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Animals act like people—and vice versa—in a singularly silly campaign introducing Tiny Toast, General Mills' first new breakfast cereal in nearly 15 years.
Created by an agency with an appropriately beastly name, New York's Walrus, the teen-targeted push casts critters as our benevolent overlords; humans are depicted as lower forms of life, addicted to Tiny Toast's real-fruit taste. (Hence the tagline "Humans can't resist.")
In this spot, for example, a horse does the whispering for a change:
Nice hoof-work there! Here's an explanation of the creative strategy, straight from the horse's mouth:
"Every animal has a food it can't resist—a food that will make it run faster, wade into danger, and do silly tricks," Alan Cunningham, client senior marketing manager, tells AdFreak.
"In these situations, it's usually a human feeding a horse a carrot, or a human setting out cheese for a mouse. We knew that flipping the script and having the animals in control would be a hilarious, eye-catching way for us to deliver the irresistible taste message."
In the next clip, tiny Homines sapientes pester a seagull who just wants to read the paper in peace:
"Everything was a gigantic costume except the horse, which was animatronic, and the costume makers did an amazing job," explains agency chief creative officer Deacon Webster. "The feathers were put in one by one ... it was painstaking, they really got into the details. For example, we really wanted the seagull to be wearing a Bluetooth because if seagulls were human, they'd obviously be the Bluetooth-wearing kind, so they made us a custom one—it actually lit up blue."
In the ad below, a couple gets a bird's-eye view of a situation that's long plagued our feathered friends:
"We ran these and the other concepts by groups of teens in the early stages and the 'Humans Can't Resist' campaign was the fave," Webster adds. "They really liked the idea that the animals were in the driver's seat. There was a bit of redemption story that they liked, given the way humans have used animals over the past few centuries."
To wit: An anthropomorphized sheep dispenses sheer delight … or maybe shear delight? Works either way:
"As you can imagine, casting for the sheep guy was highly amusing," Webster recalls. "They'd be on all fours in their underwear pretending to be shaved by a giant sheep, and we'd be like, 'Act like you're enjoying it more!'"
Designed to spark social sharing across mobile media, the campaign's four 15-second spots are appearing on Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and Spotify.
Client: General Mills
Brand: Tiny Toast
Marketing Director Channels & New Products Cereal: Chad Johnson
Senior Marketing Manager: Alan Cunningham
Associate Marketing Manager: Courtney Schroeder
Marketing Planner: Leigh Lovett
Sr. Producer Creative Content: Clint Allen
Chief Creative Officer: Deacon Webster
Copywriter: Alex Behles
Copywriter: Marco Diaddezio
Art Director: Elliott Graham
Art Director: Evan Vosburgh
Head of Integrated Production: Valerie Hope
Account Director: Clementine Barker
Account Executive: Stacey Skulnik
Senior Broadcast Producer: Christopher Thielo
Production Co. | Core Spots: Pet Gorilla
Director: Luc Schurgers
EP: Dominic Bernacchi
HOP: Kyle Hill
DP: Tim Burton
VFX on Set: Zak Stoltz
Line Producer: Jack Hogan
Production Co. | Product Tags: Crooked River Productions
Director: Walrus (In-house)
EP / Line Producer: Brian Bennhoff
VFX on Set: Alejandro USA
End Tags - Motion / Titles / Graphics: Alejandro Ussa
GIFs – Motion / Graphics: Jorge Morales
Editorial Company: THE NOW CORP
Editor: Jesse Reisner
EP: Nancy Finn
Associate Producer: Carrie Fleming
Colorist: Stephen Picano
Visual Effects Artist: John Shea @ Shea VFX
Audio Mix: The Sound Lounge
Mixer: Glen Landrum
EP: Mike Gullo
Sr. Producer: Kate Albers
Casting Director / Producer: Carrie Faverty
Producer: Liana Rosenberg
You've heard the adage that agencies should use their clients' products. It's the least you can do, if you're going to be selling them.
But what if you upped the stakes a little and made a social reality show out of it? One man. Five days. 15 brands ... and the ravages of nature.
That's the premise of Portland, Ore.-based Roundhouse's latest promo, "Living Off the Brands," for which copywriter Lee Kimball is spending five days in the wild, using only the brands the agency has on its roster ... which incidentally doesn't include any food accounts besides a chocolate brand. (OK, it does have Red Bull, and also Prisoner wine, which we have tried living on with middling success.)
Here's the list of brands from the press release:
• LA Galaxy
• Leupold Optics
• Red Bull
• Treehouse Chocolate
• Widmer Brothers
The promotion punctuates Roundhouse's 15th anniversary. Here's a nice spread of stuff Kimball has at his disposal. Maybe a water or beef jerky brand will join the club out of pity, and they can lower the wares to him like in Hunger Games:
Kimball was dropped off in Oregon's Lower Crooked River on Monday and is due to wrap his adventure up today. Watch him fish, forage and try making fire across a slew of social networks, where you could also provide feedback and advice: Facebook,Instagram,YouTube,Twitter,Periscope, Snapchat (roundhousepdx).
He's even socializing with the locals.
Valiance-wise, this ranks up there with Le Balene's 125-mile walk to a pitch, using the client's mobile technology. They made it, albeit with horrific blisters; we're rooting for Kimball, too.
It also doesn't escape us that his trip fell at the same time as the Republican National Convention, which is pleasingly ironic: While the Republican party struggles not to sell out to the bombastic wormhole presence of Donald Trump—at the risk of our nation!—Kimball must prove he's the ultimate sell-out, at the risk of light dehydration and heatstroke.
Domino's wants consumers to know it feels guilty about charging more for pizzas on the weekend, and it's trying hard to make things right.
For years, the fast-food chain has offered bargain pricing on Monday-to-Thursday carryout, charging $7.99 for a large three-topping pie. Now it's extending that deal to seven days a week, and launching an apology campaign from longtime agency CP+B, offering compensation to customers who've overpaid in the past.
Anyone who feels shortchanged can enter to win prizes like free pizza for a year (more accurately, five $100 gift cards, which is probably as much Domino's as anyone should eat in a year anyway).
Potential loot also includes more dubious paybacks, like a gift pack themed around the brand's old mascot, the Noid. (According to the TV spot, one guy got to spend a day with the red, antennaed pizza saboteur.) The luckiest among you can walk away with a giant neon Domino's sign for your living room, thus perfecting the atmosphere of strip mall chic you've always wanted.
Titled "Pizza Payback," the campaign marks a fun little promotion, building on the brand's recent history of presenting itself as honest—even when the truth about its own product might be brutal. Whether $7.99 is still too much to pay for a Domino's pie is a matter of taste, though if the company's U.K. operation is to be taken at its word, they're good enough to rob you of your ability to speak.
Regardless, anyone who avails themselves of the takeout deal will miss a chance to see Domino's new oven-on-wheels—though depending on your sense of visual sanctity, that might be a relief.
Platypi have always been our favorite example of the weirdness of evolution. And while we laugh, it's easy to forget that nature makes us the way we are for reasons we can't always gauge. Humans specifically have changed their habits so quickly that our bodies haven't quite had time to compensate.
That's why agency Clemenger BBDO Melbourne and Australia's Transport Accident Commission (TAC)—alongside artist Patricia Piccinini—created Graham, a human designed to withstand crash forces.
"Cars have evolved a lot faster than we have. Our bodies are just not equipped to handle the forces in common crash scenarios," says Dr. David Logan, a senior research fellow and safety engineer at Monash University, who briefed Piccinini on the project.
Graham looks so weird that we'll never be able to laugh at platypi again. At first glance, you'll notice a few major differences—his head is wide and flat, with a protruding forehead ... and he's got an awful lot of nipples.
See how, and why, he was made here:
"What excites me about this project is its relevance to our community," says Piccinini ... though that same relevance is also what makes this project depressing. Why would we need to evolve to withstand car accidents? Isn't that what better cars are for?
But that is hardly enough. According to Logan, in 50 percent of crashes, the car doesn't have time to brake. So, what happens to the body?
It depends on what kind of car you have. But this isn't really about that; it's about the speeds we've become accustomed to traveling.
The most significant point of injury is the head. Even when the head stops moving in an accident, the brain keeps advancing, slamming into the skull, then ricocheting off with traumatic force.
"We just don't appreciate, when we're talking about the forces in a car accident, that they're incredible. The strongest man cannot hold himself from going forward in a car accident," says Melbourne-based surgeon Christian Kenfield, who also briefed Piccinini.
A crash is about managing the energy that gets expelled and must be absorbed, both by car and driver. Graham's brain is just like ours, Piccinini explains, but his skull is thicker, with more room for cerebral fluid and ligaments to hold the brain in place—like shock absorbers.
This also explains Graham's scalloped nipple situation. (If, ever again at Thanksgiving, someone wonders aloud why men have nipples at all, you'll have some pretty cool speculative repartee.)
Our ribcages are designed to protect the inner organs, but don't absorb impacts well. "What we need to be thinking is airbag, rather than armour," says Kenfield.
Piccinini's upgraded ribcage includes protruding organic material that, when impacted, expels liquid, thereby absorbing the force of an accident (and justifying the need for more nipples. And possibly also for padded man-bras).
Check out the other elements of Graham on an interactive website, which also gives you nifty glimpses of what's going on under the hood:
"It's sad that we need to think of changing our body, just so that we can survive a motor vehicle crash," Kenfield laments.
A life-size Graham is being exhibited at the State Library of Victoria, then he'll do the rounds of Australia (ideally still with a seatbelt—one can never be too safe!).
As we buckle into our driver's seats, the memory of weird Graham will hopefully make us more mindful when the road looks clear and we're tempted to tick the speed up a little.
Below is Adweek's full Creative 100 list for 2015. Note: There are 118 individuals total, as 17 pairs of people and one trio were recognized as one entry each. Congrats to all the honorees.
