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    If you know what this billboard means just by looking at it, you're cool. If you don't, you're probably in need of some schooling. Maybe, at the end of the lesson, you'll buy a billboard of your own. That's what Clear Channel Canada hopes, anyway. 

    Last month, alongside Universal Music Canada, rapper (and grandpa dancer) Drake erected an enigmatic 30-by-60-foot posting that read, "The 6 God is Watching," alongside a highway in Toronto, his hometown. 

    In Clear Channel's telling, passersby noticed the billboard and posted photos to Twitter and Instagram, where speculation about its meaning snowballed into news coverage, none of which was helped by an equally cryptic post on Instagram from Drake himself. 

    For anyone not steeped in the rapper's lore, the phrase "6 God" and its accompanying iconography are symbols for Drake's brand, recognized by fans. The "6" is his nickname for Toronto, derived from its area codes (416 and 647). And for all the other olds out there, the praying hands reference the prayer hands emoji (though these were apparently derived from a 16th century German painter's work), representing, in this instance, "God"—a humble allusion to Drake himself. 

    In plain English, Drake—whose human name is Aubrey Graham—is branding himself the deity of the Toronto rap scene, a message that's captured in his song "6 God" from his recent mixtape, If You're Reading This It's Too Late. (For a particularly thrilling spinoff, watch Salman Rushdie read part of it for you.) 

    Put in that context, and playing on the word "Watching," the billboard is a sly promotion for Drake's upcoming album, Views From the 6. Clear Channel, which sold the placement—and is eager to peddle more—describes it as "the most viral billboard in history." 

    The company claims earned media impressions totaled a whopping 86 million, not counting broadcast coverage. Online outlets that featured the billboard included MTV, Time, GQ, Pitchfork and Complex. 

    Clear Channel's more in-depth postgame is worth skimming (taking, with a grain of salt, the "learnings" for a broader class of advertisers, though there may be some). 

    "This billboard looks like it could have been designed by a panda bear on a 1993 IBM Thinkpad, but that didn't matter," says Chris Advansun, head of digital technology at Clear Channel Canada. "In fact that may have been the point. This campaign's simple, mysterious nature compelled people to speculate, share and discuss. A killer creative idea still trumps all." 

    Sure, it was smart to make fans feel in-the-loop while leaving everyone else scratching their heads. But the truth is, Drake was just hyping his own hype: He has yet to set a release date for his album, and the sign, for all the buzz it inspired, didn't reveal anything new. 

    But setting aside his 16.6 million Instagram followers, and the fact that he's one of 2015's biggest celebrities, the real reason it worked is that people care deeply about music and are willing to invest in learning more about musicians they love—if only so they don't feel stupid when everyone else at the party is talking about it. 

    Most marketers don't have that luxury. Perhaps more important, most marketers lack the bravado required to publicly, if subtly, refer to themselves as gods ... even if they might feel that way sometimes. 


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    Here's an oven-fresh, charmingly simple sales promotion from Krispy Kreme.

    For its #dayofthedozens program, the doughnut chain and agency Baldwin& rigged a glazing machine to diffuse streams of sugary white goo in a distinct pattern against a black backdrop—forming a barcode image—before coating the fried treats on the conveyor belt below.

    On Dec. 12, 2015, consumers can use this YouTube video as a scannable coupon for a second dozen donuts free when they purchase a first dozen at Krispy Kreme: 



    Setting aside the fact that nobody should have access to 12 Krispy Kremes in one sitting, let alone two dozen, the idea nicely amplifies the production hardware that famously graces the brand's locations. 

    At three minutes long, the video is also hypnotizing—not a bad way to get consumers to stare at the product, even while sober. 



    CREDITS
    Client: Krispy Kreme

    Agency: Baldwin&, Raleigh, N.C.
    Creative Directors: David Baldwin, Bob Ranew
    Art Director: Jimmie Blount
    Copywriter: Britton Upchurch
    Producer: Liz Stovall
    Media Director: David Dykes
    Digital Media Strategist: Holly Sigler

    Production, Postproduction Company: Remedy, Raleigh
    Director, Director of Photography: Josh Sliffe
    Assistant Director, Producer: Austin Simmons
    Assistant Director: Ali Petre
    Gaffer, Grip: Terry O'Deen
    Makeup, Wardrobe: Elaine Harrison (behind-the-scenes videos only)
    Production Assistant: Matt Carter


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    So far, Santa is having an exasperating holiday season.

    A few weeks back, he got physically assaulted in a Coach commercial. Now Kringle's computer has been hacked, and his "Naughty Or Nice" list held for ransom, in a droll series of ads by Grey San Francisco for Symantec's Norton security brand. 

    In the spot below, Santa calls the cops when he discovers the "bah-humbug" virus infecting his laptop and the list missing. Alas, the responding officer can't put things right ... and even seems to harbor a grudge against the Big Elf: 



    Next, Santa's son Kris Jr.—who looks like a cross between John Cleese and an extra on Portlandia—tries, and fails, to retrieve the lost list. When Santa bemoans a world in which an apparently safe site can serve as a front for hackers, Junior taps his dad's PC and explains, "In here, people aren't who they seem to be. It's like those guys who dress up like you at the mall."



    These first two episodes have been available online for about a week. In the final chapter, which dropped today, Santa turns vindictive, vowing to fill the world's stockings with coal.

