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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    Nestlé is touting Kit Kat's commitment to sustainable cocoa farming with a new series of ads set in the Ivory Coast (or Côte d'Ivoire)—starring Didier Drogba.

    The international soccer celebrity, who formerly captained the country's team, appears in the centerpiece video, one of four lengthy clips. The Ivory Coast is the world's biggest producer of cocoa beans.

    YouTube travel personality Louis Cole hosts the series, which examines different facets of the confectioner's efforts to improve the lives of farmers who produce the key ingredient in chocolate.

    In the first ad, Drogba surprises children at a school in an Ivorian farming town. In keeping with Kit Kat's famous tagline, he gives them a break to play soccer. The ball, it turns out, is anything but ordinary: It doubles as a battery that charges kinetically when kicked around, and includes a special fixture that can power an LED light. 

    Nestlé has built over 40 schools in Ivorian towns as part of its plan to provide better infrastructure for the families of farmers, and teamed up with Drogba's charitable foundation to build another.

    Other videos in the series reinforce Nestle's comprehensive efforts to develop more sustainable farming practices—including agricultural education for farmers, support for women seeking new income for their families, and oversight to prevent child labor.

    The process led to Nestlé declaring KitKat the first global confectioner brand sourced from "100 percent sustainable cocoa." That statistic does not include the U.S., where competitor Hershey's manufactures and markets KitKat. But Hershey's, for its part, has already promised that in 2016 it will source enough sustainable cocoa for all domestic KitKat production, along with three of its other most popular global brands—Hershey's, Kisses and Brookside.

    In fact, worldwide confectioners like Nestlé, Hershey's and Mars have broadly committed to increasingly sell chocolates produced with farming practices that better serve the mostly small-scale farmers at the bottom of the supply chain—partly to meet demand from consumers of socially conscious goods, and partly to ensure the longevity of the industry, which depends on raising farmers out of a hopeless cycle of subsistence living to incentivize continued cocoa production.

    And while manufacturers work with third-party nonprofits like Fair Trade and Utz Certified—a representative from the latter appears in one of Nestle's new videos—to ensure standards for sustainability are being met, it's unclear whether such efforts are sufficient to secure the futures of farmers—and chocolatiers—in the long term.

    Still, Nestlé's stories are nonetheless feel-good watches (the darkest moment is probably spent imagining the risks of shelling cocoa beans with a machete, a technique made obsolete by a new tool). At the very least, they might make consumers feel a bit better next time they reach for a chocolate bar ... and that is, after all, the point of a chocolate bar.

    Two more videos appear below.

    Client: KitKat/Nestlé
    Agency: Team Iconic at J. Walter Thompson
    Global Creative Director: Marcus Woolcott
    Creative Director: Barry Christie
    Creative: Benjamin Hopkins & Morten Legarth
    Production Director: Toby Clifton
    Production Assistant: Rosanna Lawson
    Planner (Creative Agency): Orlando Hooper-Greenhill
    Global Director in Charge: Stephanos Klimathianos
    Business Director: Rosie Atkins and Britta Plattner
    Senior Account Manager: Katharine O'Donnell
    Project Manager: Laurie Carter
    Director: Ollie Murray
    Director of Photography: Benjamin Thomas
    Production Company: My Accomplice

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    Nobody has time to go away. We're booked to the hilt and stumble from weekend to weekend, at which time we come up for air and realize that six months have passed. If you're still crawling back into some semblance of productivity from your Super Bowl high, the sensation must be even worse: Queen Bey can't save you now.

    So, instead of baiting us with warm beaches and tropical cocktail umbrellas flanked by fetching contrasting bikinis (because do those work, really...?), Ethos Travel went in another direction: It flings busyness back into our faces and reminds us why we need a vacation.

    The "Time to Get Away" campaign from McCann London is simple but relatable. Each print ad features a week's glimpse at a typically convoluted online calendar ... except the events compose a much bigger message: The calendar boxes spell out headlines like "Fuck my life," "Save me now," and "End this hell," followed by the tagline, "Time to get away."

    There's something discomfiting about seeing the messages one after the other; it kinda reads like the beginning of a nervous breakdown. But for those who spent New Year's struggling to seize a semblance of control over calendar-creep, the message is clear: The world will always want something from you. You will never have time to run away and take a breather. So, take stock of the damage of the next couple of months, skip ahead a bit and plan some time off before you wake up in the morning and it's 10 years later.

    Because if work never ends, that probably means it can wait.

    Check the variations out below.

    "Help me god"

    "Make it stop"

    "Save me now"

    "End this hell"

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    From igloos to Netflix and Chill, Airbnb fans have an awesomely quirky variety of accommodation options to choose from these days. And starting Sunday, art geeks can live out their Van Gogh fantasies via Airbnb through a new effort by Leo Burnett. 

    The Art Institute of Chicago's latest exhibit, opening Feb. 14, brings together all three versions of Van Gogh's "The Bedroom" for the first time in North America. To commemorate the exhibit, Burnett in Chicago worked with the museum (and media agency Spark) to build a full-scale, livable model of the work in a historical downtown Chicago building. 

    "We thought the best way to help people understand Van Gogh's life was to invite them to spend a night in this room," said Burnett associate creative director Pete Lefebvre. "What better way to give people a glimpse into his mind than to create a truly immersive, one-of-a-kind experience like this?"

