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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    BBDO New York and the Ad Council have unveiled a beautiful new campaign for Autism Speaks, the autism science and advocacy group, using lovely 3-D stop-motion animation to tell the story of Jacob, a real boy who has the developmental disorder.

    Jacob didn't speak until he was 4 years old. BBDO interviewed him, and other families affected by autism, which laid the groundwork for the creative, anchored by a wonderfully imagined fantasy world in which Jacob navigates life through a series of visual metaphors—fitfully at times, but more confidently by the end.

    The world was built from scratch with help from Lobo Production, and based off elements of Jacob's real life. Some of the creatures, for example, are reflections of Jacob's real toys. The scenes in the video communicate the signs of autism, such as lack of eye contact, sensitivity to light, repetitive behavior and delayed speech. Getting parents to recognize those symptoms early, and get help, is the goal of the campaign.

    In its colorful, delightful depiction of an imagined life, the spot recalls Goodby Silverstein & Partners' wonderful "Emily's Oz" campaign for Comcast earlier this year—which was just as lovingly crafted and eye-catchingly cool. BBDO's fantasy world has another, more practical purpose—it's relatable in a way that a live-action story might not be.

    "The saying 'If you've met one child with autism, you've met one child with autism' says it all. So, we knew we had to convey the individual signs in a way that every parent could recognize and understand," says Bianca Guimaraes, associate creative director at BBDO.

    "That was one of the reasons why we decided to use animation—to create an open canvas that each parent could imagine their own child in," adds creative director Mark Anderson.

    Radio, print, digital and outdoor ads will also encourage parents to learn the signs of autism early by visiting autismspeaks.org/signs. The campaign is an extension of the "Learn the Signs" campaign, created by BBDO, which has helped to significantly increase the percentage of parents who recognize the early warning signs of autism, Autism Speaks says.

    Approximately 1 in 68 children is on the autism spectrum—an increase in prevalence of more than 100 percent in a single decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet research shows many parents have little knowledge about the signs of the disorder and are not seeking help early enough.

    Check out the print work below. Click the ads to enlarge.

    Client: Autism Speaks
    Title: "Signs of Autism – Jacob's Story"

    Agency: BBDO New York
    Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
    Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
    Executive Creative Director: Matt MacDonald
    CD/Copywriter: Mark Anderson
    ACD/Art Director: Bianca Guimarães

    Senior Producer: Whitney Collins
    Executive Music Producer: Melissa Chester
    Senior Radio Producer: Chris Cassar
    Account Director: Sarah Parkinson
    Account Manager: Sarah Albertelli
    Account Executives: Michelle Brandow; Sigourney Hudson-Clemons

    Production Company: Lobo Productions
    Director: Guilherme Marcondes
    Creative Executive Producer: Loic François Marie Dubois
    Producer: Aron Matschulat Aguiar
    Director of Photography: Alexandre Elaiuy, Vince Vennitti
    Associate Producer: Eliza Flores
    Type Designer: Marcelo Righini
    Digital Creative Director: Carolina Azevedo

    Music and Sound Design: Human NY

    Sound Mixer: Corey Bauman


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    Anna Kendrick is great at waiting. She did plenty of it in her first holiday commercial for Kate Spade, a year ago at this time. Now, she's back for another holiday spot. And in addition to her ever-present dog, she has another friendly companion—Mad Men and Girls star Zosia Mamet.

    As in last year's short film, the humor is again centered on an unexpected inconvenience that leaves the characters bored—but luxuriously so, since they have some fancy presents to play with. And if the jokes are awkward, that's pretty much the point—and it's fun to see these very different actress banter about whether they could actually be friends.

    Marielle Heller directed the spot. Watch through to the end for full credits. And see below for the three previous installments in Kendrick's "Miss Adventure" series for the brand.

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    Some of us have better poker faces than others when it comes to reacting to disappointing holiday gifts. The Brits, despite their stiff-upper-lip reputation, appear to need some help in this department, too.

    Jeff Goldblum to the rescue!

    U.K. electronics retailer Currys PC World has tapped the movie star and now-famous commercial pitchman for its first-ever Christmas campaign, dubbed "Spare the Act." Goldblum, charging into family gatherings at the most awkward times, imparts some of his thespian know-how on the obviously deflated giftee. The goal is to shield loved ones from realizing they gave a total crap present. Just pretend it's something else, Goldblum advises, like a Nespresso machine instead of foot talc or a laptop and not a jigsaw puzzle.

    The theme harkens a bit back to Harvey Nichols' award-winning "Sorry, I Spent It on Myself" ads from a few years ago, in which people got shafted because the gift giver played Santa to him or herself. Currys, via ad agency AMV BBDO and O Positive director David Shane, takes it a step further into how to rectify such sorry presents as cremated turkey dinners and novelty coffee mugs.

    "The very real truth at Christmas is that most of us receive rubbish presents," and suffer in silence, say the executive creative directors at AMV BBDO, so it's time to nip this vicious cycle in the bud. There are five ads, with several launching on TV in the U.K. this weekend during highly rated shows like Downton Abbey and The X Factor. There's also in-theater, on demand, radio, print, social and digital advertising, with an assist from agencies Blue 449, 1000heads and M&C Saatchi PR.

    Goldblum, for his part, is on a roll as a brand spokesman, having logged memorable campaigns of late for GE and Apartments.com. This latest work, unlike a clueless Secret Santa, does not underwhelm.

    Client: Currys PC World
    Project: Spare the Act
    Creative Agency: AMV BBDO
    Creative Director: Alex Grieve & Adrian Rossi
    Copywriter: Mike Sutherland
    Art Director: Antony Nelson
    Agency Planner: David Edwards, Tom Claridge, Sarah Sternberg, Rob Sellars
    Agency Account Man: Chris Taggart, Kate Taylor Tett, Anne Benveniste, Talya Baker
    Agency Producer: Anita Sasdy
    Media Agency: Blue 449
    Media Planner: Lindsay Payne, Charlotte Dabbs, Lizzie Andrew, Freya Broaders
    Production Company: O Positive
    Director: David Shane
    Prod Co. EP, Prod Co. Producer: Ralph Laucella (EP), Nell Jordan (producer)
    Postproduction Company: The Mill
    Audio Postproduction: Wave

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    The most eagerly anticipated ad of the holiday season—and probably the year—rolled out Friday, as British retailer John Lewis unveiled its latest heartwarming Christmas commercial, heading to the moon for a magical story about loneliness, connection and, yes, how the right present can make everything a little better.

    The campaign, as usual, was crafted by adam&eveDDB, which has almost singlehandedly turned Christmas in Britain into a kind of Super Bowl for advertising, beginning with its celebrated spot "The Long Wait" for John Lewis in 2011. And in a first for the brand at Christmastime, a woman—Kim Gehrig of Somesuch—was tasked with directing chores.