    "We may not have enough," wails a put-upon elf.

    Santa barks back, "Well, send someone up the flue to jiggle the thingy! Remember, it gets stuck!" Can anything save Christmas—like Norton, for instance? (And where's Edward Snowden when you need him? His name's kind of Christmassy, and he knows all about hacking ... though whether he's naughty or nice depends on your point of view.) 



    "We chose to focus on Santa, a friend to the world, to reinforce that anyone can get hacked," Kathryn Kane, Norton's senior director of global brand and campaigns, tells AdFreak. "Online crime typically increases during the holiday season. More and more personal information is being stored online due to holiday shopping, so it is important that consumers understand why they should protect their devices." 

    The 60-second videos are running on sites like Mashable, Gizmodo and Lifehacker, supported by native articles, infographics and social content. Of course, edgy Christmas ad concepts and Ashley Madison data-hack humor are nothing new. But the writing here is especially sharp, and the cast perform their bitchy schtick to perfection. 

    "Santa's reaction, while grouchy, actually isn't too much different than consumers'," says Kane, noting that, in Norton's Cybersecurity Insights Report from November, "two-thirds of online crime victims felt frustrated after the incident occurred—while nearly half were furious."

    Made for less than $600,000, the festive yet low-budget production has considerable charm. "We shot the films all in one day at Rubel Castle in Southern California," says Kane, "and had endless conversations around how much facial hair Kris Jr. should have. After all, he is Santa in training."


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    A gay couple and their daughter are the centerpiece of this family-focused ad for Allstate. After the pair explain their year of firsts—including their marriage, and the adoption that followed—Allstate pledges to "protect your firsts, and every moment in between." 

    The tone is refreshingly casual in its treatment of the couple's sexuality, which feels tertiary compared to the unique and universally relatable joys of first-time parenting, and the importance of family. It's a pleasant signal of things to come; as gay couples grow more commonplace, their media depictions will also become more genuine. 



    Feel-good progressivism aside, the ad—by T3 in Austin, Texas—is well put together. And while Allstate probably should have integrated its brand a bit more obviously, we're glad they didn't. This is one of the few cases where the "Oh, by the way, this is a commercial" approach works well.


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    For Gollo, the biggest retail chain in Costa Rica, McCann gives us "Frozen," a charming little spot that depicts how a small gift can last a lifetime ... or even two. 

    The ad follows a young boy, skipping along on a hobby horse in a rural landscape, who receives a gift from his grandmother. As he contemplates it, we glide forward in time: Our boy ages, still clutching the object, and the world changes around him. 

    The circle completes itself in the modern day, where he is now the grandparent, passing the gift to a new little boy (who would probably have preferred an iPad, but this is an ideal world where children recognize the symbolic importance of things they've been given). 

    "The best gifts last for a lifetime. Make sure you give the best one," the spot concludes, a gentle reminder that the act of giving is only half of a gift; its thoughtful selection is what infuses the gesture with meaning. If the concept feels a little dated, that's probably because we're awash in retail ads that focus on the louder aspects of the holidays: glitzy parties, the stress of hosting or the competitive sport that shopping has become. 



    Then there's the matter of gifts themselves. British retailer Harvey Nichols has stoked the flames of our worst impulses for years, and this season is no different: This year's hashtag-ready campaign, #GiftFace, teaches Brits how to fake it when they're submerged in presents that suck. 

    That alone should give us pause. Maybe we've become too blasé for small, "It's the thought that counts" kinds of gifts. But it's charming for a retailer to remind us we don't have to spend a fortune to show we care. 

    A tiny plastic horse is way less expensive than an iPad, say, or a gold watch—though if we're competing on story, that gold watch from Pulp Fiction still beats it. (Sadly, few can claim the unique triumph of passing along an item that's been carried up Christopher Walken's anus in wartime. But every family has their thing.) 

    CREDITS
    Agency: McCann San José, Costa Rica
    Chief Creative Officer: Brian Maynard
    Creative Director: Huele Escalante
    Art Director: Edgar Mora
    Account Director: Mario Gutiérrez
    Executive Producer: Lucía Salas
    Production Company: La Productora
    Director: Neto Villalobos
    Photographer: Nicolás Wong
    Executive Producer: Christian Bulgarelli / Carolina Barquero
    Producer: Jéssica Valerio
    Art Director: Daniel Montiel / Katia Umaña
    Art & Costume Artist: Katia Umaña / Diego Esquivel


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    McDonald's seems like way too big of a company to have interesting, playful contests for employees. But the fast-food chain's Canadian operation has always had surprisingly relevant ideas (like its celebrated transparency campaign looking at what, exactly, goes into its food).

    Now, McDonald's Canada has organized a fun contest for crew members—asking them to submit their own burger/wrap recipes using McDonald's ingredients for a chance to win $10,000 and other prizes. 

    The challenge, developed by creative agency Cossette and the Ontario Regional McDonald's marketing team, was centered on a website, secretsecretmenu.ca, where employees can submit their proposed menu items and the public can view and vote for the best recipes.

    The contest was advertised in a fun way, too. Restaurant managers hung posters with a hidden message printed in clear varnish in crew break rooms, and gave out "secret submission forms" with redacted text suggesting a hidden message. Cossette also created the amusing video below, in which McDonald's "non-communications director" Don Ronaldson denies the existence of the whole program.



