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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie based on the controversial book about BDSM and heavy breathing, apparently, comes out on Friday. Thankfully, Lego has one-upped the trailer (not that it would have been hard) by creating it scene by scene with Legos.

    The attention to detail is perfect, from Christian Grey's brooding face to the weird Skinemax scenes at the end. And it's the second fan-made Lego recreation video in as many weeks, following A+C Studios' Lego versions of Super Bowl ads.

    A note from the creator, Antonio Toscano: "Lego Group is not even remotely involved in this video, except for the fact that I have bought a lot of their products during my life. Universal Picture is not involved in this, this video is not at all part of a promotional campaign for the movie, I am not getting any money for it and I don't care at all for this movie to be an audience success or not."

    So, Lego's not officially into recreating soft-core porn, I guess.

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    Snickers and BBDO New York have followed up their brilliant "Brady Bunch" Super Bowl ad with an inspired print piece—taking over the back cover of Sports Illustrated's new Swimsuit Issue with this fantastic "You're not your when you hungry" ad.

    Hannah Davis, of course, is on the front cover of the magazine. But on the back is a much less traditionally attractive female—Medusa, in fact, whom models apparently act like when they haven't had a Snickers in a while.

    Cynics will suggest models are always hungry, and wouldn't be caught dead rectifying that fact by wolfing down a Snickers bar in public. But leaving aside the issues of verisimilitude, this is a pretty great ad and media placement. The recasting of Sports Illustrated as "Super Irritated" is a particularly nice touch.

    See the front cover, and credits for the Snickers ad, below.

    Front cover:

    Client: Snickers
    Ad: Medusa

    Agency: BBDO New York
    Chief Creative Office, Worldwide: David Lubars
    Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
    Executive Creative Director: Gianfranco Arena
    Executive Creative Director: Peter Kain
    Senior Creative Director: Danilo Boer
    Senior Creative Director: Grant Smith
    Executive Art Producer: Betsy Jablow
    Account Director: Josh Steinman
    Account Manager: Dylan Green
    Planner: Alaina Crystal

    Photographer: Vincent Dixon

    CGI: Parker & Biley
    Production Company: Jake Mills Productions

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    Even in an industry increasingly defined by change, advertising agencies this year are making high-level moves at a blistering pace. 

    In the first six weeks of 2015, some 14 shops have made 19 new leadership hires, including 11 involving the role of creative chief. Some hires filled vacancies but many illustrate a desire for change. Young & Rubicam, for example, replaced its chief creative officers in New York, Chicago and San Francisco after each served several years. Similarly, TBWA installed a new head of New York, and MediaVest tapped a new president of investment.

    Other agencies are simply heavying up, adding new leaders over existing ones, as McCann Erickson did last week with the hiring of Eric Silver as North American CCO and Bartle Bogle Hegarty did with the promotion of John Patroulis to New York creative chairman. As BBH North American CEO Pat Lafferty explained, "We wanted to send the message that bulking up in the creative area is absolutely how we wanted to continue to evolve as a leadership team."

    What's driving these top-level hires is a frustration with the status quo and a desire for leaders with fresh ideas, according to agency bosses and an industry headhunter. In short, marketers want fast, flexible ads, and agencies need new types of executives to deliver the goods. Also, with marketers generally searching and spending more post- recession, agencies see an opportunity to invest in new talent and grab share.

    "Solving a client problem is what we're in the business of, and clearly, with this many CCO changes, you can see [that] many are struggling to get their core product—the work—right," said TBWA global CEO Troy Ruhanen. "Get the thinking right and ahead of the client, and the outcome will be a strong, valued relationship."

    Several of these changes follow the appointment of new CEOs last year. In sum, the suits have settled in, assessed what they need and are making their initial moves. TBWA's Ruhanen is a prime example of that. He installed insider Rob Schwartz as New York CEO in early January, six months after assuming the top job.

