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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    Are you in Austin this week mostly just to bag a few one-night stands? Luckily, ad agency Mistress has come up with the ultimate guide to casual sex at the festival. (This is quite fitting, given the agency's Ashley Madison-ish name.)

    Whatever your preferred meaningless-intercourse partner—the millennial marketer, the teen CEO, the lifehacker, the "Christian Grey venture capitalist," the cause marketer—this infographic will teach you how to seek them out, and find their weak spots.

    They've even included the sessions each of them are likely to attend.

    Have at it, you filthy dogs.

    Click the image to enlarge.


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    Well, this is sneaky—and for some, a little heartbreaking.

    Tinder users at the SXSW festival on Saturday were encountering an attractive 25-year-old woman named Ava on the dating app. A friend of ours made a match with her, and soon they were having a conversation via text message.



    But when he opened up Ava's Instagram, it became clear something was amiss. There was one photo and one video, both promoting Ex Machina, a sci-fi film that just happened to be premiering Saturday night here in Austin. The link in her bio went to the film's website. And it turns out the woman in the photos is Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, who plays an artificial intelligence in the movie.

    It's pretty brilliant in the way it ties into the movie. Only in retrospect do you realize that Ava's questions are about a robot wanting to know what it's like to be human.

    It's also pretty invasive, and some will call it spammy. If you think about it, it's only a step above Tinder's porn bots. In this case, though, I'd give it a pass because it's such a strong fit conceptually. She's a bot in the movie, so of course she's a bot on Tinder.

    As for our friend—whose texts above, we can attest, were totally heartfelt—he found the whole thing impressively deceptive and shared it with others. But he was also a little crestfallen. It "toyed with my emotions so hard," he says.

    Click here to see all of Adweek's SXSW coverage.


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    It remains mostly unclear what kinds of virtual reality experiences will be most compelling to people. But NBC, Samsung and director Chris Milk presented one VR experience at South by Southwest this weekend that everyone could agree was pretty cool—as it put the user right in the audience at Saturday Night Live's recent 40th anniversary show.

    Unfortunately, we don't have any video to show you that even approximates the experience. But what happened was this: Milk recorded Jerry Seinfeld's monologue with a VR camera mounted on top of Camera 1—the camera right in front of the SNL main stage. The VR camera recorded the entire studio in all directions for the entire monologue.

    So, when you sit down for the VR experience—watching it on the Samsung Gear VR headset—it feels like you're sitting on top of Camera 1. As Seinfeld calls out each comedian, you look around to watch them, just as you would if you were in the studio.

    Some users had a bit of trouble getting the images in focus, but otherwise the experience was uncanny. Afterward, we caught up with Milk—a digital innovator whose work includes Arcade Fire's The Wilderness Downtown video and Beck's 360-degree "Sound and Vision" film—to ask him about this project.

    "This was the first time I ever did a television show [in VR]," said Milk, who recently launched his own VR company, VRSE. "I don't think this sort of construct works for other television shows. This is a moment in time that is recorded. The studio has this history, and the audience is all made up of previous cast members, and it really is a specially unique moment in time that should be recorded for historical purposes."

    "To be able to capture that moment in this format is a really incredible opportunity and will allow that show to live for years and decades to come in a way that really wasn't possible before," added Michael Scogin, vp of late night at NBC Entertainment Digital.

    Milk, whose recent work has included a VR experience that took viewers inside the Dec. 13 rally against police brutality in New York City, admitted the SNL project might not seem revolutionary in its execution. But that's part of building VR as a medium—springboarding off other mediums.

    "VR is a completely new form of storytelling. And the language and form of storytelling needs to completely evolve into something new," he said. "What we normally do at the beginning of mediums is just shoot the old mediums with the new technology. … It takes, typically, decades for any medium to figure out what its definitive model of storytelling is. The feature film was not created at the beginning of cinema."

    But the possibilities are nothing short of sci-fi, he added.

    "Right now you're sitting in a chair and you can look around," he said. "But conceivably, decades from now, you could have a photorealistic world that could be rendered in real time, and the storytelling is being run off an [artificial intelligence] system that could accommodate anything that you were doing. It could feel like you're running even if you're not. And then you basically have The Matrix or Total Recall, if you so choose to enter it."

    SNL cast member Vanessa Bayer was also on hand for the press preview of the SNL 40 experience. "It's really amazing that people will get to see it who weren't in the audience," she said.

    And of SNL 40 in general, she added: "It was a really, really fun night. In fact, it was so overwhelming that I feel like I keep having new memories of it."

    Visitors to the Samsung Studio also got a chance to try another VR experience, "Insurgent—Shatter Reality," a much more high-octane video made for the Divergent sequel.
     


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    We've all experienced it, the powerful, emotional upwelling when you hear a piece of music for the first time that really hooks into your soul. For me it happened with the opening of Led Zeppelin's "The Rover," the elemental funkiness of James Brown's "I Got the Feelin'" and my capitulation to Radiohead's masterwork OK Computer. These and many others simply blew me away, like a first kiss or the birth of a child.

    Because of this visceral effect, music has always been an art form marketers are eager to tap for their clients. And with digital reshaping the music business and everything from the high-definition Walkman to the notion of artists selling out, the ability and desire to link music and advertising has never been greater. This week's music-themed issue of Adweek reflects that, as does our sister brand Clio's extension, the Clio Music Awards, now in its second year. Adweek and Clio decided to join forces to uncover the brightest talent and driving forces behind the ever-evolving relationship between music and media, music and branding, and music and creative.

    A number of this year's 23 Clio Music jurors are featured in this issue.

    Evan Greene, CMO of the The Recording Academy/The Grammy Awards and a Clio Music juror, is featured in our CMO Cold Call. Gauging the delicate creative balance brands play with music, juror Omid Farhang, CCO at Momentum Worldwide, pens this week's Voice column.

