorite memory from this year was meeting [a cancer patient named] Angelina through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We decorated Star Wars cookies together for a day. I never thought that a kid would want to spend a day with me for their wish. I started crying at the end of the day. It was such a moving experience.

     

    Rosanna Pansino | Photo: Kevin Scanlon

    You all seem adamant about never leaving YouTube. What is it about being a YouTube creator that you love?
    Phan: You're in control of how people perceive and see you. I can't say the same for traditional media because you have other people who are editing you--producers and other people who have the final say. Your YouTube channel is your show. I think it's a wonderful platform for anyone who wants to have stronger creative control over their content, their message, their vision and their branding.

    Mota: There's no audition process. Anyone can make a YouTube channel. We're our own producers, our own directors. We can come up with the ideas and make it real life.

    There must be things that you think can be improved on.
    Phan: A lot of my friends, when they were starting on YouTube, they don't even know where to begin. Maybe if YouTube had some sort of class, a mentoring program that's accessible for everyone. Right now, you have to reach a certain amount of subscribers to enter into it, but I think this should be free for everyone who wants to learn.

    Pansino: I just hope that YouTube continues to support their creators however they can.

    Mota: Maybe just other ways to interact with the audience. They've already done that with the comments and video responses, so it's already very interactive.

     

    Bethany Mota | Photo: Kevin Scanlon

    What advice do you have for up-and-coming YouTubers?

    Phan: Before you start, you have to have a vision [or] you're just going to burn out. Ask yourself why you want to start your YouTube channel. You see these hate comments, and you get so much despair from it. Why you are doing it is going to help drive you to continue.

    Pansino: Even if your equipment isn't the best or you're not the best editor, if you're passionate about it, I think that viewers will see that and respond to that.

    Mota: When you upload a video, don't just walk away from the computer. Respond to comments and tweets, and use all social media. That's what's most important about YouTube. Take advantage of letting your audience know who you are.


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    The 50th anniversary of England's first drunk-driving PSA inspires a sobering celebration in this Department for Transport campaign.

    Kool & the Gang's 1980 hit "Celebration" anchors the new spot spot from AMV BBDO. Usually, the iconic dance track suggests parties and good times. Here, however, it's sung karaoke-style by emergency responders at the scene of a car crash and by ambulance and hospital personnel as they struggle to save victims' lives. (The song's joyous "Come on!" exhortation becomes a doctor's impassioned plea for an injured driver to pull through.)

    The final scenes, which I won't spoil, are immensely sad, their impact heightened by sudden silence as the music unexpectedly cuts out.



    The spot stands in stark contract to Britain's first drunk-driving ad (posted below). Created in 1964 by animation firm Halas & Batchelor, it shows an office party, complete with balloons and silly hats. The voiceover says, "Four whiskeys, and the risk of an accident can be twice as great … Eight, and the risk can be 25 times as great." (Eight whiskies—that's some bash!)

    The ad concludes, "Don't ask a man to drink and drive"—a line that is sexist today, but true to its era, when only a small percentage of English women had a driver's license.

    Of course, we've come a long way since then. Thanks in part to aggressive public-service campaigns, drunk driving has been stigmatized, and rightly so. Text at the end of the "Celebration" spot notes that in the past 50 years, annual drunk-driving deaths in the U.K. have fallen from 1,640 to 230, but then cautions: "That's still 230 too many."

    Overall, the ad, expertly directed by Mark Zibert via Rogue Films, provides a compelling and slightly surreal viewing experience. Though neither gory nor emotionally over the top, its message—propelled by a cruelly ironic soundtrack—might just get stuck in viewers' heads this holiday season and make them think twice about drinking and driving.


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    Dollar Shave Club made its name in 2012 with this excellent 90-second online ad, featuring founder and CEO Michael Dubin charismatically delivering the message himself. Now, two years and one American Express ad later, Dubin is back—and ready to take Dollar Shave Club to television.

    Four spots, which begin airing nationally today, stick with the cutting humor that's made the brand popular with young, impecunious razor buyers. Not surprising for a mail-order service, the ads emphasize convenience—but they do so in amusingly hyperbolic fashion by comically playing up the inconvenience of buying razors at the store.

    Actually, it's not so much inconvenient as it is literally painful and even dangerous, according to this slapstick campaign. The store purchasers are confounded, ridiculed and abused every step of the way, as the ads gleefully mock rival products' price and inaccessibility in stores. Most amusing is the campaign's take on how stores lock up razors like golden treasures, making buyers feel like a would-be thieves. (And they're very much treated as such here.)