    At just $10 a night, including two tickets to the exhibition, it's a bargain. It's available through May 10. See more pics below. Click to enlarge.

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    While many advertisers were shelling out millions of dollars for TV slots on the Super Bowl broadcast last Sunday, Nike was on the ground in San Francisco getting much more up close and personal with some of its biggest fans.

    The sports marketer, with help from R/GA, sent three Nike-branded luxury sports cars into the streets and got several NFL stars—including Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley and Pro Bowlers Latavius Murray and Chris Ivory—to surprise Nike+ members with epic product drops.

    How epic? How about a signed pair of Vapor Untouchable 2 cleats in a golden box? (They are Nike's lightest and most adaptive football cleats to date.) And on top of that, how about an exclusive, limited-edition pair of Air Force 1 Precious Metal sneakers?

    Check out the video. The reaction on the recipients' faces says it all.

    Client: Nike

    Agency: R/GA
    Creative Director: Ty Johnson
    Executive Creative Director: Sammi Needham
    Art Director: Roberto Salas
    Design Director: Rasmus Wangelin
    Creative Director Experience Design: Xavier Gallego
    Experience Designer: Gonzalo Fiorina
    Experience Designer: Sam Brewton
    Strategy Lead: Donny Jensen
    Senior Strategist: Jake Lemkowitz
    Storyboard Artist: Steven Conaway
    Senior Designer: Andy Wong
    Copywriter: Anthony Roberts
    Producer: Beckley Mason
    Senior Producer: Kira Doyle
    Associate Producer: Jessica Clinton

    Content Studio:
    Executive Producer: Guy Helson
    Sr. Editor: Kyle Graffam
    Editor: Charlie Porter
    Motion Graphics: Garett Johnston
    Sound Design: Michael Feuser
    Color: Shawn King
    Business Affairs: Mairead Murray
    Erica Jensen, Director, Content Production R/GA

    Production Co: Brain Farm
    Director: Sinuhe Xavier
    Producer: Clint Cowen
    DP: Nic Restrepo

    Design and fabrication: tomerbengal

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    Converse is out with a three-minute bit of artistic voyeurism ... and it's great.

    Titled "Lovesick: Converse Couples," the commercial puts split-screen to exceptional use, telling the stories of dancers, drag queens, graffiti artists, musicians and stylists, and their relationships with people who share their respective crafts.

    It's sweet, charmingly gritty, and sprinkled with down-to-earth humor. One lover expresses gratitude that his girlfriend didn't smack him the first time he kissed her; another laments a moment when she realized she couldn't be a brat to her boyfriend because they were at work, and a third admits his counterpart makes him laugh "all the time … every Tuesday."

    The clip is also interactive, letting viewers slide a divider to move between the two frames, revealing additional footage and alternate perspectives on the participants' body language (at times refreshingly, making it less mushy and more casual)—with some shots staged to splice together later, as if the two parties were conversing.

    Click the image below to start the video:

    Created by Anomaly and released on LVMH lifestyle website Nowness, the video invites comparison to other dual-perspective ads, like Honda's hit "The Other Side," a seamless overlay of two contrasting stories (check out the case study).

    More thematically relevant is Cornetto's choose-your-own-teen-prom-romance, which bounced viewers around in a clunky YouTube hack.

    For its part, Converse's take on the technique is perfectly streamlined, sweetening a story that stands well enough on its own. The broader strategy is familiar enough—the brand is no stranger casting itself as a friend to artists the way it did with programs like Rubber Tracks, which sponsored recordings for unsigned musicians. Here the mix of evergreen cultural tropes—the love lives of others, the mystique of the creative process—combine to create rich layers of interest. And flashes of personal psychology—like when a drag queen talks about how his partner helped him move past a history of abuse—add depth and credibility.

    It's an improvement on the self-expression theme explored in Converse's "Made by You" film from last year, which was all shoes and no faces: A fun and spirited ode to individuality, but less substantive, despite the fact that the campaign, like this one, used real people from around the world.

    The new piece will be translated into 10 languages. It features Brazilian dancers Junio Teixeira and Ana Luizi; drag queens Nathaniel Visneaskus, who performs as Mocha Lite, and Ryan Skilton, who performs as Misty Meaner; graffiti artists Amuse126 and Merlot; musicians Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle, who perform as pop duo Buscabulla; and stylists Alison Isbell and Blake Burkholder.

    And it's still loaded with more than enough shots of the product, which never really seems out of place—because in this milieu, it really isn't.


    Client: Converse
    Agency: Anomaly
    Production company: Aspekt
    Directors: Alphabetical Order® (Marcus Linnér and Daniel de Viciola)
    DP: Mattias Rudh
    Editor: Simon Ponten
    Post Production: Stopp Family / MediaMonks Stockholm
    Digital Production: Caviar Digital

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    Between Interstellar and The Martian, NASA's enjoying a banner pop culture revival. To tap into that growing awareness of what lies before us, the space agency's Jet Propulsion Lab commissioned Seattle-based Invisible Creature to produce a series of lush retro space-tourism posters.

    The work is a preview of what to expect from the JPL's 2016 Visions of the Future calendar. "The Grand Voyage," above, was inspired by '60s sci-fi paperback covers and represents how Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune align once every 175 years. Its last alignment, which happened in 1977, enabled the JPL to take advantage of their proximity to send two probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, on a path to visit all four on the same trip.