    Preliminary judging has now ended. Eight semifinalists will soon be invited to McDonald's Canada headquarters, where they're work with McDonald's chefs to perfect their recipe. In the next few months, they will attend an event where they will create their recipe for judges.

    The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 and a bonus $500 for their restaurant. Second place will receive $5,000, third place $2,500 and People's Choice (for most online votes) $1,000. The top dish, alas, is not expected to be added to the menu—unless, who knows, some Top Chef craziness happens and the winner just blows the judges away. 


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    What do wiper blades have to do with the safety of your state's wild animals? Why does the Humane Society care about windshields in the first place? And how does a throwback music video powered by synth riffs and retro raps fit into the equation? 

    Turns out the Humane Society and Bosch North America share an interest in saving would-be roadkill and their glorious nuts/stink glands from drivers whose windshields aren't clear enough to see the road on dark, rainy nights.

    Grey New York (part of Adweek's 2015 Global Agency of the Year network) recently collaborated with the auto parts manufacturer and the animal rights group to get to the heart—or at least, the anus—of the matter with a digital campaign and website called "Stop the Roadkill."



    Rick Cusato, partner at Grey New York, tells AdFreak that the agency has worked with Bosch on various campaigns for several years, but "the category is low interest, and we wanted to think of a way to help people remember the importance of road safety." 

    They certainly got us to pay attention. 

    Oddly, the spot reminds us mostly of '80s music videos: It's like a cuddlier mashup of "Thriller" and the puppet-centric "Land of Confusion" by Genesis, which always scared the hell out of us as kids. (Have you forgotten creepy puppet Ronald Reagan? Didn't think so.)

    The song wouldn't even sound out of place on your agency's 1986-themed holiday party mixtape. Catchy, wasn't it? 

    Cusato says Grey brought the Humane Society into the conversation after coming up with the music video PSA idea due to "a mutual end benefit," adding, "When we presented, they loved it."

    The challenge here is that most drivers never think to change their wiper blades. By worming its way into their heads, the video's "Don't Be a Killer Car" hook might just inspire more car owners to think about getting new blades to protect both their families and whatever aspiring four-legged rappers might be waiting beside the road. 

    The campaign site also includes a bit of biographical information about each of the video's stars. Turns out Streetz the Skunk refused to leave the dangerous Foothill Lane area in order to solidify his cred while full-time student Francesca the Fox is looking for a "silver" gentleman who's too experienced to get caught in the headlights. 

    "These were actual puppets run by puppeteers, and each had its own choreographer," says Cusato. Grey collaborated with New York-based production company Hornet to bring the puppets to life, and Grey's team wrote the song and its genitally focused lyrics. "Every time we tested it, people said they couldn't get it out of their heads," Cusato says. 

    Regarding Bosch, Cusato tells AdFreak: "They're a very brave client. Lots would balk at this project." He adds, "Roadkill is a global issue, but nobody ever really talks about it."

    Maybe now is the time for that discussion to start.

    Beyond the puppets, Bosch recently renewed its partnership with meteorologist Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel. An ad starring Cantore will run alongside the PSA, though it will include 100 percent fewer references to assholes and testicles.

    CREDITS
    Client: Bosch
    Agency: Grey New York
    Global Chief Creative Officer: Tor Myrhen
    Chief Creative Officer: Andreas Dahlqvist
    Executive Creative Director: Ari Halper / Stephen Krauss
    Creative Director: Joao Coutinho / Marco Pupo
    Art Director: Andrew Barrett / Anthony Coleman
    Copywriter: Pieter Melief
    SVP Associate Director Of Film Production: James McPherson
    Agency Producer: Sophia Pellicoro / Zach Fleming
    Agency Music Producer: David Steinberg
    Account Team: Rick Cusato / Danielle Fields
    Audio Engineer: Dante Desole/ Ryan Hobler
    Production Company: Hornet, New York
    Director: Peter Sluszka
    Director of Photography: Zak Mulligan
    Production Company Executive Producer: Hana Shimizu
    Production Company Producer: Marty Geren
    Editor: Anita Chao at Hornet


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    It must be tough for Facebook, a social network built around the "liking" of things, to sum up a year like 2015, when there was so much in the world to dislike. But it gives it a shot in the video below, from agency/production company Whirled, which rolled out Wednesday morning.

    The Nepal earthquake, the Charlie Hebdo attack, the refugee crisis, the Charleston killings, the racial unrest in Missouri. One bleak scene after another takes up a good chunk of the early part of the video—an admirably honest assessment of many of the world's ills in 2015. (There's no direct reference to ISIS, but then, that would never happen in a video like this.)



    On the flip side, there was plenty to celebrate in 2015, too—notably in the area of diversity. The landmark Supreme Court decision on gay marriage gets airtime here, obviously, as does Caitlyn Jenner's speech at the ESPYs. We also get a welcome snippet of Viola Davis' Emmy speech.

    All the while, Whirled—which works on a lot of Google videos, too—nicely adds some Facebook frames to some scenes, reminding the viewer that Facebook is where so much of the world's discussion of current events happens today.

    There are plenty of other airy pop-culture references here, too, from Mars and Pluto to various hit movies and TV shows. There are also shots of the presidential debates, though the Democrats are much more easily recognized, mostly because there are so many Republicans—and the wide shot makes them look tiny. (Trump is little more than a spec on screen—not commensurate to his share of headlines, perhaps, but Facebook probably just liked it better this way.) 