• Abumrad, Jad— RadioLab and More Perfect
• Adams, Chris— Phenomenon
• Addario, Lynsey— Photojournalist
• Ahluwalia, Waris— Jewelry Artist / Fashion Designer / Actor
• Ansari, Aziz— Comedian / Actor / Writer
• Ashra, Nilesh— Wieden + Kennedy
• Avantaggio, Chris— The VIA Agency
• Baker, Nikki— GSD&M
• Bazarkaya, Toygar— Havas Worldwide
• Bee, Samantha— TV Host
• Benjamin, Jay— Saatchi & Saatchi
• Beyoncé— Musician / World Dominator
• Bloom, Rachel— Writer / Performer
• Bradlee, Scott— Postmodern Jukebox
• Brownstein, Carrie— Writer / Musician / Actor / Director
• Brunson, Quinta— BuzzFeed Motion Pictures
• Burstein, Nanette— Hungry Man
• Butler, Maryanne— Framestore
• Carey, John X.— Tool of North America
• Cartwright, Keith— Butler Shine Stern & Partners
• Cena, John— Actor / Wrestler
• Chance the Rapper— Musician
• Chang, Sarah— Violinist
• Chasnow, Adam— CP+B
• Chesnut, Donald— SapientNitro
• CK, Louis— Comedian / Actor
• Coogler, Ryan— Movie director
• Cooke, Rohan— Goodby Silverstein & Partners
• Corden, James— TV Host
• Costello, Karen— Deutsch
• Costello, Mike— Leo Burnett
• Credle, Susan— FCB
• Cuccinello, Dave— 180LA
• DiMarcantonio, Josh— Zambezi
• Dixon, Eamonn— AKQA
• Durkin, Ian— Vimeo
• Eslinger, Jose— Innocean USA
• Falusi, Corinna— Ogilvy & Mather
• Fieg, Ronnie— Sneaker Designer
• Figueroa, Patrick— Fallon
• Fishman, Hannah— DDB
• Gauthier, Andrew— BuzzFeed Motion Pictures
• Geddes, Nichole— Heat
• Gethard, Chris— TV Host
• Goldman, Alex— Reply All
• Graham, Ashley— Model / Body Image Activist
• Grech, Daniel— AKQA
• Greenwood, Jess— R/GA
• Guimaraes, Bianca— BBDO
• Harvey, Pete— barrettSF
• Hasson, Kai— Portal A
• Hawley, Noah— Producer / Writer
• Hershfield, Bobby— SS+K
• Ianno, Joey— Barton F. Graf
• Ijeoma, Ekene— Artist / Interaction Designer
• Jayne, Samantha— Illustrator / Art Director / Writer
• Jeffery, Colin— David&Goliath
• Judge, Mike— Director / Producer / Writer
• Kaplan, Michael— Costume Designer
• Kapur, Priti— McCann
• Karlsson, Linus— Ming Utility and Entertainment Group; Commonwealth/McCann
• Keene, Margaret— MullenLowe
• Keller, Andrew— Facebook
• Kneale, Angus— The Mill New York
• Lauría, Gustavo— We Believers
• Leccia, Laurent— Fred & Farid
• Lefebure, Pum— Design Army
• Lefebvre, Pete— Leo Burnett
• Levine, Carissa— Innocean USA
• Liberti, Gabe— Dave & Gabe
• Linn, Kimberly— Pitch
• Littlejohn, David— Humanaut
• Lorenzo, Lixaida— Mistress
• Maki, Paula— mono
• Matejczyk, John— Muh-tay-zik Hof-fer
• McConnell, Christine— Photographer / Baker / Model
• Milk, Chris— Here Be Dragons
• Milrany, Stacy— Publicis
• Miranda, Lin-Manuel— Actor / Writer / Composer
• Mollá, Joaquin— the community
• Mollá, José— the community
• Nowak, Alexander— Droga5
• Nyong'o, Lupita— Actor
• Oldfield, Avery— Venables Bell & Partners
• Petruccelli, Laura— Goodby Silverstein & Partners
• Povill, David— 180LA
• Ramos, Anselmo— David
• Ribeiro, Paulo— Wieden + Kennedy
• Richter, Felix— Droga5
• Rife, Dave— Dave & Gabe
• Ripol, José— DigitasLBi
• Robinson, Jaime— Joan Creative
• Robinson, Phoebe— 2 Dope Queens
• Rogala, James— 360i
• Salzano, Samantha— DigitasLBi
• Schulman, Kori— The White House
• Schulson, Lora— 72andSunny
• Shaffer, Leslie— GSD&M
• Shrum, Marissa— Mother
• Singh, Lilly— YouTube Star
• Smith, Matty— Barton F. Graf
• Theuma, Corel— 360i
• Unseld, Saschka— Oculus Story Studio and Passion Pictures
• Vandeven, Debbi— VML
• Vayntrub, Milana— Actor / Director / Activist
• Verderi, Ferdinando— Johannes Leonardo
• Vogt, PJ— Reply All
• Vojta, Daniela— McCann
• Walker, Kara— Artist
• Walsh, Jessica— Sagmeister & Walsh
• Weir, Harley— Photographer
• Weiss, Emily— Into the Gloss and Glossier
• Williams, Jesse— Actor / Racial Equality Activist
• Williams, Jessica— 2 Dope Queens
• Wolf, Alexandra— Bossbabe
• Wolinsky, Adam— Venables Bell & Partners
• Wu, Constance— Actor
• Young, Susan— McCann
This story first appeared in the July 25, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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Last year's inaugural edition of the Creative 100 featured 40 agency creatives—broken down into 10 chief creative officers and 30 rank-and-file creatives.This year we've expanded the agency section to 50 creatives (pairs and groups of three count as one entry)—and put them all together, junior and senior talent, into this one list.
We've also dug deeper to find younger talent whose names you might not know, but whose work you've undoubtedly seen over the past year. They sit side by side here with some U.S.-based global chief creative officers—showing a full range of exceptional talent from literally entry-level people to global network chiefs.
What unites all of them is a passion for the work, an incessant curiosity about the world and marketing's evolving role in it, and some serious creative chops—from wonderfully unique, clever, business-changing ideas to remarkable executional ability. (Also, they are honored equally on this list—the order does not indicate a ranking.)
Congrats to all the honorees, whose work is the envy of the agency business.
Executive Creative Director
Muh-tay-zik Hof-fer, San Francisco
A veteran of Y&R, Goodby Silverstein (twice), Fallon, BBH, TBWA\Chiat\Day and 180LA, Matejczyk in 2009 opened Muh-tay-zik Hof-fer, which has produced breakthrough work for Google, Netflix, Audi and AAA. "There is always a way," he says. "A way to pull it off, a way to make a brand fresh, a way to solve a problem. The best work is always the result of persistence." That dogged approach crosses styles and mediums, from the Super Bowl (for SoFi) to the murkier corners of the internet. Recent hits include turning wifi network names at the New York Auto Show into Audi attack ads on BMW; holding a 24-hour video-game auto race on Twitch for Audi (synced to the real-life Le Mans race); celebrating glorious messes for cleaning brand Method; and Periscoping a guinea pig whose movements in a cardboard box amusingly advised college kids whether to study or watch Netflix.
•Rohan Cooke and Laura Petruccelli
Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco
This Australian pair arrived from Grey Melbourne in 2014 and have been integral to several remarkable GS&P campaigns. They dreamed up Sonic's exquisite "Square Shakes"—milkshakes designed for, and sold on, Instagram. They also worked on the sobering "Unacceptable Acceptance Letters" campaign about sexual assault on campus. They like to take cultural tensions and flip them to find something new. "Instagram was made for food, so why not make a food for Instagram? Students upload happy films of the moment they open their college acceptance letters, but would they be this happy if they knew that one in five [college women] would be sexually assaulted?" Petruccelli says. Adds Cooke: "We challenge ourselves to collect insights every day in everything we do. There's really no excuse when the internet shares millions of them every second. When you match the right one with the right brief, you get the rare opportunity to make a little piece of culture yourself."
Global Chief Creative Officer
Advocate of the everlasting, enemy of the ephemeral, FCB's new global CCO is steering her agency toward what she calls "Never Finished Ideas." "I am most proud of ideas that endure," Credle says. "Too often we define success one creative execution at a time. That's a very short-term measurement considering what our amazing industry is capable of." A "Never Finished Idea" is one that can be expressed in a multitude of ways over long periods of time, creating richer equity and lasting returns for brands. "The comedic ensemble that is the M&M's characters, Secret deodorant's 'Mean Stinks' anti-bullying work and Allstate's Mayhem campaign are all examples of this kind of thinking," Credle says. "At FCB, our work for Nivea Sun is becoming a Never Finished Idea. Never Finished Ideas are all around us. As an industry, we need the vision and the patience to invest in them."
•Alexander Nowak and Felix Richter
Group Creative Directors
Droga5, New York
These two GCDs are enjoying a creative run perhaps unmatched in U.S. advertising today. Their Under Armour campaigns with Gisele Bündchen and Michael Phelps won Grand Prix at successive Cannes festivals (and has also won a gold Clio), and "The Piccards" for Hennessy is one of the most visually beguiling spots of the decade—a mix of "complex storytelling and transcendental undertones," according to Richter. "We enjoy the executional part of our job just as much as the conceptual one," he adds. Nowak says the goal is simple: "We always try to make work that makes you feel something." That mix of craft and emotion has made them stars at an agency that isn't short on talent. "Alex and Felix are two of my favorite thinkers and instigators," says David Droga. "Not just for their pure creativity but for their incredible intellect and relentlessness. Good people who make good things for good reasons."
Chief Creative Officer
Joan Creative, New York
Robinson—who started out as a writer at Mad Dogs & Englishmen, got famous at Pereira & O'Dell (for Intel and Toshiba's multiple Grand Prix winner "The Beauty Inside") and rose to lead Wieden + Kennedy New York's creative department—has enjoyed a new challenge lately: opening her own shop, Joan Creative, with Lisa Clunie. "Picking the name and creating branding for our new agency has been one of the most thrilling things ever," she says. As they get the place up and running (General Mills is their first account), Robinson has a simple philosophy for creative management: "A little warmth and generosity can really help bring out maximum creativity in others. And it pays dividends—the more open and optimistic people you can bring into the process, the more you new and exciting things you can discover. That's why a lot of the work I've been involved with has had some kind of participatory element."
Chief Creative Director
Humanaut, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Littlejohn caught the invention bug as a CP+B copywriter in late '00s, working on brand projects like Domino's Pizza Tracker and Best Buy Twelpforce. He opened Humanaut in 2013 as a "brand invention agency" to invent products and help other brands launch things the world has never seen. Among its more notable projects: introducing SodaStream's newest bottle-saving home sodamaker during the Super Bowl, and crafting hilarious viral spots for Organic Valley, including "Save the Bros.""If you want to be truly innovative, you have to assume you don't already know the answer to the problem," says Littlejohn, who pushes his team to "experiment, fail and learn as quickly as possible." He adds: "Getting to help brands innovate that are actually doing good in the world, like Organic Valley, is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done."
•Avery Oldfield and Adam Wolinsky
Art Director and Copywriter
Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco
A grad school professor told this young pair that everything they make should surprise or delight. "We try not to disappoint him too badly," they say now. Their recent work has been particularly undisappointing—including REI's smash hit #OptOutside, the anti-Black Friday campaign that won the coveted Titanium Grand Prix (and a Promo Grand Prix) at Cannes last month. "Being in advertising, it was a pretty amazing and bizarre experience to work on a campaign whose sole purpose was to not sell anything," Wolinsky and Oldfield say. In addition to making Thumbtack's first national TV and out-of-home campaign, the pair are also proud of their 2015 Google spot about a gym for transgender men in Kansas City. Their approach to most projects is simple: "We just throw stuff out until we hit a wall. Then we either go for a walk, or look at dogs on Instagram. Sometimes both."
Executive Creative Director
MullenLowe, Los Angeles
"Who needs Tinder when you've got tasty food? It's always been the best aphrodisiac." That trusim led Keene to make one of 2016's most viral ads, Knorr's "Love at First Taste." And it wasn't her only food-themed triumph this year. During the Super Bowl, she had client California Avocados post Twitter videos showing how avocados can pair with food and drink brands advertising on the game (from Budweiser to Snickers). Keene, who started her career as the switchboard operator at Chiat/Day (and was once Lee Clow's creative assistant), also works on Acura and Patrón. Among her tips for creatives: "Try hard to find out what makes people tick, and build something real from that. Don't be precious about the work. Be willing to beat it up to get to a better place. Make something your mom, your dad, your kid, your dog likes. Make work that matters to real people."
Executive Creative Director
Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Sausalito, Calif.
Earlier this year, BSSP acquired Union Made Creative, the shop Cartwright had founded and run as chief creative officer four years earlier, and no wonder. The boutique was doing top-notch work for clients like GE, eBay, Nike, Chipotle and Lego—for which it made the fantastic girl-power anthem "Keep Building" in 2014. Cartwright himself brought a history of working on other top brands, including Jordan at Wieden + Kennedy. At BSSP, he's been part of a major creative win on Uber and helped the agency add work from Allergan and PowerBar. "Part of our responsibility is figuring out how to infuse culturally relevant thinking into what our clients make and do," he says. "So how do we do that in a way that's nimble and current and doesn't ignore the basic principle of our business, which has been and will always be about narrative, stories and ideas?"
•Jose Ripol and Samantha Salzano
Copywriter and Senior Art Director
DigitasLBi, New York
Failure as a kind of success is a cliché in the creative arts. But for this young team, it was suddenly and literally true—they turned a big disappointment into an even bigger triumph. The Orange Rose they created as a symbol of maternal health fell short at Cannes Young Lions in 2015, but was picked up and used this past Mother's Day by Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit run by Christy Turlington Burns. "It was an idea we thought would never become a reality. Being able to bring it to life was a big deal for us," says Salzano. "The idea of using my skills for campaigns that can truly impact the lives of others was something I dreamed of ever since I was in college," adds Ripol. To use another cliché, these two creatives rely on both inspiration and perspiration. "There's something to be said about your subconscious … Sometimes sleeping on it really pays off," says Ripol. Adds Salzano of her approach: "Make things that people want. Stay weird. And work really fucking hard."
Johannes Leonardo, New York
An Italian based in New York, Verderi sees the audience—which is constantly reinterpreting and reappropriating ideas—as a medium and not a destination for advertising. "For that reason, I am attracted to ideas that act as open questions as opposed to closed statements, that expose contradictions as opposed to selling self-proclaimed truths, and that provoke a paradigm shift in how we look at things as opposed to reinforcing the perspective we wish to believe in," he says. Expressions of this approach include Verderi's "Future" campaign for Adidas Originals, which challenges the status quo of a dystopian future. Self-taught, and with an academic background well outside advertising, Verderi subverted typical publishing with another recent project—a book about Jefferson Hack that he co-edited, art directed and designed in a limited edition of 5,000 copies, each with its own unique cover. "I saw it as a challenge to the idea of creative control that the fashion industry usually imposes on its image making," he says. "We did the opposite of what a retrospective project is expected to do: Instead of respectfully placing these precious images from archives on the cover, we disrespectfully let a machine hack them to create something new, and instead of talking about one person's past, we talked about the future of a generation."