    It was always going to be tough to top last year's near-perfect "Monty the Penguin," but "Man on the Moon" has its own unique charms. (Gauging by the initial reaction on Twitter, it's hitting plenty of people "right in the feels.") And it also has a laudable charity aspect that suits the season well.

    Check out the spot here:

    The retailer seems to have learned that the best Christmas stories are told through the eyes of children—and not, for example, snowmen or animals (as lovely as those spots were). "The Long Wait" and "Monty" were very skilled at this. (The latter's final frames, in particular, made the viewer suddenly shift perspective, which felt like pure magic.)

    "Man on the Moon" goes for something similar, with another child who wants to give as much as receive. And it's nice to see a girl take the lead this time, as boys were the stars of both "The Long Wait" and "Monty."

    The storytelling here, while it doesn't have the kind of twists that made those earlier ads so special, is still plenty evocative. The grandness of the idea and the cosmic visuals contrast beautifully with the girl's simple, small act of kindness. (OK, the engineering behind that balloon flight is professional grade, and something we'd best not overthink.) And the spot's resolution once again shifts the viewer's perspective, if more subtly, turning a flight of fantasy into a very real and emotionally charged call to help older people feel less lonely—at a time of year when that's a more heartbreaking problem than ever.

    It wouldn't be a John Lewis Christmas ad without a celebrity cover of a famous song. And this time it's 19-year-old rising star Aurora (her very name ties into the theme) doing a version of the Oasis song "Half the World Away." It's a lovely, ethereal take (though predictably, it's getting mixed reaction from Oasis fans).

    The spot launched early Friday online and will have its first TV airing Friday night on Channel 4's Gogglebox. As part of the campaign, John Lewis has partnered with Age UK to help some of the million older people in the U.K. who can go for a month without speaking to anyone. The retailer will support the partnership with in-store and online activity, and will donate proceeds from the sale of select Christmas merchandise to the cause.

    As part of the campaign, John Lewis will open moon pop-ups in 11 stores, where shoppers will be able to take photos with a lunar backdrop, and learn about the moon as well as Age UK. A Man on the Moon app uses augmented reality to bring the moon to life when pointing a phone at special posters and John Lewis shopping bags. The app also features a Man on the Moon mobile game.

    The campaign might not be quite the merchandizing juggernaut that "Monty" was, with its adorable stuffed animals (though among the Twitter jokes was this gem: "John Lewis has already sold out of old men").

    In all, it's a fine showing from an agency and client that are under huge pressure to deliver something spectacular every year.

    "Our Christmas advert is once again all about going the extra mile to give someone the perfect gift. This year though, the story is told in a uniquely creative and engaging way as we see Lily, our heroine, go to great lengths to connect with the Man on the Moon," says Craig Inglis, customer director at John Lewis. "We hope it inspires people to find really special gifts for their loved ones and through our partnership with Age UK, raises awareness of the issue of loneliness among older people and encourages others to support in any way they can."

    Client: John Lewis
    Project: The Man on the Moon
    Customer Director: Craig Inglis
    Head of Marketing, Brand: Rachel Swift

    Agency: adam&eveDDB, London
    Chief Creative Officer: Ben Priest
    Executive Creative Directors: Richard Brim, Ben Tollett
    Copywriter: Miles Carter
    Art Director: Sophie Knox
    Interactive Creative Director: Till Diestel
    Planner: David Golding
    Managing Director: Tammy Einav
    Business Director: Miranda Hipwell
    Account Director: Caroline Grayson
    Media Agency: Manning Gottlieb, OMD
    Media Planner: James Parnum

    Agency Producer: Lucie Georgeson
    Agency Sssistant Producer: Brittany Littlewood
    Production Company: Somesuch
    Director: Kim Gehrig
    Executive Producer: Tim Nash
    Producer: Lee Groombridge
    Cinematographer: Andre Chemetoff
    Director of Photography: Andre Chemetoff
    Editing Company: Trim
    Editor: Tom Lindsay
    Post Production: The Mill
    Visual Effects Shoot Supervisor: Hitesh Patel
    Visual Effects Shoot Supervisor, Lead 2-D Artist: Jonathan (Wes) Westley
    Lead 3-D Artist: Mike Chapman
    Lead Digital Matte Painter: Aurelien Ronceray
    Colorist: James Bamford
    2-D Team: Joe Tang, Olivia O'Neil, Grant Connor
    3-D Team: Christos Parliaros, Ivor Griffin, Adam Dewhirst, Tom Hales, Ciaron Moloney, Finlay Crowther, Ian Potsos, Matt Kavanagh
    Digital Matte Painting Team: JiYoung Lee, German Casado
    Smoke Artist: James Pratt
    Production Team: Gemma Humphries, George Reid

    Song: Half the World Away
    Music Supervision Company: Leland Music
    Music Supervisors: Abi Leland, Ed Bailie
    Audio Postproduction: Factory Studios
    Composer: Noel Gallagher
    Performer, Arranger: Aurora.

    Digital, Print
    Agency Executive Producer: Cave Ellson
    Integrated Producers: Brittany Littlewood, Amy Coomber, Agne Acute
    Project Manager: Marine Rabier, Hatty Day
    Digital Producers: Maebh Kelly, Bethany Harrington
    Assistant Integrated Producer: Nicholas Akinnibosun
    Designers: Santi Rey, Chris Holiday, Cris Jones
    Illustrator: Steve Dell
    Head, Cain & Abel Production: Brett Kelsey
    Director, Editor: Robert Smith
    Editors: James Sheehy, Joe Andrews
    Motion Graphics Artists: Tom Lockwood, Ed Christie
    Digital Designers: Thom Grebe, Andrew Murray, Laura Williamson, Seb Hofer
    Director, Stills Photographer: Noemie Bottiau
    Production Producers: Alejandra Ravassa, Cara Hickson
    Bookings Manager: Serena Moll
    Assistant, Runner: Jacinta Crane
    Head of Social: Simon Adamson
    Social Media Director: Eddie Gold
    Social Media Manager: Viki Imrie

    Man on the Moon App
    Agency Executive Producer: Cave Ellson
    Agency Producer: Brittany Littlewood
    Illustrator: Steve Dell
    Production, Animation: Stinkdigital
    Music Composition: Luke Dzierzek

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    A star-studded cast featuring Romeo Beckham, James Corden, Naomi Campbell and Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery recreate the opening scene of the 2000 film Billy Elliot for this Burberry Christmas ad.

    Julie Walters, who played the title character's dance teacher in the film, and Sir Elton John also appear in the ad. Man, if they were jumping on trampolines to get this footage, I hope they weren't making Naomi do that in heels. That'd be a broken ankle for sure.

