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    Being with your family during the holidays can be awkward, and it can be especially awkward if you're a teenager who's transitioning from male to female. Elkjøp, an electronics chain in Norway, has created this heartwarming Christmas ad about understanding and acceptance between a father and his daughter.

    The spot, titled "The Teen," starts out with a pan into the living room of an ordinary family home during the holidays. Mom is bringing out a punch bowl, gifts are being exchanged, the family is playing games and laughing—when we suddenly shift focus to dad, who is turning a gift over and over in his hands.

    He looks up from the gift and across to where his transgender daughter is sitting and pulling uncomfortably at the sleeves of her sweater.

    Dad gets up his courage and walks over, handing the gift to his daughter and  still trying to sort through his own feelings. The daughter unwraps it to discover a 2-in-1 hair straighter and curling iron—a gift that clearly shows Dad's acceptance of her as she is.

    They both smile, but don't say a word. That's because the slogan for the campaign is, "A gift can say it all."

    In case you don't read Norwegian, the YouTube description under the video translates to, "It can be difficult to tell someone what you really think and feel. This year, one can say a lot with a gift from Elkjøp. Add a little extra thought into this year's gift, and maybe you'll finally say something you've thought about for a long time but never said. Merry Christmas!"

    In a time when many of us are looking ahead to an awkward holiday, ads like these remind us to show compassion and love, no matter what divides us.

    Check out two more spots from series below, from DDB Stockholm and director Martin Werner.

    Client: Elkjøp
    Agency: DDB Stockholm
    Director: Martin Werner, Bacon

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    Back in September, Star Wars introduced its megamillion-dollar line of Rogue One toys with four stop-motion videos directed by Tucker Barrie and Dan MacKenzie, who worked on Charlie Kaufman's Academy Award-nominated film Anomalisa.

    The campaign ran on the Star Wars YouTube channel and was a collaboration between Disney's Lucasfilm and creative network Tongal. It also kicked off a global competition that asked fans to share their "rogue stories" and win a trip to Rogue One's December premiere at the Presidio in San Francisco. (You can see the winners of that contest here.)

    AdFreak caught up with Barrie to ask him about the making of the videos. See the videos here, and scroll below for our Q&A:

    AdFreak: What's this about the first chapter premiering in Time's Square?
    Tucker Barrie: Crazy, right?! Chapter 1 played all day in Times Square—after being featured on Good Morning America—on the Disney Store screen. It was pretty surreal, and definitely one of the highlights of the project.

    So how did you guys get brought into the project?
    We were first approached by Tongal, the agency involved, a few months ago to submit a pitch for a secret Star Wars project. We weren't given much information about it at the time. They had reached out to about a dozen other stop-motion animators across the country, but we must have impressed them with our little video. It wasn't long before we found ourselves in meetings with the Disney and Lucasfilm teams.

    I'm sure they approached you because of your previous work. What tipped them off?
    Outside of this project, Dan MacKenzie and I both animate on a wonderful Amazon Original series called Tumble Leaf. It's very charming, and a guaranteed hit with the little ones. Dan has also animated on Laika's most recent films—ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and Kubo and the Two Strings. All are very impressive showcases of stop-motion animation. And I recently did a piece for Nickelodeon's 25th anniversary of their animated shows.

    Awesome. So for this project, how'd you come up with the story?
    James DeJulio and Lesley Worton from the Tongal team came up with the broad strokes of the story before Dan and I came aboard. The scripts were further developed by Kevin Ulrich, who was brought on as the writer, and there was a lot of back and forth from there about what we could accomplish during production.

    Speaking of production limits, stop motion is notoriously labor intensive. How long did the animation process take?
    The first three chapters were shot in about 12 weeks. On a good day, we would accomplish about 10 seconds of animation. However, we found that animation wasn't the most time-consuming process. At the end of the day, it was the time in between shots that ended up being the most labor intensive. From the start, we knew we wanted the production design to feel realistic, as if we were setting these action figures in a world that we would have come up with in our imaginations as kids. Our sets ended up being very intricate, and it took a lot of time and effort to build everything from scratch, light it and establish our framing and blocking.

    Where did you set up all the intricate sets?
    We set up our studio in the house designed and lived in by Fred Joerger, a Disney Imagineer who started working with Walt in the '50s. He specialized in miniatures, which seemed very appropriate for what we were doing. It's a beautiful, bizarre home that features paintings and sculptures by many iconic Disney artists. We like to think that helped to channel some good vibes into our Disney work.

    Once we figured out how much work was involved in making the series, we ended up living there for most of the production. We were also told that an episode of Ghost Hunters was filmed there, but unfortunately we never had any spooky encounters. Would have been a great story.

    What sort of restrictions or requirements did they give you in coming up with the story?
    Generally, we had to stay true to how the Star Wars universe functions. Besides that, we needed to maintain the more gritty theme of Star Wars: Rogue One—that meant no Jedi, lightsabers or use of the Force. There were also a few times when we would submit a version of a script and we would need to make changes because moments we had written were too close to that of the real film. We were only given the broad strokes of the movie, so it was kind of fun to try to piece together the real story beats based on what we were required to change.