VP of Strategy
R/GA, New York
An ex-journalist, Greenwood takes a story-driven approach to help brands navigate the chaotic intersection of brand strategy, content and creativity. She has overseen strategy for clients like Nike, Verizon, Tiffany and Samsung and now leads R/GA's 40-person activation strategy team. In the past, strategists mostly had to be clever, she says. Today, they have to be helpful, in ways that are ever changing—using constant learning and collaboration to keep up with "the platforms, the behaviors, the cultures and the currencies" that clients need to know. Aside from brand work, Greenwood is also a founding member of Papel e Caneta, a global creative and strategy collective for social good, through which she co-created #asktransfolks, a social video project where anyone can ask a question about the trans experience and get a personal reply. The end game? "To create a world that's a little kinder and safer for all of us," she says.
Chief Creative Officer
Phenomenon, Los Angeles
Adams and his agency were the creative force behind the rollout of one of the year's most fascinating tech products—the Wilson X Connected Basketball. Phenomenon named it, developed the graphic ID on the ball, and designed the packaging, website, UX/UI for the mobile app and the ad campaign that launched it. "It's all the stuff we love to do, all brought together in one beautiful and incredibly fun-to-use product," Adams says. The TBWA and Saatchi veteran ran his own boutique, adams&partners, before the jump to Phenomenon. "I'm a pretty optimistic person, so I'm never looking to kill ideas," he says of his creative approach. "I'm always looking for ideas I can fall in love with. When I see them, whether it's a fully formed idea or just a scrap, I can usually see the potential for how the conversation will play out across all kinds of media."
•Paulo Ribeiro and Nilesh Ashra
Co-Directors of The Lodge
Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
The coolest part of one of the world's coolest agencies? It might just be The Lodge at W+K. Its 20 rogue experimenters, led by Ashra and Ribiero, are rethinking how creativity and technology meet—via things like hardware engineering, experience design, CG, VR and AI. Their work often just feels magical. For example: the functioning Verizon network they built inside the video game Minecraft; the musical-paper project Soundsketch; their Slackbot named Mimic; or their little furry robot, Needybot, that roams W+K talking to people. "We've been trying [innovative tech] for years with some amazing successes—Chalkbot, Old Spice Responses. Now in The Lodge we are focusing on just that," Ribiero says. Ashra adds: "We've assembled curious-minded experts in machine learning, interaction design, real-time graphics, architecture, sensor technology and other emergent parts of technology that we think could blow up how everything in the world works."
Associate Creative Director
Heat, San Francisco
A little humor goes a long way—at the agency, and in the work—according to this ACD, whose "Be Slightly Adventurous" campaign for Hotwire and "Madden: The Movie" idea for EA showed formidable comic chops. "People remember the things that made them laugh, things that entertain them," Geddes says. "So often, advertising can get to you, but as long as we know we are making commercials and not trying to win a Nobel Prize, we can keep it all in perspective." The five-year Heat veteran—whose extracurriculars include mothering "a sassy 80-pound ball of fur" named Kaiyuh and tending to "a pretty insane stamp collection"—says this year has been all about getting bigger, both for Adweek's Breakthrough Agency of the Year and the work she's doing for it. "I feel really lucky our clients keep letting me make the bigger, weirder and crazier ideas for their campaigns," she says.
Chief Creative Officer, Ming Utility and Entertainment, New York
Creative Chairman, Commonwealth/McCann
More than 25 years into his career, Karlsson is enjoying a creative renaissance. He and Paul Malmstrom, aka "the Swedes," stormed America in 1996, electrifying Fallon before co-founding Mother New York. After serving as McCann's global CCO for several years, Karlsson is now creative chairman on its global Chevrolet business—and has started Ming, a creative shop at the intersection of design, technology and entertainment. He is thrilled to be writing again, and Ming is finding its identity with clients like Swire Group, Ikea, Polaroid and Smith Optics—for which he produced an amusing series of anti-marketing fishing spots."To some of my blue-collar friends back home I am a 'fantasizer.' I love that," Karlsson says. "Imagination is the most important thing in the world. Combined with stubbornness and a drive to get things done, [it's] what changes the world." He adds: "I haven't felt stronger, clearer and more creative in my entire career. My head literally explodes every day, thinking of what's possible."
Associate Creative Director
BBDO, New York
Like so many talented creatives, this young Brazilian—a rising star at BBDO following five years at JWT—is often driven by insecurity. "The truth is that every time I'm done with a project, there's that feeling that there is something I could've done better, but that pushes me to keep improving my ideas and the way they're executed," she says. Her ideas and executions have been top-notch lately. Triumphs include "Invisible Faces" for the NYPD Missing Persons Bureau, which put actual missing people's faces on storefront mannequins; "Fit Nesting Dolls" for CrossFit chain Brick to show how you'll slim down; and particularly, her Autism Speaks work—including the gorgeous 3-D stop-motion "World of Autism" animations. As for her downtime? "I like to play volleyball as a way to distract my mind and give it a rest," she says. "That definitely helps me stay creatively fresh."
Associate Creative Director
The VIA Agency, Portland, Maine
A former pro snowboarder and onetime CP+B intern, Avantaggio has been with VIA since 2007. This year he won his first One Show Pencil (a silver) for art directing a series of Greenpeace illustrations of tuna fish—filled with graphic scenes of unsustainable fishing practices and human rights abuses. "I like to approach every project with a strong consideration for striking visuals and concise messaging," he says. Among his other favorite work of late: a website redesign for Maine Beer Company that put stories first and the beer second; a full branding and identity project for Portland's Press Hotel; and a TV campaign for Perdue Chicken featuring real employees in a real chicken house. He also runs a successful side business as founder and creative director of the Maine lifestyle brand LiveME, whose clothing and other merchandise are becoming ubiquitous across the state.
Chief Creative Officer
Design Army, Washington, D.C.
Lefebure, who came to the U.S. as a foreign exchange student from Thailand, opened Design Army with her husband Jake in 2003. From the beginning, they were extremely selective about the clients and projects they take in. "I believe you can't do epic shit for basic people," Pum says. Among the epic shit she's produced lately is the gorgeously hip and quirky "Our Family Knows Glasses" spot for Georgetown Optician. "At Design Army we are known for our unique point of view, and the best combinations of beauty and wit," Lefebure says. "Every single element in this film was carefully planned. Beauty IS the detail. Design IS the idea." Of her creative approach, she adds: "It has always been vital to keep reinventing myself over and over and to never loose sight of the aesthetic/vocabulary that I have built. As a designer, you have to have a distinct point of view."
Chief Creative Officer
David&Goliath, Los Angeles
Few car guys have had as much advertising success as Colin Jeffery. After overseeing Volkswagen at Arnold, the South Africa native moved to D&G in 2006 and soon created the Kia hamsters, which have starred in some of the most viewed spots of all time (and have won multiple Effie awards). The ex-TBWA Hunt Lascaris and Saatchi Singapore creative is also proud of Kia's "The Truth" campaign, which had LeBron James respond directly to tweets skeptical that he drove a Kia (he does); and the world-record 80-foot-tall Jack in the Box coupon he hung from a building on on Sunset Boulevard. "I ask lots of questions. The more questions you ask, the more likely you are to discover something truly unexpected," he says of his process. "People aren't sitting around waiting for your next ad. Be surprising. Tell them something they don't already know. Show them something they haven't seen before."
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Pitch, Los Angeles
For Linn, it's all about the visuals. "As an art director by trade, the creative process for me, nine out of 10 times, begins with a single key image that will help tell a story," she says. The former Dentsu and FCB creative has been telling stories at Pitch since 2013, and is particularly fond of her work for Netflix's Orange Is the New Black and Pepsi's 1893 soda. For the OITNB spots,"everything was shot first-person POV to put viewers in the shoes of Litchfield's newest inmate. We hid Easter eggs in each spot for superfans that led to some pretty great digital activations," she says. For 1893, she created the Soda Sommelier character, who "elevated the product while making fun of the artisanal/craft foodie trend." The most compelling ideas, Linn says, "are generally the ones that can be explained in a sentence or two. For me, it just so happens to begin with an image, and then a sentence."
Executive Creative Director
Deutsch, Los Angeles
Costello pulled off one of the great high-wire acts in advertising this year—Deutsch's live music video for Target starring Gwen Stefani that aired in real time on the Grammys. "The bravery that idea took to execute is staggering," Costello says. "It was unbelievably hard. Unbelievably risky. And unbelievably rewarding. … I'm lucky, honored and pinch myself every day that I get to partner with clients like Target." Costello, who also works on Zillow and the Georgia-Pacific brands Angel Soft and Vanity Fair, was the 12th employee hired at Deutsch L.A. office, back in 1997. She's seen it all at the agency, and found a balance in the work. "Be brave but not reckless," she says. "I love doing things that haven't been done before. But ideas should always be grounded in a true human insight and based on real consumer needs or desires. That's the 'not reckless' part."
Chief Creative Officer
Ramos's remarkable run of Burger King work includes 2014's "Proud Whopper" (which last year won a Grand Clio Award) and this year's "Whopper Sign," which got fans to come up with sign language for the Whopper on National American Sign Language Day. David also contributed to Y&R's world-beating "McWhopper" campaign, and got into the Super Bowl with the adorable Heinz Ketchup weiner dogs. Other hits include the "Man Boobs" PSA, made with David's Buenos Aires office. "We look for firsts," Ramos says. "Firsts are uncomfortable, time-consuming and don't come with any guarantees. … At the same time, firsts generate stronger emotional connections and more views and clicks." The agency doesn't wait for client briefs, either. "Each brand is an open brief," Ramos says. "We can sometimes become a pain in the ass to our clients, and sometimes they tell us to get lost. But at the end of the day, they appreciate it. I just want to do something my Aunt Maria Lucia will understand and forward to her friends."
Mother, New York
Shrum is a cultural excavator, tapping into movements big and small—everything from female body image to the convergence of dance subcultures in New York and New Orleans—to inform her creative and strategy work for clients like Microsoft and Target's Style business. Recent successes include Target's #NOFOMO self-love and personal confidence campaign for summer, and Microsoft's "One Million Square Feet of Culture" creative community building project. "Love comes first," Shrum says of the work. "Loving people, loving culture. Being fascinated by, curious about and obsessed with the ugly, embarrassing parts the weird parts just as much as the fun, silly and pretty parts of people and society. Loving people enough that you want to use your resources to help them. That Mary J. Blige real love. For your team, for the community you want to connect with, for the brand."
Executive Creative Director
barrettSF, San Francisco
Harvey's background is partly in entertainment (he launched Arnold's branded entertainment division a decade ago), and few recent ads have been as entertaining as barrettSF's "Sports Alphabet" for Bleacher Report—26 differently styled animations, one for each letter, set to a rap song about sports by Blackalicious. His work has also gotten amusingly weird—including ads for the California Redwood Association with a talking plank of wood as spokesman. Harvey's advice is simple: Be curious, and have fun. "This isn't rocket surgery," he says. "Our job is to fill up a blank page with a unique thought. As far as jobs go, that's about as good as it gets." He's also added some levity to the current election season—creating "Pieces of Shit For Trump," which involved placing tiny pro-Trump signs in piles of actual dog shit around San Francisco. "Unfortunately," he says, "the campaign was wildly successful."