    If this concept seems like a random nostalgia choice to you, Burberry is actually celebrating the film's 15th birthday as it jumps headfirst, along with every other British marketer, into the leaf pile of Christmas advertising. (This is Beckham's second holiday ad for Burberry, by the way, following last year's more elaborate production.)

    As good as all these attractive celebrities look in Burberry coats and scarves, I kind of wish they'd cast some of the enterprising young men from the, ahem, "Burberry cap" subculture to dance to T-Rex. It's probably not an association that Burberry likes, but why not steer into the skid? It's Christmastime.

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    Tune in to CBS's telecast of Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7 for a commercial from … Chubbies Shorts, Death Wish Coffee Company or Vidler's 5 & 10?

    Those are the top-three finishers, culled from thousands of entries, in software company Intuit's "Small Business, Big Game" contest. The winner will have a spot produced by RPA air on the Super Bowl, where the price for half-minute slots has reached $5 million this year. (Voting has concluded, and the winner will be announced in January. The second- and third-place finishers will each receive $25,000 and local advertising valued up to $15,000.)

    Intuit, provider of accounting and financial programs like QuickBooks and TurboTax, held a similar competition in 2013-14, won by GoldieBlox, the maker of engineering-themed toys and games for girls. Its big-game spot riffed on the head-bangin' Slade tune "Cum on Feel the Noize." It ran during the third quarter and finished 30th (middle of the pack) in USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter.

    Let's lake a closer look at this year's "Small Business, Big Game" final three:

    Chubbies Shorts in San Francisco describes itself as "basically a jetpack time-machine disguised as a clothing company," dedicated to propelling dudes "out of the age of capris and shants, and back to the boldly radical shorts era epitomized in the '80s by guys like Larry Bird, Tom Selleck, John McEnroe and everyone's dad."

    Death Wish Coffee of Round Lake, N.Y., claims to make the world's strongest coffee. "Some may say coffee this strong is irresponsible," the company says. "We like to think of it as revolutionary." (Judging by Chubbies' overheated self-description above, I think the staff's been nipping at some of that Death Wish brew.)

    Vidler's 5 & 10 in East Aurora, N.Y., is an old-fashioned five-and-ten-cent store, owned by the same family for 85 years, with, apparently, no plans to foment a revolution or travel back in time to a boldly radical shorts era.

    Tell us in the comments which you'd like to see on Super Bowl 50, where an estimated 115 million viewers or more will tune in to watch the New England Patriots trounce some other team nobody cares about. Go Pats!

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    Five years ago, we made an unconventional decision at Zulu Alpha Kilo. Despite being a startup with only a few clients at the time, we started saying no to free speculative creative work in new business pitches.

    It was a risky move for an agency in its infancy. It meant that we would end up walking away from nearly 80 percent of the RFPs that landed in our inbox. In the beginning, it even made a lot of Zuligans uncomfortable. It left potential clients confused. After all, who says no to new business? Some potential clients were frustrated. Some thought we were crazy. But then a select few were very intrigued. A couple of them even changed their RFP process so that we could pitch their business. And then there was that rare breed that never asked us for spec in the first place. (Many of them are Zulu clients today.)

    Zak Mroueh

    And guess what? Five years later, we didn't implode. In fact, we've continued to grow at an exponential rate, winning some of the most coveted accounts in our country without ever having to pitch spec creative.

    Yet spec work remains entrenched in our industry. It's an antiquated practice that has been part of the creative world since the Mad Men era. It's a cog in the increasingly bureaucratic procurement machine.

    We'd like to help unchain clients and agencies from this outdated process. Because we really do believe that it's bad for clients. It's bad for agencies. And it's bad for the entire industry.

    It's obvious why spec work is bad for agencies. It's expensive. It's time-consuming. It's stressful. And let's face it—it's essentially an institutionalized way of getting us to work for free. Several years ago, I was disheartened to see that a creative idea we pitched on spec was picked up by the client and used globally—without any recognition or compensation for Zulu. Not even an acknowledgement or a thank you. I had nobody to blame but myself for participating in the spec process to begin with.

    As we showed in our recent video featuring real people being asked to do spec, diners don't fork over free meals. Personal trainers don't do your workouts on spec or give away their intellectual property. So why are we giving away our ideas? Like the guy in our video says, "Who would ever agree to that?" Sadly, we know the answer.

    On the surface, it may seem like a good idea for clients to harvest a smorgasbord of free ideas during the pitch process, but it can actually do more harm than good. Here's why spec work isn't doing clients any favors, either:

    1. It may not be an accurate reflection of the agency's talent roster.
    Spec work has become so entrenched in our industry, it often means that incredibly talented freelancers are simply brought in to fill in for pitches. They do the work for the full-timers who will actually work on the business but are too busy to work on the pitch. As a client, this means you're not getting a clear picture of the kind of work you would actually get from the team that would work on your business.

    2. It can be a big, shiny distraction.
    Agencies know how to seduce clients with dazzling creative work. But if you choose an agency based on an emotional reaction to a creative concept instead of a logical evaluation of all the important criteria, chances are pretty good that you're not going to wind up with your ideal long-term partner. Instead of getting caught up in the sexiness of creative, look at other, equally important evaluation factors like chemistry and a proven track record of producing brilliant work. To help identify what's really important, consider hiring a credible, well-respected third-party pitch consultant to help you navigate the process and ensure that all agencies are pitching on a level playing field with no tricks (like unsolicited spec work) up their sleeves.

    3. It saps resources away from an existing client's account.
    If I were a client, I would gravitate toward the agencies that don't do spec work. Spec has led to an epidemic in the industry where agencies are constantly diverting resources away from their existing clients in order to fuel new business opportunities. And here's the big reveal: Guess who is paying for it all? You, the client. You're the ones who end up funding the spec pitch process. It's a crazy cycle that hurts you in the end.

    4. It can hinder groundbreaking ideas.
    If an agency is investing major time and money into a pitch, very few shops are brave enough to go out on a limb to put forward an earth-shattering new concept. It's too risky in a pitch. They're going to look at what you've done in the past, get a sense of what you like and give you more of the same. And more of the same may not be what your brand needs.

    5. It's ultimately bad for everyone's bottom line.
    Spec work costs agencies hundreds of thousands of dollars in time and production expenses. But it can also be costly for the client, too. Over the past seven years at Zulu, I've had one very large client who has called me three times to participate in their RFP. Incredibly, they've gone through three agencies in that time. I've advised them every time why spec work is not a good way to choose an agency partner. But I've failed in getting them to change their process. On the flip side, I can name dozens of smart, sophisticated clients who didn't ask for spec work and are still working with the same shop a decade later. I've noticed a correlation: Clients who ask for creative spec in pitches are quite often the same clients who never have a long-lasting relationship with an agency. We see this all the time. It's churn, and it's expensive. Just think of all the wasted hours you'll spend searching for a new agency and bringing them up to speed, only to have to go through the process again a few years later. Wouldn't it better for your business to get it right the first time around?