    You seemed to have a lot of fun with the tiny Lego Stormtroopers. What made them such great characters?
    They were a lot of fun, and we're very happy with how they evolved from the beginning of the project. Originally, we had planned to voice them ourselves as a little cameo appearance. However, during our first voice recording session, we let one of our actors, Ian Sinclair, give it shot to have something as back up. We immediately came to the bittersweet realization that he was much better suited for the role than Dan or me. Amping up their comedic personalities came naturally after that.

    I'm kind of in love with them. What's your favorite toy from the lineup?
    Our primary Jyn action figure was pretty great to work with. She made animating easy, and was just a badass figure to boot. K2SO was great too; I'm sure he's going to be a fan favorite. It's hard to go wrong with droids in Star Wars.

    One last, nerdy question: How'd you guys make the eyes move?
    They never actually move; it's animation magic! Clay was stuck on their eyes for a few frames at a time to make them blink. That trick helped give them some life they were otherwise lacking. 

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    Data can be seen as an abstraction at best, or at worst, a way to introduce the robotic quality of programmatics into creativity. We might associate it with digital's way of converting the tangible, the soul of things, into pixels—compressed files that can be more easily stored and tracked, but that also, in the case of art like music or films, siphon away some of the original's quality (while dulling our appreciation of it). 

    It probably doesn't help that, to advertisers and marketers, we are also data—people reduced to demographics, custom profiles, brand affinities and buying preferences that must be pushed toward optimized touchpoints. 

    We concede that all of that is pretty gross. But is it the whole story? With data, it never is.

    Over the course of a year, two data professionals who were overseas acquaintances embarked on a neat experiment called "Dear Data." Giorgia Lupi, design director at Accurat, and Stefanie Posavec, an independent data illustrator, got to know one another by sending each other weekly postcards of data visualizations they created. 

    The topics ranged from the mundane, like how often they checked the time, to things like how often they heard a curse word. 

    "'Dear Data' was conceived as a new type of correspondence through creating and sending hand-drawn data postcards across the ocean to each other," says Posavec in the video below.

    Lupi adds: "By counting and reducing to data the most shameful or personal revelations"—like the number of curse words they heard over a week—"they somehow felt not so shameful anymore. They are data." 

    The project has since been converted into a book, Dear Data, with a foreword by Maria Popova of BrainPickings.org. The original postcard collection has also been acquired by MoMA.

    Check the video out below. It's followed by an interview we conducted, some neat photos of the postcards (courtesy of their U.S. publisher, Princeton Architectural Press), and a presentation they did at Visualized. 

    Click on any image to make it larger.

    AdFreak: Tell us where you both are from, and what you were doing.
    Stefanie Posavec: I am originally from Denver but have lived in London for the past 13 years. I'm a designer, speaker and teacher for whom data is my favored material and subject. In my day job, I create projects ranging from data visualization and information design to commissioned data art. ... Also, in 2013, I was Facebook's first data-artist-in-residence at their Menlo Park campus. 

    Giorgia Lupi: I am an Italian information designer living in New York. Originally trained as an architect, I then studied design at Milan Politecnico, where I obtained a PhD in information design. I am co-founder and design director at Accurat, an award-winning data visualization design firm based in Milan and New York. 

    Giorgia's visualization of the number of times she checked the time, and its key:

    What inspired this project, and how did you find each other?

    Posavec and Lupi: We only met in person twice when we decided to embark on this project together. We were both speaking at the Eyeo conference in the summer of 2014, and a plan to collaborate was hatched, as they usually are, over a few beers! 

    We both have a very analog approach to working with data, which is relatively unique in our field, so we thought it would be interesting to work together to create a data project that showcased our interest in the analog, using a slow, manual method of rendering data. 

    We also took the biggest constraint as a design one: One of us lives in London and the other in New York. How can we exchange our data drawings? 

    The idea of becoming "data penpals" and sending postcards to each other across the sea seemed very compelling, so "Dear Data" became our way of getting to know each other.

    Stefanie's take on time-checking:

    Each week, from Sept. 1, 2014, and for a year, we collected and measured a particular type of data about our lives. We used this data to make a drawing on a postcard-sized sheet of paper, then dropped the postcard in an English "postbox" (Stefanie) or an American "mailbox" (Giorgia)! Eventually, the postcard arrived at the other person's address with all the scuff marks of its journey over the ocean—a type of "slow data" transmission. 

    Also, we were also curious to see if it was possible to get to know a person only through the medium of data and drawings. 

    Giorgia's complaints as a sheet of music: 

    After some experimentation, at the very beginning we decided that we wanted to try to gather data that a computer or app on our phone couldn't gather, so we focused on a very human way of gathering data, as opposed to relying on technology to gather it for us.

    Also, from the beginning we wanted to focus on the analog, as the very act of drawing our data helped us extend ourselves as designers. By removing technology from the equation, we've each been forced to invent 52 different visual languages, as hand-drawing with data leads to designs that are incredibly customized to the data one is counting and working with. 

    A common approach in data visualization design is to visualize data using tools that often return a very standard visualization, but by hand-drawing our data, we were compelled to craft visual models specifically for the dataset we were dealing with. At the same time, by radically limiting ourselves and our tools, we could "spend time" with our data and were able to understand it on a deeper level.

    Stefanie's complaints, which resemble a sea anemone:

    How did you read each other's data?

    Once we got the delivery in our mailbox, we would spend time with the postcard, deciphering what the other person encoded, and how to unfold the narrative of her week through her drawing. But we most often texted each other to comment on tiny details, or even ask for more. We like to say that data should be seen more as a beginning of a conversation rather than an ultimate answer to any questions. 