    Cramer-Krasselt, which named new executive creative directors in Chicago (Ken Erke) and New York (Craig Markus), seized an opportunity to find nimble, entrepreneurial leaders after longtime creative chiefs exited for personal reasons. As vice chairman Marshall Ross noted, some 40 percent of the shop's revenue comes from digital and social media work, and that requires a new approach.

    "Part of our motivation is to push that growth even further—not for the sake of it but because that's where consumers are and that's how we need to be telling our stories," said Ross, who's also CCO across C-K's four offices. "We need to be leveraging new muscle strength within the agency—analytics being one [example]. And a creative person who's into that becomes really helpful."

    Headhunter Jay Haines of Grace Blue expects the executive shuffling to continue. After all, advertising is a hypercompetitive industry, and clearly there's room for improvement. "This has been most prevalent in the creative space thus far, and will now begin to play out across every discipline," Haines said. "The fascinating thing will now be to watch how this unfolds in the coming months and see who made the right changes."

    Photo of Eric Silver by Emiliano Granado

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    To date, Rob Lowe has been the only celebrity to suffer physical indignities in Grey's DirecTV campaign making fun of cable customers. But now he can add three famous supermodels to the mix—Hannah Davis, Chrissy Teigen and Nina Agdal, all of whom are made over to look quite a bit less supermodelish to portray cable users in print ads in the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

    Check out the series of seven ads below.

    Like the Rob Lowe TV spots, this print work comes uncomfortably close to being mean-spirited—i.e., aren't ugly misfits just horrible? But they largely sidestep that charge because of the cartoonish execution. Plus, people tend to give props to any celeb who gamely agrees to look "ugly." (If you actually have shy bladder, though, or if you actually are a lunch lady—Agdal's ugly character—you might actually get pissed.)

    We wrote about Snickers's great back cover of the new Swimsuit Issue, too. And interestingly, they're quite similar campaigns. (DirecTV's message is, basically, "You're not you when you have cable.") Perhaps it's no surprise that the two most famous campaigns that urge you to fight against uglier versions of yourself have found creative ways into this particular magazine all about perfection.

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    Advertising is officially into goths.

    Danish flower-delivery service Interflora is the latest to jump on the bandwagon with the ad below from Brandhouse. (This is the same agency-client pairing, and the same director, Martin Werner, who made the sad clown ad back in December.)

    The new spot lands in the same ballpark as the German hardware store spot I wrote about a while back, and many others making these same specific observations. It's never crust punks or metalheads trying to coexist with the normals, you'll notice. The goth-out-of-water trope is common enough that I'm wondering how many closet Pink Turns Blue fans there are in the ad game these days.

    Watch the spot before the spoilers:

    Like the December spot, the theme here is still love and the hardship of expressing it. It's just a bit more optimistic. (Anything is more optimistic than sad clowns.)

    The reveal is quite the "Gift of the Magi" moment, as the goth guy (who kind of looks like Dolph from the Simpsons) has the hots for the preppy girl and changes his looks to suit her tastes—only to find out she went goth for him. Oops!

    Written out like this, it sounds like something Adam Sandler has in development.

    Client: Interflora
    Agency: Brandhouse
    Director: Martin Werner
    DOP: Lasse Frank
    Production: Bacon
    Music: "Slow Mover" by Louise Alenius & Ben Kaniewski

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    Right Shark and Left Shark had great time at the Super Bowl in Arizona. (Well, one of them had a better time than the other.) But now it's back to the grind. And that means returning to the ESPN offices in snowy Bristol, Conn., and getting back to their day jobs—next to every other athlete, mascot and halftime-show dance partner in the world.

    And here, we even get to see who's underneath those suddenly famous fish costumes.

    Wieden + Kennedy New York's "This Is SportsCenter" campaign is always pretty fresh and memorable, but it's great to see them jumping on this topic—which fits the campaign's goofy humor so well.