    Invisible Creature's take on the phenomenon represents the Grand Voyage as a bicentennial festival, a moment worth sharing with the kids once every five generations: "Experience the charm of gravity assists," it proclaims, in just-as-charming typography.

    The second poster has more of an early-'70s feel, and uses flower-power imagery to add a subtle terraforming message to this image of Mars.

    "For that one, we were trying to imagine what Mars would look like as a historic travel destination hundreds of years from now," Invisble Creature co-founder Don Clark told FastCoDesign.



    A final poster represents Enceladus, Saturn's ice-encrusted moon, also known for its cryovolcanoes, which emit ammonia and methane. Dubbed "Cold Faithful" here, the work suggests tourists will visit such sites the same way we do Yosemite and other National Parks today.

    "My brother Ryan illustrated this one," says Clark, "and he imagined this old NASA engineer at the end of his career, actually visiting Enceladus in a spaceship he invented."

    Invisible Creature was founded more than 10 years ago by Don and Ryan Clark, who've worked on branding and packaging for the Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar and Alice in Chains, among others. Per FastCoDesign, this space foray sits neatly in the history of their family: Their grandfather was an illustrator for the Ames Research Center who spent 30 years helping NASA imagine the future.

    "We've come full circle, and that's a really cool thing," says Clark.

    The posters are available for purchase in the agency's online store, or you can just download them for free in high-res from NASA.

    Here are a few more images from the calendar, though we're not sure who designed the ones below:




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    Even the people who are meant to love Valentine's Day—the coupled-up, mated ones—can't fully bring themselves to enjoy it: Expectations are high, restaurants are twice as expensive, ignoring it feels self-conscious, and celebrating it makes you feel like a bit of an asshole.

    Luckily, with help from Droga5, Honey Maid is offering to reposition what is already a flagrantly commercial "celebration" of feels. In its "Love Day" ad (already an improvement on the original name—far fewer syllables!), the brand leaves romantic couples to other panting merchants and focuses instead on a different kind of love: The kind forged by families.

    "This Valentine's Day, let's think of love differently," the ad begins. And before you've had time to blink, you're driven to the first major heartstring-puller: a mother looks at her obviously anxious teenage son and asks, "You're gay?"

    He nods vigorously, on the point of tears. Without missing a beat, his mother rises from her chair and says, "That's OK, hon, I knew you were," before enveloping him in a much-needed embrace.

    From that point, you never get the chance to slide off the emotional peak. This moment is followed by two young brothers, one white and the other black, talking about what adoption means; an Asian adult thanking the birth parents he's seeking—but still hasn't found—for the hard choice they made; a mother expressing the meaning of her parental bond to her gender-transitioned child; and more.

    The work builds on Honey Maid's ongoing "This Is Wholesome" campaign, which has always focused on the changing look, but foundational sameness, of modern families: On the Fourth of July, it shined the spotlight on an immigrant family, but stories from same-sex and blended families have also been given delicate attention.

    This particular work echoes its forbears in that it doesn't portray family love as linear or clear-cut; it's nuanced, sometimes laced with trepidation and turbulence. We often forget that love involves enormous personal risk, but Honey Maid uses that tension to string its instrument: in each situation, someone risks rejection or isolation, but a heathery mattress of absolution-rich acceptance sits safely beneath the fall.

    It's a fair critique of feel-good advertising that the real world is just messier, but the brand hopes to address that too. "Love Day" finishes with a social media call to action: "Tag a loved one in the comments with a <3 to let them know you accept them just the way they are."

    For those still nursing a family-related grievance (and that's probably most of us), this ask is especially handy; the ad can convey many of the things you want to say, but it doesn't replace conversation by saying too much. Frankly, I can't think of a better use for Valentine's Day.

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    It would be unfair to call the rise of Leon Bridges a Cinderella story. The talented young soul singer has worked far too hard to explain it away to miracles and magic. And yet, the arc of the first part of his career has been nothing short of miraculous and magical.

    A little over a year ago, Bridges was washing dishes at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, and playing open mics after every Tuesday shift. But tonight, he'll be under a different spotlight in Los Angeles, where he's up for best R&B album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.

    To celebrate the achievement, website design platform Squarespace and Austin, Texas-based agency Preacher have partnered with Bridges—a longtime Squarespace customer—to recreate the past year in the form of a 30-second spot that will air during the awards show. An extended version of the commercial can be seen online, with a short documentary also in the works.

    "It's so surreal being in that same place and having no idea I'd be here now," Bridges told Adweek. "If you would have told me I'd be playing to a crowd of thousands, I would have run the other direction, you know? I would have been like, 'No, you're lying, you're lying, you're lying.' It's pretty crazy to look at that video and reflect on how everything happens."

    It wasn't all that long ago that Bridges was just playing coffee shops. (Last March, he was playing to a crowd of 200 or so at a college cafe in Western Tennessee.) But things are different now: When his new tour schedule was released Friday, more than half of the shows sold out by the end of the day.

    The history of Bridges and Squarespace dates back to his early coffee-shop days. In fact, a number of people at Squarespace have been fans since before they even knew he was a customer, said Squarespace chief creative officer David Lee. But they waited for the right time to see if he'd be interested in collaborating. (The spot comes on the heels of Squarespace's Super Bowl spot with comedy duo Key & Peele.)