    What did you learn from each other and this project?
    We both learned to be much more aware of ourselves, our behaviors and our surroundings. It was a long-term self-investigative project that touched several topics at the same time. Some weeks were particularly insightful, especially ones that touched particular "buttons," such as our obsessions—or ones that were more personal, such as the relationships with our boyfriends/husbands, for example. The major insight we both had is to learn how to practice paying attention.

    Times (and reasons) Giorgia checked her phone in a week:

    How was conveying information this way different from using words, pictures or video?

    We believe data collected from life can be a snapshot of the world in the same way that a picture can capture a moment in time. Data can describe the hidden patterns found in every aspect of our lives, from our digital existence to the natural world around us. 

    Once you realize that data can be gathered from every single being and thing on the planet, and you know how how to find these invisible numbers, you begin to see these numbers everywhere, in everything. We hope that by highlighting the ubiquitous, almost domestic nature of data, our work will be a relatable way for a wider audience to learn about it. 

    We hope this will function as a "stepping stone" for interest and engagement in some of the bigger issues surrounding data, such as big data and data privacy, in society today.

    As designers, we've not only observed our lives as data for one year; we drew it, we found visual shapes for it. And visualizing our logs helped us "see" the patterns hidden in our data in a much more impactful way. 

    What do you think data says about us? How has it changed your perspective of data and its possibilities?
    This project definitely was an intentional attempt to show data is not scary and not necessarily "big," but is ever present in everyone's lives. We are all made of small and big data, quantitative and qualitative. It allowed us to talk about data with an audience that is not only made of designers or data geeks. We explored how data can help us understand personal experiences and people's lives. 

    Data is often considered to be very impersonal, but this project aims to highlight the opposite through the exploration of using something seemingly "cold" to communicate messy, emotional aspects of being human. 

    Stefanie's phone addiction:

    Will you continue sharing data this way as friends, or do you plan to expand the project to others?

    Well, after a year of postcards, and a book, we are planning new ways of collaborating, but still always with data. 

    And as for expanding the project to others: Since the project was made public, we have seen hundreds of postcards made by people who, after hearing our story, wanted to try the process for themselves. Many are seeking out their own data "penpals" and setting their own yearly challenges to draw data. 

    We are also touched at how many young children are reading their parents' "Dear Data" book and are excitedly drawing their own data! 

    More incredibly, teachers from grade school to university and beyond are using the "Dear Data" format to teach students the world of data—an amazing and humbling result from what started as a side project. 

    We are most interested in exploring projects that harness this collective action as we move forward. 

    What's the big learning you want to share with people, brands or data companies?
    We are said to be living in the age of "big data," where algorithms and computation are seen as new keys to universal questions, and where myriad applications can detect, aggregate and visualize data to help us become these efficient superhumans. 

    "Dear Data" approaches data in a slower, more analog way. It is a "personal documentary" rather than a quantified-self project, which is a subtle but important distinction. Instead of using data just to become more efficient, we argue we can use data to become more humane, and to connect with ourselves and others at a deeper level. 

    Over a year, we shared everything about ourselves in the form of tiny quantitative bits, addressing and then revealing the most hidden patterns of our inner selves. 

    Many people associate the "quantifiable" and "quantitative" with precision and objectiveness, and they are drawn to personal tracking by the idea that this will solve some of their problems, and maybe find rational answers. We think those kind of investigations aren't really about finding definitive answers about ourselves; they are more about raising novel questions. 

    We didn't do this for optimizing our lives. We have always been more curious to discover even little things, and the process of discovery and experimentation are intrinsically motivating and personally rewarding. It has been like being our own personal anthropologists. 

    Below, find the keynote Lupi and Posavec conducted for Visualized. Their website also includes information (scroll down) on how you can find a data penpal, teach "Dear Data" to students, or share learnings with the creators.

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    Why do epic car chases always happen in slow motion? You won't get the answer to that, but the trope will at least be addressed in the latest amusing campaign for Smart car.

    Created by BBDO Berlin and directed by MJZ's Perlorian Brothers, the ads tear a page out of the post-war Volkswagen playbook, positioning Smart's quirkiness as a feature, not a bug (pun!). Each spot kicks off with a car-based movie cliché, whose suspension of disbelief is broken when a Smart car pulls up alongside it. 

    "Epic," for example, takes on the classic car chase. As the pursuing cops are frozen mid-arc, a Smart driver pulls up and asks what their deal is. 

    "Epic car chases are always done in slow motion!" one cop insists. 

    "Uh-huh," the Smart driver says, considering this. "That's a bit cliché." And unbound by the laws that bind his brothers in blue, he wheels off for a donut. 

    "The brand's attitude is to question the status quo," BBDO Berlin executive creative director Michael Schachtner tells Adweek. "Why do we need huge cars when we drive alone most of the time? Why do you need an off-road SUV when you live in the city? Why does a car have to be a symbol of status and prestige instead of just being practical? Why do epic car jumps need to be in slow motion?"

    In the second ad, "Everything Is Nothing and Nothing Is Everything," we find ourselves in a black-and-white French film, where clichéd platitudes about the meaning of life fall as heavily as the impending rain. 

    "One cannot simply discuss the meaning of life in happy, rainbow colors," says the lady to the Smart driver.