    At the end, the video turns dark again, returning—as it probably must—to scenes of the most recent Paris attacks. "Let's stand together in 2016," says the end line. After a year filled with so much hate, that's a line that's easy to like. 

    Also: Compare and contrast this with Twitter's 2015 year in review video.

    CREDITS
    Client: Facebook
    Managing Editor: Allie Townsend
    Editor: Brittany Darwell

    Agency, Production Company: Whirled
    Creative Director, Director: Scott T. Chan
    Producer: Steffi Binder
    Assistant Producer: Michelle Saikali
    Uncreative Director: Wilson Meng
    Music Supervisor: Matt Mugford
    Rights, Clearances: Stephan Michaels

    Editorial: jUMP
    Editor: Erwin Fraterman
    Executive Producer: Betsy Beale
    Post Producer: Callie Beckmann
    Assistant Editor: Krystal Shuang Hao

    Animation, Effects: Imagination at Play
    Creative Director: Paul K. Lee
    Producer: Patrick S. Lee

    Color Grading: Apache Digital
    Colorist: Steven Rodriguez
    Executive Producer: LaRue Anderson
    Post Producer: Caitlin Forrest

    Sound: Margarita Mix
    Mixer: Paul Hurtubise
    General Manager: Michele Millard

    Music by Vancouver Sleep Clinic, "Someone to Stay"


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    If your car manual were an entertaining work of fiction filled with pretty illustrations, you might be more inclined to read it.

    That, at least, is the hope behind a new marketing stunt from Romanian auto brand Dacia. This November, the company celebrated its 10th year sponsoring the Gaudeamus book fair by commissioning 30 writers and artists to transform its driver's manual into a work of prose and poetry.



    The resulting publication turns dry—if important—chapters like "Tools," "Dashboard," "Child's Security" and "Safety Belt" into pieces that traverse genres from science fiction to romance, with every story illustrated accordingly.

    Publicis Bucharest is billing the book as literature, which might be a stretch for any utilitarian product like this. But it's a fun and clever idea, and the illustrations look great. 



    If you're concerned about useful details getting lost in translating a technical document into art, don't worry: While the brand is looking to distribute the "Alternative Manual" in showrooms, it plans to do so alongside—not instead of—the standard manual. (Which means you now have two things to read instead of one.)


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    Bingeing on your favorite TV shows and movies can be a blast, but the existential emptiness that follows after finishing a season—or a whole series—can be sheer hell.

    Need help? Netflix has the solution: Pick something new to watch.

    But which title would be just right? you ask. "The List," a 90-second spot from TBWA\Chiat\Day, explores this particular strand of first-world angst with a self-consciously kooky pair who need a fresh TV show or movie to stream. 

    Will it be Bloodline? Peaky Blinders? Narcos? Sense8? Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe? Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work? How to Get Away With Murder? Nikita? The Carrie Diaries? Murder She Wrote? Heathers? Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Saved By the Bell? Glee?



    The dude in the commercial trots out a seemingly endless string of possibilities as he and his gal pal—they're "best friends"—do yoga, play cards, bounce on a trampoline, climb trees, sunbathe, take a cooking class and go clubbing, among other activities. (When do they even have time to watch the tube? Does anyone still call it the tube?) 

    Meanwhile, our heroine despondently mulls the options, distracting us with her distant resemblance to Alyson Hannigan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and How I Met Your Mother—neither of which appear on the list, in case you wondered. 

    Clay Weiner's wry, breathless direction drives home the silly spot's punch line, which we didn't see coming. Then again, we aren't nearly as sharp as we used to be, probably because binge-watching so much TV has muddled our brains. 

    Anywho, bottom line: This video won't help you pick a new show. It serves more to magnify a common problem, then flagrantly showboats the scope of Netflix's selection. But if you've just finished a binge and don't know what to watch next, you can always take up this fun and useful DIY project while trying to decide. 

    CREDITS
    Client: Netflix
    Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day
    Fabio Costa: Executive Creative Director
    Matthew Woodhams-Roberts, Dave Horton: Creative Directors
    Liz Cartwright, Stephen Lum: Associate Creative Directors
    Peter Bassett: Director of Production
    Kristin McCarron: Producer
    Tyra Hillsten: Brand Leader
    Sarah Lamberson: Brand Director
    Desiree Perez: Brand Manager
    Steve Smith: Associate Brand Manager
    Rohit Thawani: Director of Digital and Social Strategy
    Gary Klugman: Planning Director
    Emilie Arrive: Senior Digital Strategist
    Lauren Maddox: Digital Strategist
    Mimi Hirsch: Senior Business Affairs Manager

    Production Company: Biscuit
    Clay Weiner: Director
    Shawn Lacy: Managing Director
    Holly Vega: Executive Producer
    Lisa Stockdale: Producer
    Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
    Christjan Jordan: Editor
    Pieter Viljoen: Assistant Editor
    Helena Lee: Producer
    Telecine: The Mill
    Adam Scott: Senior Colorist
    Mix: Lime
    Joel Waters: Mixer
    Joanna Taylor: Producer
    A52: Finishing & VFX
    Heather Johann: Producer


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    So, you just dumped your boyfriend. Now it's time to kick your baggage, along with all the residual crap he left behind, to the curb. Where to turn? 