•Daniela Vojta, Priti Kapur and Susan Young
Executive Creative Directors
McCann, New York
Who better to help close the gender gap in science than three talented advertising women—from Rio de Janeiro, Delhi and Minneapolis—working together on Microsoft? Their "Girls Do Science" and "Make What's Next" campaigns for the tech giant, as well as the "Why can't girls code?" spots for the nonprofit Girls Who Code, are insightful, inspiring manifestos for the cause. "I enjoy stereotypes being busted, whether gender, racial, cultural or in advertising," says Kapur. "It probably has something to do with the fact that I am a foreigner, a woman in advertising, left handed and seriously nocturnal." Adds Vojta: "Between the three of us, we can pretty much run a little global agency. We work incredibly hard and set the bar really high, but it doesn't feel like work because we really enjoy each other's company and ideas flow really well." "Creative endurance is what we preach," says Young. "No matter what kind of obstacles get in the way, we're all about finding new solves that we love just as much as the original idea. Or at least, almost as much." • Photo: Katie Henry, McCann NY
•Joey Ianno and Matty Smith
Barton F. Graf, New York
Barton F. Graf's Supercell work has been supercharged for years. But Ianno and Smith, five-year veterans of the shop, stepped things up this year with a 360° video for Clash of Clans and an integrated campaign and media takeover for Boom Beach that began offline and culminated with the reveal of a super weapon inside the game itself. The pair's creative philosophies are certainly intriguing. Says Smith: "Always listen to that little creative voice inside your head that's telling you what to do. For me, that voice is [VCU Brandcenter professor] Mark Fenske's, which means I usually start the creative process by grilling bratwursts and watching a White Sox game. Once I'm done doing that, then I get to work." Adds Ianno: "Try to do a blimp execution first. Everybody hates campaigns centered around blimps. Then in the second round, when you come in with something that is not blimp related, it seems like a big step up."
T-Mobile added 11 million new customers and jumped from fourth to third in the wireless category over the past year, much of it thanks to the "Un-carrier" campaign, which Milrany leads at Publicis. "We make 30-40 spots a year," says the ex-Goodby Silverstein creative, who credits her team for bringing "the same problem-solving creativity to round 19 as they do to round 1, and that makes all the difference." A self-described "recovering perfectionist," Milrany has learned the value of mistakes. "I have a quote taped to my wall that says, 'Make 100 things. 50 you have to like a lot. 50 you have to hate,' " she says. "I apply that quote to every creative arena in my life—including advertising. You've got to fight for the ideas you love, but it's good to remember the crap ideas are crucial to uncovering the great ones. Plus, it makes the creative process more fun. And having fun is something else that's crucial if you're going to create something that's worth anything."
•James Rogala and Corel Theuma
These two CDs spearheaded a pair of fascinating projects this year. For "Canon Photo Coach," they put up digital billboards in highly photographed areas and gave real-time tips—based on light, weather, time, etc.—to the amateur photographers taking pics there. For the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, they invented Adaptoys, the first adapted versions of popular toys that allow people with paralysis to engage in active play with their families. It's not just about having a great idea, they say. "Good things come to those who hustle. Great work rarely just falls out of an assignment. You have to keep finding little nuggets to turn into great ideas." Also, they add, rethinking an approach because of constraints can actually make the work stronger. "The challenge is to avoid complicating a smart, simple idea just to make it feel more expansive."
Chief Creative Officer of the Americas
The longtime BBDO exec joined Havas last year to strengthen its creative work and help its North and South American offices collaborate better in a changing business. "One thing will never change—we are an idea-driven industry that solves problems," he says. "What has changed dramatically is the tools at our disposal. Data, cognitive technology, entertainment and a new breed of talent demand a new way of collaborating that our industry has not seen yet. There is no doubt that those who don't embrace it will fall behind." Among the recent Havas projects he is proud of: the Most Interesting Man in the World's farewell for Dos Equis and the Sony project "Bob Dylan: Studio A Revisited.""We made a legend relevant to a younger generation that couldn't care less," he says. "We created everything within the four walls of Havas New York. Fast, inexpensive and great. Yes, it's possible."
•Carissa Levine and Jose Eslinger
Associate Creative Directors
Innocean USA, Los Angeles
Making your first Super Bowl spot is exciting. Seeing it hit No. 1 on USA Today's Ad Meter is ridiculous. Eslinger and Levine enjoyed just such a charmed life this winter with Hyundai's "First Date" starring Kevin Hart, selected from 600 concepts at the agency. "When we sold our idea through, it already felt like a major victory. When it went on to win first place, our minds were blown," Levine says. The pair have been together for five years across four agencies. "It's hard to find someone you can stand being around for 10-plus hours daily. Day after day after day," says Eslinger. "When you find your creative soulmate, you'd best hold on to them. Because that's when magic happens." And for these two, magic often means comedy. "I think it's in our DNA to try to make it funny," they say. "I guess deep down inside we must've been clowns in a past life. Not the creepy kind."
Managing Creative Director
mono, San Francisco
Maki's first employer, Ken Pentel, lost the 1998 Minnesota governor's race to a pro wrestler, but Maki didn't sour on sports as result. In fact, she likens creative leadership in advertising—she's since worked at Fallon and mono in Minneapolis—to being a personal trainer. "Creativity, like fitness, is a journey and doesn't just happen overnight," she says. "Not everyone is at the same skill level and shouldn't be treated as such. But with a little coaching and focus, everyone has the potential to do things they never thought possible." Maki is proud of award-winning projects she's done for Blu Dot ("The Real Good Experiment" and "Swap Meet"), Target ("The Everyday Collection Tweet-to-Runway Show"), Holiday Inn ("The Business Guys") and MSNBC ("Lean Forward"). "But the work I'm most proud of right now is opening and growing mono's first outpost in San Francisco," she says.
Chief Creative Officer
Saatchi & Saatchi, New York
Benjamin's openness to change might account for the impressive range of work Saatchi New York is doing these days. "If you are curious, and if you want to keep getting better, your [creative] philosophy evolves every day," he says. "At the moment I would say mine is this: Find the truth. Be brave in how you tell it. Dive headfirst into the unknown." Recent highlights include Pampers' #BetterForBaby platform, Walmart's "Greenlight a Vet" movement, and the Lucky Charms "Marshmallow Only" contest—offering 10 boxes of the magically delicious cereal with only marshmallows, no toasted oats. Benjamin also likes a little chaos in his department. "I try to leave room for people to bring their own unique perspectives to all the work we do," he says. "That's what makes creative departments really interesting. Clashes of culture, taste and senses of humor keep the work from getting dull."
•Nikki Baker and Leslie Shaffer
GSD&M, Austin, Texas
Baker and Shaffer, who lead creative on Southwest Airlines and Walgreens Beauty, try not to take themselves, or the job, too seriously. "This should be fun," they say. "We all just want to make good stuff, so we try to put our heads down, do that, and not be assholes about it. Don't get us wrong, we definitely get moody, but wine usually helps." And the work? "We aren't making art. We are hired to create work that drives business, and that isn't going to be a pure artistic process." Luckily, they have side projects (a weekly podcast called Last Week's Balls, a screenplay and TV pilot in the works) and fun client work—including the Southwest rebrand (comically, each claims to have coined the word "Transfarency") and the Walgreens Beauty web series "Kate & Heather," which is produced entirely by women. That latter fact wasn't intentional. "That said, you definitely feel the absence of males in the work in the best way—these insights are real," the say. "Women watch these videos and tag their friends: 'This is so you!' 'This is so us!' Doesn't get much better than that."
Fred & Farid, New York
Leccia was the creative lead on one of the most intriguing campaigns of 2015—a movie sponsored by Remy Cointreau, shot by Robert Rodriguez and starring John Malkovich that won't be seen for 100 years, when the brand's Louis XIII cognac bottled today is finally ready to be opened. It's an audacious idea, but fully in keeping with Leccia's creative approach. "Big ideas are always built on a universal/human insight, supported by solid storytelling," he says. "We built our communication on a universal insight: inaccessibility, and how it creates curiosity, desire and sometimes envy. Louis XIII cognac takes 100 years to be crafted. We thought its communication should do the same." The Corsica native adds: "Without showing a single image of the actual movie, we got the world's attention. … We created a unique brand platform based on a product truth. We knew everybody would be interested in something they can't see, as it's terribly human."
Chief Creative Officer
Ogilvy & Mather, New York
A native of Germany, Falusi spent a decade at StrawberryFrog before arriving at Ogilvy, where she was named New York CCO last year. "I am a delusional optimist. I believe anything is possible. Every time, again and again," she says of her approach to creativity. She's proudest of three recent campaigns—Coke Zero's drinkable advertising, offering product samples through everything from billboards to TV and radio spots; Philips Norelco's videos with stylist Mark Bustos giving free haircuts to the homeless; and TypeVoice, created for the Webby Awards, which allows users to make a custom typeface simply by speaking. All of it required the chaos of collaboration. "Everybody wants to find ideas that are different," Falusi says. "The best way to get there is working with a wide mix of talent and personalities. Combine a neurotic typographer with an egocentric coder and wonderful things can happen."
•José and Joaquin Mollá
Chief Creative Officers
the community, Miami
The Molla brothers opened their cross-cultural agency in 2001 (they sold it to SapientNitro in 2014) and currently work with brands including Verizon, BMW, Google, Converse, Corona and Modelo Especial. Their strength, first and foremost, is knowing what they don't know. "Yes, we have experience, but if you pretend to know everything you'll never get to the unexpected," they say. "It's not about having all the answers, but asking the right questions to get to what's happening culturally right now. That's how you keep brands interesting." Their favorite recent work includes a Verizon campaign to make prepaid cool for millennials, and Corona's "Dear Summer" work. Oh, and a little campaign called "Never Stop Riding" for the City of Buenos Aires' 24-hour bike program—which happened to win a Grand Prix at Cannes, as well as multiple golds at the Clio Awards. "We're just hungry minds, fed by curiosity," the brothers say. "We celebrate intuition."
Executive Creative Director
DDB, New York
Passionate about making work that moves society forward, Fishman had a big hit with her #SelfAcceptanceSpeech campaign for Johnson & Johnson's Clean & Clear during MTV's Video Music Awards last August—with real teen girls talking about how they love themselves. "Literally within moments after the spot aired, teen girls started creating their own self-acceptance speech content on Twitter and Instagram using our hashtag," she says. "Nothing gets me more excited than making work like this that inspires an audience to evolve and own a conversation that we started." The ex-Edelman Digital creative, who also oversees creative for Electrolux, not only wants to tap into culture but create it through the work. "I love how the channel lines have blurred," she says, "and a brief for a TV spot can actually be an incredible opportunity to activate a powerful social movement."
Chief Creative Officer
We Believers, New York
Lauría and his 2-year-old agency became instantly famous for the edible six-pack rings they invented for Saltwater Brewery—a biodegradable replacement for plastic six-pack rings, made with by-products of the brewing process, which feed marine animals instead of killing them. The case study was an enormous hit on Facebook (150 million-plus views in two months), and the project won four Lions in Cannes, included a coveted Innovation Lion. Lauría, who spent eight years at la comunidad and is also president of the U.S. Hispanic Creative Circle, opened We Believers as a hybrid between an ad agency, consulting firm and innovation company. "We create work that is as good for the clients as for the agency; if it is good for real, it will bring bright results for both," he says. "To make that happen, it is key to believe truly in what you do, because good things and people will follow you."
•Mike Costello and Pete Lefebvre
Associate Creative Directors
Leo Burnett, Chicago
Your first trip to Cannes Lions is always memorable. These guys made theirs singularly epic, winning 14 Lions last month for their amazing full-scale replica of Van Gogh's bedroom, rentable on Aibnb, promoting an Art Institute of Chicago exhibit. The idea was inspired; the craft, stunning. "The one-of-a-kind nature of that experience made it special. We like ideas tactile like that, and feel they really make stronger connections with people," Costello and Lefebvre say. Also this year, the pair had Allstate's Mayhem character re-enact real-life DIY fails found on Twitter—part of their effort to use tech "in weird, maybe subversive ways." "We want to create ideas that make genuine, purposeful connections, ideas that feel authentic to the brand and relevant to culture," they say. "Those most always begin with a human insight. And if we can't find that, we just get a banging track."
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Director of Production
72andSunny, New York
Schulson sees producers not as facilitators but as makers and creative problem-solvers, helping to craft great work "at speed, at volume, effectively and affordably." "When you look at budgets and timelines as creative challenges instead of constraints, and look at the production approach itself as a creative deliverable, it can make the difference between the work being awesome, or just OK," she says. Case in point: 72andSunny's "ANTIdiaRy" work with Rihanna for Samsung, or a host of Smirnoff projects—like the #KeepItMoving campaign with deaf dance teacher Chris Fonseca, and the Smirnoff Drinks Engine ecosystem of social content, which Schulson calls "artistic, nimble, utilitarian and cost-effective." Oh, and also Seventh Generation's "Vajingle" video. "Maya Rudolph singing a jingle about chemical-free feminine care and her vajayjay," says Schulson. "Nothing could make me more proud."