    For our cover story, juror Brian Loucks, a talent agent with Creative Artists Agency, invited us to his personal and exclusive Living Room Series, where music, marketing and Hollywood converge to refresh and redefine their relationship. We were lucky enough to attend when music icon Annie Lennox was the featured artist. We photographed her there for this week's cover.

    Singer-songwriter, producer and Clio Music juror Janelle Monáe has assembled a group of young talent for her new label, Wondaland, backed by Epic Records. We feature Monáe and her future superstars. And juror Dominic Sandifer, president and founding partner of Los Angeles-based GreenLight Media & Marketing, takes us inside its super-cool offices for our Spaces department.

    This issue presents a small coda leading into the rising harmony between music, creative and commerce, which we look forward to celebrating with Clio Music as part of the Clio Awards gala on Sept. 30 in New York. Hope to see you there.

    James Cooper is editorial director of Adweek. Follow him on Twitter at @jcoopernyc.


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    There's lots of sexy smartphone functionality out there, but not too much that's actually sexual. But now, Durex claims to have discovered phone technology that helps couples get closer in the bedroom.

    Check out the video below, which has notched an impressive 21 million views in just five days. Seems people are craving tech-enhanced sex—or perhaps its opposite.

    The campaign also supports this event happening later this month.


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    Liam Neeson is a big softy when it comes to St. Patrick's Day.

    The tough-guy actor provides a heartfelt voiceover for this 60-second Discover Ireland tourism spot, waxing poetic about his homeland.

    "Every year, on St. Patrick's Day, the world goes green," he begins, as landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Sydney Opera House and Paris' Moulin Rouge, all lit in emerald hues, flash by. "But here in Ireland," he continues, "every day is bathed in green."

    We're treated to shots of rugged coasts, crescent hills and verdant forests, along with city scenes of bustling nightlife, shopping and parades. #GoGreen4PatricksDay is the hashtag.



    What would be an attractive if predictable spot really shines thanks to Neeson's earnest, nuanced narration. The Oscar nominee provides a level of emotional resonance and authenticity often lacking in tourism work. Being Liam Neeson, his delivery is still intense and penetrating, though he sounds legitimately pleased to be talking up the green.

    Still, I kind of miss the smoldering murderousness he conveys when seeing red.


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    The sudden appearance of Rick Astley usually means you've been duped. But 180LA and Virgin Mobile now want it to communicate the opposite.

    A new campaign for the wireless carrier depicts a family who are constantly fighting over the wireless data they have to share. In a TV spot called "Do It for the Data," they are all seen doing absurd favors for each other—in exchange for more data.

    The spot ends with a particularly absurd favor involving the "Never Gonna Give You Up" singer himself. Consider yourself Rickrolled—hopefully in a good way.



    Virgin Mobile's Data Done Right plans, available at Walmart, aim to change that by dividing up specific amounts of data so everyone gets their fair share. The TV spot begins airing this week of March 16 on cable channels including ABC Family, the Food Network, TBS, TLC, USA and others.

    There are two online spot, as well. See them below.

    CREDITS
    Client: Virgin Mobile
    Director, Sprint Prepaid Group: Peiti Feng
    Sr Manager, Virgin Mobile Brand: Ryan Rimsnider
    Creative Director, Sprint Prepaid Group: Nick Holt

    Campaign: Do It For The Data

    Agency: 180LA
    Managing Partner, CCO: William Gelner
    Creative Directors: Mike Bokman and Jason Rappaport
    Copywriter: Chris Elzinga
    Art Director: Marcus Cross
    Head of Account Management: Chad Bettor
    Associate Account Director: Paul Kinsella
    Account Coordinator: Eric Reilly
    Head of Production: Natasha Wellesley
    Senior Producer: Lindsey Wood

    Production Co: B Reel
    Director: Steven Tsuchida
    DP: James Gardner
    Founding Partner / EP: Pelle Nilsson
    Managing Director / Executive Producer: Michael McQuhae

    EP: Fran McGivern
    Producer: Darrin Ball

    Production Supervisor: Tai Scott
    Shoot Location: Vancouver, BC
    Shoot Date: 2/11/15

    Editorial Company: Hutch Co
    Editor: Jim Hutchins
    EP: Jane Hutchins

    Online Finishing:
    Colorist: Adam Scott / The Mill
    Online / Finishing: The Mill
    Sound Design / Mix: Rommel Molina / Barking Owl Sound


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    Your cranky straight-talking grandmother might not think much of diesel engines, but Volkswagen would like her—and you—to reconsider.

    "Old Wives Tales," a new campaign from Deutsch LA for the automaker's Passat TDI, features the Golden Sisters, who rose to fame with their salty commentary on Kim Kardashian's sex tape back in 2012. Now, the trio are riding around in a VW, sounding off on diesel cars—and getting it wrong.

    They weigh in on rappers (dismissively, of course) and play "Who's on First" with the question of whether the car is even running—because aren't diesel engines supposed to be loud? While looking for a gas station, they start obsessing over food—Italian, in this case (the real-life siblings were all born Conticchio, in the Bronx)—though their heritage could, in many moments, just as easily be another variety of old, white and loud.



    In other words, the four spots are all set pieces that showcase a certain type of gleefully abrasive charm—a shtick that will appeal best to the demographic that knows and loves the caricature. It's a nice vehicle for the message. People who bear these misconceptions are likely more concerned with volume than accuracy, so don't be like them (even if you think they're funny).

    The best moment by far is a close-up of what might be the world's ugliest dog (a cameo that deserves credit for extra cutting against the grain of everyone everywhere putting adorable puppies in their ads). And in a discovery on which more mercenary brands should capitalize, it turns out even marketing hashtags like #tunameltsmyheart are less obnoxious when yelled by an old woman—probably because you don't have a choice but to forgive them for being cheesy.