    ManServants, a San Francisco-based startup, has the solution: Say hello to Heartbreak ManServant, a gorgeous, well-mannered, impeccably groomed guy who is not—we repeat, not—a gigolo. He's so much more useful than that! He'll help you delete the ex from social networks, burn his photos and prop you up with pep talks, sparkling smiles and mixed drinks. Other variants of ManServant will even do your housework

    The promotional video below, by director Jenn Khoe, is your best introduction to the cheeky ManServants formula, whose spirit lands somewhere between an SNL skit and a wink: 



    The hunky men at ManServants are trained to pamper, flatter and cater to the woman or man who orders them. For the Princess Bride fans out there, "As you wish" is one of their most-repeated phrases: He's the handsome alternative to your ugly cry, say the company's founders, former advertising copywriters Dalal Khajah and Josephine Wai Lin. 

    ManServants debuted in fall 2014 as a PG-rated alternative to male strippers. It offers butler-bodyguard-cabana boy mashup services for special events like bachelorette and dinner parties, among other occasions. 

    Because lots of romances end in the last few months of the year, ManServants launched a "holiday collection" aimed at taking the sting out of being newly single. Options in this special collection include Arm Candy ManServant, who'll brighten your dreary obligatory gatherings; and Domestic ManServant, who'll tidy up while telling you how fabulous you look before the big soirée. 

    But you can't keep them; they're rentals. In fact, they're best when gifted from one friend to another ... because your best pal can't stand to see you under the covers, eating carbs and bingeing on Netflix any longer. 

    So, what are you waiting for? Set that three-fourths-empty wine bottle down. If you're moping around in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or the Gansevoort Hotel NYC (which is oddly specific ... and probably won't help dampen the inevitable "escort" jokes), a whole array of ManServants is waiting to do your bidding. 


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    There's a reason your parents put you in a beater when you got your driving permit.

    To promote the opening of a new Porsche Experience Center in Le Mans, France—the fourth in the world, after Leipzig, Silverstone and Atlanta—agency Quai des Orfèvres came up with an idea it knew would generate lulz aplenty: It slid a Porsche 911 Carrera 4 under the noses of people who don't even have driver's licenses yet. 

    In the video below, attendees of a local driving school show up for their exam to discover "something's changed," and they'll have to take their test in a new car, but that they shouldn't worry. 

    Regardless of whether or not the video is "real" (in a filmed-to-truth sense versus a reality TV sense)—and we're about 60 percent sure it isn't—the resulting hijinks yield some prime hilarity. The first reactions alone are gold, because the panic of these already-stressed would-be drivers is tangible: "I learned to drive in another car," a guy says flatly. One woman simply backs away and repeats "No" as many times as she can. 

    Things only worsen from there, and that's when you start to get a real sense of the sadism required in bringing this scenario to life. 

    "What's this engine?" a student asks after a cursory peer under the hood.

    "That's the boot," the teacher replies (meaning, the trunk). 

    Several others can't find the key because Porsche starters are on the left, prompting another student to uncertainly ask, "Is this for left-handed people?" 



    These early negotiations of comedic space set you up for what's to come: The woman who screams when, asked to hit the gas, she suddenly finds herself doing donuts in a roundabout. The awkward, sweat-inducing parallel-park, as onlookers take photos (mostly because of the car, but immortalizing the driver's shame in the process). The palpable concern on the teacher's face at the sensation of a nervous driver just trying to get the Porsche to go straight.

    (Fuel to the flames: French drivers generally learn to drive on manual transmissions. There is no solace anywhere.)

    Despite its 3:23 length, the ad ends in a way that seems abrupt: "Want to learn how to really drive in a Porsche? We've got just the experience for you." It then cuts to action shots of people doing donuts (willingly) and otherwise cavorting on the Le Mans track, where you can learn to drive Porsches properly across 32,000 square feet—or just visit the Porsche Museum and check out the new models.

    The video, which came out Nov. 23, has clocked nearly 1 million views. It's unclear how many of those are qualified Porsche Experience Center targets; we suspect most just enjoy the schadenfreude. On the cheery up, the victims of this evil social experiment are going to go home, licenses in hand, with a new appreciation for their steady, predictable Renaults and Citroëns (made especially for right-handed people).

    They don't know it yet, but they've probably just saved $100,000.


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    Here's a fun Christmas stunt from Miller Lite.

    Thanks to the brewer, a giant ugly-holiday-sweater billboard, handwoven out of actual yarn, now adorns a corner of New York's Times Square. 

    Agency TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles worked with Brooklyn artist London Kaye to crochet the cheery monstrosity, which features reindeer and, of course, beer (the iconic Miller Lite Steinie bottle that launched the brand in 1975). The video below captures some of the process, which took over three weeks of handweaving (tedious work, even by ad production standards).

    Kaye's enthusiasm—the kind that might be cloying if the project were less oddball—shines through, bringing the whole thing to life in a way that's actually charming. 



    Kaye, whose other yarn-bombing work includes a hilarious (if controversial) Wes Anderson-Stanley Kubrick mashup in Bushwick, describes the Miller job as her largest-ever piece. 