    Dubin co-wrote the spots with Alec Brownstein and makes an appearance at the end of each one—wisely weaving his personality into the campaign. Steve Miller directed through Radical Media. Sharply written and perfectly cast, they should do well for the brand.



    CREDITS
    Client: Dollar Shave Club
    Founder, CEO, Writer: Michael Dubin
    Creative Director: Alec Brownstein
    Production Partners: Zebra, Radical Media
    Director: Steve Miller


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    If you're like me, you type your symptoms into Google every time you get the sniffles or feel the slightest bit under the weather. Well, that plan is ill-advised. It can yield reams of misinformation and all manner of (potentially harmful) misdiagnoses.

    The Flemish government in Belgium commissioned DDB Brussels to help remedy the situation, and the agency came up with an intriguing cure.



    They bought Google AdWords for the top 100 symptoms. Now, when people search Google about their ailments, the top result reads, "Don't Google it, check a reliable source," and clicks through to the Gezondheid en Wetenschap (Health and Science) website.

    Check out DDB's amusing minute-long promotional clip below, featuring hair loss, a bloody nose, gangrenous finger and festering boils. I feel better already!



    CREDITS
    Client: Gezondheid en Wetenschap
    Campaign: "Don't Google It"
    Clients: Marleen Finoulst, Elizabeth Bosselaers, Patrick Vankrunkelsven
    Agency: DDB Brussels
    Creative Director: Peter Ampe
    Creative Team: Tim Arts, Stefan van den Boogaard
    Head of Digital: Geert Desager
    Strategic Planner: Maarten Van Daele
    Senior Account Manager: Silvie Erzeel
    Television Producer: Brigitte Verduyckt
    Digital Producers: Stefanie Warreyn, Maarten Breda
    Web Developer: Christophe Gesquière
    Design: Andreea Buescu, Cedric Lopez
    Content Planner: Michael D'hooge
    Production Company: Lovo
    Director: Norman Bates
    Producers: Bert Brulez, François Chandelle


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    How do you market round-the-clock customer service? If you're Norwegian bank DNB, you buy all of the ad space on one channel in a 24-hour window, and fill it with advice from your country's citizens.

    The marketer crowdsourced some 3,000 clips from the public. And on Sept. 19 it aired 1,000 of them once each—totaling about two-and-a-half hours of content. That included pretty solid gems of wisdom, like it's a bad idea to stay up all night watching Netflix, and the classic winner, "Always look on the bright side of life" (alas, whistling not included).



    In the case study, agency Try/Apt (also onetime matchmaker to George Clooney and shepherd to a singing goat) claims some pretty impressive results, like doubling awareness of the service to more than 70 percent overnight. And if the usual rotation of late-night commercials in Norway gets anywhere near as hairy as in the U.S., DNB scored a major victory just by knocking them off the slate for a day.

    Then again, anyone who stayed up until 6 a.m. watching Netflix wouldn't have to worry about that.


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    Tricked-out vending machines have become the vehicle of choice for brands to push all sorts of zany promotions or social media stunts. We're almost to the point where if you see one outside of its natural habitat, you assume it's going to do something out of the ordinary if you just ... wait for it.

    Well, Canadian agency Taxi noticed that trend, too, and takes an amusing cynical stance on it in this video—yet another hilarious industry spoof from Strategy's Agency of the Year event. Take a look below as unsuspecting passersby encounter this mysterious machine—which, well, actually does kind of surprise folks.


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    DDB Canada takes a page from Jimmy Kimmel's playbook in this amusing video, in which employees read mean tweets about their work.

    The staffers seem both entertained and mildly horrified as they rattle off insult after insult aimed at eight of the agency's recent campaigns.

    It's actually a fun way to showcase the work in an ego-puncturing way, and it surely went over well at Strategy's Agency of the Year event, where self-lacerating videos are all the rage.


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    John Lewis went the heartwarming, emotional route for Christmas, while Boots and Waitrose took more down-to-earth approaches. Now, Marks & Spencer eschews its celebrity focus of the recent past to go full-on fantastical to celebrate the season.

    The retail chain has launched a glitzy, multi-faceted extravaganza via RKCR/Y&R that asks Brits to search the skies for bringers of yuletide cheer. I'm not talking about Santa and his reindeer, but Magic and Sparkle, two fairies who float overhead, dispensing joy wherever they go.