    CREDITS
    Client: Volkswagen
    Agency: Deutsch LA
    Chief Creative Officer: Pete Favat
    Chief Digital Officer: Winston Binch
    Executive Creative Director: Todd Riddle
    Digital Executive Creative Director: Jerome Austria
    Group Creative Directors: Heath Pochucha, Tom Pettus
    Art Director: Alice Blastorah
    Copywriters: Shiran Teitelbaum, William Sawyer
    Director of Integrated Production: Vic Palumbo
    Executive Integrated Producer: Erik Press
    Integrated Producer: Win Bates
    Group Account Directors: Tom Else, Monica Jungbeck
    Account Director: Alex Gross
    Account Supervisor: Aleks Rzeznik
    Account Executive: Ashley Broughman
    Director of Product Information: Jason Clark
    Product Information Supervisor: Eddie Chae
    Chief Strategy Officer: Colin Drummond
    Senior Digital Strategist: Brendon Volpe
    Group Planning Director: Susie Lyons
    Director of Integrated Business Affairs: Abilino Guillermo
    Group Director of Integrated Business Affairs: Gabriela Farias
    Business Affairs Manager: Jade McAdams
    Director or Broadcast Traffic: Carie Bonillo
    Broadcast Traffic Manager: Courtney Tylka
    Production Company: LMNO Productions
    Director: Eric Schotz
    Executive Producer: Ed Horwitz
    Editing: Union Editorial
    Editor: Paul Plew
    Assistant Editor: Otto Mertins
    President: Michael Raimondi
    Senior Producer: Rob McCool
    Postproduction, Sound Studio: Resolution
    Producer: Logan Aires
    Mixer: Milos Zivkovic


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    It's a quiet Thursday morning in early November last year, and John Lewis' latest blockbuster Christmas ad, more than six months in the making, has just been uploaded to YouTube. Within an hour it will already be rocketing through the Internet—its charming story of a young boy, Sam, and his best friend, a penguin named Monty, proving irresistible to anyone with a pulse.

    It will go on to get 23 million YouTube views. And it will be widely celebrated as the British retailer's best spot since 2011's "The Long Wait," itself a triumph of holiday storytelling—a commercial that single-handedly turned the Christmas season in Britain into an advertising showcase, a kind of mini Super Bowl.

    But at adam&eveDDB's offices on Bishops Bridge Road in London, the makers of the ad that will go on to win Christmas have more to worry about than a TV spot. After all, the campaign is just beginning.



    More like an octopus than a penguin, the work reaches across mediums and counts a remarkable number of technology and media companies as partners—all of whom wanted a piece of the John Lewis magic, and who brought various tools to the table to bring Monty's story vividly to life in different environments.

    From the moment adam&eveDDB sold Monty into the client, the race was on to build something as magical as Christmas itself—and to prove that a model of nonlinear storytelling could prevail at a critical time for one of the agency's most critical clients.

    "Because of the clout John Lewis has, we briefed everybody. We said, 'This is the thing. These are our ideas. What do you think?' " says Richard Brim, adam&eveDDB's newly promoted executive creative director, over drinks at South by Southwest in Austin. "Whether it was Microsoft, Google, YouTube, Channel 4, ITV—we said, 'What would you do with this?' "

    Some of what the partners came back with was astounding, including tech ideas that would later be on display at an in-store exhibit that opened at John Lewis' flagship Oxford Street store the day after the TV spot rolled out.

    Google created "Monty's Googles," a 360-degree virtual reality experience, featuring Sam and Monty, that kids could see through Google Cardboard glasses. Samsung provided tablets for kids to create their own penguin-themed Christmas cards. And Microsoft outdid them all with "Monty's Magical Toy Machine," a first-of-its-kind technology that scanned children's own stuffed animals brought from home, rendered them in 3-D and put them on a screen—where they could dance in time with the kids.
     



    It was a remarkable collaboration among companies with deeply divergent interests, all working off the same core creative asset—the kind of teamwork that would have been unimaginable just a few years back.

    "That landscape has changed massively over the course of the last two or three years," says agency managing director Mat Goff. "It used to be that an electronics manufacturer would pay to co-fund some of the production to get their new tablet into the TV ad, whereas now they want to take the idea and build something bespoke for the platform that people can play with that shows off their capabilities."

    Monty had a lot of moving parts, for sure. But then, that had been the case for months.

    "We were sitting there, five months in advance of the film going live, working out the strands of the Twitter story that would take place between Monty and [his penguin mate] Mabel," says Alex Hesz, adam&eveDDB's director of digital. "How do we keep a conversation between two penguins on Twitter alive for 12 weeks? That type of conversation was exciting. And Monty ended up with more that 30,000 followers on Twitter."

    "When we did 'The Long Wait' five years ago, it was just a TV ad," says Goff. "There wasn't any print, there wasn't any outdoor, there wasn't anything else. Now, with Monty, the depth and scale of the digital interaction—being able to move those characters through and tell that story—is incredible."

    No wonder, then, that Goff, Hesz and Brim have been here in Austin this week, renting a house in the Barton Hills neighborhood and sampling the latest fruits of digital innovation at SXSW. (They've also enjoyed the Austin scene, particularly Hopdoddy on South Congress, where "the diablo burger is uncomfortably hot," says Hesz.)

    It's Brim's first time here—he admits to having felt "almost an allergic reaction" at first to the scale of the festival. But they've been inspired by many of the sessions—in particular, Al Gore's speech about climate change on Friday and Jonah Peretti's talk Monday about BuzzFeed's content strategies.

    They're paying special attention to storytelling, which of course is paramount in so many of their ad campaigns. Hesz offers an analogy for how the agency is telling stories differently these days, given the proliferation of channels and the unpredictability of where consumers might encounter them.