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    Who (From left) Jessica Reznick, managing director; Glenn Marck, partner, design; Brian Schultz, partner, production; Rick Rathe, partner, operations; Gary Johnson, director of strategy
    What Experiential and promotional marketing agency
    Where New York

    Even as advertising is becoming more personalized, the idea of marketing on a grand scale is still in demand. No one knows that better than Magnetic Collaborative, a marketing shop with a rare expertise connecting digital to the real world with larger-than-life stunts. It's P.T. Barnum meets Tron. Just last year, Magnetic was behind Google's Android takeover of Times Square with the largest billboard ever. Magnetic is becoming the go-to shop for making big happen at places like the Super Bowl, SXSW and Cannes. "Every project is immensely challenging with massive brand experiences," said Brian Schultz, chief production officer. Last year, the team grew 60 percent and revenue was up 77 percent. What sets Magnetic apart is that it has built a team that doesn't have to outsource the conception and construction of large-scale projects; it has the talent in-house—architects, engineers, designers and account execs.

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    Here's an oldie, but new to us: The Anatomy of an Agency infographic from Grip Limited, offering pretty spot-on portraits of agency people (art director, copywriter, account person, developer, finance person) based on their peculiar tastes and habits.

    This infographic was done by Julia Morra and Trevor Gourley. Via Design Taxi.

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    If regular Oreos don't already put you in the mood for love, maybe try the cookie's new Red Velvet flavor. The limited-edition Valentine's Day product stars in a new animated campaign from 360i, and is presented as an awkward aphrodisiac for strangers.

    The effects of Red Velvet Oreos might include a woman who looks kind of like a middle-aged Daria sliding her grip up a bus pole to touch the hand of the rocker hunk next to her. (In fact, the whole aesthetic seems inspired by '90s MTV cartoons.) And let's just say the dude is not moving his mitt away, either.

    Irresistible cookie romance could also strike at the checkout counter, or 35,000 feet above sea level (because someone couldn't resist a nod to the Mile High Club). In other words, Red Velvet Oreos are like the Axe of cookies. (Its advertising is just—appropriately—quirkier and more subtle than most of the body spray's.)

    There are six spots in total, with a new one rolling out each day this week. The brand says they're meant for people who aren't psyched about Valentine's Day. That makes some sense, because while Red Velvet Oreos might be a dubious gift, it's perfectly appropriate to shame-eat a pack while sitting alone at home watching rom-com marathons while everyone else is paired off and having a good time out on the town.

    And whether or not Red Velvet Oreos will actually get you laid, one thing is for sure: More people should carry fanny packs with cookies in them.

    Client: Oreo
    Senior Associate Brand Managers: Kerri McCarthy, Elise Burditt
    Senior Brand Manager: Lauryn McDonough
    North America Director: Janda Lukin

    Agency: 360i
    Chief Creative Officer: Pierre Lipton
    Group Account Directors: Sandra Ciconte, Aaron Mosher, David Yankelewitz
    Art Director: Kelsie Kaufman
    Copywriter: Jessy Cole
    Associate Producer: Ethan Brooks
    Senior Producer: Amanda Kwan
    Account Director: Josh Lenze
    Senior Strategist: Maggie Walsh
    Account Manager: Megan Falcone
    Community Manager: Sarah Wanger
    Community Supervisor: Namrata Patel

    Production Company: Shadowmachine, Los Angeles
    Executive Producers: Alex Bulkley, Corey Campodonico
    Director, Producer: Jed Hathaway
    Lead Animator: Sapphire Sandalo
    Animators: Iana Kushchenko, Sean Nadeau
    Character Designer: Matt Garofalo
    Background Designer: Emilio Santoyo
    Storyboard Artist: James Gibson
    Animatic Editor: Peter Keahey
    Sound Design: Pendulum Music (Ryan Franks, Scott Nickoley)
    Commercial Rep: Honky Dory (Gisela Limberg, Ali Tiedrich)

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    Adam&eveDDB goes the unsubtle stock-footage route in this Valentine's Day ad for travel site LastMinute.com, cramming scads of naughty visual metaphors into one fast-moving montage dubbed "Sexy Delights of Europe."