    "When we do these tentpole moments, we try to find the right alignment, the right kind of story to tell that fits that particular audience," Lee said. "So, with the Super Bowl, we thought Key & Peele was the right collaborator setup. But, obviously, with the Grammys being the biggest music night, and with Leon as a customer, we found that it was kind of a perfect fit. And the fact that he is nominated for the best R&B album, it's just kind of like this perfect storm."

    Today, Squarespace also released the trailer for the documentary, shot by official Grammy photographer Danny Clinch. The film showcases Bridges, his family and his early days on the road.

    It would be easy to label Bridges a modern-day soul singer reminiscent of those of the 1960s. But while he's often compared to the legendary Sam Cooke, his first major U.S. tour was opening for indie folk band Lord Huron, and late last year, he collaborated with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

    "Of course, it's always easy to point to Sam Cooke and see that comparison," Bridges said. "But, you know, I relate more to Willie Nelson or Neil Young. I know I'm not the best of singers or have the best range, but that's my thing. I don't want people coming to my show and think they're coming to a sock hop."

    If there was a moment when Bridges realized his music was for more than just a few people at Magnolia Motor Lounge, it was when he and his producer and friend Austin Jenkins—who discovered Bridges at an open mic—released his song "Coming Home" on SoundCloud. A blog called Gorilla Vs. Bear picked it up, and within a week, it had more than 13,000 plays.

    "I just couldn't believe it," Bridges said. "People think, 'Oh yeah, you know, he's just this retro formula,' but, I mean, this is just what I love to do, and I didn't think that people would dig it. Especially 'Coming Home'—I mean, I thought it was cool, but it wasn't one of my favorite songs. But it's so crazy to see how much people truly loved it and connected with it."

    By now, plenty of people have connected with the song as well others like "Lisa Sawyer," a tribute to his mother, and "River," a powerful, gospel-driven song about his personal spiritual experience.

    "We want to tell this beautiful story of a person who just rose to ascension and literally went from being a dishwasher at Del Frisco's in Fort Worth and is now headlining stadiums," said Squarespace's Lee. "We think it is a really powerful story and hope it inspires other people to just kind of go and carpe diem and do what they were meant to do. We couldn't have fabricated that story any better, which is why his story was a perfect thing for us to do."

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    Nike, which has been based in the Portland, Ore., area for the last 40 years, just gifted the hipster-chic city with Biketown, a sleek and super-recognizable take on city bikes. 

    In a partnership with the City of Portland and its Bureau of Transportation, Nike will serve as the bike share program's sole sponsor. An investment of $10 million will be spread over five years, extending the number of bikes available from an originally planned 600 to 1,000. The brand will also design Biketown stations, bike identity and digital branding.

    The bicycles feature the Nike swoosh and are decked out in the burnt orange that's been Nike's official color since 1989. The baskets are also shaped like the brand's shoeboxes. 

    "We're proud of our long history of partnership with the City of Portland and believe that the Biketown bike-share program is one more example of how we can work together to help make Portland an even more active, vibrant and innovative community," says Jorge Casimiro, Nike's vice president of global community Impact.

    The program adds Portland to the rapidly expanding list of cities that host bike-sharing systems across North America. In terms of branding, the most well-known is New York's Citi Bikes, sponsored by Citi (but arguably way less beautiful ... although to be fair, Portland's variations will likely take way less abuse than their hard-wheeling sisters at the Big Apple). 

    It also builds on Portland's reputation as notoriously bike-friendly. Biking comprises about 7 percent of commute trips across the city's 300 miles of bike lanes and paths. In September, it was estimated (PDF) that the bike economy brings $133.7 million to the city per year.

    Expect to see Nike's Biketown riders on the streets in July.

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    Two days ago, a Redditor posted a grocery-store photo of a DVD of The Martian placed strategically over baskets of potatoes. The thread has since become a subreddit of the month and is doing the viral rounds with Olympian-level speed. 

    People who've seen the movie, or read the book, will get it: One trial of protagonist Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon, whose whole career right now revolves around being stranded on other planets) is his effort to grow potatoes in hostile Martian soil. So, this is a smart, in-the-know play—the kind of thing that's random at best to people who don't get it, and explosively awesome for those who do. 

    And while it would be easy to write off as a smart marketing coup by an enterprising grocer, this is surprisingly much bigger than that: The Albert Bartlett potato company actually inked an official partnership with Twentieth Century Fox for the right to use The Martian and Matt Damon's face to sell rooster potatoes (which are red ... like the Red Planet!). The DVD/Blu-ray version of the film also comes packed with an Albert Bartlett ad. 

    "We've been working with Albert Bartlett for 12 years, and it was one of our regular team who first flagged up that The Martian was coming out, which struck everyone concerned as an opportunity too good to miss," Alfredo Marcantonio, executive creative director at Albert Bartlett's ad agency, Hobbs Holmes Marcantonio, tells The Independent.

    Sadly, though, it isn't Albert Bartlett's potatoes in the film.

    "Unfortunately, by the time we contacted the production team on location in Eastern Europe, they'd finished the potato sequences," Marcantonio admits. "But it got us thinking. And a cheeky suggestion that we produce a disclaimer for the film's end assuring audiences that 'No potato was harmed during the filming…' gave us an in with senior executives out in L.A., who allowed us to view all potato-related scenes ahead of the film's release in secret." 