    "We always used to think of storytelling like Breaking Bad," he says. "It's this linear thing, where if I dropped you into the middle of Season 3, you would have quite a bad experience. 'Who are these people? What's going on? Everyone seems to know all these people and I don't.' Whereas Friends is a fundamentally different mode of storytelling. They are stand-alone stories. The characters are almost introduced, and then a plot line is played out that resolves itself in each story. Creating stories that are satisfying irrespective of whether you see all of it, or just a part of it, that's becoming more and more part of our storytelling."

    Episodic entertainment is all the rage now in TV programming, of course. But in advertising, something that linear doesn't always make sense.

    "Episodic models look great on case study videos," says Hesz. "You can say, 'We started here and finished here, and what a wonderful journey we all went on.' But consumers never do that. I think we're lying to ourselves if we think they do. We need to create worlds where consumers can pick and choose where they will enter the story."

    Not that adam&eveDDB lacks impressive case studies. After all, this is the agency that won a remarkable four Grand Prix at Cannes last year—in Press, Promo & Activation, Film and Integrated—for its darkly amusing 2013 Christmas campaign for Harvey Nichols, themed "Sorry, I Spent It on Myself."



    The agency thought the campaign might do well at Cannes, but not that well. In fact, everyone was back in London by Friday night, when they got the call that they should really, really consider coming back for Saturday night's awards.

    The agency acknowledges that not everyone thought the campaign deserved quite that many top prizes. But Brim says it was a shot in the arm for the U.K. agency business in general at a important time.

    "For years, the U.K. had this arrogance that they were the best in the world in terms of advertising. And what's happened in the past five or six years is that they really haven't been," he says. "The eyes have shifted from London to the Far East, to Brazil, to McCann Melbourne. And this arrogance perpetuates itself. And I think what happened this year—with Harvey Nichols and British Airway and Guinness 'Sapeurs' and other good work—is that eyes have shifted back to London. For the British industry, that's a great thing and should be celebrated."

    The Cannes wins certainly raised adam&eveDDB's profile. The agency—founded in 2008 by former Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R execs, and sold to Omnicom in 2012 for £60 million—is one of the "hot shops" now more than ever.

    In particular, it's been able to use the success in Cannes to attract strong talent who might have otherwise preferred shops like AMV BBDO or BBH—whom Hesz referred to as "the Red Sox and Yankees of the London scene." ("We irritate them on every single level, but it's a friendly irritation," adds Brim.)

    "It's put us more under the spotlight, but it hasn't changed what we do or how we do it," Goff says of the Cannes experience. "We've had a great year, and we've got to go match it and beat it, and keep up to that level. We have a great sense of internal competition that keeps us doing the best work we can across as many brands and clients as we can."

    Speaking of ambitions—and seeing them here in Austin—it's hard not to wonder whether adam&eveDDB will expand at some point beyond the single office.

    After a conspicuous pause, Goff says, "That's a conversation for another day."


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    States United to Prevent Gun Violence and its agency, Grey New York, have teamed up for some truly hard-hitting PSAs, including 2013's famous "Ed" spot, which won a Silver Lion in Film at Cannes. Now, they've moved on to a new tactic—a social experiment set in the real world.

    They did what they're calling "the unthinkable"—opened a real-looking gun store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and invited first-time gun buyers to check it out, with hidden cameras rolling.

    To create drama, they put disturbing tags on each weapon, indicating which models were used in particular mass shootings, unintentional shootings, homicides and suicides. Needless to say, the fresh-faced buyers end up looking rather pallid by the end, and aren't quite as excited to head home with a firearm.



    The point of the PSA is to debunk the perception, held by six in 10 Americans, that owning a firearm makes a home safer. In fact, according to studies, those who own a gun—and those around them—have an increased risk of injury and death.

    There's a sense here of preaching to the choir. These folks are awfully quick to backtrack from their desire to own a weapon, and the NYC setting might not do much to convince people in less liberal places to consider changing their views.

    But it does, at least, suggest—indeed, demonstrate—that minds can be changed on the matter. And it's chilling in the video to see the actual guns that were used in notorious crimes, and must have been that much more so in person.

    "Our goal is to educate those looking to purchase a firearm and ensure they are aware of the potential risks [and to promote responsible gun ownership]," says Julia Wyman, executive director of States United To Prevent Gun Violence.

    "Often gun purchasers wrongly believe guns will keep them safe when in fact a gun in the home greatly increases the risk of homicide and suicide. This sets the record straight so consumers can make an informed choice to buy a firearm or not."

    CREDITS
    Client: States United to Prevent Gun Violence
    Agency: Grey, New York
    Tor Myhren: Worldwide Chief Creative Officer
    Per Pedersen: Deputy Worldwide Chief Creative Officer
    Andreas Dahlqvist: Chief Creative Officer
    Stephen Krauss: Executive Creative Director
    Ari Halper: Executive Creative Director
    Marco Pupo: Creative Director
    Joao Coutinho: Creative Director
    Bennett McCarroll: EVP Director Broadcast Production
    Floyd Russ: Producer
    Elizabeth Gilchrist: VP Account Director
    Katie Stirn: Account Supervisor
    Emma Tonetti: Project Manager
    Christopher Izzo: Digital Production
    Jayne Horowitz: VP Art Producer
    Production Company: Rival School Pictures
    Andrew Lane: Director
    James Blom: Executive Producer/Partner
    Alihan Karagul: Executive Producer/Partner
    Editorial: Visiojn
    Editor: Dominic Martimucci
    Postproduction: The Mill


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    Ikea does a ton of marketing worldwide, but its looniest ads come from one agency—BBH Asia Pacific. Just in the past year, it made the hilarious "Bookbook" ad, imagining the Ikea catalog as a futuristic gadget, and the parody of The Shining for Halloween.

    Now, BBH and Ikea take you inside the bedroom, promising to "improve your private life" in this latest spot—which is quite suggestive, pun filled and faux retro in parts.

