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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    Google Analytics has put together a series of videos demonstrating what poor Web design can do to an online commerce site—crap we'd never put up with in a brick-and-mortar store. There's unintuitive search and site design that prevents you from finding the item you're looking for—in this case, it's a grocery store that makes it impossible to find an everyday item as simple as milk. There's the obnoxious online checkout, where you're forced to log in, agree to terms and prove you're a real person before you get timed out, forcing you to start all over again. Then there's a misplaced dig at Amazon's highly successful, often copied suggestion of other items you might like. Produced by Google's in-house video agency Across the Pond, all the spots have the absurdity of a Monty Python skit. It seems weird for Google to be dissing online search and e-commerce, but here it serves the greater goal of telling people to learn more about their customers via Analytics. And in this case, it's funny 'cause it's true.


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    Wallace and Gromit are back, and pitching Google+ Hangouts, the group video chat client that allows people to spend quality virtual time with one another, in this fun 60-second spot from Adam & Eve DDB, rehabstudio and Aardman Studios. While I'm surprised, and a little disappointed, by the lack of cheese in this ad, the sheep cameo more than makes up for it. This is also one of those rare occasions where I wish there'd been a prequel. I would love to see 30 seconds of Gromit thanklessly setting up the wireless router. The spot makes good use of the season by suggesting Google+ Hangouts is a great way to get together at the holidays, even if you can't be in the same place. Users can visit this site to send personalized Wallace and Gromit video invitations to family and friends.


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  • 12/19/12--11:17: Ad of the Day: Sprint
  • For the record, Frank Loesser's "Baby It's Cold Outside" is a duet about a guy who spikes his date's eggnog in the hope that she'll stay the night. Christmas!

    I will be doing a bit of Grinching in this post, so let's start with how this is a perfectly fine Sprint ad, but a much better Samsung ad—as it spends quite a while showing off the latest Galaxy S III phone's capabilities, specifically the near-field system that lets you swipe videos and images between phones (at least two of these are definitely GS 3s).

    This is also a pretty good Nickelodeon ad, since both Victoria Justice and Max Schneider are staples of the flailing kids' network and its Disneyfied music programming strategy, and both are doing here what it is they do. I would love to be able to successfully pretend to like Schneider's performance style, but I just can't. It's like watching Stevie Wonder's zombie. It's like an undead Smokey Robinson arose from its tomb, Bill Withers somehow failed to slay it with a flaming sword, and it was given its own television show. It's quite bad, though he has a nice voice.

    Justice is more appealing, although her performance is sort of the unironic version of Alison Brie's hilarious/sexy "Teach Me How to Understand Christmas" from last year's Christmas episode of Community.

    I will, however, admit to being a sucker for the poppier holiday songs in the medley here, especially Wham!'s "Last Christmas" (which even I can see is a perfect vehicle for Schneider, despite it being "lovely weather for a sleigh ride together wi' youuuu" mere seconds later). Also, not to go all Bill O'Reilly, but there are no Hannukah songs in this medley. You wouldn't even have to change the end of "The Christmas Song" (because it's called "The Christmas Song," guys) to "Happy Holidays to You."

    Anyway. Props to YouTube vlogger Kurt Hugo Schneider for putting this together. The production is slick (it was shot all in one take), Justice and Schneider look like the product of focus-grouped eugenics, and the phone-hopping video stuff really is cute. And remember: When you're choosing a telecom provider, be sure to switch to Nickelodeon.



    CREDITS
    Client: Sprint
    Agency: Team Sprint (Digitas and Leo Burnett)
    Spot: "Holiday Medley with Victoria Justice and Max Schneider"
    Executive Creative Director: Michael Boychuk
    Group Creative Director: Lawrence Lee
    Content Strategy and Development Manager: Mark Book
    Executive Producer: Michael Rafayko
    Director: Kurt Schneider
    Account Director: Andrew Melone
    Account Executive: Jake Bruene