    The result of those surreal discussions was a promotion for U.K.-based fans. With help from Fox, Albert Bartlett offered them the chance to win a free trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to take part in the Astronaut Training Experience, which includes a briefing from a veteran NASA astronaut and physical space flight preparations using simulators like the Micro-Gravity Wall, Multi-Axis Trainer and the 1/6th-Gravity Chair, which lends the impression you're walking on the moon. 

    The program concludes with a simulated space mission and a tour of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

    The promotion is now over. And while it's safe to say we've never felt any particular loyalty to a potato brand, Albert Bartlett set its stake in the map by cashing in on just a pinch of geek cred. 

    If you're stocking up on rooster potatoes for some Mars-style home terraforming, you'll have to find your own source of human feces, though. (Editor's note: We don't recommend it. Seriously ... don't.)

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    When we heard that Sam Freakin' Raimi was directing a commercial for Chevrolet that spoofs horror movie tropes, our first thought was, "Hmm, wonder how he's gonna sneak Bruce Campbell into this." Sadly, Bruce won't be found here, but the ad, by Commonwealth/McCann, is pretty good anyway.

    It highlights the safety of Chevy's 2016 Malibu and Cruze models, and likens driving to being in a creepy old house full of stuff trying to kill you. (As a Maryland resident, this literally hits me where I live.) The new safety features are symbolized by unseen voices alerting the ad's doomed heroine to the numerous dangers around her. 

    It's an extremely clever conceit that doesn't wear out its welcome, and this clearly wasn't some empty celebrity "get" for McCann; they wanted to make the most of Mr. Raimi's talents, and they did. (If only they'd been at the helm for his Spiderman movies.)

    "We approached the development of the Chevrolet trailer in the same way we would an actual movie—by thinking through the plot, characters and eventual outcome," Raimi said in a statement. "I've been in plenty of theaters where the audience is so concerned for the safety of the main characters that they call out warnings to save them. That's what this is based on." 

    The spot will run in 2,300 theaters and 14,000 screens nationwide over the next six months.

    Client: Chevrolet
    Agency: Commonwealth/McCann
    Creative Chairman: Linus Karlsson
    Chief Creative Officer, North America: Gary Pascoe
    Executive Creative Director, Copywriter: Duffy Patten
    Executive Creative Director, Art Director: Bob Guisgand
    Creative Director, Art Director: Tim Mattimore
    Creative Director, Copywriter: John Fiebke
    Executive Producer: Kelly Balagna
    Account Director: Jacqueline Redmond
    Account Supervisor: Molly Fox
    Production Company: Pacific Rim Films
    Director: Sam Raimi
    Director of Photography: Daniel Mindel
    Production Designer: Shane Valentino
    Executive Producer: Annie Johnson
    Line Producer: Julia Roberson
    Executive Producer/ Arcade: Nicole Visram
    Producer/ Arcade: Kirsten Thon-Webb
    Editor/ Arcade: Bob Murawski
    Asst Editor/ Arcade: Dean Miyahira
    Composer: Christopher Young
    Sound Designer: Jussi Tegelman
    Audio Mixer: Marti D. Humphrey

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    Hail to the chiefs!

    Martin Sheen and Bill Pullman give delightfully cheeky presidential performances in Wieden + Kennedy's new campaign for Chrysler.

    Of course, neither man has actually been elected to our nation's highest office. Still, they've both excelled at playing presidents—Sheen on The West Wing and Pullman in Independence Day. And now, they face off in a debate of sorts that works on its own comic terms while playfully (some might say pointedly) tapping into the current election-year zeitgeist.

    In the "American-est" spot below, Pullman, driving a Chrysler 200, pulls up beside Sheen, who's kicking back in a 300 model, and the jousting begins. Sheen insists Americans "deserve the most advanced all-wheel-drive system in its class." Pullman concurs, but wonders, "Why are you wrapping yourself up in the flag?" Sheen counters: "I'm wrapping myself up in Napa leather, adorned with this Old Glory pin, so you know I'm patriotic." When Pullman muses that Sheen's rhetoric might be "all a little star-spangled nonsense," the latter replies, "I spangle everything. Everything I own is star-spangled … everything."

    The actors wring every nuance from W+K's scripts, elevating the dialogue to an oratory pitch that manages to comment on the charged real-world climate. In doing so, they cast their own stints in the White House as tenures that somehow transcend fiction—preferable, perhaps, to the actual administration that will emerge from the ongoing electoral process.

    That effect is especially pronounced in the next ad, "Swerve." The actors note with considerable relish that it's primary season, "time to pander to all the nuts on the political fringe … and when the general election rolls around, you swerve right back to the middle. And when you do, blind-spot monitoring and collision warning systems keep you from crashing your campaign."

    Throughout, Chrysler's brand promises and the political rhetoric fuse surprisingly well. This simpatico impressed Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer at Fiat Chrysler, in the early stages of the ads' evolution. "We were with the Chrysler brand team—and they kept reciting to us all the great features of both the Chrysler 300 and 200," he tells AdFreak. "It almost sounded like a [political] campaign promise, and it really just took off from there."

    Much of the fun comes from seeing Pullman reprise his earnest, down-to-earth Thomas Whitmore character from Independence Day, contrasted with Sheen's more prickly Josiah Bartlet from The West Wing. They're a winning ticket all the way.

    "Once we landed on the idea of having presidents from television or movies, we had to find the right actors," says Francois. "Mr. Sheen and Mr. Pullman are perfect in their iconic roles. They both embodied that men-of-the-people, for-the-people spirit, something that spoke very much to the identity of the brand."