    "C'est très sérieux"—it's very serious—her companion adds.

    "That's very cliché," our hero tells them. Then, in almost willfully wince-worthy French, he adds, "Au revoir!" before speeding off, leaving them under their own personal raincloud. 

    The message is straightforward. Each ad wraps with the tagline "Anything but cliché," and invites users on a free test drive. Models seen here include the Smart Fortwo (for, well, two people) and the Forfour (for four—you get how this works, right?).

    "Clichés are the epitome of the tried and trusted, of preserving the status quo instead of breaking fresh ground—a thing Smart has stood for since its first car," Schachtner continues. "That's why we used the most common and over-the-top clichés and made Smart interrupt these situations, making their protagonists question their super conventional behavior." 

    In terms of whom he hopes is listening, you might recognize a few suspects on the road (if you aren't one already)—"the bachelor who drives an impractical sports car, the soccer mom with the inevitable van, or the hedge fund manger with his luxury SUV," Schachtner says.

    But while the idea lends itself easily to future iterations, the creative director is staying mum, saying only that there are "no plans" for others—yet. 

    Since this is all about breaking the fourth wall, the Perlorian Brothers also sent along some neat behind-the-scenes images, shown below. They also shared a few fun facts. 

    "The police car jump was filmed with seven cameras—three super-high-speed Phantoms running at 650 frames per second, and four regular Arri motion-picture cameras, running at 120 frames per second," they say. 

    "We shut down central Sofia, Bulgaria, on a Sunday morning to do the stunt. Everything else was filmed on an enormous New York City replica in Sofia." 

    As for the second ad, "The actors in the faux French New Wave film are actually bonefide French actors cast in Paris"—Thomas Vernant and Katia Miran. 

    The cops in the car chase include Zach Myers (with the cool shades) and Tomike Ogugua at the wheel. In both, the Smart driver is played by David Gironda Jr.

    "A lovely and talented cast, each and every one," the Perlorians beam.

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    In this last week before Christmas, we're catching up on a few ads from 2016 that slipped through the cracks. And foremost among the advertising films we didn't cover is this mini masterpiece from Moxie Pictures and the fashion brand Robert Graham—a wonderful fake trailer for a fake '70s-style car movie called The Second Sound Barrier.

    The four-minute spot was written by Michael Showalter and directed by David Wain—the creative pair behind 2001's Wet Hot American Summer (they also worked together on the '90s MTV sketch comedy show The State). It's a brilliant, odd and hilarious parody of '70s action films, with Jeremy Sisto, Peter Mensah and Vincent Kartheiser trying to break "the second sound barrier"—a speed "beyond the limits that mankind has already pushed beyond." Juliette Lewis also plays a prominent role.

    Check it out here:

    The script is so wonderfully goofy. "​It had a sensibility that I always found appealing in Michael Showalter's writing," David Wain tells Adweek. "It reminded me of a sketch he wrote for The State back in the early '90s called 'Wildtown.' "

    "​We just wanted to make our own amalgam of certain things we found funny and/or just cool in some of these also-ran racing movies from that era," Wain says. "The colors, the stilted dialogue, the character types."

    The film was shot on modern cameras and treated later in post to give it a grainy, '70s feel. The video, posted in early March, has less than 10,000 YouTube views, but did pick up a Gold Clio in the Branded Entertainment category this fall.

    "I'm not an advertising expert, nor do I have access to their research or numbers, but I'm hoping this ad made their sales skyrocket!" Wain says. 

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    We love it when an ad comes with a "Don't try this at home" disclaimer, because you know you're about to see something that somebody's gonna want to try at home, and it will fuel many future guffaws.

    But seriously, though, we hope you won't try this at home.

    Ahead of the launch of the Assassin's Creed film on Jan. 1, Britain's Channel 4 and Twentieth Century Fox broadcast an impressive live TV spot on Sunday night featuring stuntman Dave Grant in full Assassin costume, freefalling 100 feet at over 50 miles per hour ... with nothing holding him back.

    While the jump doesn't seem as crazy as, say, Felix Baumgartner's leap from space for Red Bull, anybody who's ever tried diving into a pool from high up—and who, despite their best efforts, landed on their bellies—can probably attest to the difficulty of falling properly without protective gear.

    According to Channel 4's agency principal Angus Mitchell, the ad was conceived by 4 Sales' creative arm PL4Y. It was produced by The Outfit. 

    "We're incredibly excited to be making TV history with Twentieth Century Fox by attempting something no other broadcaster has ever dared to," says Mitchell. 

    The act is a replication of the Leap of Faith from the game, which is also in the movie—and isn't too far from how it was shot on set: Director Justin Kurzel wanted real-life stunts instead of CGI whenever possible, which is part of what this ad is promoting. 

    A previous video, posted in August, shows how the actual film version was shot. This one features Damien Walters, actor Michael Fassbender's stunt double: 

    "In a world of CGI film action sequences, we wanted to pay homage to the use of real stunt action sequences used in the film," explains founding partner Charlie Read of The Outfit. "By recreating a live Leap of Faith, we wanted to give the audience an insight into the skill and thrill of real stunts and get people excited about the theatrical release." 

    If you want Fassbender's take on the mind-bending jump, here's a video of him talking about it. 

    "The action sequences in the movie are shot in an old-school fashion, shot in geographical locations with real people, with very little CGI or special effects," Fassbender says. "In the movie, Damien Walters performed a record-breaking Leap of Faith from 120 feet, unassisted by wires and ropes, which was amazing to see." 