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    All advertising strives to sell happiness, implying that buying certain goods or services will make you feel better than you did before. Pitching happiness itself, striving to communicate the gravity of the concept and its importance in our daily lives, is a different matter entirely—and that's the metaphorical mission of Hill Holliday's pro-bono "Happier Boston" push for suicide-prevention group Samaritans Inc. In addition to a Web site and PSAs, the campaign is taking its message to the streets via "social experiments." These include cheering "fans" at railroad platforms to greet commuters and wish them a great day; surprise skyscraper elevator sing-alongs; and handing out citrus fruits emblazoned with the message, "Orange you happy?" Roberta Hurtig, executive director of the Samaritans, tells AdFreak that the campaign is designed to expand the conversation about suicide prevention and "focus attention beyond the sad and tragic connotations … to include the hope and happiness that is created when people make connections with one another." Is there concern that such stunts, though well-intentioned, could backfire by rubbing some people the wrong way? "No one who is suffering wants to be told to 'just smile,' " Hurtig says. "But our events are an invitation, not a command—the difference matters, and it's noticeable. A smile shared is contagious, and we've had very positive feedback." If it increases the group's exposure, that's all to the good. Only a heartless Grinch would frown.


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    A three-time Olympian and star of a controversial Nike ad from the 2000 Summer Games has recently been living a double life as a high-price call girl, according to a new investigative report by The Smoking Gun and her own admissions on Twitter. Suzy Favor Hamilton competed unsuccessfully at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics, and it was during her last appearance at the games that Nike chose her to star in the horror-themed spot shown below. Confronted in a cabin by a Jason Voorhees-esque slasher, half-dressed Hamilton successfully escapes by outlasting the killer in a sprint through the woods. The ad was pulled by NBC after reportedly sparking thousands of complaints for making light of violence against women, although the spot probably wasn’t too popular with parents of young children watching the Olympics, either. "Maybe the image of a guy in a hockey mask out to kill a woman is too disgusting to be on TV," Adweek critic Barbara Lippert noted at the time. "But as I recall, that's never stopped NBC from running commercials promoting Friday the 13th or Scream." Hamilton previously had appeared in a Pert Plus ad, which you can see after the jump. According to her website, Hamilton has also appeared in ads for Reebok, Clairol, Oakley, Kikkoman Foods, Nordic Track, Viactiv Calcium Chews. A popular public speaker and real estate business owner, Hamilton hasn’t exactly fallen on hard times. Instead, she responded to The Smoking Gun’s report by telling her shocked fans that her decision to become a high-class Las Vegas escort was “very much related to depression.” Photo credit: The Smoking Gun.


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    In the U.K., mommies apparently don't rock gas-guzzling minivans. They go for cute little Fiat 500Ls. So, to entice them, Fiat has released yet another example of the hilarity that is white people rapping. This particular rap, created by Krow Communications, fits into the recently popular subgenre of gangsta parents. Called "The Motherhood," the campaign is a blatant redux of Toyota's "Swagger Wagon," which was a viral success for the Sienna minivan. But the Fiat spot is sufficiently well-written to have already reached almost 2 million views in a couple of weeks. Unlike the Sienna campaign, here we have a mom who rolls alone—there's not a dad in sight. Maybe that's because she also admits to being an orgasm-faker. It's more self-deprecating, too, which I attribute to the British sense of humor. Having recently become part of the target market, I confess that this appeals to me greatly. As does the idea of zipping about in an adorable tiny Fiat as opposed to a van so large it requires a camera to keep me from running over my child when I back up. But how this MILF fits herself, Dad and those three kids into the four-seat Fiat 500L is a total mystery.


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    Britain's National Health Service decided to close out 2012 with a feel-good PSA offering plenty of heartwarming holiday cheer. Just kidding. They released a super-disgusting anti-smoking ad. This time, a guy's cigarette develops a throbbing fleshy tumor while he's smoking it, which reminds me of an old Denis Leary routine (and by proxy, an older Bill Hicks routine). It's not as graphic as the NHS's fishhook print ad from a few years ago, or as obtusely phallic as its cigarettes-cause-impotence ad, but it's surely still worth at least a few complaints to the Ad Standards Authority.


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    As a child, could you catch fish with your bare hands while standing knee deep in the local river? Did you have uncanny, almost otherworldly powers of clairvoyance that let you glimpse the future—and even change it for the better? Could you make paper airplanes before you could crawl?

    If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should stop what you're doing and go work at Virgin Atlantic.