    Our, um, package tour starts with the bare balls, breasts and buttocks of classic works of art—I wonder what that statuesque dude at the Rodin Museum would think?—and touches on the sometimes unexpected sensuality of, among other things, food, golf, trains, canals, accordions and zoom lenses.

    The object of the client's desire is to encourage folks to book #LustMinute weekend getaways. "Valentine's Day is a great occasion to remind everyone of how much fun spontaneity is," says LastMinute brand and communications director Amanda Cumine. "Doing this in a bit of a cheeky way sits at the heart of everything we do."

    Sounds great. I'll have the oysters. (I've always been a shellfish lover!)

    Client: LastMinute.com
    Campaign:: Sexy Delights of Europe
    Agency: adam&eveddb.com
    Chief Creative Officer: Ben Priest
    Executive Creative Directors: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim
    Creative Directors: Frank Ginger & Shay Reading
    Copywriter: Frances Leach
    Art director: Christopher Bowsher
    Planner: Dom Boyd
    Media Agency: Manning Gottlieb OMD
    Production Company: cain&abel
    Director: Robert Smith

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    Everyone else makes fun of how painful it is to assemble Ikea furniture, so why can't Ikea? And the company does in these fun billboards, from German agency thjnk, that are themselves poorly assembled—to advertise the brand's assembly service. Such a simple idea.

    Thjnk has been doing eye-catching Ikea work for a while, including one of our favorite out-of-home ads of 2014—the RGB billboard that ingeniously turned nine square meters of ad space into 27 square meters.

    Via Ads of the World.

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    People go around all the time judging books by their covers, but now Dutch artist Thijs Biersteker has created the first book cover that judges you. The book happens to be the Art Directors Club annual, but before you can view all those beautiful ads, you have to prove that you're not the judgmental sort.

    That's right, he created a book that creative directors can't open. Kidding! Sort of. You have to align your face with the robotic-looking cutout on the cover of the book, and it takes a snapshot and sends it through some software to determine if you're looking scowly or not. If it thinks you're not in the optimal emotional state for viewing the work, the screen will blink red, and the book won't open. Sport an appropriately neutral expression, and you'll get a greenlight that pops the metal lock.

    Biersteker worked with design studio Moore to create the cover. "With an overflowing stream of beautiful things coming at you through the web on a daily basis, the art of being open for amazement and wonderment is hard to maintain," he says. Which is a very nice way of saying that a lot of us cynics just go around with resting bitch face all the time.

    Via Wired.

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    The tearjerking Asian insurance commercial has become something of a cliché after so many years of emotional Thai Life spots. But MetLife Hong Kong breathes new life into the form with this spot—a father-daughter story that digs deeper, and packs even more of an emotional wallop, than similar ads of late.

    As usual, it would be obnoxious to spoil the plot, but here are the basics: A girl writes a letter about her father, portraying him as a kind of superhero. But he is also, she insists, a liar. Watch the rest below, including a truly heart-wrenching series of a scenes toward the end.

    "You can't change your destiny, but you can create your own," says the brand. "MetLife values the dream of every parent to give their children a good education to pursue a better life. We understand every sacrifice you make for your children's future."

    The ad was reportedly shot in Thailand; six versions were made for different Asian markets. It promotes MetLife's EduCare savings plan for children's higher education.

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    Last week, Trojan took the piss out of the BDSM-light hype around Fifty Shades of Grey. And now Audi is joining the party with a new parody ad.

    Saturday Night Live's Vanessa Bayer stars as a try-hard version of the book-cum-movie's protagonist, Anastasia Steele. The spot, created with Venables Bell & Partners, mimics the famous scene in the elevator, where Christian Grey kisses Anastasia for the first time. But Bayer brings along a collection of sex toys and makes clumsy come-ons to anyone and everyone who happens along (kind of like she's been eating too many Red Velvet Oreos).