    Still, the effort-to-impact ratio might fall short of the Brazilian warm clothing drive launched this fall by attaching smaller bits of illicit knitting to the figures on traffic signs. Another beer brand, Grolsch, also did some yarn-bombing as part of a broader street-art installation in London earlier this year. 

    Regardless, for anyone who wants to experience Miller's willfully hideous billboard firsthand, it will be up at 49th Street and 7th Avenue through the month of December. 

    Oh, and you can also buy real Miller Lite ugly Christmas sweaters, too.

    CREDITS
    Client: Miller Lite
    Chief Marketing Officer, MillerCoors: David Kroll
    Vice President, Brand Marketing: Gannon Jones
    Senior Director, Miller Lite: Greg Butler
    Director, Miller Lite: Cris Rivera
    Manager of Strategic Alliances, Miller Lite: Kristen Fraas
    Senior Associate Marketing Manager, Miller Lite: Sara Studebaker

    Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles
    Chief Creative Officer: Stephen Butler
    Executive Creative Director: Fabio Costa
    Creative Directors: Dave Horton, Matthew Woodhams-Roberts:
    Copywriter: Vincent Largoza
    Art Director: Jason Kim
    Executive Project Manager: Alice Pavlisko
    Chief Production Officer: Tanya LeSieur
    Director of Production: Brian O'Rourke
    Director of Print Production: Kacey Harahan
    Executive Producer: Dena Moore
    Print Producer: Jasmine Gomillion
    Group Account Director: Chris Hunter
    Account Director: Bryan Reugebrink
    Account Supervisor: Tommy Cottam
    Account Executive: Emily Peck
    Senior Strategic Planner: Gary Klugman
    Senior Social Strategist: Jessica Rudis
    Director of Business Affairs: Linda Daubson
    Business Affairs Manager: Dorn Reppert 


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    Amazon cutes its way into our hearts with this new spot, in which a tiny horse has trouble making friends. The story here is similar enough to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that it qualifies as a stealth holiday ad, too.

    Also, that closeup of Tiny Horse's downcast eyes isn't even fair.

    The spot was made by London agency Joint (which surely wasn't infuenced by Wieden + Kennedy London's megapopular dancing Shetland pony for Three back in 2013.) The new ad is a pitch for Amazon's crazy-fast delivery service (through Amazon Prime), and the tiny horse's loneliness is cured with a simple rush order. View the video below, spoiler-free: 

    This raises more questions than it answers, though. For example, is it actually possible to order pet-friendly door flaps on Amazon? (Yes.) Second, what specifically did she search for? Results for "tiny horse door" yield a pair of fake diamond earrings as its first result (which may be a message in itself).


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    Imagine if, in his prime, Muhammad Ali laced up his gloves and stepped into the squared circle against … himself.

    Cramer-Krasselt posits just this scenario in "Compete," a captivating 60-second spot for the new Porsche 911. The ad rolls out on TV, online and in theaters in the U.S. and Europe over the next few weeks. 

    The spectacle of Ali vs. Ali—staged to perfection using a pair of actors who float like butterflies and sting like bees—is only the beginning. The commercial also serves up Maria Sharapova competing against herself in a tennis match, and chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen playing a tense game against—you guessed it—Magnus Carlsen. 

    This kind of stuff could put bookies out of business! 

    So, how does competing against yourself—a concept Gatorade used once upon a time with Michael Jordan—apply to Porsche? The extended metaphor suggests the only challenger bold and innovative enough to push the Porsche 911 to greater heights … is a Porsche 911. Against all the other existential self-competing, two Porsches race during the commercial to drive that concept home. 



    For some, the approach may still seem like a stretch. That's valid. But the visual bravado on display is more than enough to keep viewers engaged and, we suspect, spark a few conversations.

    C-K creative chief Marshall Ross tells Adweek that the basic idea for the spot was inspired by the iconic status of the Porsche 911 itself.

    "The 911 is the benchmark for every other sports car ever made," he says. "Every car compares itself to the 911. So the 911 doesn't look to outside brands for comparison and improvement—it looks to itself to create the best car ever made with each new iteration. This is the car to beat. That's a universal truth for all great champions: The person you really have to beat is yourself. You have to beat your demons, your own sense of limitation and conquer your self-doubts in order to conquer the world."

    The commercial's accompanying subjects were carefully selected, too. 

    "The 911 has a tall stature in its field, so we went after athletes who also portray that tall stature," Ross says. "Additionally, we wanted to showcase someone who achieves champion status intellectually as well as physically. It's common to leverage athletic competition, so the world chess grandmaster, Magnus Carlsen, was a key element to emphasize the intellectual side of competition."

    Getting the visuals just right was an especially tough challenge. 

    "The fighters had tracking dots all over them for the CGI—the special effects guys at The Mill did a really amazing job," Ross says. "There were 360 viewpoints all around so we would know exactly what the lighting would be, and they did an amazing job sculpting Muhammad Ali's image in CGI onto the fighters' bodies. The technical accomplishments of the spot, to get the fighters to look like and move like Ali, and even be expressive like Ali in a realistic way, is an achievement. This had to be more than good; it had to be great. We would spend days on a single frame in order to pass the freeze-frame test. We wanted it to look good in every single frame."

    Of course, Ali—who has been in the news this week, criticizing Donald Trump over his comments about Muslims—is a paragon of pop culture who might leave even Porsche in the dust. So the team took special care to give the champ maximum props.