    The ad featuring Grant was shot outdoors at Millennium Mills, a former flour mill in Newham, London. Grant is touted as among the few stuntmen able to perform a freefall at 100 feet, so such jumps are rarely attempted, even on film sets. 

    Though Walters jumped from 20 feet higher, his situation was more controlled—Grant had to pull it off in the dark, amid wintery cold, and live on national TV, leaving no room for error. 

    "Leap of Faith Live" was directed by Matt Askem and aired during Channel 4's drama Humans. It was preceded by teasers that featured straplines like "No harness. No CGI. No going back." Viewers could comment on it using hashtag #C4LeapOfFaith. 

    "Assassin's Creed is going to be the event movie of 2017, with nail-biting, never-seen-before, breathtaking action sequences," says Cameron Saunders, managing director of U.K. theatrical at Twentieth Century Fox. "What better way to bring a taste of this adrenaline to audiences throughout the U.K. than this daring live Leap of Faith? There's plenty more where this came from when the movie releases on Jan. 1."

    It certainly raises expectations. Check out the making-of below. 

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    All in all, cats are pretty clueless. Show them some pixelated fish, mice and treats, and they'll jab their fangs right against the digital screen and try to take a bite.

    Then … bam! Your tablet takes their picture, creating "cat selfies" you can treasure and share, you kooky cat people!

    It's all made possible through the miracle of Candid Catmera, an app that combines looping animations with feline facial recognition technology to lure and photograph the furry little devils. To be clear: The app only recognizes cats, so Rover's routta ruck.

    Developed by Brooklyn-based Current Studios and designed to engage cats when their humans aren't home, maybe it will stop the wee beasties from tearing up the furniture and destroying your holiday decorations. (As if.)

    "About two years ago, we were asked by an agency if it was possible to make an Instagram for cats," Current president Nathan Kroll tells AdFreak. "In the process of exploring the concept, we found that some of our developers were using cat faces to test facial tracking libraries. One developer has actually built an OpenCV library of several hundred cats. That pitch never resulted in a project and the internal work was put on the shelf, until about six months ago, when we had the idea to evolve what we learned and create something a bit more unique."

    Here's a clip that puts this tabby technology in perspective:

    Look at Mittens go after that fish! Ha ha, it's just a digital display—no yummies for you!

    "Every year we ask the team to chose a project they'd like to build," says Kroll. "It's primarily for team building and motivation. This year the team chose Candid Catmera. When we saw the initial beta, we thought it was awesome and wanted to make it bigger. We talked to the SPCA to see if we could harness this idea to help them. It's a perfect fit. We raise money for a great cause, tell a simple story with complex technology, and show that we don't always take ourselves too seriously."

    Available for iOS in the iTunes Store, $1 of each $1.99 purchase price benefits the SPCA of Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Current maintains an office. So, there's no need to feel guilty about tricking kitty—it's all for a good claws cause.

    Would Current consider building a K9-Cam app displaying animated bones or bowser-bottoms to lure Fido for a photo shoot?

    "Dogs are significantly harder than cats," says Kroll. "There is no shortage of cat pictures on the internet, so we have over a million photos of cats in our library," making it easy for the app to identify various breeds as they approach the screen so it can begin taking pictures. "For dogs, their faces have a very wide range of looks. Just think how different a Great Dane looks compared to a Pug."

    Production House: Current Studios & Labs
    President: Nathan Kroll
    VP, Creative Technologist: Stephen Martell
    VP, Operations: Matt Fegan
    Producer: Dom Fegan
    Animators: Matt Lambert/Jon Eisener
    Designers: Stephanie Munn/Elena Kurevija
    Director of Integrated Production: Jen Mete
    Audio/Music: Justin Gaudreault
    Development: Dennis Hubley/Joey Farrell
    UX: Dennis Hubley

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    It isn't easy refreshing your Christmas music playlist. A worthy original with just the right mix of novelty and nostalgia is hard to find. 

    But last year, giving contenders a run for their money, ActionAid Sweden released a holiday album titled "All I Want for Christmas Is a Goat," in which Christmas classics were reinterpreted using, well, goats. 

    It looks like the collection was a hit—because this year, with help from its agency Wenderfalck, ActionAid has organized a charity concert around it. In it, an actual female choir joins forces to bleat out the hits in ways that would impress even the Billy Goats Gruff. 

    This concert poster would make an excellent sweater, by the way.

    Here they are singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas":

    ActionAid calls the goat its hero. The concert is a tribute to how goats help fight poverty, providing milk for families, as well as a stream of income they can use to pay for school and food, which empowers women and the community at large. 

    With the money the charity concert and the songs raise, more goats will be set loose to help advance these goals. 

    Below is the full concert, which is more relaxing than you might expect. We like how there's a wide diversity of goat noises, and how they don't feel obliged to follow the master tune. It feels more true to life. 

    More importantly, the women just power through this like champs.

    ActionAid Sweden's fundraising head Gabriella Ulfwi commends the "warmth and humor" of the choir's interpretation. "Our ambition is to raise awareness for our work with equality, women's rights, empowerment, the goat's importance and our fight for a world free from poverty," she says.

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    It's the most wonderful time of the year, when agency people push all the client work to the side and try to make a cool, funny, sweet or poignant holiday card.