    All sorts of outlandishly precocious children grow up to become Virgin Atlantic workers in RKCR/Y&R's stylish, fantastical, tongue-in-cheek launch spot for the carrier's new global campaign. Styled as a kind of faux movie trailer—cut into 30-, 60- and 90-second TV edits, as well as a cinema version and a two-minute online spot—the spot celebrates the airline's staff as literal superheroes. Their special gifts include rapid reflexes, preternatural intuition, creative problem solving and heightened empathy. Naturally, as adults, they rendezvous in Virgin's ranks as cabin crew, ground staff, designers and pilots.

    The tagline: "Virgin Atlantic. Flying in the face of ordinary."

    Launched with the new year, the campaign is unapologetically nostalgic and retro, but knowingly so. Air travel hasn't been glamorous in decades, yet Virgin brings back some of that attitude—along with the attendant fashion and sex appeal—but in a way that's exaggerated and borders on self-parody. Promising superhuman staff, in the end, is no promise at all. But in typical Virgin style, the carrier builds the whole campaign around such false claims, and expects you to quit worrying and just enjoy it. And it works—largely due to the skillful direction by Partizan's Antoine Bardou-Jacquet.

    The airline explicitly wants to "bring the glamour and fun back into long-haul travel," says Simon Lloyd, its director of marketing. Mark Roalfe, chairman and executive creative director at RKCR/Y&R, adds: "We wanted to bring to life that special spark that makes the people at Virgin different. I think the film really captures that, but with the tongue-in-cheek tone of voice that we've built with Virgin over the last 18 years."

    True glamour may be gone from air travel for good. But in the ads, if nothing else, you can still count on Virgin to make it fun.



    CREDITS
    Client: Virgin Atlantic
    Clients: Simon Lloyd, Breda Bubear, Hamish Rickman
    Agency: RKCR/Y&R, London
    Executive Creative Director: Mark Roalfe
    Creative Partners: Pip Bishop, Chris Hodgkiss
    Business Director: Vicky Jacobs
    Producer: Jody Allison
    Production Assistant: Flo Clive
    Music Producer: Dan Neale
    Production Company: Partizan
    Service Company: Stillking
    Director: Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
    Producer: David Stewart
    Directors of Photography: Andre Chemetoff, Damian Morisot
    Production Designer: Nick Ellis
    Editing House: Work Post
    Editor: Bill Smedley
    Postproduction: MPC
    Lead Visual Effects Supervisor: Rob Walker
    Lead 3-D Supervisor: Jim Radford
    Postproduction Producer: Julie Evans
    Sound Studio: Wave Studios          
    Sound Engineer: Aaron Reynolds
    Composer: Guy Farley


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    Hockey die-hards should be stirred by this Nike spot that captures fans' passion for the game and, by implication, their displeasure with the ongoing NHL lockout. The company and its agency, Wieden + Kennedy, have produced similar commercials during NBA work stoppages, relying on famous hoopsters to carry the day. This new ad—from W + K New York and Biscuit Filmworks director Tim Godsall—feels more sincere, mixing professional and Olympic stars with average folks who deliver lines that are heartfelt and defiant. The tough talk—kids look straight at the camera, asking, "What are you gonna do?" "Take away my skates?" "Take away my puck?"—seems perfectly in-tune to a sport known for its combative attitude. (For the record, I think I could take away the youngest kid's skates. Oh, who am I kidding … he'd kick my ass.) Amplifying the "Hockey is ours" theme, those featured explain that they'll do whatever's necessary to keep playing the game, even using frozen hamburgers as pucks. Take away Canada, and they'll play in Russia. Capitals icon Alex Ovechkin, currently playing in Moscow because of the lockout, makes a nice brief cameo, proving my theory that his commercial performances improve in inverse proportion to his screen time. If and when the NHL schedule resumes—the league and players' union are in negotiations to salvage the season—they should actually play using frozen beef patties. Ratings would go through the roof.


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    Going cold turkey was never the best strategy for Cookie Monster in ramping down his cookie intake. You've got to step down gradually from all that sugar. That's the main takeaway from this amusing Google Play spot, themed to New Year's resolutions, from Mullen's San Francisco office. Turns out the Rocky theme only carries you so far. Having wrapped up 2012 nicely with its Zeitgeist video, it's no surprise Google is getting such a quick start on 2013. This is a marketer that loves its milestones. Credits below.