    "We didn't want to just put two boxers in the ring and have them go at it," Ross says. "We wanted to accurately represent Muhammad Ali's boxing style. So we couldn't use professional or amateur boxers because it's too difficult and takes too long for them to unlearn their own unique style in order to adopt Ali's. Instead, we worked with two really good athletes—not boxers—and trained them for five weeks to become boxers." 

    The athletes were trained by Darrell Foster, who consults on Ali's fighting style for Hollywood films. "He trained them with specific leg and arm workouts and taught them punch sequences that were drawn from Ali's fights," Ross continues. "The two athletes we worked with were really great guys. They took the role very seriously, even though they knew their faces wouldn't be in the spot. They both said it was the coolest thing they've ever done."

    The whole presentation is superbly staged, though the segment with the twin Alis is naturally—wait a moment more to fully savor the anticipation (though you surely knew this was coming)—the greatest.

    CREDITS
    Client: Porsche
    Product: 911
    Agency: Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago
    CCO: Marshall Ross
    Creative Director/Art Director: Rick Standley
    Creative Director/Copywriter: Bill Dow
    Agency Producer: Robyn Boardman
    Group Account Director: Chris Hanley
    Senior Account Executive: Cara MacLean

    Production Company: Persuade Content
    Director: Mark Jenkinson

    Editorial Company: Whitehouse Post
    Editor: Adam Marshall
    Assistant Editors: James Dierx, Lauren Richardson, Joe Walton
    Executive Producer: Joni Williamson
    Producer: Jonlyn Williams


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    Christmas-loving word nerds will probably enjoy this new letter-shuffling ad from Scrabble.

    Titled "Anagram Christmas," the minute-long spot puts a holiday twist on the game's "There's Magic in Words" campaign, launched earlier this year by Mattel (the game's European distributor; Hasbro handles the U.S.) and ad agency Lola, Mullen Lowe's operation in Spain.

    In the spot, a father finds an abandoned dog in a parking lot, and decides to bring him home. That kindness reverberates through his family's Christmas celebrations, helping to raise everyone's spirits in different ways—though mostly by cheering up his sullen teenage daughter, who decides to actually be nice to her loved ones for a change.

    At every step, the narrator describes all the action using what Lola describes as "Antigrams"—words whose letters can also form a word with opposite meaning. "Violence" becomes "Nice Love." "Silent becomes "Listen." "Fluster" becomes "Restful." And so forth.



    The ad is aimed primarily at the U.K. and Germany. Ultimately, it's a nice enough story, if an unsurprising one. The word changes themselves—the main point, and a good tack for the brand—feel a little forced, though. Favoring seasonal spirit, they don't quite have the absurd whimsy that made the campaign's first ad, "Anagram Lovers"—which featured weirdly fitting parallels like "forever alone" and "a veneer floor"—such a treat to watch.

    Grinch redemption arcs are at peak saturation this time of year. And the fact that everything ends in cheer doesn't quite manage to flip the script as much as Scrabble might hope.

    CREDITS
    Client: Mattel
    Product: Scrabble
    Client Contacts: Tharyn Estevez, Montse Franch
    Spot: "Anagram Christmas"

    Agency: Lola/Mullen Lowe
    Chief Creative Officer: Chacho Puebla
    Executive Creative Director: Pancho Cassis
    Creative Directors: Tomás Ostiglia, Juan Sevilla
    Copywriter: André Toledo
    Art Directors: Lucas Reis, Saulo Rocha
    Global Business Director: Tom O'Brien
    Account Director: Rocío Abarca
    Account Supervisor: Jessica Otero
    Director of AV Production: Cristina Español
    Producer: Florencia Caputo

    Production House: Canada
    Director: Marçal Forés
    Executive Producer: Oscar Romagosa
    Head of Production: Alba Barneda
    Producer: Laura Serra Estorch

    Postproduction: Ymagis

    Sound and Music: Antfood


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    Look out below!

    In this gripping Audi Quattro ad from agency Lowe Stratéus and production house The Boat, French ski champion and filmmaker Candide Thovex races down a mountain. There's just one thing missing—snow!

    Grass, gravel, asphalt, dusty dirt paths, crunchy leaves, the weathered slats of a wooden bridge. These are the surfaces Thovex must master as he schusses at high speeds, tossing in occasional acrobatic spins and flips (at one point sailing high above a tractor) for good measure.

    We're sure no fancy editing or effects were involved. Trickery from a Volkswagen brand? Never! (We kid. Probably.)



    "We wanted to change the current idea of Quattro technology being mostly to drive on the snow or frozen water," agency account director Ludovic Pagot tells Adweek. "The client wanted to show the Quattro in a mountain environment—without snow. Then someone reminded us that skiing without snow was possible. And that was it!"

    With no paid-media support, creating an engaging experience for the young-adult target audience "beyond the brand message" was paramount, says Pagot. "It had to be spectacular to become viral. Candide [who also directed] helped us a lot with that, with great inputs on the scenario."

    Though perhaps a tad long at two minutes, the clip has proven popular—almost 2.5 million combined views across Thovex's YouTube and Facebook platforms in three days—and serves as a vibrant illustration of the tagline, "All conditions are perfect conditions."

    Filming on a mountain, with extremes of heat and cold and unpredictable weather—blinding sun in the morning, billowing fog by day's end—posed challenges, Pagot says, and extended the shoot to six days from the originally planned three.