    How did they do? Check out some of the offerings below. And yes, we know we probably forgot your agency's card. So, e-mail it to us and we'll try to update this story a few times before Christmas. 

    We're adding more cards now. Refresh to see the latest ones:

    88 Brand Partners - Regifting 2016

    Rather than send clients a card or gift, each team member at 88BP was given $500 to use his or her own unique gifts to in some way do good in the world. Check out this microsite to see the regifting stories of how the 88 team tried to make the world a slightly better place.

    Patrick Scullin - Make Christmas Great Again

    While this was not an official agency card, Ames Scullin O'Haire principal Patrick Scullin sent this personal card to clients, friends and family—"a simple analog concept that I hope will be remembered for spreading good cheer," he says.

    Redsuit Advertising - Rudolph: A Case Study

    Rudolph needs a rebranding, and the Redsuit folks are here to help.

    teamDigital - Chet the Elf

    You know Buddy the Elf. Well, now meet Chet the Elf—a jolly, gift-giving expert who uses Twitter to help people find Elftastic gift ideas. Chet gets his Elfing power from a custom platform that analyzes tweets to automatically provide an unexpected gift idea.

    Team One - Happy Technolidays

    This agency had artificial intelligence write a holiday carol.

    "We used TensorFlow to create an LSTM (Long Short Term Memory) Neural Network that reads all of the lyrics of 200 years' worth of holiday carols," the agency says. "The network learned the style of how the different carols where written—the context of words, rhymes, line/stanza breaks, etc."

    See below for more on how Team One merged the technology of the future with the musical style of the 1800s to create a new kind of carol.

    Resource/Ammirati - Your Identi-tee

    IBM acquired Resource/Ammirati last January, and the agency makes good use of IBM's Watson in this holiday campaign. Watson analyzes your Facebook or Twitter account and then makes a custom T-shirt design that is the sum of all your amazing traits.

    Interbrand - #IBforEquality

    Each year Interbrand challenges its offices across all seven continents to design a creative holiday campaign around a resonant theme. Last year's was peace, in the wake of the attacks on Paris. This year's theme is equality.

    "Equality carries so much meaning both stateside and abroad, as human rights continue to face tribulation," the agency says. "We support all interpretations of equality, because demonstrating diversity and embracing our creativity is a celebration of what makes us human."

    See what the various Interbrand offices came up with at this link.

    GS&F - Merry & Christmas

    With its 2016 holiday card, this agency says it "took technology further than ever before, pushing past virtual reality and into the revolutionary space of real reality. We made a card. Out of paper. And ink." Find out how below.

    Walrus - Yes, it's another shirt from Walrus

    Walrus sends out something people will actually use—a T-shirt. This year's design features a walrus emoticon, which was inspired by the emoticon in co-founder and chief creative officer Deacon Webster's email signature. See the shirt, and the accompanying note, below.

    Alex Goddard, Asa Bradshaw and David Felton - Merry Critmas

    This grassroots campaign urges senior creatives to give back this holiday by critiquing a young creative's portfolio for free at merrycritmas.com."People are a little kinder in December" says Goddard. Bradshaw and Felton add: "For undiscovered talent trying to break into advertising, it's the perfect gift. And for established creatives it's an easy way of giving something back. Just half an hour of their time can make a real difference. And you never know who might walk through the door." U.K. agencies Magnafi and Trunk helped bring the campaign to life. 

    Wunderman - Deck the Halls

    Wunderman New York deconstructed the holiday card making process and created an entire deck about it, which it sent to clients. Sami Thessman, the agency's chief creative officer, explains the process in this video.

    Planet Propaganda - BlitzenSchticks

    Planet Propaganda reached out to Underground Meats, owners of a butcher shop down the street, to create BlitzenSchticks—limited edition, merrily seasoned polish pork sticks. They're 100 percent reindeer free. Proceeds from every package of the holiday BlitzenSchticks sold benefit Luke House community meal program.

    Here is the original post:

    AKQA - The Snow Fox
    AKQA created a children's story that comes to life by voice. The Snow Fox is a wintry tale of a young child who adventures through the forest with a newfound furry friend in search of his/her mother. As the child reads, the story animates. When a sentence is finished, the story automatically transitions to the next scene. Word by word the story comes to life, bringing an element of magic to bedtime bonding moments between parent and child.

    Firstborn - Nick the Game
    This digital agency created a remarkable Santa-themed room-scale VR video game. The agency explains: "Santa's on the run, and only you can save him. Step into his boots to become Nick—the hard-boiled badass Claus bent on survival. Battle killer robot elves in this VR tower defense survival game, and try to hold out against the evil hordes to save what's left of Christmas."

    Arnold Worldwide - Virtual Santa
    Arnold created a virtual Santa at a storefront in Boston's historic Faneuil Hall. Passersby get into spirited SMS conversations with the screen-based Father Christmas, powered by Havas Cognitive partner IBM Watson and Arnold's own proprietary AI. Santa then programmatically determines whether visitors are naughty or nice and sends his Arnold Elves to gift them accordingly.

    DiMassimo Goldstein - Bipartisan Holiday Cards
    "In the spirit of togetherness, Bipartisan Holiday Cards offer a fun way to say that yes, we still wish you peace and happiness, despite our disagreements," the agency says. "The bonds of true friendships, after all, should trump our political differences (pun intended.)"

    twofifteenmccann - The Living Holiday Card
    Below is a time-lapse video version of twofifteenmccann's live-streamed holiday card—a fun rooftop shout out to its San Francisco neighbors and clients.