    The interplay between Bayer and her victims is pretty hilarious—tightly written and perfectly delivered. And while the brand tie-in might feel tacked on, it isn't really.

    Audi lucked into the storyline of the novel. Grey is an enthusiast, and gives Steele one as a gift. The automaker bought into the movie as well, with a product placement deal for five different cars. It's juicing the connection—a separate German ad hawking the Audi R8 Spyder treats Grey like a sex symbol on par with George Clooney.

    Given the official connection, Audi might get more credit than Trojan for poking fun at the movie—though both seem to be trying to make audiences feel better about being inept at bondage. Or maybe it's making like the lead actors and hedging against what they apparently think will be a dud film.

    Regardless, Audi certainly deserves points for bravery. Try to keep a straight face when Bayer starts twirling a set of Ben Wa balls around her finger. She can barely keep from laughing, too.

    Client: Audi
    Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
    Executive Creative Director: Paul Venables and Will McGinness
    Creative Director: Erich Pfeifer
    Art Director: Byron Del Rosario
    Copywriter: Meredith Karr
    Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen
    Agency Executive Producer: Mandi Holdorf
    Agency Producer: Ryan Wilson
    Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
    Director: Clay Weiner
    Director Of Photography: Doug Chamberlain
    Executive Producer: Holly Vega
    Editing Company: Cut + Run
    Editor: Isaac Chen
    Asst Editor: Eli Beck Gifford
    Editorial Producer: Joanna Hall
    Music Company: Search Party
    Composer: Chris James
    Mix: Mark Pitchford at M Squared
    V/FX: Apache
    Account Director: Nicole Spinelli
    Account Manager: McKenna Pickett
    Project Manager: Talya Fisher

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    For those of us who've spent too many hours digging through YouTube trying to find good-looking versions of classic ads, this is quite a treat: As part of its 50th birthday celebrations, Gatorade has digitally remastered its classic "Be Like Mike" commercial with Michael Jordan after almost a quarter century.

    And it really looks good. The old Bayer Bess Vanderwarker spot is completely cleaned up, so you can enjoy seeing Mike play cute pickup games with kids and laugh ridiculously with his actor-teammates like it's 1992 all over again. (Except for that hashtag at the end!)

    Gatorade is doing a whole bunch of "Be Like Mike" stuff around the NBA All-Star weekend, including a "live event experience" in New York featuring Dominique Wilkins and Horace Grant, who will "help visitors do their best impressions of Jordan by 'Shooting like Mike,' 'Dunking like Mike' and 'Striking iconic poses like Mike.' "

    The sports drink will also be selling special bottles of Citrus Cooler (Mike's favorite) with a retro label starting at the end of March.

    In fact, the only thing missing from return of "Be Like Mike," it seems, is present-day Mike.

    The remastered ad is cool, though—almost as good as the 1979 Pabst Blue Ribbon spot with Patrick Swayze that was likewise cleaned up a few years ago. Can we do this with all the great spots from the '70s, '80s and '90s, please?

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    A Twitter hashtag game like #WhatIsLoveIn4Words is irresistible to brands. It's easy, and the answer is simple: With only a few exceptions, they love themselves first.

    Check out a slew of brand posts around the hashtag below. Beats by Dre gets our grudging respect for being so uncreative, they were actually creative.

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    Ikea often does humorously naughty ads around Valentine's Day. Two years ago it did a fun promotion offering free cribs for babies born nine months after Valentine's Day. And last year it stacked a pair of chairs suggestively in an ad with hot wood-on-wood action.

    Now, Ikea Singapore continues the tradition with the BBH ad above, posted to social media—showing off the chain's new line of "beds." Pretty cute, though I'm not convinced that bench is up to the task.