    Thus, the actors were the prefect presidential pitchmen to communicate the "Premium to the People" theme line. "The main objective," says Francois, "is to elevate expectations of power and refinement for Americans. We give 'premium' car offerings to the 'people'—all the people. Not only the rich or privileged, but everyone. This includes key safety features, high grade interiors and other features throughout to support the competitively contented cars."

    Of course, the automaker has waved the flag before, most famously in sweeping ads like "Born of Fire,""It's Halftime in America" and RAM's "Farmer."

    Pullman and Sheen help the brand recapture the spirit of those old glories, while striking a decidedly different tone from Chrysler's anthemic Super Bowl commercials. These "Premium" spots, directed by Jake Szymanski of Gifted Youth, are impishly disruptive and mischievously meta in their approach. Their brand-centric satire invites everyone along for the ride.

    "Clearly there is a lot of noise with the political campaign—I can hear it all the way from Italy when I am there—and I couldn't let this message get lost," says Francois. "I wanted to be the one doing it before anyone else jumped on it, because I think it's really an opportunity to be relevant."

    Client: Chrysler
    CMO, FCA Global: Olivier François
    Head of Passenger Car Brands:  Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA:  North America: Tim Kuniskis
    Director, NAFTA Brand Advertising:  Marissa Hunter
    Head of Advertising, Dodge Brand:  Randy Ortiz
    Head of Advertising, Chrysler Brand:  Michael Kraft
    Chrysler Brand Advertising Manager:  Danielle DePerro

    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
    Creative Directors: Micah Walker, Justine Armour
    Copywriter: Mike Egan / Nick Morrissey
    Art Director: Meaghan Oikawa
    Producer: Chris Capretto

    Production Company: Gifted Youth
    Director: Jake Szymanski
    Executive Producer: Dal Wolf
    Line Producer: Alana Mitnick
    Director of Photography: Kramer Morgenthau

    Editorial Company: Joint
    Editor: Matthew Hilber / Tommy Harden
    Post Producer: Jen Milano
    Post Executive Producer: Leslie Carthy

    VFX Company: Joint
    VFX Supervisor: Alex Thiesen
    Flame Artist: Katrina Salicrup
    VFX Producer: Gail von Dedenroth
    Titles/Graphics: W+K Studio

    Mix Company: Joint
    Mixer: Guy Baker / Noah Woodburn

    0 0

    David Felton appears to be a fan of direct marketing. The British advertising creative, who recently moved from New York City to Copenhagen, has been having trouble finding dates in Denmark. So, for Valentine's Day, he plastered some 100 fliers around the city showing his grinning face.

    "Have you seen this guy? Would you like to?" said the copy. And the tear-away pieces of the flier encouraged would-be romantics to contact Felton on Twitter with the hashtag #ValentinesDavid.

    "I got the idea back in January, when I was struggling to get a single Tinder match," Felton tells AdFreak. "But rather than acting on it straight away, I thought it would be best to keep it for the most romantic day of the year."

    Felton didn't actually land a date for the big day itself, but he did get some amusing tweets—and a note of interest from a latecomer.

    "I've got a date with an amazing Danish girl lined up for tomorrow. She asked me out—we've been in contact, and we've really hit it off so far," Felton says. "I wouldn't want to jinx it, but there's definitely some romance in the air." 

    0 0

    After a brutal few years, the University of Phoenix is ready to rise from the ashes.

    The largely online, for-profit school is trying to turn its struggling business around—while fighting negative perceptions of its programs—with a glossy ad blitz, one of its historic strengths. The centerpiece TV ad in the campaign, from 180LA, repurposes the classic Wizard of Oz tune "If I Only Had a Brain" (originally performed by an incredibly goofy scarecrow). The school's version, "More Than Brains," is a paean to the perseverance and intelligence of its students.

    This is an effort to shift discussion away from negative perceptions about the University of Phoenix, which is under widespread scrutiny for shady business practices. The government has repeatedly cracked down on the institution, which soaked taxpayers, preyed on veterans and left students saddled with debt, struggling to find jobs to pay back loans. 

    What followed was a financially dismal year; parent company Apollo Education lost 75 percent of its shareholder value in 2015, and the student body shrank to 200,000 over the same period, less than half of its peak size in 2010. 

    Last week, Apollo Education announced its $1.1 billion sale to a private group of investors with ties to the Obama administration. The company's new chairman, former Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller, vowed to turn the University of Phoenix into "the leading provider of quality higher education for working adults." 180LA's debut work for the brand follows last year's creative review, kicking off the new administration's efforts to complete the substantial task of revamping its offerings and image. 

    At its heart, the campaign builds intelligently around Miller's ambition. An online education is a legitimate option for people who require flexibility to meet life's other obligations, like multiple jobs, raising children and caring for infirm elders—none of which should be scoffed at. Drawing on Oz might seem arbitrary, but the familiar melody makes otherwise cliché-packed pablum—like "Life is short, talk is cheap"—less tedious, even moving. 

    Powerful visuals and anecdotes add melodramatic gravitas to the film: A mother breastfeeds her baby while studying, and a gunshot survivor boxes defiantly, all to the sweet tones of someone who sounds vaguely like Regina Spektor. 