Global Chief Creative Officer
Technology informs much of Chesnut's work, but it's a means to an end. "The work must always demonstrate how technology is being used to empower consumers and make her or his life better, not just sell more product," says the longtime user experience specialist. He's also a champion of varied, user-first solutions that are highly crafted. "When you are looking at a client problem—be it communications, sales or customer experience—a diverse approach that includes a wide variety of people and capabilities such as communications, design, technology and user experience can frequently unlock an innovative way to solve the problem," he says. His favorite recent work at SapientNitro includes a new app for the Miami Heat that enriches the fan experience and is also a vehicle for commerce, ticketing, media, and marketing partnerships; and the Ad Council's "Save the Food" campaign, showing a strawberry's life from farm to table.
The TBWA and KBS veteran originally wanted to design video games, and he's also made digital experiences for Universal and Paramount Pictures. That entertainment background is a good reminder that advertising has to be just as likable. "Don't try to hide the ad," he says. "Just make it so disarming and charming that people are all like, 'Hey, brand, please advertise to me some more.' " In four years at Fallon, Figueroa has led work on Cadillac, H&R Block, Talenti, Faribault Woolen Mills, and most recently, WhiteWave Foods brands including International Delight and Silk's Nutchello."The hardest thing about being a creative director is to refrain from creative directing my 5-year-old daughter's artwork," he jokes. "I just want that giraffe drawing to be the best giraffe drawing a drawing can be, you know? But sometimes you just have to let that giraffe head look totally disproportionate to its body. I'm OK with that."
Global Chief Creative Officer
It's no wonder VML's award-winning "Super Bowl Dunk" Snapchat filter for Gatorade is among Vandeven's favorite projects lately. It lives in that VML sweet spot between creativity and technology, between communications and experiences. It was also beloved by the target, fulfilling the agency's goal of "driving a human connection between brands and their consumers," says Vandeven. Having worked on global brands including Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Ford, Kellogg, MasterCard, PepsiCo, QuikTrip, Sprint and Wendy's in her 16 years at VML, she is also particularly fond of VML's recent work for the International Olympic Committee leading up to the Rio Games, showcasing the Olympics as a force of good that can build a better world through sport. "I am very proud of VML's involvement in celebrating Olympic values," she says, "and what we can all learn by coming together."
Chief Creative Officer
SS+K, New York
Hershfield worked on the account side for years before switching to copywriting and enjoying great success at Wieden + Kennedy, Ogilvy & Mather and Mother—before becoming SS+K's CCO in 2012. Along with President Obama's re-election campaign and HBO Go's famous "Awkward Family Viewing" ads, he's also proud of SS+K's work for Fusion, Comcast and Jet.com, which included making 50 live commercials on a single day. Hershfield believes in uncovering real insights rather than using devices or "ways in" to make something interesting. He also empowers his staff. "My creative philosophy is to get out of the way and let the creatives feel it is their voice that is being expressed," he says. "I really try to give people the freedom to see their ideas realized, even if they might be wrong. I just want them to experience failure or success on their own terms."
Mistress, Los Angeles
Lorenzo started her career working for U.S. Customs, searching for drugs. Now she searches for "something even harder to find"—great ideas. She worked her way up from intern at JWT San Juan to creative director at Mistress, where she works for the clients including the Oakland Raiders, IMAX, World Surf League and Netflix. Recent highlights include a gorgeous global brand film for IMAX and the award-winning #Cokenomics campaign for Netflix's Narcos, quantifying the scale of the cocaine trade in fun, illuminating ways. "For me, the idea is king and everything else falls below it," Lorenzo says. "The simpler the idea, the better. Great ideas solve the client/brand's business problem, engage the consumer and can take the form of experiential, social, digital and traditional. But importantly, the final product should be something people really want to spend their time with."
•David Povill and David Cuccinello
180LA, Los Angeles
"The Daves" first met (fittingly enough) at David&Goliath in the late '00s. Povill soon jumped to Deutsch, where he wrote "The Force" for Volkswagen, and later Wieden + Kennedy. Cuccinello headed to Grey, where his Cannon spot "Inspired" won an Emmy. They reunited at 180LA early last year, where they run Asics—and also created the "Unfairy Tales" campaign for Unicef, about refugee children, which won the Grand Prix for Good at Cannes. "As you hear the stories of these children, your heart breaks. Then you realize that there are 7 million more like them out there," says Cuccinello. Povill's approach is all about strategy and finding a killer insight. ("I probably should have been a planner, but I can't pull off the British accent," he jokes.) Their creative philosophies are pretty streamlined, too. Povill: "K.I.S.S.—Keep it smart, stupid." Cuccinello: "Always try your hardest not to suck."
Executive Creative Director
Zambezi, Los Angeles
A veteran of Wieden + Kennedy, CAA and Deutsch (where he enlisted a dozen Ronald McDonalds to try Taco Bell's breakfast), DiMarcantonio is leading Zambezi's evolution from sports marketing specialist to creative collaborative following the buy-out of majority owner Kobe Bryant last year. He's proud of recent Zambezi work including the Star Wars collection of Stance socks (a Gold Lion winner at Cannes) and the #HopeForOurDaughters initiative around the movie Suffragette. DiMarcantonio aims for simplicity and honesty, particularly in advertising to young people. "We have to be transparent with them or they will call us on our bullshit," he says. "It isn't that they hate marketing. It's that they hate being treated as wallets instead of people." It's also key, he says, to remember that "technology is never the idea. Instead we want tech to help tell whatever story we want to tell, better."
Executive Creative Director
CP+B, Boulder, Colo.
Chasnow led one of the cleverest campaigns of the year—the "World's Largest Blind Taste Test" for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Kraft changed the recipe last December, removing the artificial flavors, preservatives and dyes—and marketed the change by not marketing it. Only months later did CP+B tell consumers they'd been sampling the new product—and clearly they already loved it as much as the original. The stunt was original yet consistent with the brand voice—both of which Chasnow values highly. "The best work doesn't remind you of other work at all. It kind of scares you. You aren't pre-programmed to like it. That's why the most important thing we can do is be original," the former 180 exec says. "We have to surprise, but at the same time, people need to feel that it makes sense that something is coming from brand X. It takes a lot of discipline to stay true to a brand voice and do it well, over and over again."
•Daniel Grech and Eamonn Dixon
AKQA, San Francisco
This Australian pair came to San Francisco in 2013, where they quickly made a mark on AKQA's Anheuser-Busch business, creating a platform for friends to share beers cross-country with "Buds for Buds" and a one-tap beer delivery app "The Bud Light Button." Later, they shifted to Jordan Brand and had an enormous hit with "The Last Shot," an interactive basketball court with 10 million pixels of surrounding screens that let users re-enact some of Michael Jordan's greatest shots. "Our creative philosophy is simple: We don't really have one," Dixon and Grech say. "We just try to surround ourselves with fun, talented and hard-working people who share a passion for creating work that's insightful, real and resonates with its audience. And always keep ourselves honest with ideas, by asking: 'Would I do/like/share/watch/read/download/try that?' If the answer's no, then the job isn't done."
Also, see the full list of honorees in alphabetical order here.
This story first appeared in the July 25, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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If creativity, deep down, is just inventive problem solving, clearly it's more in demand than ever in a world of increasingly complex business challenges—and a political and cultural landscape, in America and globally, that seems to be spiraling into nightmare.
Adweek's sophomore edition of the Creative 100—our annual list celebrating masters of the creative idea—profiles 100 unique and fascinating problem solvers from the worlds of advertising, media, technology, branding, pop culture and more.
Just as advertising has taken a broader role in addressing issues beyond the corporate bottom line, this list also honors creatives who aren't just profit generators. Our cover star, Milana Vayntrub, is a perfect example—an improv actress whose creativity drives business for AT&T but also, in her activist work for Syrian refugees, helps some of the world's most disenfranchised people. Many of our 2016 honorees are hybrids in a similar fashion.
A note about the methodology: The list is limited to U.S.-based creatives, and is not meant to be a definitive ranking of the absolute most creative people in these industries. Rather, it is an evolving mix of senior and junior talent whose work has shone brightly over the previous year. Also, everyone is honored equally on the individual lists within the Creative 100—the order of appearance does not indicate a ranking.
Congrats to everyone on the list for their inspiring answers to some of marketing's—and the world's—most intractable problems.
Also, see the full list of honorees in alphabetical order here.
This story first appeared in the July 25, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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For retailers, the back-to-school season is especially lucrative, which makes it all the more important to ensure the message is impactful to young people. Nipping this problem in the bud, Target's back-to-school campaign puts the kids themselves in charge.
The ads don't just star kids—they were written and directed by kids, who also illustrated the sets. Helping to organize the action was 826LA, dedicated to helping youth develop creative writing skills, and agency Adolescent.
Seven writers, ages 8-11, developed storyboards for each TV ad, with directors—ages 13, 15 and 17—overseeing the shoot. Even the music was kid-sourced: Girls from the band L2M recorded the campaign's anthem music. And the illustrations will be used in stores, on digital and in social marketing pushes throughout the season.
The campaign launches concurrently with Target's Cat & Jack, a new clothing line "designed with kids, for kids." Target is also offering a DIY collection with YouTube star Bethany Mota, plus decidedly kid-friendly perks, like Embark backpacks and lunchboxes with a one-year guarantee. To simplify life for parents, an upgraded School List Assist tool enables the wallet-holders to buy supplies with a few short clicks.
A few kid-created ads have already been released online. Each :15 focuses on how kids can build relationships and solve problems ... with the perfect incidental product in hand.
Below are spots for backpacks and pencils (but also friendship, and rebounding from mistakes!).
Keep an eye out for all seven original spots, which will air on TV starting on July 31.
If you want your kid in on some of this creative action, Target is also touting "kid-directed giving" in partnership with non-profit DonorsChoose.org. It will donate up to $5 million to fund kids' ideas that "help students across the country live healthier, more active lives."
Submitted projects must cost less than $1,000 to activate and be completed within the 2016-17 school year. The submission deadline is Oct. 1 or until $5 million has been awarded.
Kleenex's "Someone Needs One" campaign is back with an emotional back-to-school video designed to make you need some Kleenex.
Heading back to school is always an emotional time for kids, but the stakes are higher when you're transitioning to a new school—so Kleenex targeted the switch from elementary to middle, which may well be the worst transition of them all.
That's right, toss a bunch of pubescent children into a new school at the very moment when the opinion of their peers starts to mean the most to them, and you'll get exactly what the Kleenex survey results found—that 91 percent of students worry about getting to class on time, not knowing where they're going, and getting bad grades; 69 percent worry about not fitting in; and 67 percent worry about being judged by others.
Oh, the feels!
To solve this problem, Kleenex teamed up with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (who knew that was a thing?) to sponsor an emotional workshop where kids talked about their feelings and made other people Kleenex "care packets"—which appear to be very small packs of Kleenex that you can write on.
After the workshop, 64 percent of students reported feeling more confident, 59 percent less alone and 57 percent less worried. Not bad for a half day of taking Sharpies to Kleenex packaging.
Listening to the kids realize they're not alone, and having them take the empowering step of connecting with someone in their support system by delivering a care package, is a powerful reminder of how simply acknowledging that it's OK to feel a certain way can go a long way toward alleviating that feeling.
"It was as simple as using Kleenex facial tissues to open a dialogue about the students' concerns and discuss ways to face them and support their classmates at the workshop," says Lori Nathanson of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
It was so simple that us parents can handle this at home. Kleenex even made a nice graphic to explain how (see below). It marks an important shift in the campaign from "Here's a thing that'll make you bawl" to "Here's something that probably affects you, or someone you know, and you can actually do something about it."
Beyond the emotional nature of the film, and the good timing, it's the empowering simplicity that's made it another hit for Kleenex.
Creative Agencies: J. Walter Thompson (lead), Facebook Creative Shop
Media Agency: Mindshare
Retail Agency: Geometry Global
Digital/Social Agency: VML
PR Agency: Ketchum
We've learned a lot about Usain Bolt through advertising—that he broke the 100-meter world record in 9.58 seconds, hails from Jamaica, a former colony of England (at whose capital he's appeared, avenging his ancestors, as the Grim Reaper) ... and loves McNuggets.