    CREDITS
    Client: Google Play
    Spot: "New Me"
    Agency: Mullen. San Francisco 
    Chief Creative Officer: Mark Wenneker
    Group Creative Director: Paul Foulkes
    Creatives: Paul Foulkes, Brian Tierney, Jamie Rome, Emile Doucette
    Director of Integrated Production: Liza Near
    Executive Producer: Zeke Bowman
    Senior Producer: Liz Shook
    Associate Producer: Vera Everson
    Agency Senior Content Producer: Jamee Sheehy
    Account Team: Zach Rubin, Tara Inskip, Courtney Calvert, Steve Raggiani, Hannah Hewitt
    Editorial: Lost Planet, New York
    Editor: Chris Huth
    Lost Planet Executive Producer: Krystn Wagenberg
    Lost Planet Producer: Kate McCormick
    Post Vector Art and Color: Black Hole
    Black Hole Producer: Tim Vierling
    Mix: Tom Jucarone, Sound Lounge
    End Animation: Autofuss


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    Apple takes a stroll in dreamland in this superb spot highlighting the iPhone 5's "Do Not Disturb" feature, which silences the ringer on calls during overnight hours (or any hours you specify). It really is an incredibly fun ad. In the voiceover, Jeff Daniels talks about how great it is not to be interrupted by a call when he's having a dream about the Williams sisters. Now, this being Apple, the dream in question is completely G-rated. It involves a vigorous game of Ping Pong. (One can imagine other dreams involving the sisters. But for a company whose products are constantly described as "sexy," Apple's ads—from TBWA\Media Arts Lab—always steer clear of anything remotely racy.) The table-tennis action is superbly filmed, and the sisters' reactions at the end of the point are priceless. It may be the most enjoyable iPhone spot yet. It's a shame, then, that it happened to be released for New Year's—when, due to a glitch involving the rollover to 2013, "Do Not Disturb" suddenly stopped working for a number of users on Tuesday morning.


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    Dating site Zoosk, aka "The romantic social network," has already gotten some good press for its wacky ads. This latest one—in which a single woman's heart, personified as a fanciful puppet, makes out with her laptop—is a charming and effective credit to their marketing reputation. I do question whether one should follow one's heart when it's acting like such a goober, though. After the jump, check out the much-loved Zoosk commercial featuring the world's least desirable athlete.


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    With "nugging," Jack in the Box may think it's invented a cute new slang term for the act of stealing someone's chicken nuggets. But apparently nugging is already a thing. Actually, it's three things, and the first definition is a pip: "The act of emptying someone's backpack, then turning it inside out, putting everything back in and zipping it up from the inside." Watching that would have been way more interesting than watching these two girls attempt to fastball a lie for a full minute of my life. I can understand why they did it, though. Five nuggets per person? That's just unacceptable.


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    This is delightful: a campaign by Pixar for its upcoming film Monsters University that spoofs those wonderfully cheesy college-recruitment ads that air during NCAA sporting events. The spot below, which ran during this week's Rose Bowl telecast, promotes the movie's eponymous institution and imitates the source material perfectly, from the tagline ("Image you at MU") to the awkwardly saccharine student testimonials. The whole spot is nicely paced ahead of the amusing reveal halfway through. (The realism of the animation helps a ton, too, and is its own best marketing for the film.) The website, monstersuniversity.com/edu, is quite brilliantly done as well. The "Student Policies" section is particularly inspired. On the issue of "Basic Monster Respect," it offers this advice: "All monsters are unique—by heritage, number of appendages, or simply number of eyes—and all monsters deserve respect." Pets, it should be noted, are not allowed on campus, "with the exception of seeing-eye snakes."


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    Burberry's new spot for its spring/summer 2013 collection features a number of British models: Cara Delevingne, Edie Campbell, Charlotte Wiggins, Charlie France, Alex Dunstan and Max Rendell. But it's 10-year-old Romeo Beckham, the middle son of David and Victoria, who steals the show, hamming his way through the minute-long clip and literally running circles around his co-stars. Somewhere, his 13-year-old brother Brooklyn is groaning with embarrassment, while 7-year-old Cruz is looking up in wide-eyed adoration. The spot was directed by Christopher Bailey; the print work was shot by Mario Testino.