    Between Ikea and Durex, advertising is certainly bringing couples closer this week.



    CREDITS
    Client: Ikea
    Agency: BBH Asia Pacific
    Executive Creative Director: Scott McClelland
    Creative Directors: Tinus Strydom, Maurice Wee
    Senior Art Director: Janson Choo
    Senior Copywriter: Khairul Mondzi
    Business Director: Tim Cullinane
    Associate Account Director: Manavi Sharma
    Project Director: Lesley Chelvan
    Producer: Wendi Chong
    Head of Film: Daphne Ng
    Social Strategist: Josie Khng
    Director: Carlos Canal
    Production House: Freeflow Productions
    Editor: Jason Denning
    Postproduction House: BlackSheep Live
    Audio Production: Fuse Audio
     


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    Starbucks is encouraging its baristas to write the words "Race Together" on cups to get customers talking about racial issues. The idea started internally when about 2,000 Starbuckians attended a forum to talk about Ferguson, Mo., but surely no one foresaw the shit storm that would erupt when it went public.

    This isn't the coffee company's first time at the social cause rodeo. It's taken on guns and gay rights gamely, with applause from its largely liberal audience. But somehow, the clumsy nature of reducing a serious, impossibly complex national conversation to a hashtag on a coffee cup has united Twitter users of all races in roundly denouncing the attempt.

    Entrepreneur points out that the campaign puts an unfair burden on the baristas. And let's be frank, they maybe aren't being given the resources and information to hold an informed, nuanced discussion of the topic when a customer walks in and asks their feelings on the subject of cultural appropriation. By the way, do they find it awkward that ordering a black coffee or a flat white espresso will now have an extra layer of uncomfortable meaning?

    More than a few people are suggesting Starbucks needs to first have a serious conversation with itself about race—more diversity in leadership, a serious look at where they are and aren't putting their stores (interestingly, there are no Starbucks in the town of Ferguson), and of course, fair trade for all their coffee growers.

    Starbucks, for its part, claimed that broaching the topic is worth a little discomfort. But that was right before vp of communications Corey duBrowa deleted his Twitter account because attacks were distracting from a "respectful conversation."

    The important thing is that Starbucks has finally united Americans in a conversation about how much they don't want to have a conversation about race—at least, not before they have their coffee.


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    As part of its continued assault on microbrew-swilling beer snobs, Budweiser headed to Brooklyn during Restaurant Week and orchestrated a little stunt to get people to actually drink Bud—and even rave about it.

    Vayner Media planned the whole thing, inviting some hip young adults to a sneak peek at a new bar, weeks before its opening. There, they were invited to sample a smooth, crisp, golden lager, aged over beechwood, whose recipe hasn't changed for 139 years.

    See how things went here:



    New Yorkers are really getting punked lately—first the fake gun store, and now this, which some might feel is just as egregious. There are certainly some focus-group-like social dynamics at play here—i.e., if you hide your brand name, put it in a different context and tell people it's special, they'll parrot that sentiment back to you.

    Still, setting it in Brooklyn gives it a nice cultural punch. And many of the reactions seem genuine—perhaps not surprisingly, as Bud isn't actually a bad beer (though perhaps I'm biased, having lived in St. Louis for five years).

    Try this with Bud Light, though, and you'd get pelted with free-range eggs.

    CREDITS
    Client: Budweiser
    Agency: Vayner Media


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    Here is a really beautifully filmed commercial from France featuring a boy named George who has remarkable powers. It would spoil the ending a bit to tell you the advertiser, so just watch as George shows off his amazing abilities.

    The ad, made in English and French versions, was done by agency Les Gaulois and directed by Jeppe Ronde. Via Ads of the World.



    CREDITS
    Client: Acadomia
    Agency: Les Gaulois, France
    Creative Directors: Marco Venturelli, Luca Cinquepalmi
    Art Director: Mickael Jeanne
    Copywriter: Alexandre Drouillard
    Director: Jeppe Ronde


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    It was a week of guns and roses on Adweek.com, with our story about Grey's fake gun store in New York City going viral—counterbalanced by several brands who wanted to give bedroom advice. Check out our picks for the week's best ads below, and vote for your favorite.


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    Specs
    Claim to fame Shankar Gupta-Harrison, vp of strategy at 360i; makes the best sangria in the world.
    Base New York
    Twitter@SGMagnus

    When marketers take their brand positioning and messages global, a lot can be lost in translation. Although brands are thinking and behaving more globally than ever before, due to the connective tissue of digital, many are still repurposing communications for different geographies and cultures at the executional phase or with mere language translation.

    However, as content becomes more portable, we must place a stronger emphasis on context, by strategically and creatively adapting communications and content for cultural relevance.

    The same sharing pathways that made "What Does the Fox Say?" a global viral hit in 2013 can give consumers insight into how brands present themselves to different consumers across markets, which can pose an authenticity threat to marketers trying to create a consistent brand identity. After all, if you tell one story to a teenager in New York and a different story to a businesswoman in Shanghai, which of those stories can really be trusted?

    To get to creative ideas that can live globally, advertisers can borrow from social psychology, which recognizes core variations between cultures that can help us understand what different people value, how they prefer to be communicated with and what cultural tensions can be tapped to create compelling stories. One framework for understanding these variations is social psychologist, professor and former IBM employee Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory, which lays out a set of cultural variables that can give insight into adjustments that can be made to bring a creative idea to life across cultures.

    Here are four of those variables and how they can be applied to strategically adapt campaigns for audiences around the world.

    Individualism vs. collectivism: Ads in individualist countries often celebrate people who achieve great things on their own or emphasize the importance of the individual over the group, while collectivist countries emphasize progressing together. A prime example of this dimension at play in global advertising can be found in Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign. Unlike its "Sketches" execution in the U.S., which asked women to see the beauty in themselves, Dove ran a series of print ads in China, a market more oriented toward collectivism, that featured pregnant women with their bellies intricately covered in calligraphy with questions for society as a whole—"If you knew I'd grow up to weigh 140 jin [154 pounds], would I still be your baby?" The reemphasis of the creative idea prevents it from being only about the individual.