    Now, some of you reading this may think that we are anti-client. We are not. That would be ridiculous. Clients are the very reason we exist. We love our clients. If we are against anything, it's diverting our clients' money to fund work for future clients.

    To me, it's clear that this process isn't working for anyone anymore. If we're going to do creative work for free, let's all put that creative effort behind a worthwhile charity or cause that can change the world for the better. Let's say yes to building long-term creative and strategic partnerships. Say yes to solving real-world business problems. Say yes to elevating the industry. Together. Because nothing is going to change unless we all join forces to end the misguided venture of spec work. Clients and agencies alike, it's time we all said no to spec.

    To everyone who's already joined the conversation, I thank you for adding your voice. We'd love to hear from more of you—clients and agencies alike. Please share your comments and stories with #SayNoToSpec and visit zulualphakilo.com/saynotospec to see the debate evolve.

    —Zak Mroueh is chief creative officer and founder of Canada's Zulu Alpha Kilo.

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    If you weren't aware, coloring books for adults are enjoying a bit of a renaissance—as they offer a playful framework for both creativity and anxiety/stress reduction. And brands, of course, are picking up on the trend.

    Last week, we looked at Barnes & Noble's plan to have a giant coloring session in its stores this coming Saturday. And now, Oreo is getting into the action with colorable packaging for the holidays—its inaugural foray into the e-commerce direct-to-consumer space.

    Starting in mid-November, the "Wonderfilled" Mondelez brand will be offering "Colorfilled" Oreo packs for sale at a new Oreo site, shop.oreo.com. The packs will feature exclusive illustrated designs from artists Jeremyville and Timothy Goodman. You just color them in digitally—using a palette of colors as well as some bits of "seasonal flair." When you're done, the packs will be shipped to you. (They will cost $15 each.)

    If you're more of a traditional kind of colorer, you can also buy blank packs that come with markers so you can physically color them in at home. Other items for sale will include T-shirts featuring the artists' designs with fabric markers for coloring.

    The "Colorfilled" campaign is for the holidays only. The Martin Agency and Maya Design were among the agencies that worked on the campaign. More images and full credits below.

    Timothy Goodman designs:

    Jeremyville designs:

    Client: Oreo/Mondelez International
    Chief Media and eCommerce: Bonin Bough
    Global Head of eCommerce: Cindy Chen
    Brand Manager, Global eCommerce: Lauren Fleischer
    Licensing Manager: Kim Ritch

    Agency: The Martin Agency
    Chief Creative Officer: Joe Alexander
    SVP/Executive Creative Director: Jorge Calleja
    VP/Creative Director: Andrew Watson
    Associate Creative Director: Marcelo Mariano
    Senior Designer Thiago Balzano
    Director of Design / Lead Animator Josh Corliss
    Senior Copywriter Justin Bajan
    Copywriter Miranda Morgan
    Studio Specialist / 3D Modeler Greg Cassidy
    Senior Print Producer Paul Martin
    Senior Art Producer Sara Levi
    Executive Producer Kim Zaninovich
    Digital Producer Jesse Wright
    VP/ Group Account Director: Britta Dougherty
    Account Supervisor: Liz Eldred
    Account Coordinator: James Saulsky
    Group Project Management Supervisor: Giao Roever
    Project Manager Mandy Fernald
    Business Affairs Supervisor: Juanita McInteer
    Quality Assurance Manager Andy Bupp
    Quality Assurance Analyst Thomas Carroll

    Timothy Goodman

    Development Partner: Maya Design
    Jon Larkin - Producer & Game Designer
    Mike Boseloweitz - Tech Lead & Design Engineer
    Stephen Spencer - Project Lead & Inventor
    Stuart Roth - Senior Software Architect
    Kent Vasko - Software Engineer
    Joe Pleso - Software Engineer

    SFX: Big Orange

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    There aren't too many ways to mitigate the confusion, embarrassment and despair your cat may feel upon being dressed up in festive costumes, photographed and paraded about on human social networks this holiday. But cat treats should do the trick.

    Temptations, the Mars brand of cat treats, acknowledges that your feline doesn't share your elation at being dressed up, and suggests you apologize promptly for doing so. A new campaign from adam&eveDDB urges cat owners to #SaySorry with treats, and plenty of them. Check out the anthem video below, which is set to the song "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word."

    "Pet owners spend more than $5 billion on their pets during the holidays," says Arren Beach, Temptations brand manager. "And they might even choose to dress them in their holiday best—even if their furry friend isn't crazy about the choice of wardrobe. The #SaySorry campaign pokes lighthearted fun at cat owners who lovingly embrace the holidays to the fullest with their cats."

    Print work and credits below.


    —TV Credits

    Client: Mars
    Brand: Temptations
    Vice President, Marketing, Mars Petcare U.S.: Craig Neely
    Brand Managers, Mars Petcare U.S.: Melodie Bolin, Arren Beach

    Project: "Say Sorry for the Holidays"

    Agency: adam&eveDDB, London
    Chief Creative Officer: Ben Priest
    Executive Creative Directors: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim
    Copywriter: Rory Hall
    Art Director: Steph Ellis
    Agency Producer: Catherine Cullen
    Planning Partner: Jess Lovell
    Senior Planner: Enni-Kukka Tuomala
    Managing Partner: Fiona McArthur
    Business Director: Amelia Blashill
    Account Director: Jaimee Kerr
    Account Manager: Jo Lorimer

    ATL Media Buying, Planning Agency: Mediacom
    BTL Media Buying Agency: Starcom

    Production Company: Rattling Stick
    Producer: Kelly Spacey
    Director: Austen Humphries
    Directors of Photography: Austen Humphries, Jim Jolliffe
    Editing Company: Speade
    Editor: Gareth McEwen
    Postproduction: The Mill
    Post Producer: Carl Phillips
    Colorist: Mick Vincent
    Flame Artist: James Pratt
    Audio Postproduction: Factory
    Sound Engineer: Phil Bolland
    Soundtrack, Composer: "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, recorded by Elton John
    Music Consultant: Thomas Wright @ Soundlounge

    —Print Credits

    Client: Mars
    Brand: Temptations
    Vice President, Marketing, Mars Petcare U.S.: Craig Neely
    Brand Managers, Mars Petcare U.S.: Melodie Bolin, Arren Beach

    Project: "Say Sorry for the Holidays"

    Agency: adam&eveDDB, London
    Chief Creative Officer Ben Priest
    Executive Creative Directors: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim
    Creative Director: Richard Brim
    Creative Team: Steph Ellis, Rory Hall
    Agency Producer: Amanda Davies

    Planning Partner: Jessica Lovell
    Senior Planner: Enni-Kukka Tuomala
    Managing Partner: Fiona McArthur
    Business Director: Amelia Blashill
    Account Director: Jaimee Kerr
    Account Manager: Jo Lorimer

    Designers: Alex Fairman, Luke Ridgeway

    Media Planner, Agency: Mediacom

    Photographer: Tim Flach @ Peter Bailey
    Set Designer: Jessica Dance

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    Harvey Nichols always has a bit of a snarky Christmas campaign—most notably, "Sorry, I Spent It on Myself" from 2013, which won a slew of ad awards for adam&eveDDB. The British retailer on Monday unveiled its 2015 holiday work—and it's all about remedying the horrible affliction known as "gift face," where you must offer a rictus of glee upon receiving a truly woeful present.