    But hard as it tries to shed the school's baggage, the ad falls into the trap of seeming a little too anxious to gloss past reality. If its defensive stance is understandable, the concluding lyric, "A degree is a degree/You're going to want someone like me/But only if you have a brain," simply rings appalling—especially considering the school's admission that some of its recruiters misled students about the similarities and differences between particular degrees, and which jobs they could expect to get as a result (such practices helped trigger an FTC investigation into deceptive marketing tactics).

    Setting aside the University of Phoenix's legal woes—and the moral turpitude of manipulating a population striving to better itself while making ends meet—that statement undercuts the ad's attempt to flatter the intellects of prospective students. Online degrees are certainly not all worthless, but claiming that all degrees from all schools are created equal really is brainless thinking. As a result, the ad's tagline, "We rise," falls flat, instead of enthusiastic and resilient as intended.

    Then again, maybe the campaign will pick itself up and do better next time ... much like the school it's advocating for.

    0 0

    The first non-nudity issue of Playboy is here, and it actually does include some topless models—the vodka bottles in Stolichnaya's topical print ads by The Martin Agency.

    See the work below. And check out our earlier story about how Playboy's no-nudity revamp could mean more ad dollars and higher-end brands.


    Client: Stolichnaya
    Chief Marketing Officer Lori Tieszen
    Stoli Brand DirectorRuss Pareti
    Stoli Brand Manager Lauren Longenecker
    Agency: The Martin Agency
    Chief Creative Officer: Joe Alexander
    Group Creative Director: Jorge Calleja
    VP Creative Director: Neel Williams
    VP Creative Director: Andrew Watson
    Designer: Marco Piedy
    Studio Artist: Melissa Aspero
    Business Affairs Manager: Alice Isner
    EVP – Managing Director: Chris Mumford
    Account Director: Laurel Busony
    Account Executive: Cassie Harris
    Senior Project Manager: Rebecca Gricus
    VP, Executive Print Producer: Jenny Schoenherr
    VP, Group Planning Director: Mike Kelley 

    0 0

    Jeep's 75th anniversary is going swimmingly, at least in terms of the marketing. The Fiat Chrysler brand ran those two great commercials on Super Bowl 50. And now comes a fun stunt from Jeep in Germany and creative studio Parasol Island—limited-edition mud masks for city Jeeps that don't get a chance to get dirty often enough.

    The Jeep Mud Masks  "contain exactly what a true offroad adventurer is missing in the city: 100 percent real dirt, as an expression of the desire to escape the daily grind and search for new adventures far off the beaten track," the brand tells AdFreak.

    Check out some product shots here:

    The launch comes with a black-and-white film featuring brand ambassador Elyas M'Barek and the Jeep Renegade. Watch that spot here:

    The Mud Masks are not for sale. Only 75 have been made, and Jeep fans must visit www.jeep.de and sign up for a chance to win one of the "exclusive adventurer beauty treatments."

    More pics below. 

    0 0

    Nicolas Vuignier, a professional skier from Switzerland, went skiing down a mountain while swinging an iPhone 6 above his head like a snow cowboy. Now he has over 3 million views on a video he uploaded last week. 

    Amazingly, no iPhones were harmed in the filming of this experiment, which yielded an insanely awesome 360° effect. Plus, it sells the video clarity and image-stabilization feature of the iPhone 6 better than anything Apple has come out with in a while.

    Consumers increasingly create content that sells products as well as, if not better than, their own brand marketing teams. (Sitting back and letting people submit their own videos is practically GoPro's entire marketing strategy.) iPhone itself has been using photos captured by consumers in print and outdoor ads for some time, but now that there's video of an amazing visual effect that anyone can create (once they master some basic lasso skills), Apple should be racing to slap its logo on it. 

    Now just one question remains: How many people will break their iPhones trying this?

    0 0

    The front cover of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue is trying to be a bit more progressive this year, with one of the three covers produced featuring plus-size model Ashley Graham. The back cover, meanwhile, is comically subversive, featuring an absurd send-up of the process of airbrushing, courtesy of Snickers.

    The ad, from BBDO New York, shows a model who's been (intentionally) Photoshopped to within an inch of her perfectly proportioned, well-tanned existence. But the retoucher has also screwed up a ton of stuff—because he or she was hungry, according to the brand message from Snickers.

    "Photo retouchers get CONFUSED when they're hungry," says the headline, featuring one of the brand's "Hunger Bars," which replace the Snickers name on the packaging with the names of hunger symptoms.

    See the full ad below. Click to enlarge. Snickers says there are 11 retouching errors in the image, and is asking fans to tweet at Snickers if they can find them all.

    Meanwhile, the candy brand also took over the inside back cover with a similar parody ad. This one shows a model being overly windblown by a wind machine, whose operator was also apparently hunger afflicted.

    This is the second year that Snickers and BBDO have taken over the back cover of the Swimsuit Issue. Last year's inspired execution featured Medusa—whom supermodels apparently act like when they're hungry.

    Intentional Photoshop fails in advertising are nothing new, of course—check out this fun Colgate work from a few years back.

    Credits for the new work below.

    Client: Snickers
    Titles: "Retoucher" and "Wind Machine"

    Agency: BBDO New York
    Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
    Chief Creative Office, New York: Greg Hahn
    Executive Creative Director: Gianfranco Arena
    Executive Creative Director: Peter Kain
    Senior Art Director: Florian MARQUARDT
    Senior Copywriter: Rodrigo Linhares
    Executive Art Producer: Betsy Jablow
    Project Producer: Albert Hajduk
    Print Producer: Len Rappaport

    Global Account Director: Susannah Keller
    Account Director: Josh Steinman
    Account Manager: Nick Robbins
    Planner: Alaina Crystal

    Photographer: Vincent Dixon

    0 0

    The venerable anti-smoking initiative Truth has tried just about everything to get people to stop smoking: edgy teens, cowboys with electronic voiceboxes, even earnest appeals to our health and vanity. Now they're pulling out the big guns.