    The characters star in a big-budget 90-second spot directed by Philippe Andre via Independent Films. Julie London's swingin' version of "Fly Me to the Moon" provides the soundtrack as the winged pair work wonders, transforming mundane gifts, and ordinary clothes hung out to dry, into fancier fare—presumably available at M&S stores.

    They also engage in some matchmaking, return a lost cat to its owner and—in an odd dash of working-class whimsy—punch timecards to mark their enchanted day. (Do sprites have a union?)



    "The magic of Christmas is how it brings out that little part in all of us that wants to believe in the extraordinary," says Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director of marketing at M&S. "It's a moment to escape the realities of every day and give in to the joyfulness of the festive spirit. We wanted to capture that feeling."

    The campaign was heavily teased on Twitter using the #FollowTheFairies hashtag. And Magic and Sparkle have been appearing in various locations throughout the U.K., treating folks to cakes, cookies and cosmetics, and even covering a school building in Cornwall with "snow" for wintry pre-Xmas festivities.

    Some might find this take on the holidays too contrived or self-consciously commercial. In my view, it seems well-suited to a time of year when—let's be honest—most folks are longing to receive presents of one kind or another.

    Unlike John Lewis's penguin, M&S's fairies venture out into the real world and actually deliver!

    CREDITS
    Client: Marks & Spencer
    Agency: RKCR/Y&R
    Director: Philippe Andre
    Production Company: Independent Films


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    Beats by Dre is back to motivate you, and this time it's enlisted Cam Newton.

    The Carolina Panthers quarterback sweats it out in a new ad for the headphone maker's wireless offering from R/GA, following in the footsteps of last month's commercial celebrating LeBron James's return to Ohio, and this summer's starring Serena Williams in the wake of her U.S. Open victory.

    Beats once again leans on a pitch-perfect soundtrack to carry its message—in this case, Kendrick Lamar's verse on Jay Rock's "Pay for It"—as Newton presses through his routine.

    This would be the first time the formula might start to feel a little predictable—if it weren't for Newton letting out a primal scream at the end, to put an even sharper point on lyrics like "It's going take a whole lot of you to kill me."

    He's definitely earned his Gatorade, at least.


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    It really is the best way to see an agency: the dog's-eye view.

    Toronto animation, design and VFX studio Crush did it last year, attaching a GoPro camera to its dog Sadie and livestreaming her travels around the building. Crush has since merged with Notch, AXYZ and Lollipop to create a new agency called Smith—and what better way to introduce the new place than bringing Sadie back for an encore?

    Follow the livestream below until 3 p.m. ET to see every nook and cranny of Smith's offices, particularly the ones where delicious unclaimed food may lie.


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    Kittens are notorious advertising stars, and as it turns out, they're miniature therapists too.

    At least, that's one takeaway from this stunt in Los Angeles, where Purina Tidy Cats invited stressed-out people into a glass room—fully visible to people on the street—and had them listen to guided meditation.

    And then … the kittens are unleashed. And adorable overload ensues.

    The video, from Rainn Wilson's media company Soul Pancake, might seem better suited to cat adoption than cat litter. But it's fun to watch, and will surely get a bajillion views.


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    Here's the last parody video we're going to post from Strategy magazine's Agency of the Year event in Toronto. It's Leo Burnett entry, and it seems the agency has found a unique way to make its employees more creative—by having them do shots and then literally slapping the tired old ideas out of their heads.

    Burnett calls it "Slapshot," and it seems to be working, judging by the impressive numbers in the fake case study below. And certainly, beta testing in Cannes was an inspired idea.



    The slapshot idea isn't new—most other places it's called a "whiskey slap," and it appears to be a party game among bros in certain parts of the country. (It also shows up in the movie Beside Still Waters, judging by the trailer.)

    It's jarring, for sure, to see the Burnett staffers, male and female, clearly getting slapped in the face for real. Though as the voiceover says at the end: "No one was harmed or offended during the making of this video. Participants were willing and even excited about their involvement. Leo Burnett company in no way endorses violence of any kind against advertising people or any people."


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    If you have an animal, you can surely identify with having their dander all over your living space. It can be tricky to clean up after them and make the space presentable for guests. 

    Well, what if your apartment was your pants, and your pet hair was—uh, your very own locks of love? I mean, you love yourself and it shouldn't matter, right? Not so fast there, Sasquatch. Having guests over might be a problem. 

    Hirsutes, rejoice! Schick and JWT New York have given us a catchy little jingle in this ad for the Schick Hydro, aimed at getting you to clean up the "Crib in Your Pants" so guests might be able to easily find your tree in the forest. 