    The new campaign, again from adam&eveDDB, was based on unimpeachable research suggesting 72 percent of U.K. adults have admitted to pulling "gift face" to save the feelings of a loved one—and 63 percent admit to wearing or using an unwanted gift after Christmas to keep up the pretense.

    Plus, the whole theme fits nicely with Harvey Nichols' general philosophy, which is that it isn't better to give than to receive at Christmas—it's better to receive, and you'd better receive something nice.

    "This year we wanted to help people avoid #GiftFace and ensure our customers give their special somebody a gift that truly hits the mark," says Shadi Halliwell, group creative and marketing director of Harvey Nichols. "We worked closely with adam&eveDDB to create yet another compelling and comical campaign that we know the British public can relate to. We've all been there!"

    Fear of a bad gift seems to be particularly pressing in the U.K. this year. In addition to the Harvey Nichols work, Jeff Goldblum has been teaching Brits how to act when they get a crappy present—in this campaign for Currys PC World.

    See the Harvey Nichols print work below. The campaign lends itself pretty well to print, actually, with its amusingly off-kilter pained portraits.

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    Saucony, the running shoe and apparel brand, has been running what it calls "seeker stories" since last spring, part of its "Find Your Strong" campaign. The "seekers" are Saucony's target—individuals who are on some kind of journey in life, and for whom running is part of that journey.

    This latest video in the series is stellar—and that's because it features Matthew Inman, creator of the web comic The Oatmeal. Inman is an inspired choice of subject. He has a giant social footprint; he has a unique but pretty relatable take on running; and, of course, he has the illustrator chops to really make this a delightful spot.

    Check it out below.

    Client: Saucony
    Richie Woodworth, President
    Mary O'Brien, VP Global Marketing
    Sean Robbins, Director of Digital Marketing

    Mechanica, Newburyport, Mass.
    Libby DeLana, Creative Director
    Ted Jendrysik, Creative Director
    Julie Carney, Brand Director
    Megan Ward, Brand Manager

    Persuade & Influence Content, Los Angeles
    Co.Lab, Directors Jeremy Power Regimbal & Justin Close
    Eric Tu, Executive Producer, Head of Content Development
    Jessica Law, Producer
    Jamie Basset, Assistant Production Supervisor
    Drew Bienemann, Director of Photography
    Ian Bates, AC/DIT
    Todd Schmidt, Sound
    Jarett Sitter, Animator
    Kate Rielly, Prop Master
    Jerry Solomon, Managing Partner
    Deana Juskys, Production Manager
    Amy Martz, Office Manger

    Matthew Inman, Talent & Cartoonist

    Editorial: Therapy Studios | West Los Angeles, CA
    Lenny Mesina, Editor
    Wren Waters, Senior Producer
    Jeff Fuller, Executive Producer

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    Canon Australia has released an ad that highlights how one critical piece of information can dramatically alter how photographers perceive—and shoot—you.

    Watch it below:

    "A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what is in front of it," the piece concludes.

    Fair enough. Like anyone else in the business of conveying a message, photographers will inevitably shoot people differently based on the information they're given. That can dramatically change the appearance of a subject. This isn't really worth assigning a moral judgment; it just creates a shorthand that gives viewers access to who the person is (or claims to be). That's the service you're paying for when you hire a photographer.

    There's a bit of Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches" in this: It's one of those setups where the viewer has more information than the people in the ad, so you're an insider on what's happening. The treacly music passive aggressively highlights every moment in which the photographers unwittingly rely on the lie they were told to frame their shot. Then there's the humbling reveal, and reflections on the "learning."

    But all's well that ends well. The piece is a promotion for The Lab, whose tagline, "Shifting creative thinking behind the lens," follows the concluding phrase. The tagline, in turn, is followed by the words "No one sees it like you," as if Canon wasn't really sure where to land in the end. It condemns a bit, then changes its mind: Just kidding! Canon backtracks. You're not myopic; you're special! 

    While we're uncomfortable with the ad's dominant tone, which suggests photographers impose some kind of disproportionate prejudice on the subject, The Lab's promise merits pursuing—to help you "shoot outside your comfort zone" with experiments meant to make you think differently. Mixed messages aside in this case, it's always worth taking a closer look at how we're taught to capture and convey information, then ask ourselves how we can play with those rules.

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    Office workers, high-school kids, rush-hour commuters, a rock band performing on stage and even Anna Kendrick all vanish, Obi-Wan style, and their earthly accoutrements—clothes, backpacks, guitars—fall to the ground in this captivating two-minute promo for the Electronic Arts game Star Wars Battlefront.

    Ultimately, these folks are transported into the pulse-pounding action of the game itself, which is set for release on Nov. 17. The spot, "Be More Powerful," goes wide today online, and will air during ESPN's Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers.

    "We wanted to send a message to fans that they're going to get to do what they always wanted to do—disappear into a world they love and fight these incredible battles they've only imagined," Ryan Hartsfield, associate creative director and copywriter at Heat, which created the spot, tells Adweek.

    "We knew this had to work globally, so we started thinking about a spot that feels almost like a World Cup announcement. Because Star Wars, like football, is one of those rare fandoms that literally transcends age, culture, religion, sex, race, borders, everything. It's like a secret club, except there are 300 million members."

    Once that concept was established, the agency asked itself, "How do we show people leaving our world and going into the game world without literally showing real people in the game, or the game in the real world, both of which have been done time and time again?" says Heat associate creative director and art director Jeff Fang. "Obi-Wan vanishing into the Force just became a natural device, because it's the most Star Wars way of showing somebody transporting from one realm into another."

    The shots of various folks vanishing are smoothly achieved and seem both strange and familiar, because Star Wars lore is so firmly fixed in our cultural consciousness.