But in a fresh piece in its "For the Love of Sports" campaign, Gatorade digs deeper still.
"The Boy Who Learned to Fly" is an origin story for the one man who can probably give you whiplash just by sauntering past you.
The animated short is brought to you by TBWA\Chiat\Day and Moonbot Studios, whose brand work also includes Chipotle's "The Scarecrow." The film begins with Bolt walking into an arena, where the voice of his mother reaches him—and flings us backward in time.
Every hero has a point of departure. His happens on a nondescript schoolday in Jamaica, where a tiny Bolt grasshops out his front door and races to school.
"You forgot your lunch!" his mom cries—a foreshadowing if we ever saw one!
Bolt's cheerful dash disrupts everyone on his route. (He even has time to score a soccer goal, intercepting a much slower player.) His exertions ensure he makes it on time for the bell, but by noon, he reaches into his backpack and quickly realizes what he's missing.
On the playground, an adult with a copious carry-out lunch offers Bolt his spoils if he can beat a big kid in formidable track gear to a tree. And when he does—against all odds!—that same man gives him the motivation he needs to take a career in running seriously.
Which brings us to the 2002 World Junior Championships. This cute tale of triumph would have been more than enough precursor to seeing a grownup Bolt breaking ribbons, but we get one more layer before we go.
A great hero isn't just defined by what he or she can do, but by what crippling weaknesses they overcome again and again. Bolt was 15 when he competed in the World Junior Championships, but it's here that we learn what ails him: He's beaten down by the pressure of disappointing his country and the people who are constantly pushing him to win.
It's his mother who brings him back to earth. As she puts his mismatched running shoes on the right feet, she reminds him, "You can always go faster when you keep it light."
Bolt would go on to become the youngest winner of that tourney, with a gold medal in the 200-meter race, bringing us to the present day. He's filled out, goateed-up and lighthearted as he dusts the starting block (and the competition). He races onward into the clouds, with bolts of lightning tracing his steps.
"Will Usain Bolt strike yet again?" a mighty voiceover asks.
It's work that's big on legend, and light on logos. Indeed, apart from a Gatorade bottle near the end, and the lightning-laced G that closes the film, the brand stays out of it entirely.
The spirit is in keeping with the overall campaign, which explores the impact sports can have on a young person's destiny through nostalgic stories of athletes. In a spot that came out last month, Bolt appeared with Serena Williams, Paul George and April Ross, training alongside their biggest motivators—their younger selves.
But while that approach is more likely to appeal to adults, this one is clearly meant to grab kids' attention, too. It's an introduction to a new hero, one they can follow in real life and at the upcoming Rio Olympics (where the pressure he's imposed on himself looks pretty familiar).
Maybe that halo will spread to everything else swimming in his aura, including Gatorade (and, perhaps thankfully if you're a parent, excluding Durex).
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles
Production Company: Moonbot Studios
Senior Vice President, General Manager: Brett O'Brien
Senior Director, Consumer Engagement: Kenny Mitchell
Director of Digital Strategy: Jeff Miller
Manager, Digital Media: Abhishek Jadon
Senior Director Sport and Athletic Services: Jeff Kearney
Sports Marketing: Kyle Grote
Sports Marketing: Aminah Charles
Chief Creative Officer: Brent Anderson
Executive Creative Director: Renato Fernandez
Creative Director: Mark Peters
Senior Copywriter: Cyrus Coulter
Senior Art Director: Paulo Cruz
Director of Production: Brian O'Rourke
Executive Producer: Guia Iacomin
Senior Producer: Stephanie Dziczek
Producer: Cristina Martinez
Print Producer: Gabriella Nourse
Art Producer: Gabrielle Sirkin
Managing Director: Jerico Cabaysa
Brand Director: Robyn Morris
Brand Manager: Erika Buder
Associate Brand Manager: Theo Kirkham-Lewitt
This ain't your grandpa's snorkeling mask.
To promote Tribord's Easybreath full-face snorkeling mask, French agency Rosapark released a spot that almost seamlessly blends water and sky—a visual metaphor for how the Easybreath lets you breathe underwater just like you do on land.
"Easybreath is a real innovation in the world of diving—gone is the need for a separate mask and snorkel, and the difficulties some people having using them," explains the agency's creative director, Jamie Standen. "Our brief was to get across the scale of this invention."
Because the Easybreath covers your entire face, it allows you to breathe the way you would normally—instead of focusing on keeping a snorkeling tube properly affixed to your mouth hole. You also don't have to worry about the logistics of putting on a separate mask and affixing the snorkel comfortably.
To illustrate this, Rosapark enlisted help from Fleur&Manu, who directed the spot, and composer Laurent Perez Del Mar. The ad opens on a snorkeler who—shot from above, with the clouds reflected on the water—looks as though he's floating in the sky.
The ad also lingers on the mask itself. Its clarity and elegant design are neatly highlighted by how well its face mirrors surroundings: Surreal sky and schools of fish ripple across its surface. A stingray passes, close enough to touch, and the snorkeler reaches slowly forward.
The serene work is a marked departure from Rosapark's last Tribord campaign, which was way more in-your-face: To sell the brand's Izeber life vests, it offered boardwalkers samples of a disgusting new drink—sea water. That ad won a Silver Lion at Cannes.
"I think there's still consistency; both projects revolve around innovation," Standen says. "For Izeber, we felt people would understand quite quickly what the product did—it's a lifejacket—so we adopted a really innovative approach for the marketing. For Easybreath, the product is already so innovative. All we had to do was find a simple idea to showcase it, then stand back and let the product itself do the work."
The ad perhaps succeeds most at demonstrating what the Easybreath doesn't do—get in your way. If you've ever used a snorkel and mask, the very logistics of the bulky plastic apparati are sufficient to remind you that people don't belong in the sea.
While the Easybreath still won't take you deeper than the average snorkel can go, the limpid way in which its users float under the water's surface, hands and faces free to experience what's around them, is a selling point in itself—neither oversold nor undersold here.
"What we aimed to convey in the TV spot, visually, is that there's a new way to be in the water, to see the water," Standen continues. "I hope people who can't be bothered with snorkels will try diving with the Easybreath. Diving is pretty cool!"
The price point is also as easygoing as the product's name: $44, a reasonable enough investment to transform your relationship with our underwater friends. Of course, there remain some watery experiences you probably still won't want to witness up close.
"During the shoot, there was a tsunami warning. Needless to say, the boat didn't go back to port that night," Standen adds.
The film is currently airing throughout France in 15-, 30- and 60-second increments.
Brand Management : Espen Heier
Directeur de la communication : David Martinelly
Co-founder: Jean-Patrick Chiquiar
Co-founders in charge of creative: Gilles Fichteberg and Jean-Francois Sacco
Creative Directors: Mark Forgan and Jamie-Edward Standen
Copywriter: Nicolas Gadesaude
Art Director: Julien Saurin
Account Management: Rozenn Traineau
TV Production: Lauriane Dula
Directors: Fleur & Manu
Production Directors: Matias Boucard
Producers: Hélène Daubert and Mounia Mebarki
Coordinator: Marie Mezeray
Post-production: Home DP
Film Editing: Nicolas Larouquère and Alyson Gordon
Colorists: Bertrand Duval and Laurent Ripoll
Post-producer: Bianca Benloukil
Special effects: Mathematic
Post-production: Julie Lagadec
Flame artist: Fred Brandon
Title: « Emmersion »
Music management: Jérôme Hatchuel
Composer: Laurent Perez Del Mar
There was the dramatic, series-winning slide into home base in 1995. There was the gravity-defying, wall-climbing catch in 1991 (and then another one, four years later). There were the hundreds of home runs—and countless moments of inspiration for fans.
The Seattle Mariners are celebrating Ken Griffey Jr.'s induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame this past Sunday with an emotional long-copy print ad that tries to capture some of the star's many contributions to the sport—and the city's reputation.
"Thanks for the swing," opens the copy. "Thanks for the arm. Thanks for the glove, forever golden," it continues, getting increasingly specific, and verklempt, and touching, in a surprisingly efficient homage to an impressive career.
See the full ad below. Click to enlarge.
The center fielder, also known as "The Kid," launched his more than 20-year run in the majors in 1989, including an 11-season stint at the Mariners, where he rose to superstardom with iconic plays that helped earn him nicknames like Spider-Man. He also a near unanimous selection for the Hall of Fame, with 99.3 percent of votes in his first year of eligibility—the highest number in history.
The ad, created by longtime Mariners agency Copacino & Fujikado, ran in the Seattle Times. It's simple and beautifully written, packing in subtle allusions to accomplishments like 630 career homers, and specific moments like the three-base run that stole the American League Division Series from the Yankees in 1995, and to places like the now-demolished Kingdome stadium—all good fodder for true fans.
Certain of its claims might draw quibbling from some readers—like whether a backwards hat could really ever be considered fashion-forward. Regardless, the copy also manages to convey something much broader—the idea that baseball is greater than just a sport, and Griffey's role was something more profound than just a player.
It deftly evokes images with almost religious overtones—viewers glued to TV screens in rapt awe, hordes of children doing their best to emulate an idol, a community of devotees finding meaning and identity through pride in their team, and eventually, looking back on their lives, telling their grandkids about the time Griffey Jr. broke his wrist for a spectacular catch, then sat out for more than 70 games, then helped lead the Mariners to a historic comeback.
While that may just be the stuff of baseball—and sports—in general, it's captured with exceptional reverence here, a fitting tribute to a beloved player. And for anyone who needs a reminder of why he was so popular, beyond his skill, there's always this moment at the end of his Hall of Fame acceptance speech
Why did the snail cross the road? To go shoot the curl, of course.
This new ad for Samsung frames the enterprising spirit (or, skeptics might say, the biological hardwiring) of a slug in a shell as as a source of great inspiration—namely, for surfers.
That may sound a little stupid, but the the marketers at the consumer electronics company know it—the minute-plus commercial, by Leo Burnett Chicago, somehow manages to be existential and lighthearted at the same time, musing on the inner life of a mollusk as a metaphor for a young boy who loves the sport of surfing.
It's Samsung's latest effort in a series of well-made ads celebrating the sport (not to mention the occasional gimmick of questionable relevance). The visuals are, unsurprisingly, beautiful. And the copy manages to keep its balance nicely, pulling back into humor or humility every time it teeters on the edge of an overwrought, mawkish precipice.
The overall result is poetic enough that it's almost easy to forget that the company is selling anything other than good feelings—but shots of a Samsung smartphone peppered throughout remind viewers that it's handheld computers that's bringing motivation to the masses, not any kind of grandiose animal phenomenon. Because in the end, the only thing that really matters is whether you're connected to something greater than yourself—the internet—and preferably not with an iPhone.
In other words, a surfer without a Galaxy is probably just a beach slug.
Agency: Leo Burnett, Chicago
Global Chief Creative Officer: Mark Tutssel
Chief Creative Officer: Britt Nolan
Creative Director: Brian Siedband, Gordy Sang, Rob Calabro
Senior Art Director: Luis Marques
Executive Producer: Matt Blitz
Senior Producer: Bonnie Van Steen
Global Account Director: Radim Svoboda
Account Director: Ashley Beam
Global Account Supervisor: Huy Ngo
Global Strategy Director: Kara Yang
Strategy Director: Christopher Bridgland
Director of Celebrity Services: Peggy Walter
Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: AG Rojas
Executive Producers: Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Dinah Rodriguez
Take a vacation to Minnesota? Nah, it's too cold and dreary with all that snow and dreary-ness. Brrr…
To combat this common misperception, Explore Minnesota Tourism tricked out a pair of steel shipping containers for an immersive campaign that invites prospective visitors to "sample" a pair of the state's diverse attractions and share their experiences via social media.
One of the 8-by-8-by-8-foot containers—they're dubbed MNstagram booths—sports a wilderness motif that evokes the state's Boundary Waters region, complete with wispy cattails, a morning mist generator, lilting loon calls on the soundtrack, and best of all, a wooden canoe for faux-paddling.
The other container simulates Minneapolis' iconic First Avenue music club, complete with a fog machine, "bouncer," purple stage lighting (a tribute to Prince, who featured the venue in Purple Rain), and best of all, a full drum kit, allowing folks to jam along with tunes playing over the sound system.