    Truth now says smoking is putting our nation's cat videos at risk.

    According to the ad below from 72andSunny, animals are twice as likely to get cancer (and die younger) if their owners smoke. Thus, quitting smoking is critical to staving off #CATmageddon, guaranteeing successors to Internet sensations like Keyboard Cat, Lil' Bub, and Hamilton the Hipster ... creating a better world for us all.

    The logic is a bit tenuous—even in our dystopian present, there are 1.1 million cat channels on YouTube—but can you blame them? Heavy-handed realism and shaming have clearly run their course, so they might as well have some fun for a change. (Although if anyone from Truth is reading this, here's a tip: The smart money is in raccoon videos now.)

    0 0

    It's the third time around for Extra Gum, and things are suddenly getting real.

    The Wrigley's brand and Energy BBDO returned over Valentine's Day weekend with another tearjerker film, "A Second Chance." It tells the tale of Jessica, a young widowed mom, who reunites after many years with single dad Marcus, a friend she's known since kindergarten.

    In a change from the client-agency team's previous viral hits—"Origami," which focused on a dad and his young daughter, and "Sarah & Juan," which tracked a romance from high school through young adulthood—this outing features the real-life Jessica and Marcus, starring in their own true story and providing narration.

    "We set out to find couples to talk to us about love under the guise of shooting a travel documentary," Andrés Ordóñez, Energy BBDO executive creative director, tells AdFreak. "Once we found couples that felt right for the brand, we approached the guy separately about their relationship trajectory."

    And, as in the agency's previous Extra installments, gum wrappers play a key role in how the scenario unfolds.

    It's a sweet story, extremely well told by Sanctuary director Natalie Rae Robison. However, despite hitting all the right notes as the soft piano strains of "Can't Help Falling in Love" shimmer in the background, it feels a little familiar.

    "Oragami" and "Sarah & Juan" seemed minty fresh ind transcended their inherent emotional manipulation. There were surprising bits of business and heartwarming payoffs at the end. "A Second Chance" repeats that basic formula—but if you've seen the earlier ads, you pretty much know what to expect, so the impact is diminished.

    Hey, it's an Extra Gum video … we've sampled this before, haven't we?

    There is a certain novelty to casting real people, and Jessica and Marcus are a winning, exceedingly likable pair. "This couple have an incredible story that's inspiring and uplifting, because it is built on many years of small yet meaningful moments of connection," says John Starkey, vice president of U.S. gum and mints at Wrigley's.

    True, but their appearance gives the spot a reality-show vibe. They have a transformative tale of love and second chances at life … so, they sold it for 15 minutes of fame in a gum commercial? Doesn't that seem off somehow? (Then again, in our media-driven world, maybe that's living the dream.)

    "When you give a little extra of yourself, you get so much more in return," says Starkey. "And those small moments of sharing can lead to something even more meaningful. This is what we mean when we say, Give Extra, get extra.'"

    Ultimately, the film communicates that message, but here's a prediction: The engagement numbers won't approach the totals for the earlier videos. The flavor is starting to fade. Perhaps its time for Wrigley's to wrap up the three-hanky approach and move on.

    Client: Wrigley Extra Gum
    Title: "A Second Chance"

    Agency: Energy BBDO
    SVP Executive Creative Director: Andrés Ordóñez
    VP Creative Director: Pedro Pérez
    VP Creative Director: Josh Gross
    Illustrator: Mya Pagán
    Director of Integrated Production: Rowley Samuel
    Executive Producer: John Pratt
    Producer: Shobin Mathew
    Director of Music: Daniel Kuypers

    Managing Director: Jeff Adkins
    Client Service Director: Lianne Sinclair
    Account Director: Erin Welsh
    Senior Account Executive: Brittany Peskind
    Account Executive: Katheryn Batista
    Group Planning Director: Elke Anderle
    Digital Strategy Director: Zach Graham

    Production Company: Sanctuary
    Director: Natalie Rae Robinson
    Line Producer: Dennis Beier
    Executive Producer: Preston Lee

    Finish: Method Studios
    Colorist: Tyler Roth

    Music: "Can't Help Falling in Love."
    Vocals: Haley Reinhart
    Piano: Casey Abrams
    Record Label: ole Media Management L.P.

    Audio: Whiz Bang
    Audio Post: Sarah Krohn
    Audio Post Producer: Maria Hinders
    Executive Producer: Mitch Monzon

    Editorial Company: Beast Editorial
    Editor: Angelo Valencia
    Assistant Editor: Melissa Weinmann
    Senior Producer: Lauren Roth
    Executive Producer: Peter Hullinger

    Visual Effects: The Mill
    Colorist: Luke Morrison
    Color Assist: Mikey Pehanich
    Design Lead: Matt Darnall
    Design Artist: Adrian Navarro
    2D Lead: Randy McEntee
    2D Artist: Michael Sarabia
    Head of Production: Andrew Sommerville
    Producer: Adam Battista
    Producter: Grace Tober


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