    "The intention was to stay as close [as possible] to the original Obi-Wan disappearance in Star Wars: A New Hope—which was a practical effect," says Fang. "But we couldn't put everybody in robes and shoot from the same angle. The only other time a character disappears into the Force is when Yoda dies, which is a dissolve. So there was little precedence on what this would look like in Star Wars canon and how to accomplish it from a production perspective."
    Kendrick, who simply must show up in every commercial these days, melts away while fixing a late-night snack. Brandishing a kitchen knife like a lightsaber, she channels Ben Kenobi's famous not-so-last words: "If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

    "We wanted a celebrity fan to deliver the Obi-Wan quote and be the big transition to gameplay," Hartsfield says. "Anna is a legitimate superfan who also happens to resonate with a younger audience. We also like the spin of a woman delivering that famous quote. It speaks to the diversity of the fan base. Star Wars is for everyone. She was perfect."

    While Star Wars fandom does indeed transcend international boundaries, some other aspects of American popular culture apparently do not. For example, the scene in which two bros vanish while high-fiving proved particularly difficult to realize, and not because of the special effects.

    "We shot in Prague, so we did our casting there and in Berlin," says Hartsfield. "Kids in Europe don't know what a high five is, let alone how to do it. Ever try and teach an 18-year-old kid how to high five naturally? I don't think we ever got one totally perfect—but close. The European awkward high five has kind of become a secret handshake within our group."

    Electronic Arts, Star Wars Battlefront, "Become More Powerful"

    Agency: Heat, San Francisco
    Chairman, Executive Creative Director: Steve Stone
    Creative Directors: Anna Rowland, Warren Cockrel
    Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Jeff Fang
    Associate Creative Director, Writer: Ryan Hartsfield
    Producer: Melissa Nagy
    Director of Production: Brian Coate
    Director of Account Services: Aaron Lang
    Account Director: J.T. Pierce
    Account Manager: Kevin John
    Assistant Account Manager: Rachel Majors
    Business Affairs Director: Julie Petruzzo

    Client: Electronic Arts
    Vice President, Global Creative: Dana Marineau
    Senior Director, Global Creative Strategy: Dustin Shekell
    Director, Global Creative: Eddie Garabedian
    Senior Manager, Global Creative: Doug Harakal
    Media, Postproduction Director: Mattias Lindahl, EA DICE
    Vice President, Marketing: Lincoln Hershberger
    Brand Creative Lead: Neel Upadyhe
    Senior Video, Media Director, Editor: Randy Evans, EA DICE
    Senior Animator: Cameron Scott, FIDO

    Production Company: MJZ
    Director: Dante Ariola
    Director of Photography: Hoyte Van Hoytema
    Senior Executive Producer: Eriks Krumins
    Line Producer: Natalie Hill
    Production Designer: Quito Cooksey
    Production Service Company: Bohemian Pictures, Prague

    Editing: No6
    Editor: Andrea Macarthur
    Assistant Editors: Colin Guthrie, Andrew Manne
    Executive Producer: Crissy DeSimone
    Post Producer: Yole Barrera

    Visual Effects: The Mill
    Executive Producer: Sue Troyan
    Producer: Dan Roberts
    Production Coordinators: Chris Lewis, Anwei Chen
    Shoot Supervisors: Chris Knight, Koen Vroeijenstijn
    2-D Lead Artist: Chris Knight
    3-D Lead Artist: Koen Vroeijenstijn
    3-D Artists: Jacob Bergman, Jason Jansky, Steven Olson, Monique Espinoza, Blake Guest, Berk Hakguder, Michael Archambault, Cory Cosper, Majid Esmaeili
    2-D Artists: Ben Smith, Scott Wilson, Robert Murdock, Tim Robbins
    Art Department: Brett Lopinsky, Kelsey Napier, Matthew Dobrez
    Motion Graphics: Kyle Moore, Vinicius Naldi, Greg Park
    Colorist: Adam Scott
    Executive Producer: Thatcher Peterson
    Color Producer: Ali Struck

    Audio Mix: Lime Studios
    Audio Engineer: Rohan Young
    Live Action Sound Design: Rohan Young, Lime Studios
    In-Game Sound Design: Charles Deenan, Source Sound

    Music Composed and Orchestrated by Gordy Haab
    Music Arranged and Edited by Samuel Smythe
    Original Star Wars Music by John Williams

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    Wildlife conservation organization Panthera has come up with an idea that will lend loving new meaning to your mom's tiger-print throw pillows—the Tiger Royalty, an artistic rights fee for tigers.

    The idea is straightforward: The world is full of tiger-inspired products. Your life probably contains more than its fair share. Ideally, all the merchandisers that did this to you will partner with the Tiger Royalty to ensure a portion of their sales go to Panthera's Tiger Forever program, which aims to increase tiger populations in certain areas by 50 percent over the next 10 years.

    Brands with tiger gear in their coffers are encouraged, perhaps optimistically, to visit the Tiger Royalty webpage and take a pledge; Panthera will contact them for details on how to become a partner. While we're skeptical this approach will win much traction, we have been wrong before. It is possible that every person who has ever printed tiger stripes on a T-shirt or an unfortunate fedora happens to possess an exceptionally golden heart.

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    When it comes to scratch-and-sniff books, dogs are a prime and underserved market. To correct that, one pet food company has released a very special holiday story.

    On Monday, The Honest Kitchen and Red Tettemer O'Connell + Partners launched Is That My Dinner?, an illustrated book about a puppy looking for a meal.

    The Honest Kitchen differentiates itself from "feed grade" competitors—whose products may include meat from diseased or dying animals and other dubious parts—by billing its pet food as "human grade," meaning the ingredients are good enough for humans to eat.

    The Is That My Dinner? website indicates where customers can pick up a free copy of its book, along with samples of the brand's products (a good thing, given that poor Fido is likely to be confused—and a little put out—at being gifted with paper that smells like snacks). 

    Illustrator Annie Davidson helped create the book. The scratch-and-sniff scents include seasonal classics like pumpkin and peppermint. No word, though, on whether they incude any of the smells dogs really love ... like roadkill, or Stilton blue cheese.

    Client: The Honest Kitchen
    Agency: Red Tettemer O'Connell + Partners
    Chief Creative Officer: Steve Red                                           
    Executive Creative Director: Steve O'Connell
    Group Creative Directors: Ryan Scott, Todd Taylor                                                                       
    Art Director: Michelle Maben                                                                                
    Copywriter: Tedd Wood              
    Producers: Joe Mosca, Meg Dibley, Joe Zoltek
    Tech Lead: Aaron Grando
    Developers: Derek Little, Megan Reed
    Social Strategy: Bryne Hetznecker
    Digital Strategy: Uri Weingarten                                                              
    Account Executives: Perry Morris, Carissa Heller

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    Something nasty or insulting is posted to Twitter every 60 seconds, and not all of it is directed at Justin Bieber. To counteract this, Champions Against Bullying teamed up with Deutsch to add some positivity to the social network—indeed, an avalanche of it.