    Being vs. doing orientation: In doing-oriented cultures, there's a strong tension between being successful and enjoying life that advertisers often leverage to create desirability for their products. When Johnnie Walker brought its iconic "Keep Walking" campaign, which features ideas about progress and success, to Brazil—a culture less focused on personal achievement and progress than the U.S. and Western Europe—the image used was not of an ambitious young man, but rather the nation as a whole. Johnnie Walker avoided the stigma against careerism and ambition that can be present in cultures more oriented toward "being" than "doing."

    High context vs. low context: This describes communication between people, and how much meaning is carried tacitly by their relationship or context to an ad's theme or subject. In high-context cultures (e.g., Japan and Korea), sensitive subjects like conflict or sex must be dealt with less directly. This becomes clear when you look at brands that use sex to sell in markets where context is higher—brands like Axe/Lynx dial down the overt sexuality and dial up the subtext of their branding in order to maintain respectability in markets that appreciate subtlety.

    Uncertainty avoidance: High-uncertainty avoidance cultures often emphasize the risks of not using a product versus the possibilities of using it. This dynamic can be seen with Airbnb's first few forays into advertising under the "Belong Anywhere" campaign. The first spot, called "Views," is very much about possibilities, evoking the many views you might see from the window of your Airbnb rental. The second spot, "Welcome to Airbnb," is much more explicit about the rental process, describing the steps a renter undergoes to find the perfect rental at the perfect price.

    Each ad performs a clear role in the overall idea. The first speaks about possibilities to people who are comfortable with uncertainty, and the second speaks about realities to people who fear it, all under the same overall idea of belonging anywhere. Portugal, Greece and Japan are a few examples of countries that are highly avoidant of uncertainty. Singapore, Scandinavia, and Hong Kong are a few examples of regions more tolerant of uncertainty.

    By tapping into these truths, and combining them with social listening to cultural cues, we can evaluate and develop communications and content that resonate across cultures.

    Only then will the world be ours.


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    Specs
    Who From left: John Coleman, founder, CEO; David Burfeind, chief knowledge officer; Leeann Leahy, president; Greg Smith, CCO
    What Full-service ad agency
    Where Portland, Maine

    The VIA Agency built a business by thinking outside of the typical Madison Avenue mentality. It believes that what makes its work special for its clients—which include Unilever's Klondike and Vaseline, Sam's Club, and Welch's—is that it's structured to let creative juices flow. Housed in a restored Portland, Maine, public library built in 1888, the 22-year-old agency inspires its employees through lunchtime dance parties, snow sculpture building contests and juggling lessons.

    There's also acoustic jam session nights, often led by the house band that released a Christmas album last year. (That spirit may have helped it nab a One Screen award for the music video it produced for Three Olives vodka.)"We open our minds and open our brains to creative inspiration," president Leeann Leahy said. "We believe that yields better work."


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    Egg McMuffins aren't just mediocre pastries stuffed with microwaved eggs, bright yellow cheese and ham product. They are a form of tyranny.

    That, at least, is the upshot of "Routine Republic," a riveting and surreal new Taco Bell campaign from Deutsch. A year after the agency cheekily hired a bunch of guys named Ronald McDonald to celebrate the Mexican-themed fast-food chain's first foray into breakfast, the shots at the Golden Arches are barely masked.

    In the three-minute centerpiece ad below, McDonald's affable but intrinsically creepy mascot is reimagined as a sunken-eyed Stalinist clown (though perhaps bearing closer resemblance to Mao). He rules over a small army of look-alikes and an oppressed proletariat in a decrepit, cloistered city with a beefy security apparatus. Run-of-the-mill breakfast sandwiches are his preferred method of subjugation.

    Taco Bell, meanwhile—aided by "Blitzkrieg Bop," the universal theme song of teenage rebels in the late '70s (so perhaps an appropriate foil for a geopolitically themed bogeyman and/or Bond villain of roughly the same generation)—is the champion of non-conformists, who simply want hexagonal, instead of circular, breakfast foods. The spot even delivers the added gut punch of twisting McD's promise of happiness (on which the burger chain's advertising loves to harp) into a nefarious lie—a drab, gray, industrial (read: overprocessed) landscape (because those A.M. Crunch Wraps are surely only made with the freshest of organic, local ingredients).



    That's all to say, it depicts a dystopian world, but the whole concept also can't help but come across as some kind of meta wormhole, like a microcosm of capitalism trying to devour itself. A smaller fast-food giant is knocking a bigger goliath for creating a fantastical totalitarian communist state, wherein the greatest strain on individual freedom is uninspired food, and the most dire physical threat to would-be defectors is whatever horror befalls a person who gets hit by a confetti bomb, or jumps into a grimy ball pit. (Though, in fairness, it's always been hard not to wonder what's lurking in the bottoms of those things—they're too colorful to trust.)

    In fact, the campaign's biggest problem may be that it's too well done. The visuals nicely mimic the state-sanctioned artwork of the communist era—e.g., majestic sunburst portraits, imposing statues—and morph it into a series of creative, dog-whistle attacks. In addition to the epic narrative ad, which will air as a :60 on the season finale of The Walking Dead this Sunday, there's a mock-propaganda video (which might remind some gamers of BioShock) and a series of posters espousing the principles of the breakfast dictatorship.

    Overall, it's probably not quite as ham-fisted as Nikki Minaj heroizing herself using Nazi imagery in a pop music video—but the frivolous McDespot comparison is also perhaps a touch insensitive, given, you know, the mass killings and other atrocities that marked the Stalinist and Maoist regimes.