    White64 - White64 Motors
    In a parody of self-driving vehicles, the agency is announcing that it is opening a new division dubbed White64 Motors. Its first client is none other than Santa Claus, for whom the new division has developed a self-driving sleigh. On the website, users also can customize their own driverless sleigh. As the White64 Motors website explains, "We didn't reinvent the wheel. We got rid of it. The JNGL64 autonomous flying sleigh is miles above the competition. When technology finally catches up to imagination, innovation is created."

    CP+B - Happy Qualidays
    To create the perfect holiday card, CP+B tested multiple holiday card designs to see what would appeal to each and every client. The agency held live focus groups and conducted an online survey, providing both qualitative and quantitative feedback. The resulting card (see the GIF below) directs clients to happyqualidays.com, where they can see the findings, including a highlight video from the focus groups.

    Plan B - Santa's Post-Ride Press Conference
    Dogged by rumors and fake news reports, Santa has a meltdown at his post-ride press conference. Check out the highlights below, exclusively on the ELF Network.

    22squared - @TheFeedThatFeeds
    22squared created the Instagram account @TheFeedThatFeeds, which is a literal feed of food photography, featuring dishes from top chefs and bakers in the Atlanta and Tampa areas, where 22squared has offices. For every like, individuals will be fed by the restaurant tagged in the photo, and the food will be delivered by 22squared employees to a partner food bank or nonprofit organization. The initiative will run through Dec. 31.

    DigitasLBi - Happy Non-Fake News Year
    Can you tell which stories from 2016 were real and which were fake? For each person who plays this online game, DigitasLBi will make a donation (up to $5,000 total) to Girls Write Now, a nationally recognized organization that trains the next generation of powerful women in media and journalism.

    Story Worldwide - The Very Important 'Meeting'
    Story Worldwide is hosting a four-hour Facebook Live video this Thursday, Dec. 22, from 1 to 5 p.m. that you can add to your calendar—blocking off that time and preventing anyone else from booking a last minute meeting right before the holidays.

    Brunner - Santa's Self-Driving Sleigh
    For a holiday greeting card suitable for Pittsburgh's tech economy, Brunner produced a three-page article in the holiday issue of fictional magazine Techy. Titled "Inside Santa's Self-Driving Sleigh," it features an interview with the lead engineer elf behind the new, reindeer-less sleigh. The article was produced as traditional three-page print article and is online at techy.brunnerworks.com.

    Anomaly - The 12 Days of Christmas - A Tale of Avian Misery
    Phoebe Waller-Bridge narrates this bleakly amusing holiday film from Anomaly London, which imagines the nightmarish scenario of a man who takes "The 12 Days of Christmas" literally—and buys all that crap for his girlfriend.

    School of Thought - Project Fruitcake
    Check out real reactions as a non-fictional focus group weighs in on three rebranding campaigns for fruitcake. The video link is being sent to clients and friends on gift packages that read, "We wanted to send you a fruitcake but our focus group told us not to." The gifts inside are a "deconstructed" fruitcake, with three boxes containing apricot hearts, cocoa almonds, and citrus & berry fruttini.

    SS+K - Happy Holiday Adventure
    SS+K is breaking free of the traditional flat holiday card stack by offering 360° virtual reality bobsled rides. The virtual world consists of 3-D polygonal assets that make up a colorful winter wonderland. With the cardboard glasses, users can engage a slow-motion effect at any point throughout the experience to get a better look at the playful world around them. At any point throughout the run, snow will fall if the user shakes their head. There's also a 360-degree YouTube video of the experience.

    Rethink - GingerPong
    Check out the world's first gingerbread Ping Pong table!

    Bernstein-Rein - Year of Madness Bracket Challenge
    Pick the craziest moment of 2016 through a March Madness-style bracket. The agency will make a donation to the charity whose efforts are an antidote to the craziness occurring in the winning moment.

    Happy Medium - Happy Medium's Favorite Things
    The agency's take on its own "Favorite Things" this season.

    ABC Creative Group - Santa Rebrand
    Kris, the CEO of the world's largest toy manufacturer, came looking for a new image for his company that would engage more millennials. Once ABC got rolling on the rebranding campaign, things got real…

    CRISP - The Boy Who Broke Santa's Lap
    In 1995, a boy broke Santa. This is his story.

    CooperKatz - Twas the Morn' of the Gift Swap
    Find out how CooperKatz got ready for its annual gift swap.

    Cohn & Wolfe - A 48-Year-Old Picture Puts 2016 In Perspective
    Cohn & Wolfe says: "We believe that whether developing a global communications program or volunteering in your own community, there's only one way to accomplish great things: together."

    Britton Marketing & Design Group - The ABCs of Advertising
    Dr. Seuss' ABC's book, reimagined as the ABC's of Advertising.

    HUSH - TopoTopo
    HUSH wanted to send clients a lighthearted puzzle-game gift, but wanted it to feel personal and have a emotional connection to HUSH's employees and design culture. They also wanted to show off their expertise in tech, design, beautiful materials, UX, engagement and interactivity, product manufacturing and interest in data design and 3D printing.