    Client: Ikea
    Agency: BBH Singapore
    Business Director: Tim Cullinane
    Account Manager: Manavi Sharma
    Project Director: Lesley Chelvan
    Producer: Kim Lim
    Creative Directors: Tinus Strydom, Maurice Wee
    Senior Art Director: Gary Lim
    Senior Copywriter: Nikhil Panjwani
    Social Strategist: Josie Khng
    Community Manager: Nurul Maideen
    Production Company: BlackSheep Live

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    Left Shark and Right Shark. Dad and daughter. Boyfriend and girlfriend. Baryshnikov and Lil Buck. It was a good week for pairing off in this new batch of best commercials. Check them out below, and vote for your favorite.

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    Some key things separate pro athletes from weekend warriors. Of course, there's the natural talent and physical skills. But there's also the mental approach. The pros excel at being able to learn from mistakes, and move on to the next play or game.

    In the clutch, regular people often dwell on the implications of failure. Pros focus on executing moves they've practiced thousands of times. They're in the moment. They're focused on success, not failure.

    Starting today, Adidas begins a fascinating attempt to impart some of that athletic wisdom with a new brand campaign called "Sport 15."

    Simon Atkins, the brand's vp of brand activation, gave Adweek an exclusive preview of the first 60-second spot called "Take It." The spot (posted below), created by 180LA, will break Saturday during TV coverage of NBA All-Star Weekend in New York.

    It shows action shots of Adidas endorsers, including soccer superstar Lionel Messi, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and DeMarco Murray of the Dallas Cowboys. We see them displaying the same intensity in practice as they do in a game.

    A voiceover begins: "The last goal? Doesn't matter. The last victory? Already forgotten. Yesterday is gone. Lost in the record books. But today is up for grabs. Unpredictable. Unwritten. Undecided. Now is ours. Do something, and be remembered. Or do nothing, and be forgotten. No one owns today. Take it."

    The creative message? Every split second in sports presents a new chance for you to redefine yourself and your team.

    "As a brand that has a legacy with sports more than anybody historically, and across all sports, it's something that we see. It's something we wanted to start communicating to our audience," Atkins said. The best athletes have the "ability to use all of their experiences—good, bad or indifferent—to empower them for the future," he added. That insight was something Adidas wanted to inject into its "brand narrative."

    Adidas is on red alert in the U.S., having seen rival Under Armour pass it in 2014 to take the No. 2 spot behind Nike in the multibillion dollar U.S. athletic market. Now, Adidas wants to take it to its rivals and be more aggressive in its marketing.

    The "Sport 15" effort will be Adidas' biggest brand campaign since "All In or Nothing" in 2011, Atkins said. All told, it will be the brand's "biggest ever" ad spend in the U.S., he added, while declining to spell out numbers.

    "What you're seeing is Adidas rewriting our playbook about how we want to express our brand, week in, week out," he said.

    Client: Adidas
    Agency: 180LA

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    Beauty is in the eye of the … um … sorry, I lost my train of thought. While I try to remember how that saying goes, enjoy "The Ugly Couple Song," a Valentine's Day music video by RPA for XO Mints.

    Unlike Cartier's pretty posers, who pine for love, XO presents some hairy, less-than-hunky, socially awkward dudes who look like refugees from cover bands and sitcoms. (The guy with the curls resembles "College Ted" from How I Met Your Mother. He's even got the "spectacles"!) They lip-sync along with the titular ditty, a folky number performed by Run River North, about finding that certain special someone no matter how unattractive you are.

    "She's got a heart that's bigger than her hair/She might never be a model, but who cares?/She's one cloud and some wings from being an angel/And who knows, we might make—something beautiful." (Aww ... isn't that nice? #SomethingBeautiful is also the campaign's hashtag.)

    Frankly, the guys aren't all that homely, and I expected a wacky payoff, like maybe they'd all marry each other. Instead, the clip stays minty sweet and low-key, gently poking fun at social stereotypes as it invites us to hum along.

    Of course, fresh breath as a requirement for romance is also a stereotype. Still, it never hurts, and the brand's heart is clearly in the right place.


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