    Potential political indecencies aside, though, it does make for pretty light, entertaining fare. In the marketplace, Taco Bell is the underdog (whatever happened to the chihuahua anyways?), and from a corporate perspective, needs to be scrappy and get noticed. This certainly does that, punching above its weight, and coming out with a happy ending. The two heroes (a brooding guy and a hot girl, duh) crawl out of their culinary prison a through Shawshank-Redemption-style hole in the wall (presumably burned through with some fire sauce, or chiseled out with a spork) and lead the masses to the promised land of six-sided sandwiches.

    Ultimately, though, nobody can claim to be a true Taco Bell breakfast revolutionary until they've eaten every single item on the menu in one sitting.

    See some of the print work here:



    CREDITS
    Client: Taco Bell
    Ad: "Routine Republic"
    Chief Marketing Officer: Chris Brandt
    VP, Brand Creative Director: Tracee Larocca
    Director of Advertising: Aron North
    Manager, Brand Experience: Ashley Prollamante
    Food Consultant: Carolyn Avelino

    Agency: Deutsch
    Chief Creative Officer: Pete Favat
    Chief Digital Officer: Winston Binch
    Executive Creative Director: Brett Craig
    Group Creative Director: Tom Pettus
    Creative Director: Scott Clark
    Creative Director: Pat Almaguer
    Senior Art Director: Jeremiah Wassom
    Senior Copywriter: Chris Pouy

    Director of Integrated Production: Vic Palumbo
    Executive Producer: Paul Roy
    Producer: Damon Vinyard
    Music Director: Dave Rocco
    Associate Music Producer: Eryk Rich

    Design Director: Nathan Iverson
    Senior Designer: Erin Burrell

    Group Account Director: Walter Smith
    Account Director: Katie Klages
    Account Supervisor: Krista Slocum
    Account Executive: Kaitlin Tabar

    Chief Strategy Officer: Colin Drummond
    Group Planning Director: Jill Burgeson
    Group Planning Director: Lindsey Allison
    Senior Account Planner: Kelly Mertesdorf

    Director of Integrated Business Affairs: Abilino Guillermo
    Senior Business Affairs Manager: Ken Rongey
    Associate Business Traffic Manager: Missy Stella
    Senior Broadcast Traffic Manager: Sarah Freeark

    CEO, North America: Mike Sheldon
    President, Los Angeles: Kim Getty

    Live Action Production Company: Arts & Sciences
    Director: Michael Spiccia
    Director of Photography: Germain McMicking
    Managing Director / Partner: Mal Ward
    Executive Producer / Managing Partner: Marc Marrie
    Head of Production: Christa Skotland
    EP / Producer: Ben Scandrett-Smith

    Editorial Company: Union Editorial
    Editor: Jim Haygood
    Assistant Editor: Anil Baral
    President/Managing Partner: Michael Raimondi
    Executive Producer: Rob McCool

    VFX: A52
    VFX Supervisor/Lead Flame Artist: Andy McKenna
    Flame artists: Pat Murphy, Hugh Seville, Steven Wolff, Jesse Monsour, Andres Barrios, Chris Moore, Michael Plescia, Richard Hirst, Michael Vagliently, Enid Dalcoff, Christel Hazard, Dan Ellis
    Head of 3D: Kirk Shinatni
    CG Supervisor: John Cherniack
    CG Artists:  Ian Ruhfass, Joe Paniagua, Jose Limon, Josephine Kahng, Vivian Su, Wendy Klien, Chris Janney
    CG Tracking: Joseph Chiechi, Michael Bettinardi, Michael Cardenas
    Roto: Tiffany Germann
    Art Director: Earl Burnley
    Animation: Jeffrey Jeong, Lucy Kim, Tae-Kyu Kim, Trix Taylor, Alan Chen
    Head of Production: Kim Christensen
    Executive Producer: Jennifer Sofio Hall
    Executive Producer: Patrick Nugent
    Producer: Stacy Kessler-Aungst

    Motion Graphics: Steelhead
    Executive Producer: Ted Markovic
    Motion Design Director: Jason Porter
    Motion Designer: Luis de Leon
    Producer: Matt Johnson
    Mixer: Chase Butters

    Color: A52
    Colorist: Paul Yacono
    Producer: Anna Vegezzi

    Illustrator, Routine Rules Poster: Paul Rogers
    Agent: Sally Heflin @ Heflin Reps
    Illustrator, all other posters:
    Erin Burrell: Senior Designer

    Licensed/Composed Music, Credits and Track Info:
    Elias Music
    Music composed by Elias Arts
    Executive Creative Director: Vincenzo LoRusso
    Creative Director: Mike Goldstein
    Executive Producer: Vicki Ordeshook
    Head of Production: Katie Overcash
    The Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop"

    Audio Post Company: Formosa Santa Monica
    Mixer: Tim West
    Mix Assistant: Aiden Ramos
    Producer: Jennifer Bowman

    Shoot Location: Budapest, Hungary


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    Stripping away someone's name goes a long way toward dehumanizing that person. UN Women and Impact BBDO Dubai poignantly drive home that point in a two-minute film that was timed for Mother's Day in the Middle East on March 21.

    "Give Mom Back Her Name" shows on-the-street interviews with various Egyptian men. Keeping with local custom, they refuse to speak their mothers' names in public. (For men in Egypt and many other countries in the Middle East, there is a peculiar taboo of not disclosing one's mother's name in public, lest it become a subject of shame and ridicule.)

    A young guy leaning out of a car window explains, "We feel it could bring us ridicule and embarrassment." An older man adds, "If someone knew our mother's name, we used to sob when we were kids." For me, the most unsettling reaction comes from a youngish dude in a blue shirt who can't stop giggling. It's as if he's struggling to process the request, and awkward laughter is the only response he can muster because the notion of naming his mother in public has, at least temporarily, short-circuited his brain.