    At some point in the undetermined future, if you use Twitter, you will get a pleasant tweet from @TheNiceBot, a bot whose goal is simply to spread kindness and happiness. It booted up this week and is using Twitter's API to push out a nice tweet every 36 seconds to a random user, and then move on to the next user. Aside from a few targeted tweets to specific people at launch, the tweets are random and they are not personalized—they combine a pre-defined list of copy lines with a database of Twitter handles.

    It will take a while to reach everyone. Twitter has more than 300 million users; tweeting at each one, at 36-second intervals, will take—by our calculation—about 342 years. But the NiceBot is in for the long haul. It's "the Mars Rover of kindness," Deutsch says. "We're going to turn him on, and then sit back and watch as he makes the Internet a nicer place, one tweet at a time."

    Deutsch has also made actual 3-D printed NiceBots and sent them to celebrity influencers who have taken public stands against cyberbullying. Each physical NiceBot is powered by a Raspberry Pi and equipped with a 4G connection and LCD screen in the chest, and will live-tweet the nice messages as they go out in real time on Twitter.

    The obvious criticism of the campaign is that it's spammy. But Deutsch says the potential of the positivity is worth the possibility of some backlash.

    "The idea for the NiceBot came about when we found a pretty interesting stat—something mean, cruel or hurtful is posted on Twitter every 60 seconds. That kind of relentless negativity is hard to combat," says Jeff Vinick, executive creative director at Deutsch.

    "But we started thinking about different ways to be nice to as many people as possible, and a spambot seemed like a good solution. And while spam is normally thought of as something negative, we figured that if the message was simple and positive enough, people would respond favorably—and maybe even be tempted to spread some niceness themselves."

    Vinick says the reaction has been great so far. "People seem to be happy receiving a simple message of positivity to brighten their day," he says. "The NiceBot's mission is to spread niceness to everyone it can. It doesn't worry about the response. It simply thinks everyone is deserving of kindness."

    "During our first two weeks, 99.5 percent of our messages are automated," adds Suzanne Molinaro, the agency's director of digital production. "We have a small number of select users on Twitter that we're sending manual tweets to, so they can help spread the initiative. As we continue past these two weeks, everything will continue through code. The physical NiceBots are created through 3-D printing and house microelectronics with a Raspberry Pi and cellular data card to display The NiceBot's Twitter feed."

    Molinaro adds: "Our ultimate is to reach every user on Twitter. To anyone who characterizes this as spam, we'd say that we created a bot that turned the automation used in spamming into a tool for positivity."

    The client, Champions Against Bullying, is excited about the project, too.

    "Last year, we created a PSA that called attention to teenagers who had committed suicide from being bullied. This year we're accelerating from awareness into action," says founder Alexandra Penn.

    "And while mass messaging is usually thought of negatively as spam, the NiceBot can be a powerful tool to spread positive and empowering messages in a unique way," adds Leigh Rachel Faith Fujimoto, the group's U.S. director.

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    Here are a few fun facts about our sense of smell: The human nose can detect at least 1 trillion distinct scents. Among the most pleasant are vanilla, citrus, cinnamon, crayons and cookies, say researchers.

    The nose also recognizes the smell of home, claims this holiday video from Droga5 for Air Wick, whose perfumers custom-created candles to make downsizing less painful for older folks.

    In the three stories presented in the digital campaign, dubbed "The Gift of Home," residents leave homes where they've been entrenched for decades. One, 76-year-old Simon Saltzman of Chatham, N.J., is moving to be closer to relatives after the death of his wife. He's selling the house with its cozy living room, where the couple used to sip tea by the fire. What if he could take another memory with him, this one olfactory?

    As a housewarming present for his new apartment, Air Wick's lab-coated specialists used ginger, honeysuckle, lilac and wood to make a special candle just for him. His reaction shows the brand got it right.

    There's a fine line between sweet and saccharine, and at this time of year, we're bombarded with the latter in advertising and branded short films. Air Wick manages to be moving without veering into maudlin territory, with an able assist from director Zachary Heinzerling (Oscar-nominated for Cutie and the Boxer).

    A portion of Air Wick's profits will go to its partner in the campaign, Habitat for Humanity International, in the form of a $250,000 donation to families in need. Last year, and also for the holidays, Air Wick sent the scent of home to a soldier overseas, also with help from Droga5.

    Client: Air Wick
    Campaign: Give the Gift of Home

    Agency: Droga5 NY
    Creative Chairman: David Droga
    Chief Creative Officer: Ted Royer
    Group Creative Director: Tim Gordon
    Group Creative Director: Nick Klinkert
    Copywriter: Craig Gerringer
    Art Director: Conner Tobiason
    Copywriter: Nic Bauman
    Art Director: Sean Park
    Chief Creation Officer: Sally-Ann Dale
    Head of Broadcast Production: Ben Davies
    Group Integrated Production Manager: Topher Lorette
    Producer: Leah Donnenberg
    Global Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer
    Group Strategy Director: Jonathan Gadd
    Strategy Director: Deaglan McFarland
    Sr. Brand Strategist: Danielle Travers
    Brand Strategist: Graham Jones
    Sr. Social Strategist: Calvin Stowell
    Comms Strategy Director: Samantha Deevy
    Sr. Comms Strategist: Bryn Little
    Data Strategy Director: Lily Ng
    Group Account Director: Angela Kosniewski
    Account Director: Michelle Feeley
    Account Manager: Sara Fletcher
    Account Manager: Trace Schlenker
    Project Manager: Andrea Verenes

    Client: Reckitt Benckiser
    General Manager, US Marketing: Christopher Tedesco
    Marketing Director: Maureen Valdes
    Sr. Brand Manager: Heather Santos
    Brand Manager: Harish Phadke

    Production Company: Ways & Means
    Director: Zachary Heinzerling
    DOP: Stuart Winecoff
    Executive Producer: Lana Kim
    Executive Producer: Jett Steiger
    Producer: Lia Mayer-Sommer

    Editorial: Cut & Run New York
    Editor: Akiko Iwakawa
    Assistant Editor: Joe Simmons
    Executive Producer: Rana Martin
    Producer: Ellen Lavery

    Post Production: Roma VFX
    Flame Artist: Vincent Roma

    Music: Martin Crane

    Sound: Sonic Union
    Mixer: Rob McIver

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    If you saw three little houses screaming down the Dan Ryan expressway in Chicago on Sunday, being pulled by pickup trucks, with real Italian grandmas on board, ready to deliver sausages—well, that was a Johnsonville ad campaign.