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    Big Lots has bundled its creative business at a single shop. The retailer has awarded the account to Barkley after a review. Annual media spending exceeds $50 million, according to Nielsen.

    A handful of other undisclosed contenders competed for the business. Pile + Co. in Boston managed the process.

    The creative assignment includes broadcast, print, in-store and online advertising.

    Previously, Big Lots employed creative shops such as SBC Advertising on a project basis. Media planning and buying was not part of the review and remains at Interpublic Group's Initiative.

    In its pitch, Barkley executives "developed ideas that will help us get more credit for our value proposition," said Rob Claxton, svp of marketing at Big Lots in Columbus, Ohio. "They really pushed us and the ideas were backed up by strong strategic insights."

    Other accounts at Barkley, an independent shop that's based in Kansas City, Mo., include Krispy Kreme, Rawlings and the Missouri Lottery.

    Big Lots arrives a month after Barkley returned to the fast-food category with the addition of Dairy Queen. DQ filled the category hole left by the 2011 exit of Sonic.

     


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  • 01/03/13--11:54: Ad of the Day: State Farm
  • Who knew Chris Paul had a twin brother, Cliff Paul, from whom the NBA All-Star point guard was separated at birth, who went on to assist people in a different way—by becoming an agent for State Farm, among myriad other kindnesses?

    Not Chris Paul. That's obvious as he gets into the elevator at the end of the spot. But the good people at State Farm and ad agency Translation did.

    This spot, directed by MJZ's Craig Gillespie, comes with its own Twitter feed (@CliffPaul), and it's yet another example of how much fun Paul can be. He also represents Nike's Jordan brand, among other endorsements, and he's easy to watch—to the extent that one wonders if he'll eventually try his hand at something beyond commercials.

    Good bits here: the baby with the glasses, the casting of the kid versions of Chris and Cliff, and the argyle sweater on both adult and child Cliffs. And of course, the take Paul does as he looks into his own face, while playing both characters.

    This is a very slick ad—it's a good example of how to pack a lot of story and branding into a single minute, with a controlling pun (assist vs. assist), a linear progression the audience can follow (the two characters aging simultaneously), and a quality punch line. The set dressing is stellar, notably the '90s station wagon in the background of the young Chris's driveway game. And does anyone else feel old hearing that Chris Paul was born in 1985?

    I'm also a huge fan of Cliff tasting the paint scrape on the fender of the hit-and-run victim's car and then eagerly beetling off in the direction of the perp.

    Triplet suggestion: Chip Paul, detective, who assists in homicide investigations. Just thinking out loud here, you understand.



    CREDITS
    Client: State Farm
    Agency: Translation
    Chief Creative Officer: Chris Cereda
    Associate Creative Director, Copywriter: Emily Sander
    Associate Creative Director, Art Direction: Danielle Thornton
    Copywriter: Jamie Cohen
    Executive Producer: Peter Ostella
    Group Account Director: Ben Gladstone
    Account Director: Susanna Swartley
    Account Supervisor: Susan Min
    Brand Strategist: John McBride
    Head of Content Production: Miriam Franklin
    Production Company: MJZ
    Director: Craig Gillespie
    Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson
    Line Producer: Line Postymr
    Director of Photography: Gyula Pados
    Stylist: Mike B.
    Editorial Company: Bikini
    Editor: Avi Oron
    Assistant Editor: Gustavo Roman
    Post Producer: Brad Wood
    Post Executive Producer: Gina Pagano
    End Tag Graphics: Alejandro Ussa, US54
    Sound Mixing: Heard City
    Executive Producer: Gloria Pitagorsky
    Producer: Sasha Awn
    Sound Mixer: Evan Mangiamele
    Sound Mixer: Eric Warzecha
    Music, Sound Artist: Felt Music
    Producer: Alex Lodge
    Visual Effects: Eight VFX
    Executive Producer: Baptiste Andrieux
    Executive Producer: Shira Boardman
    Visual Effects Producers: Yannick Leblanc, Doug Scruton
    Flame Artists: Joe Vitale, Christopher Memoli
    Voiceover: Will McDonald
    Celebrity Talent: Chris Paul
    Stock Footage: NBA, T3 Media