    Take a look below, and consider trimming Harry and the Hendersons.


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    Christmas creep is pretty much here, so it's time for an ad about opening gifts. Luckily, this one's good for some laughs.

    The spot, for Mulberry, is adam&eveDDB's first work for the high-end British fashion retailer. And indeed, in its timing and staging, it's bound to evoke another famous adam&eveDDB production—last year's "I Spent It On Myself" campaign for Harvey Nichols.

    But the story line runs in the opposite direction.

    A family of means competes for the affection of their resident preppy princess. Naturally, suspense abounds … who will win? The darling artsy sister? The smug mother? The even more smarmy beau? Or the grandmother who's been around long enough to know what life's really about, and that everyone else is just trying way too hard?



    It's probably best to watch before reading, since a lot of the fun is in the reveals. But suffice it to say, you'll like the ad if you're a sucker for cute dogs—especially ones that do nifty tricks. And before you roll your eyes like Grandma at the lofty airs of the fop getting his lady a horse (what is, he nouveau riche?)—you should know it isn't just any horse.

    The punch line can't help but be a little disappointing, just because the setup is so good, and a hard sales pitch is only ever so rewarding. But the spot does save itself with the pure insanity of the princess's celebration, and Grandma's no-nonsense bead on her descendant's bratty tastes (though let's be real, she probably would have been happy so long as she upstaged Mom).

    In other words, Mulberry gets points for ribbing its target, even if there's some logic to the materialism: A $1,700 purse has to require less maintenance than a purebred puppy, and certainly, one imagines, a unicorn.

    As for the sister, who knows what she was thinking?

    CREDITS
    Client: Mulberry
    Project name: #WinChristmas
    Creative Agency: adam&eveDDB, London
    Executive Creative Directors: Ben Priest, Ben Tollet & Emer Stamp
    Creative Directors: Richard Brim & Daniel Fisher
    Copywriter:  Miles Carter
    Art Director: Sophie Knox
    Business Director: Paul Billingsley
    Account Manager: Olivia Chittenden
    Production Company: Rattling Stick
    Director: Andy McLeod
    Editor: Johnnie Scarlett at The Quarry
    Soundtrack name and composer: When It’s Christmas Time 5 (1792/41) David Tobin (PRS/BMI)/ Jeff Meegan (BMI) Charley Harrison (ASCAP)
    Illustrator: Harry Malt
    Postproduction: Big Buoy
    Audio Postproduction: Wave


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    The annual British Christmas ad wars are heating up, and Tesco wants people to know it's armed with lots of the obligatory bright lights, and endearingly ridiculous ornaments.

    A new TV commercial from the supermarket chain and Wieden + Kennedy London dramatizes everyman preparations for the holiday—pulling tangled string lights out of the dusty attic, scaling a ladder with a wobbly reindeer, and grinning slack-jawed as a two-story inflatable Santa reaches full stature.

    It aims to build toward that wondrous moment when the electricity flips on—another in a string of familiar visual cues that are appropriate, if not particularly risky. And it has some pretty fierce competition in the the quiet charisma of this year's penguin-as-childhood-best-friend ad from department store John Lewis.



    But the real gem in Tesco's campaign is the insane outdoor light show it put on at a store in Wigan, outside Manchester (with some of the resulting footage edited into the TV spot). See below for that.

    Spurred by a local journalist's Twitter gripe last year that the location's sign didn't have a Christmas hat, Tesco responded with a Christmas rock spectacular that includes a guitar-shredding Santa, turkey Rockettes and a brain-melting bass drop into a Elven electronica dance routine. In the grand finale, Saint Nick basically Hadoukens a neon green crown out of his guitar through the air, onto the "O" in Tesco.

    In other words, be careful what you wish for at Christmas—you might get it, and then some.


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    Newcastle has tapped Wil Wheaton as its latest anti-advertising star, enlisting the actor and Internet folk hero for a couple of amusing online videos introducing a new Scotch Ale.

    Wheaton does an amusing job of delivering the pitch under duress, as the Droga5 production is self-consciously faux-low-budget. He's also a well-known home-brew geek, and mixes some knowledge in with the humor.

    "Newcastle Scotch Ale is a well-balanced, malt-forward brew with a delightful velvety finish," he says in the press release. "Basically, Newcastle and Caledonian made a kick-ass beer that does not suck."



    The Scotch Ale is the first in a series of what Newcastle is calling "collaboration edition" beers made in partnership with some of Europe's finest and oldest breweries. This first partnership is with its Edinburgh-based sister brewery Caledonian.