    The scene in which Thovex skis past some cows proved especially vexing. "The first time Candide passed throughout the herd, all the cows went down the hill and were totally spread over the mountain," says Pagot. "We had to mobilize the entire crew to recenter the herd!"

    At the end of the clip, dude drives a Quattro back uphill. Slacker.

    CREDITS
    Client: Audi
    Project Manager: Anne Faure
    Agency: Lowe Stratéus
    Board Account Director: Romain Cadet
    Production Company: The Boat
    Director: Candide Thovex
    Photographer: Candide Thovex


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    Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam is dropping more than a few F-bombs this holiday as it launches "Give a F*ck," a charitable platform designed to connect the creative community with social causes—beginning with the refugee crisis.

    To launch the initiative, the agency asked more than 60 artists from all over the world to create and donate artworks that represent or feature "a f*ck." In all, they've produced more than 100 one-off or limited-edition artworks in varying mediums, which W+K is selling to benefit Proactiva Open Arms, dedicated specifically to saving refugee lives at sea.

    The artists include New York documentary filmmaker and street photographer Cheryl Dunn, Amsterdam-based cartoon boomer Troqman, London-based photographer Sophie Ebrard and Spanish illustrator Jorge Lawerta.

    You can buy their art at letsgiveafuck.org.



    "As creative people, it's easy to feel powerless in the face of human tragedy," says Blake Harrop, W+K Amsterdam's managing director. "We wanted to find a way to enable people in the creative community to have a positive impact on social causes, so we decided instead of the usual ad agency Christmas card we'd spend our energy on launching this platform instead. We've been overwhelmed by the generosity and support the idea has received from artists around the world."

    Check out some of the art below. 


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    Girls can be anything they want, says fempowerment toy brand GoldieBlox, whose last commercial jabbed at Hollywood sexism and put female action figures in the starring roles of flicks like Gladiator, Mission: Impossible and Rocky.

    In its new digital ad, the company doesn't do any gender swapping—it just lets some kids slip into the shoes and accouterments of noteworthy, accomplished women like Misty Copeland, Hillary Clinton, Beyoncé and Amy Schumer. It's not so much a parody as a mini-tribute to badass women of the year.

    The digital short, dubbed "Fast-Forward Girls 2015," continues the brand's tradition of supporting young girls with messages such as, "#I look like an engineer," and "#I look like an entrepreneur."



    Pint-sized versions of U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, NFL coach Jen Welter and world soccer champ Abby Wambach make appearances in the two-and-a-half-minute short film—the real Welter and Wambach even show up in cameos—with shout outs to Schumer's "Girl, you don't need makeup" video and actress Viola Davis' Emmy win.

    It uses the catchy Fifth Harmony tune "Worth It" as a soundtrack, but the lyrics are edited, grrl-power style, natch.


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    If a guy proposes to you using a personalized Coke bottle, you might want to take a little time before giving him your answer. Yet the woman in Coca-Cola's new holiday ad doesn't seem to mind. (After getting a bottle with "Husband" written on it, does she mutter "Finally!"? Maybe that explains her lack of resistance.)

    Coke filmed six such surprise moments for the new spot, by ad agency David—they are "completely unscripted," the brands says, and seem like genuine surprises, though Coke has obviously staged these moments to a degree. They include a surprise announcement, an unexpected homecoming and a meeting between a man and his birth father—emotional stuff, for sure, even if it feels a bit like Coke is somewhat cynically ticking off particular boxes.



    Personalized bottles play a role in every story, and are innocuous enough. Obviously Coke bottles don't play this kind of role in real life (well, except for pregnancy announcements), but as a way to integrate the product, it's fine.

    The biggest takeaway is that Coke is going with real moments, instead of something scripted and crafted within an inch of its life—not a new approach for the brand, but one that does resonate at the holidays, when displays of actual heartfelt love are never a bad idea. 

    CREDITS
    Client: Coca-Cola

    Agency: David
    Chief Creative Officer, Founder: Anselmo Ramos
    Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Tony Kalathara
    Associate Creative Director, Copywriter: Russell Dodson
    Art Director: Ricardo Casal
    Copywriter: Juan Pena
    Global Head of Production: Veronica Beach     
    Senior Producer: Marla Ulrich
    Managing Director: Paulo Fogaca
    Account Supervisors: Juan Nunez, Natalia Rakowitsch
    Account Director: Carlos Rangel
    Business Affairs Manager: Ann Marie Turbitt

    Production Company: Uber Content
    Director: Paul Iannacchino
    Director of Photography: Sam Levy
    Executive Producer: Steve Wi
    Producer: Kellie Abraham
    Production Manager: Christopher Howard
    Casting Agent: Tiffany Persons     

    Telecine Place/Date: The Mill
    With Whom: Fergus Mccall
    Online Place/Date: Jogger
    With Whom: Rich Rama
    Record Mix Place/Date: Bang
    With Whom: Paul Vītoliņš

    Editing Company: Cut & Run
    Editing Contact: Carr Schilling
    Post Producer: Remy Foxx
    Editor: Lucas Eskin

    Music company: Bang
    AFM #: Local 802
    Composer, Arranger: Brian D. Jones
    Executive Producers: Lyle Greenfield, Brad Stratton


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