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    Allstate finds itself weathering a storm of bad publicity owing to a recent commercial that showed its "agents of good" rushing in to provide assistance in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. The spot showed the partially ruined Staten Island home of Sheila and Dominic Traina. But the Trainas, who claim that wind caused much of the damage, say the insurer's $10,000 payout is inadequate. They weren't covered for flooding, which Allstate says was the prime culprit in wrecking the couple's home of 43 years. The Trainas have hired a lawyer to help them get more money from the insurance company. "The commercial said how caring their agents are," says Sheila Traina. "But they are not caring at all." Allstate counters that it is "in contact with this customer and continues to work with them regarding their claim." The TV spot, the company adds, was made "in accordance with all applicable advertising laws." Phew, we can relax about that now. Of course, this type of controversy is nothing new. It just underscores the fundamental disconnect between the ad-driven idealized representation of a brand and how said brand behaves, or is perceived to behave, in real life. In terms of spin, this is a fight AllState can't win. You don't need a show of hands to judge how unpopular insurance firms are, even before these kinds of situations arise. So far, the company hasn't further tarnished its image via communications blunders, as Progressive arguably did last summer during its own media crisis. While predictably tepid, Allstate's response is probably the safest policy. Hopefully a deal with the Trainas can be worked out. Via Gothamist.

    UPDATE: Leo Burnett in Chicago, which created the spot, declined to comment.


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    Go Daddy has found a new girl for its biggest day of the year.

    The Internet domain-name marketer, a mainstay on the Super Bowl for eight years running, is bringing in Bar Refaeli, the actress and supermodel, to star opposite Danica Patrick in one of its two 30-second Super Bowl spots this year.

    The ad, titled "Perfect Match," is being shot in Los Angeles today (Jan. 4) by ad agency Deutsch New York.

    The plot has not been revealed, but Go Daddy chief marketing officer Barb Rechterman says the ad will "make special Super Bowl magic" and "marries Go Daddy's edgy brand with our reputation for taking care of customers in a way we think will be surprising and, more importantly, entertaining."

    This will be the first appearance in a Super Bowl spot for Refaeli, a 27-year-old Israeli model best known for fashion ads (the image above comes from a Passionata campaign), her appearances in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue and for having dated Leonardo DiCaprio for six years.

    "The opportunity to be in a Super Bowl commercial is thrilling ... and to partner with Go Daddy is something I just couldn't resist," she said in a statement. "I feel like the 'Perfect Match' commercial is a chance to be in an iconic Super Bowl spot that not only leaves people talking, but shows everyone what Go Daddy is really about."

    Go Daddy made a splash with its early Super Bowl ads, beginning in 2005 with the notorious Candice Michelle spot from The Ad Store. In that spot, the WWE girl experiences a wardrobe malfunction—a parody of the Janet Jackson incident from the year before—at a fictitious congressional hearing purportedly investigating Go Daddy's indecent ads.

    The company, which had been creating most of its ads in-house in recent years, hired Deutsch last summer to evolve the brand beyond its soft-core roots. The agency's first ads didn't ditch the hot girls entirely, but added Go Daddy technicians to the mix to emphasize the company's technical prowess.

    Pairing Refaeli and Patrick would presumably imply a return to mildly smutty business as usual for the company, but we'll have to wait for the creative to see for sure.

    Below, check out Go Daddy's two spots from last year's game.




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    Facebook has redesigned its Poke feature to allow people to send their friends video clips that self-destruct 10 seconds after opening. "Hey, that would be great for safe sexting!" you probably thought immediately. So, it shouldn't come as a shock that the first advertiser to use the new Facebook Poke is a lingerie company. Delta Lingerie crafted a campaign with Grey Tel Aviv in which a 10-second clip of a model pulling on some Delta stockings—a video that couldn't be saved or even shared—was sent to the model's friends. A few seconds at the end directed them to Delta's website to claim a "one-time" discount on the stockings. Since Facebook allows you to poke only 40 people at a time—and the app deletes the video on the sender's end, too—the model's agent had to shoot the same clip over and over again. And since Facebook doesn't give the option for poking to brand pages, they had to send it out through the agent's personal profile. It's a creative way to use a cumbersome new feature that clearly wasn't designed with advertisers in mind—probably more inventive than effective. Also, let's hope they didn't have to pay the model her SAG rate on a per-video basis.


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