    Over time, we're told, many women have their names largely forgotten, and they are referred to as the mothers of their eldest sons. Ultimately, the film asks viewers to change their social media profile icons to their mother's names and spread word of the initiative using the hashtag #MyMothersNameIs.

    "The right to one's own name not being associated with shame or embarrassment is one step closer to equality," says Fadi Yaish, regional executive creative director at Impact BBDO. "It is a basic human right."

    The film—by the same group behind 2013's lauded Google autocomplete campaign—contains an especially sweet and uplifting scene near the end. Spoiler: The blue-shirted guy, so vexed at the outset, stands in a busy street beside his mom and speaks her name. It's a moving, redemptive moment that reminds viewers that change and progress are always possible.

    According to Yaish, in its first 48 hours online, the film received 1.5 million views on Facebook and YouTube, and over 4 million impressions on Facebook alone. The most "shocking outcome," he says, is that women in the region felt empowered and "spoke out across all media and on social platforms saying their names."

    AdFreak: What's the one big takeaway from this film?
    Fadi Yaish: Social taboos are man-made, and they can be broken by starting a conversation.

    Was it tough to make? Did anyone become offended and storm off?
    Some people were angry, thought we are making fun of them and refused to participate. Some people did not know what to say. Some people spoke up. As you can see in the film, some people, especially the young ones, just simply were shocked we asked them this question. It was like a moment of truth. They were thinking, "I should be able to say my mother's name! Why can't I?" It made them question and doubt.

    Who is the target audience? Do you think it will get through to them?
    The core target is Egypt, which will spill to countries that have the same problem—Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan. [The message] got through already, and to everyone. It is growing bigger every second.

    Any big surprises?
    The response of men in general was kind of expected. Because of the "moment of truth," the real shame would be on us men—the fact that we took away the name of the person that gave us our names and gave us our lives. The surprise was women speaking up, and refusing to accept the current situation. Google the hashtag, and you will see women saying their names. This is amazing.

    CREDITS
    Client: UN Women
    Agency: Impact BBDO Dubai
    Executive Creative Director, Editor: Fadi Yaish
    Art Directors: Maged Nassar, Tameem Younes
    Copywriter: Aunindo Sen
    Graphic Designer: Mohamed Said
    Typographer: Mahmmad Al Mahdy
    Production House: Bigfoot
    Directors: Maged Nassar, Tameem Younes
    Director of Photography: Ahmed Tahoun
    Postproduction: Lizard


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    Ever wonder how the BP logo would look if its sunflower petals were replaced by penises? What if a phallus stood in for the "I" in AIG, or the slanted stripes of Adidas' emblem morphed into dicks? Do you imagine giving Airbnb's heady logo the shaft?

    If such thoughts keep you up at night, you might want to check out Penised.com.For $25-35, designers at the assuredly not NSFW site will add penises to your enemies' logos. (Scrotums are strictly optional.) In its first week, the site has focused on corporate insignias, but its founders say they're eager to handle requests of every kind.

    I sought out the pubic pranksters for a hard-hitting Q&A.

    So, who are you?
    We are two buddies that work in tech and have decided to remain anonymous for now, as we do have day jobs, and we want the logos to be the face of the business, not us.

    How did the idea for Penised—sigh—come together?
    We have a side business building prototype apps for people. One day we were at the bar having a couple of beers and doodling some logo concepts for an app we were about to build, and we noticed a couple of sketches had rather phallic shapes to them. The more we drank, the funnier they looked, and we started joking about other logos that looked a bit dick-ish, and, boom!—the idea for Penised was born. Everyone loves a good dick joke, and we are no exceptions.

    What's the response been like?
    We launched last weekend, and the site went viral on Reddit around Monday [March 16]. Our first 24 hours saw about 330,000 visitors, and our first full week about a million. We have been incredibly overwhelmed with how well it's been received and how many people love the idea. Since every logo is chosen by the customer, it's basically like telling a joke perfectly tailored to your audience.

    We received over 1,000 design applications in the first week. We were shocked by how many people there are out there like us—getting paid to draw dicks is their dream job.

    How many paying customers have you had so far?
    We have chosen not to disclose sales numbers nor customers. Most of the logos on the homepage were made by our designers, based on logos we selected.

    Are there companies you expected requests for, but haven't got?
    We tried to get some of the heavy hitters on the most-hated list (penised for the launch, before the push for customers), so maybe people just like the ones we have already done. We are shocked we haven't gotten any Comcast requests. We personally hate them and are pretty sure the rest of the world does, too.

    Which logos are your favorites so far?
    My personal favorite is the Uber logo because of how subtle and elegant it came out. Shout-out to our designer Stephen Thompson for that one.

    Are there any logos you're just aching to turn into penises?
    I'd like to see a real challenging one, something like Dick's Sporting Goods. Something that obvious would be difficult to penis well.

    What's your view on circumcision?
    We let each designer make their own calls about girth, cut and length. It's really a case-by-case basis.

    What does all this say about Western civilization?
    People are awesome. Organizations can be dicks. Often the organization runs the people instead of the other way around, and people are getting sick of taking it. There is really no excuse anymore for any organization to not being aware and empathetic to peoples' opinions of them and to try to make those opinions positive. If you don't, we are going to penis you.

    Is there a company or organization whose logo you'd never remake as a penis?
    We don't really care if anyone gets upset or offended by any of our logos.

    Any worries that corporate lawyers might order you to cease and desist?
    We consulted with an attorney prior to this endeavor. Basically, if you look at our terms, all work should be considered parody and therefore should be OK. However, we recognize how litigious this country is and are well aware someone will probably take legal action at some point.

    What's next, vaginas?
    We are still trying to get our heads around where we are right now. But with the rock-star design team we have as the heart of our business, we will definitely be erecting some new tools and working hard to penetrate into new areas.


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