    The sausage maker teamed up with Uber for the "Sausage Nonnas" stunt, which featured the Italian grandmas—known as "nonnas"—delivering free homemade sausage meals to Chicagoans who requested delivery through the Uber app. Users could select a "Nonnas" option on the Uber home screen and track their delivery as the tiny house icon neared.

    The stunt, orchestrated by Droga5, seems a little random, but the images of the nonnas in action are pretty amusing. They delivered sausage rigatoni, lasagna or Italian sausage and meatballs, by the way.

    "Delivering homemade sausage meals throughout the city of Chicago is great in and of itself, but having authentic Italian nonnas cook and deliver those meals raises the bar to a whole new level," said Ryan Pociask, senior director of marketing at Johnsonville. "We are proud to have the opportunity to collaborate with Uber on this project and are looking forward to a fun-filled Sunday."

    "Uber is always on the look-out for fun and unique partnerships that delight our users," added Amy Friedlander Hoffman, head of experiential marketing at Uber. "How better to bring joy to Chicago than delivering warm, personable Italian grandmas in tiny homes with free, homecooked meals on demand?"

    Lots more pics and videos, as well as credits, below.

    Client: Johnsonville Sausage, LLC
    Campaign: Sausage Sunday
    Title: "Sausage Nonnas"

    Agency: Droga5 NY
    Creative Chairman: David Droga
    Chief Creative Officer: Ted Royer
    Group Creative Director: Scott Bell
    Senior Copywriter: Chris Colliton
    Senior Art Director: Kevin Weir
    Junior Copywriter: Ryan Snyder
    Junior Art Director: Katie Willis
    Design Director: Rich Greco
    Designer: Dan Kane
    Chief Creation Officer: Sally-Ann Dale
    Head of Broadcast Production: Ben Davies
    Senior Broadcast Producer: Anders Hedberg
    Head of Interactive Production: Niklas Lindstrom
    Senior Interactive Producer: Tasha Cronin
    Associate Interactive Producer: Alyssa Cashman
    Associate Social Producer: Gabrielle Nicoletti
    Global Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer
    Group Strategy Director: Aaron Wiggan
    Senior Strategist: Candice Chen
    Senior Data Strategist: Lily Ng
    Communications Strategy Director: Brian Nguyen
    Communications Strategist: Stuart Augustine
    Group Account Director: Julia Albu
    Account Director: Dave Murphy
    Account Manager: Kate Tyler Monroe
    Project Manager: Rayna Lucier

    Client: Johnsonville Sausage, LLC
    Sr. Director of Marketing: Ryan Pociask
    Group Marketing Director: Jim Mueller
    Marketing Creative Director: Tony Rammer
    Public Relations & Social Media Manager: Stephanie Dlugopolski

    Partner: Uber
    Business Development & Experiential Marketing: Ryan Foutty
    Communications: Sarah Maxwell
    Global Marketing Operations: Heidi Vance
    Marketing Manager: Deirdre Dellaportas
    Marketing Manager: Amanda Middlebrooks

    Production Company: D5 Films

    Editorial & Post Production: D5 Studios

    Experiential Production Company: NA Collective


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    Is your home an Ikea-furnished wonderland?

    A new ad from the retailer and agency Mother London features a rich imaginary world, full of islands in the sky, where a bat and a bird help a robot learn to fly.

    It's a delightful little story, gorgeously produced, in a style evoking illustrations from children's books. At first blush, it might seem a bit divorced from the brand, but the tagline "Come home to play" puts a clear point on the message: Ikea's products will make your home a fun, relaxing place where your mind can run free.

    In the end, the camera's perspective tunnels through a purple cloud and switches to live action, making clear the whole trip was a dad play-acting with his two young children. The approach comes across as a slightly more abstract version of Ikea and Mother's "Playing With My Friends" ad from 2012.

    The work was designed to promote the marketer's "Lattjo" line, which includes toys, like jumping sacks and play tunnels.

    Though it could also be a pretty good ad for psilocybin. 

    Client: Ikea
    Agency: Mother, London
    VFX Company: MPC
    VFX Producer: Jakub Chilczuk
    3D/Motion Design: Tom Robinson, Steven Ross
    2D: Rod Norman
    Colorist: Richard Fearon
    Sound studio: 750mph
    Editing: The Whitehouse
    Editor: James Norris

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    So, what does the fox say in this cool/creepy Christmas spot by Spectrecom Films for Oddbins, a chain of British wine shops?

    Not a word. And yet, the ruddy creature comes across as one badass holiday mascot, like something out of a horror flick, more likely to go for the jugular than spread yuletide cheer.

    And it's nothing more than a plush toy!

    Still, the malevolence is palpable when a Scrooge-type dude walks into Oddbins to pick up some vino. From the eerie musical cues, we know something's amiss: This will not be a touchy-feely John Lewis-type Christmas ad. The guy goes all bah-humbug on the clerk, decrying the season as "bloody nonsense" and whining incessantly. As he shops, a fox, breathing in Darth Vader tones, pokes its snout out from behind one of the shelves, then walks up behind the guy on its hind legs … and ties his shoelaces together!

    Then the really strange stuff begins. Watch below to avoid spoilers before reading on:

    Whoa! Fox knows how to party ... and pogo! And did you see it "tear" into that Christmas turkey? (Or maybe it's Monty the Penguin?) Pretty neat, especially since he doesn't even have any teeth.

    So, what's the point of all this weirdness? Or should we say, in the parlance of the campaign itself, #WhatTheFox?

    "We needed a Christmas ad that represented the Oddbins brand—wacky, edgy and not afraid to go against the grain," Ayo Akintola, managing director of Oddbins, tells AdFreak. "And at this time of the year, schmaltzy Christmas ads are 10 a penny, so we decide to stay true to our brand and stand out from the masses at the same time."

    Taking its initial inspiration from the classic holiday film The Snowman, Oddbins "liked the idea that the ad would begin with a slightly sinister tone before surprising everyone with a bizarre Christmas twist," Akintola said.

    The actors—Will Harrison-Wallace and Hayley Canning (a Spectrecom employee who stepped into the role at the last minute)—turn in great performances and keep the narrative grounded (more or less) despite the bizarre goings-on.

    And, we're told, a merry time was had by all.

    "The shoot took place overnight across 14 consecutive hours," Akintola recalls. "So, at some unearthly hour in the morning, when our actor Will was bouncing on a pogo stick, laughing manically with a fox around his neck, the hysteria was almost palpable."

    Client: Oddbins
    Production Company: Spectrecom Films
    Producer: Laura Merrett
    Director: Mark Jackson
    Camera Operator: Kieran Hodges
    Gaffer: Laurentiu Maria
    Creative: Danielle Wilmot
    Editor: Mark Jackson


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