So, what prompted this inside-the-box approach? "Committing sight unseen to a Minnesota vacation can be a tall order," says John Neerland, group creative director at Colle+McVoy, the agency behind the effort.
Hey, maybe that's because they've all read about how it snows there in July! Oh wait, that was just an ad campaign. Never mind.
Plus, "running TV is often cost-prohibitive for a state tourism agency with a finite budget," Neerland says. "We wanted to supplement our other efforts with a more hands-on, interactive, sharable and press-worthy experience."
So far, the containers have graced events in Chicago, Denver and Kansas City, generating 1.25 million total impressions, and more trips are planned later this summer.
In recent years, destination clients have frequently found fun ways to serve up shots of local flavor to would-be vacationers. Examples range from inviting folks to "Call a Swede" for the low-down on what's up in the Nordic nation, to dropping 16-foot-long, 400-pound Arizona flip-flops in parking lots (what better way to lure folks to the Grand Canyon State?).
MNstagram follows in this tradition, channeling an affable, inclusive vibe that left many container guests grinning from ear to ear in their goofy shared photos, clearly unable to contain their enthusiasm.
Hey, they're warming to the place already! Still, just to be safe, if you go, pack your mittens.
Client: Explore Minnesota Tourism
Event Producer: Street Factory Media
We had high hopes for this A&W Restaurants infomercial by agency Cornett for the A&W mug. Created for InStyle TV, it promised to be tongue-in-cheek, possibly nostalgic and—why not?—mobile friendly.
Well, it's definitely mobile friendly, if the vertical panels are any evidence.
We weren't wrong to hope. Infomercials have gotten snackier and funner, in hopes of snagging younger audiences. More important, the press release was pretty entertaining, with quotes like, "After watching A&W's new infomercial, I broke down in tears. I've never seen anything more heartfelt." - Spencer.
It also teased a potentially silly detour exploring A&W's efforts to "dig deeper": "Our team of creative scientists at Cornett got to work and after three days of intensive research, we came up with over 100 new uses of A&W's iconic root beer mug. From hand puppeteering to making a great home for a gummy bear—A&W's mug can do it."
Compared to the PR's playful language, the infomercial itself felt authentically stale in a late-night TV sort of way, with an earnest voiceover, ingratiating guitar music and a QVC-friendly woman demonstrating its various uses—such as "[freezing] to the perfect frosty temperature, leaving your drink so cold ... it gets icy!"
There's even a cringe-meriting cameo from A&W mascot Rooty the Root Bear, who uses his mug as a snack bowl for cheese curds and nuggets.
"Be like Rooty—fill it to the top and snack to your heart's content," the narrator says. Or you can "keep it on the kitchen counter and hold straws in it, or use it on your desk for keeping pens and paper clips organized."
Writing out the voiceover copy actually does make the ad feel funny in ways that the PR, so fetching in its self-deprecation ("Our mug is actually a cheese curd vessel"), implied. But we watched it again and felt confused, because we still walk away believing that A&W truly hopes we'll fill our homes with "Americana" mugs full of pencils and straws.
Could it have just been a PR dude trying to make fizzy wine out of sour grapes?
Nah, the site is pretty tongue-in-cheek, too. Consider:
The only explanation we can come up with is that A&W was actually shooting for an infomercial that would be funny in its stodginess, like these overzealous ShamWow-reminiscent ads for the Las Vegas Animal Foundation. And in its sincere desire to get it right, the brand succeeded—not in making something nostalgically funny, but in making something that somehow manages to be even duller than an actual Flowbee ad.
In a way, that's impressive.
The full copy of the press release appears below.
Hope all is well!
Recently A&W Restaurants worked with InStyle television to create an epic infomercial celebrating their iconic root beer mugs. It starting airing on InStyle TV (not to be confused with InStyle Magazine) last week. It's an infomercial so amazing, I'm sure it will clean house at all of the creative award shows next year.
"In my five years of working in advertising, I've never seen a more moving infomercial. The story, the cinematography, the acting - everything is just so damn beautiful" - Me
"After watching A&W's new infomercial, I broke down in tears. I've never seen anything more heartfelt." - Spencer
"It takes a village to make a great infomercial" - Sarah Blasi
In addition to it being beautiful, we found A&W's new infomercial to also be very inspiring. So inspiring, it inspired us to dig deeper, to go beyond the expected and explore new and innovative uses of the mug. Our team of creative scientists at Cornett got to work and after three days of intensive research, we came up with over 100 new uses of A&W's iconic root beer mug. From hand puppeteering to making a great home for a gummy bear - A&W's mug can do it.
While most mugs offer only one benefit (holding a beverage), ours offers over 100 benefits, making A&W's mug the most beneficial mug in the world.
If you have a second please grab some cheese curds (our mug is actually a cheese curd vessel), hit the link below, watch this amazing infomercial and then check out all of the unbelievable things this damn mug can do on it's very own web page!
Thanks and please let us know if you have any questions.
Do you ever feel like an Olympic track star while trying to navigate the maze that is the airport check-in experience? United Airlines feels your pain.
The 2016 Summer Olympics begin next month in Rio de Janeiro, and this week United debuted its first related ad as the official airline of Team USA.
The 60-second spot "One Journey. Two Teams." will first air during the opening ceremony next Friday. It resembles past efforts from the brand in that it stars both United employees and American Olympians doing their best to get to the gate on time.
The athletes featured include volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings, two-time gold medal soccer player Carli Anne Lloyd and four-time gold medal swimmer Missy Franklin, among others.
The ad, created by United agency of record mcgarrybowen, also features a Rio-style remix of the client's theme song "Rhapsody in Blue" courtesy of audio production company Yessian Music, which recruited authentic Brazilian street musicians to help create the very active re-imagining of Gershwin's classic. The voiceover for this spot comes from Mr. Bourne himself, Matt Damon.
"Our 2016 Olympics advertising was a great way to engage and showcase our employees and our partnership with Team USA," says United managing director of marketing and product development Mark Krolick. "The United team works incredibly hard year round to transport U.S. Olympians and Olympic hopefuls to training, competitions and the Olympics and this campaign demonstrates that in an upbeat, fun and optimistic way."
The ad was filmed on a real 787 Dreamliner in Los Angeles, and the athletes performed all their own stunts.
Mcgarrybowen executive creative director and managing director Haydn Morris tells Adweek, "It's an honour to have a client with such an intimate and longtime relationship with Team USA; they do the hard work of flying those guys wherever they need to go, year in, year out. Mcgarrybowen does the easy bit of bringing that story to life."
Client: United Airlines
Title: "One Journey, Two Teams"
Managing Director, Executive Creative Director: Haydn Morris
Group Creative Director: David DiRienz
Group Creative Director: Erik Izo
Managing Director, Content Production: Dante Piacenza
Managing Director, Global Music Production: Jerry Krenach
Executive Producer: Stacy Kay
Group Managing Director: Jamie Ross
Account Director: Joey Ziarko
Account Supervisor: Kayla Friedman
Athletes: Simone Biles, Kerri Walsh Jennings, Carli Lloyd, Missy Franklin, Ashton Eaton, Logan Dooley, Dartanyon Crockett
Production Company: Pulse Films
Director: Michael Haussman
President of Commercials: Kira Carstensen
Executive Producer: Hillary Rogers
Producer: Linda Masse
Director of Photography: Paul Cameron
Editor: Jon Grover
Executive Producer: Raná Martin
Producer: Ellese Jobin
Visual Effects: Framestore
Audio Engineer: Michael Marineli
Audio Studio: Sonic Union
Composition: "Rhapsody In Blue" by George Gershwin
Arrangement and Production: Yessian Music
Arranger: Dan Zank
Record and Mix Engineer: Gerard Smerek
Partner/CCO: Brian Yessian
VO Talent: Matt Damon
MeUndies, the makers of perfectly serviceable skivvies, just inked a sponsored ambassadorship with esports team the Immortals ... after discovering that one of its members doesn't own underwear. (Wait. We'll get there.)
This week, they released an '80s-style dating video about finding love. In your pants.
Titled "Perfect Pair: The Quest for Immortal Love," it was shared on Facebook and features Huni, Reignover, WildTurtle, Pobelter and Adrian against a laser backdrop, the kind you probably chose for a school picture at some point, if you were stylin'.
"Honestly, I just wanna be comfortable," Huni says, sporting a chain thick enough to make Dinesh jealous, and snazzy fingerless gloves.
The parody also includes esports jokes, like Reignover's add-on to this winsome little poem: "When it comes to true love, my heart knows no fatigue. The only problem is it beats for those way out of my League ... of Legends."
At the end, they appear holding packs of MeUndies, which respond to everything they're looking for—from WildTurtle's need to feel fuzzy (not a competitive plus in the arena of genital gardening) to Pobelter's need for ... love.
"She loves me ... but I love MeUndies," Huni cornily concludes, plucking petals out of a fistful of flowers.
You're probably hearing a lot about esports lately. TV networks like The CW, TBS and ESPN are riding the rising tide. Mountain Dew has a CS:GO league, Red Bull has its own league and coverage, and Pizza Hut is sponsoring various events and content.
But in terms of pure advertising, esports' terrain is surprisingly little-exploited among non-endemic brands, particularly retail—this despite projections that the average fan will spend between $3.50 and $7, a possible value of $1 billion, this year alone. (They're also older than most people think—59 percent of the market are men and women 21-35 years old.)
Many brands simply don't recognize the size of the opportunity. MeUndies had an advantage: Its team is composed of gamers, who saw a teaser vid where Huni claimed he doesn't own any underwear, and decided to send him some. Huni apparently loved them so much, he got the rest of the Immortals on board.
The relationship is "more like influencer marketing in the truest sense of the word," explains Greg Fass, head of partnerships and influencer marketing at MeUndies. "We are tapping into their audiences in a way that aligns us with their interests rather than kind of like shoving products down their throat … We're disrupting the underwear industry."
The Immortals will be sporting MeUndies briefs and loungewear during games and at home. They'll also receive an unspecified, performance-based fee.
This curious entrée is only a precursor for what's coming. In the meantime, stock up on underpants à la Huni. Immortals fans get 20 percent off when they visit MeUndies.com/Immortals.
A new fashion-flavored campaign is putting a new spin on the idea of a full-body condom.
To prove how comfortable its proprietary non-latex material really is, condom brand Skyn decided to create a line of athletic wear, and put it to the test.
A smoky, sultry 1:30 ad from Sid Lee Amsterdam features tech-infused clothing designer Pauline von Dongen describing her approach to the project, including dragonfly-wing-inspired flaps on the arms of a shirt, which can supposedly give a long jumper more, um, lift.
In the ensuing montage, her male model—professional Dutch long jumper Joren Tromp—takes off down a long runway in slow motion (get it guys?), demonstrating the outfit's muscle-hugging qualities, while she sensually pours, handles and cuts the synthetic rubber (polyisoprene, to be precise) for its new, more sartorial application.
Eventually, Tromp leaps, hanging mid-air while the spikes on his shirt shoulders flare up, like he's some kind of frill-necked lizard engaged in a mating display—albeit poorly endowed, and even if his sprinting style is somewhat less desirable than the rest of the species.
It's a funny little concept that calls to mind Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley's idea of a responsible approach to protection in the 1988 classic The Naked Gun. While all the holes in the suit probably put it below his standards, it does get points for looking notably better. And by engaging directly with the types of atmospheric fashion tropes that are usually vaguely sexual in their own right, Skyn allows itself to occupy a slightly more metaphorical space than shots of grinding flesh, while still suggesting its product is a uniquely intense full-body experience.
Plus, the marketers working on the campaign are clearly having fun with all the opportunities for double entendres. "We share the universal admiration for competitive athletes' total commitment to what they love," says Jeyan Heper, president and general manager for the sexual wellness global business unit at Ansell, the Australian company that manufactures Skyn under the LifeStyles label. "Their constant search for innovative ways to gain an edge in performance inspires us."
Adds Sid Lee Amsterdam executive creative director Kenn MacRae in the press release accompanying the campaign: "Skyn is always keen to operate at the forefront of innovation. This campaign and product are prime examples of their dedication to superior performance and how they naturally come together."
Because it's best to never miss an opportunity to reinforce your message—especially when your message is fucking.