    "One of our dreams is to get rid of the 'intimidation' factor that prevents so many people from foregoing boring 'yellow beer' and enjoying more interesting brews," says Brett Steen, brand manager for Newcastle Brown Ale. "Wil is an inviting and knowledgeable guy, and we're stoked that he's taking this herculean effort of humor and wisdom onto himself so we don't have to."


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    "Let It Go" is so played out at this point, some might consider it a lump of coal in their stockings. But that hasn't stopped Vodafone U.K. and RKCR/Y&R from thawing out the Frozen anthem for this minute-long holiday ad.

    Directed by Pete Riski through Rattling Stick, the spot shows various "local heroes"—folks who have to work on Dec. 25, including medical personnel, airport staffers and restaurant employees—belting out the lyrics as they watch the Disney film, a Sky Movies selection for Christmas, on their handsets. (That's one festive emergency room! In fact, #PowerToTheFestive is the hashtag.)



    "We wanted to bring to life the joy of being able to watch Sky films and TV shows wherever you are this Christmas on Vodafone 4G," says Rupert Williams, RKCR/Y&R's managing director. Vodafone marketing exec Daryl Fielding adds that singing along to this particular number "inspires" folks and helps "lifts their spirits."

    The ad feels sincere because it tacitly acknowledges the strong modern connection between holidays and media. Sure, we should probably let the screens go dark and focus on family and friends at this time of year. Still, for many, It's a Wonderful Life, Rankin-Bass marathons and personal favorites of all kinds are essential seasonal viewing. No doubt the chance to enjoy a few mindless minutes of video diversion would be a welcome gift for those tired souls working the Christmas shift.

    As for "Let It Go" lifting spirits, I guess it beats another cerebral-cortex freezing chorus of "Jingle Bells." Barely. No it doesn't.


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    Monty the penguin has his first real competition for best Christmas ad of the year, as Sainsbury's just rolled out a remarkable long-form spot that couldn't be more different than the John Lewis masterpiece.

    The U.K. supermarket chain and the Royal British Legion unveiled "Christmas Is for Sharing" on Tuesday night's airing of Coronation Street—a brilliant three-minute-and-20-second spot from AMV BBDO that travels back a century to the trenches of World War I to tell the story of the famous 1914 Christmas truce that British and German soldiers observed in the first holiday season of World War I.

    Ringan Ledwidge, the Rattling Stick director who famously shot "Three Little Pigs" for the Guardian in 2012, handles directing chores here, and the film really is stunning—it's as cinematic as any war movie, rich and evocative and entirely believable. The story, which Sainsbury's calls a "creative interpretation" of the events, shows a young British soldier who—as the enemies hear each other singing "Silent Night"—ventures into No Man's Land and offers friendship, and a football match, to the other side.

    In particular, he meets a young German soldier and they share a bond—sealed in the quiet reveal of the final frames.



    Sainsbury's and the Royal British Legion tried to make the details as authentic as possible. They based it on original reports and letters from the time, and worked with historians throughout the process.

    And while the story is a century old, the campaign couldn't be more modern. The chocolate bar that plays a key role in the narrative will be sold at Sainsbury's stores this holiday, with proceeds going to the Royal British Legion, which works to support servicemen and women.

    "Christmas is a special time of year when people come together to share simple moments and kindnesses," says Mark Given, head of brand communications at Sainsbury's. "This year, we wanted to reflect that theme of sharing in our Christmas campaign through the lens of one of the most extraordinary moments of sharing in modern history, when on Christmas Day 1914, British and German soldiers laid down their arms, and came together on neutral territory to share stories, mementos and even a game of football."



    CREDITS
    Client: Sainsbury's
    Agency: AMV BBDO
    Director: Ringan Ledwidge
    Production Company: Rattling Stick
    Media Agency: PHD
    Grade: Aubrey Woodiwiss, ETC-
    Edit: Rich Orrick, Work
    Audio Postproduction: Aaron Reynolds, Wave, Woodwork Music
    Postproduction, Visual Effects Company: The Mill
    Executive Producer: Gemma Humphries
    Shoot Supervisor: Hitesh Patel
    2-D Lead Artist: Andrew Wood
    2-D Artists: Joseph Tang, Gary Driver, Dan Adams
    Matte Painting: Aurelien Ronceray, German Casado
    Assistant Producer: Clare Melia
    Colorist: Aubrey Woodiwiss, ETC
    DCP: Mick Vincent


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