Agency: Sid Lee Amsterdam
Executive Creative Director: Kenn MacRae
Creative Directors: Este Du Plessis, Darren Cronje
Senior Art Director: Sebastian Vizor
Group Account Director: Emma Ryan
Account Director: Grace Kluver
Account Executive: Lisa van Boekhout
Head of Production: Ezra Xenos
Producer: Sylvia Van Elmpt
Strategy: Varia Makagonova, Nicola Davies
Production Company: Czar
Director: Jona Honer
Executive Producer: Karlijn Paardekoper
Producer: Sophie Hendriks
Director of Photography: Tibor Dinglestad
Editor: Xander Nijsten
Sound: Hein Verhoeven
Grade, Visual Effects: Storm Amsterdam
Short film maestro PES has just signed with BlinkInk, a sensible arrangement that positions the guy who made Honda's Emmy-nominated "Paper" under the same roof as the Layzell Bros (of Harvey Nichols' "Shoplifters") and Greg Barth (whose Hello Play! 360-degree video has the kind of dreamworld weirdness that Michel Gondry pines for).
To celebrate—because we'll take any excuse to celebrate—we've compiled this handy retrospective of ads PES has directed over the years.
PES first drew attention with "Roof Sex," a short piece where two armchairs bang upholstery, in 2001. Since then he's directed over 50 TV commercials, which shouldn't surprise you: Not only did he study English Lit at the University of Virginia; he's also got ad land roots (like Bowie!). After school, he moved to New York, where he joined the creative department at McCann-Erickson. What would Don Draper say?
In 2005, he released three pieces for Coinstar. In the first, coins escape from all their hiding places (like spiders!) and band to create a stiletto shoe. The tagline: "What could your change be?"
Next up was "Book," where coins serve as typewriter buttons, ink and even book binding and pages.
By the third, "Gift," we can smell the iron on our skin as we mentally unwrap that big gravity-defying bow (fun fact: It isn't the smell of coins that makes your hands stink after tossing a handful about; it's the chemical reaction of your bodily oils to iron):
That same year, PES started working with Bacardi to create a funny series of travel-themed ads.
Here's "Bottle Rocket":
Next up, "Submarine," "Train" and "Yacht":
In 2006, Orange Telecom snapped him up for a charming hide-and-seek piece featuring socks (thus explaining why you're always missing one or two):
We're just warming up.
In 2007, PES released "Human Skateboard" for the now defunct shoe brand Sneaux, whose mantra was "Out of boredom comes greatness." While Sneaux is gone, both the ad and that phrase remain relevant. (Click the link to watch; embedding's been disabled.)
Also in 2007, Sprint released its PES-directed ad about an armchair traveler, who manages to get around without ever actually getting up. It should be a comfort to know this armchair isn't the same one that got it on on the roof ... though it looks like things may be headed in that direction.
Around the same time, PES released a pair of PSP ads. This time, instead of breathing life into objects, he gives humans rubbery cartoon qualities.
Here's "Fred", which feels a lot like a precursor to Snapchat lenses:
And "Milo and Maria":
Like Scrabble? In 2008, PES released a satisfying piece for Diamond Scrabble, which will make you want to bust your board out and swish tiles around.
We love the look and feel, but especially the way everything sounds—overly crisp everyday ear candy that feels like life, amplified. It should come as no surprise that one of PES' biggest influences is Czech surrealist Jan Švankmajer, whose gritty take on "Alice in Wonderland" is filled with crunchy homegrown noises.
That same year, director Michel Gondry was quoted in Paste Magazine as saying, "Clicking on a PES film is to open a safe and suddenly see a million ideas glittering and exploding. The only reason you close the door is to re-open it just after and discover what will pop this time."
Around 2009, O2 signed PES to direct an ad for Joggler, a standup tablet that preceded the iPad, and whose primary feature was a calendar. In the ad, a paper family leaps off the fridge and to the Joggler ... to organize their schedule. Which is as good a reason as any to come to life.
Next came the joyous union of Powerball and Mega Millions balls for the Washington State Lottery, in 2010. We like how they take a minute to deliberate before mixing:
In 2011, Kinder Surprise hatched "Plane," which feels like a more conventional ad, but still manages to convey PES' knack for bringing the inanimate to life.
CitizenM opened its New York Times Square location in 2014. To demonstrate how different it is from other hotels, it tapped PES to create "Swan Song," where two artfully folded towels swish romantically about on your bedspread ... until something horrible happens.
You'll probably recognize this next one. PES' 2015 "Paper" ad for Honda looks deceptively simple, illustrating the notion that every complex vehicle starts with a few sketches. But the ad itself took months to make, and features thousands of hand-drawn illustrations from a menagerie of artists, exploring Honda's mobility products through time.
"Paper" won "Automobile Advertising of the Year" at the One Show, and scored an Emmy award nomination for "Outstanding Commercial of 2016." The Museum of Modern Art, and the Louvre's Museum of Advertising, also added it to their permanent collections. A behind-the-scenes—with commentary from PES—is available here.
Later that year, Android tapped PES to direct "Fingerprints," a fun spot featuring costumed finger people in "meticulously crafted miniature environments." They eventually all unite under the tagline "Be together. Not the same."
We're going to wrap with something more personal than commecial. Apart from "Roof Sex," one of PES' best known projects is the playfully retro "Game Over," released in 2006. The original video scored over 16 million views since it was republished on YouTube in 2008.
This month, PES released an official HD version, so we can discover it all over again from the comfort of a super-sharp Retina display. Enjoy.
BALI, Indonesia—It's been almost four years since PJ Pereira unleashed "The Beauty Inside" on the world. The years since that groundbreaking work of branded content—which Pereira & O'Dell made for Intel and Toshiba—have been a time of experimentation, Pereira says, with agencies testing formats and boundaries in the one advertising genre that truly likes to pretend it isn't advertising at all.
"I don't think we're at a point of evolution [in branded content] yet. We're still testing the waters and seeing what can be done, or can't," Pereira told Adweek here in Bali this week, where he's been chairing the Branded Content & Branded Entertainment jury for the Clio Awards—sifting through hundreds of entries and picking the 2016 winners.
Around the time of "The Beauty Inside," which won gold Clios in Film and Branded Entertainment in 2013, there was lots of long-form content, even things over an hour long. "I didn't see anything this year like that," Pereira said of the work he and his jury evaluated here at the lavish Ritz-Carlton resort.
"VR is coming into play," he said. "Super long-form is slowing down, but I'm not sure it should be. It's more difficult to do. And now, it doesn't have the novelty. It becomes less inviting. And if you're going to do a feature-length thing, it has to be really good because it's competing against other movies out there."
That's a challenge that might well put off many agencies these days, but not Pereira. In fact, he's preparing for the theatrical release on Aug. 19 of Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World—a 98-minute documentary, which Pereira & O'Dell produced and documentary master Werner Herzog directed, about the past, present and future of the internet.
It's a bonafide film that premiered at Sundance in January and has been generating lots of buzz heading toward its wider release. It also happens to be one giant ad, half in disguise, for POD New York client Netscout. The whole thing started out as an agency idea to produce short videos about the internet as part of a online Netscout campaign. But after they roped in Herzog, the vision for the project soon changed—for the better.
"I come from a digital background, and I've talked about the internet for my entire career. My first job was as the internet guy at DDB in Brazil," Pereira said. "When we hired Werner to do content about the internet, I felt like, OK, I know it's going to be awesome, but I'm pretty sure I know what I'm going to see. But actually, it's mind-blowing. We gave him the beginning of the idea and told him, 'This is where it starts.' He took it from there and owned it. It's a mind-blowing documentary."
The film, which Variety called "playful and unsettling" with a "stimulating volley of insights and ideas," is organized as a 10-part meditation on how the internet is changing the human experience. It touches on everything from hacking to web addiction to artificial intelligence.
Some parts are lighthearted, others brutal.
"There's a moment where Werner interviews a family whose daughter had a tragic accident," Pereira said. "The police didn't let the family see what happened to her. But one of the officers or first responders took a photo and sent it to a friend, and it started to spread. And someone sent the photo of the girl, nearly decapitated, to the family. It was a horrible thing. At one point, the mother looks at the camera and says, 'I think the internet is the anti-Christ.' It has no sense of morality or control. And when you hear that, you think, yeah, maybe it is."
Despite being branded content, the film clearly has artistic integrity—and it reflects the kind of collaboration Pereira says is so useful for brands looking to engage through this kind of work. It also shines a light on a new formula that's emerged for brands dealing in the space.
"That's the best part of this area of branded entertainment. The level of collaboration you have with the talent, with the artists, is much bigger," Pereira said. "You need to give them that space. They are the artists. You find the idea that is going to make the investment worth it for the client. Then you bring in artists who guarantee that it's going to be a good investment of time for consumers.
"Ultimately, this is the equation: It needs to be worth the money to the client, and worth the time to the audience. In most branded content so far, the agencies have been trying to please the brand, and that's all. Now, the bar is higher. It also needs to be a good investment of time for the audience. Finding that balance is way more difficult. We need the artists to come in. And we need more credibility as artists ourselves, as agencies, as well."
As an example of branded entertainment done right, Pereira points to another film featuring top-notch talent, but with a twist—the film 100 Years, which Fred & Farid made for Remy Cointreau, starring John Malkovich, which no one will see until its theatrical release 100 years from now, in 2115, when the brand's Louis XIII cognac being bottled today is finally ready to be opened.
"I don't know if it's a short film, or a feature film. I have no idea. That was fascinating," Pereira said of the project. "How the hell did they sell that idea? It's so brilliant. Imagine getting in front of the client and saying, 'OK, we're going to take all this money and produce something wonderful, with very expensive talent, and no one's going to be able to see it.' It's the opposite of everything that's being done in branded content."
Another thing Pereira noticed during judging is that there seem to be fewer campaigns devoted simply to making a positive difference in the world—and the judges are being tougher on those campaigns across the board. The topic of social good has been a resonant one for Pereira for a long time—particularly since 2012, when he interviewed Bill Clinton about it on the main stage at Cannes Lions.
It's still important to do work that makes a different in people's lives, Pereira says now, but if you're doing it just to win awards, you should think twice.
"Overall, we need to be doing it," he said. "What President Clinton was saying was, 'You have a lot of money. You're putting messages out there. Make sure the messages are good for the world.' That's a very simple principle. If you follow that as a belief, great. Then the whole industry elevates itself. But if you follow that as a trend, then with the same speed that it came, it's going to go away."
Pereira has firsthand knowledge of the difference between the two.
"One of the most important things I've done is the work we did for Coca-Cola in Latin America, with the teenage kid whose friends realize he's gay," he said. "It didn't win a single award. But it's still one of the most important things I've done because it made people's lives different. I know a girl who told me, because she saw that ad, that she was able to have a conversation with her mom."
He added: "It doesn't get more mainstream than Coca-Cola talking about that. It didn't win awards, and that's fine. Awards aren't the only thing that matter. They do matter, but they're not the only thing. But you're not going to be able to play that trick on judges anymore. 'Let's do something that makes the world better, and it's going to win.' No, it's probably going to backfire. But if you have an idea there, then it probably can still win."
Pereira singles out one recent example of a social-good campaign with a brilliant idea behind it. When Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was published in Germany this year for this first time since 1945, Ogilvy Berlin culture-jammed the release with its own competing book, Mein Kampf gegen Rechts (My Struggle Against Racism), which told the stories of 11 individuals who have fought against xenophobia and injustice.
"One of my favorite things about it is it's a book, and this is a category that's dominated by video," Pereira said. "As a writer myself, I love the fact that it's a book. It opens people's minds to what storytelling can be. That made me happy. That was making the world better, but there was a very good idea there."
Asked to name one other branded content campaign that's impressed him over the years, Pereira—whose young son has been with him here in Bali this week—picked the glorious branded film The Lego Movie.
"I have the highest level of jealousy for that film," he said. "I worked with Lego in the past. I know what the brief is. I know what they're trying to say. And you watch the movie, and it's exactly what they have been asking all of their agencies to do for the last 10 years. They took a very complicated thing and turned it into one of my favorite movies of the last few years, and one of my son's favorite movies. It's worth watching over and over. There's all these gags everywhere. I'm going to feel like I can retire the day that I feel like I did my own version of The Lego Movie."
—The Clio Awards will be announcing this year's gold, silver and bronze winners on clios.com on Sept. 12. The Grand Clio winners will be revealed at the Clio Awards ceremony in New York on Sept. 28.