    The result is TopoTopo—a web-based tool that allows users to enter any location on Earth and create a 3-D topographical model of that place which can be shared via social, turned into a puzzle, 3-D printed and sent to the user via the hub.

    For clients, friends and family, HUSH will custom-create puzzles based on locations near and dear to them, pairing them with heartfelt, often poetic written memories of their connection to those locations.

    MKG - Holiday Spirit
    Last Friday, Dec. 16, anyone who tweeted @thisisMKG using the hashtag #MKGHolidaySpirit summoned the "Holiday Spirit" to their office—where the Spirit whipped up a tasty cocktail.

    R&R Partners - Bad Gifts for Good
    Destroy bad holiday gifts for the good of all mankind. For every terrible and thoughtless gift you destroy on the website, the R&R Partners Foundation will make a donation to charity (Communities In Schools) up to $7,500.

    ab+c Creative Intelligence - Holiday Card by Committee
    ab+c created a website where people can view the holiday card, then suggest changes by tweeting @abc_creative with the hashtag #ABCHolidayCard. People can then view the card online, in real time, and watch as someone goes to the computer to make your changes live.

    MullenLowe Group - MLGshakermaker
    The MLGshakermaker allows people to create and customize their own virtual snow globe (shaker) scene and send it to friends and family as an e-card with a personalized message.


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    A bizarre Christmas commercial from Russia is under fire for showing Santa Claus trying to teach a single mother a lesson in being a better parent—by abducting her and dragging her through the wilderness by a rope and eventually pulling a knife on her. And the ad's creators seem baffled that anyone could have a problem with it. 

    The spot, for Credit Bank of Moscow, was created by ad agency 3Sba. It is beautifully shot, which makes it even weirder—clearly no expense was spared in producing the film, yet how no one raised a red flag during its creation is baffling. 

    Check out the ad here:

    "It's time to think about the things that matter," says the copy line at the end.

    The makers of the spot would have been wise to take that line to heart—and think about things that matter like violence against women in Russia. One in three Russian women have experienced violence, and every 40 minutes a woman in Russia is killed by a family member.

    The head of psychological services at a crisis center for women and children in Russia, who gave her name as Tatiana, emailed AdFreak about the spot on Wednesday.

    "I love good advertising. I support creativity. But this is something different," she wrote. "It's harmful to our society, and none of us here at the crisis center will be surprised if the film actually inspires someone to get a good rope for Christmas and teach his woman a lesson on good motherhood."

    "This is a clear propaganda that the woman who doesn't meet the society's standards of a good mother, doesn't stay at home to take care of her kids, needs to be taught a lesson and deserves punishment," Marie Davtyan, an expert on women's rights, told meduza.io.

    Meanwhile, the spot's director, Charley Stadler, released a lengthy statement expressing shock that "some people interpret the film in the complete opposite way that I intended" and that the film is meant to depict a journey toward love and unification.

    "Yes, the journey to get there is dirty, unsettling and ugly, but so is life at times," Stadler says. "I believe many of us need to be led through the 'mud' in order to open our eyes. I chose the image of Santa pulling the mother by a rope as a metaphor for this, and of course it represents a safety line as they walking through rough nature. Once they reach the top and out of danger, Santa cuts her loose. Symbolically and figuratively, she went through a journey of her inner self crisis, an internal story of transformation."

    Stadler adds: "As the famous Christmas song says, 'He knows if you've been naughty. He knows if you've been nice. He knows if you've been bad or good …" Well, our Santa knows about the mother, so you better watch out. Santa Claus is coming to town."

    Client: Credit Bank of Moscow
    Agency: 3Sba, Russia
    Production: 3Sba, Martini Shot
    Director: Charley Stadler
    DOP: Ivan Solomatin
    Actors: Nikolett Barabas, Sergey Studenikin, Alisa Tekucheva
    Set designer: Papuna Papashkiri
    Costume designer: Elena Ushakova
    Music: Shamala Tamrazova / Von Seefeld
    Song producer: Adrian Bushby
    Sound design: Srdjan Kurpjel
    CGI: Sergey Movchan
    Cut: Nikolay Ivanov
    Grading: Artem Leonov

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    Walmart's holiday ad begins by reminding us of something we already know: Kids love Christmas. They can't sleep. They tear their presents open like wild animals. They scream. 

    Adults, on the other hand, are way less keen. Christmas is stressful. It's laborious. It's expensive. And it's a minefield of actively unfun corporate holiday parties.

    Then the ad ramps up. "At Walmart," it tells us, "we believe grownups should have a joyful Christmas too." 

    How's that? we wonder. Will you dim your abrasive lights? Will you make your aisles less cluttered? Will you, at the very least, give us a flashmob? 

    No. None of those things. Instead, Walmart is giving us Chris Jones, a hypnotist.

    In "Holiday Hypnosis," by Saatchi & Saatchi New York, Jones meets various harried adults and interviews them about their favorite childhood Christmases. Then, after placing them in a trance, he gets them to relive them. 

    Some of the results produce major lulz—it's a vision of adults wilding out in living rooms, tearing open presents, peering up the chimney for Santa, and beating the crap out of tiny drums. But there are also touching moments, like when a woman nudges a curtain open to discover snowfall, or an older man pantomimes the act of skating over the carpet. 

    And there's the giggling—that cup-runneth-over, tinkling-bell sound that tickles inside you and makes one guy keel over, clutching his tummy. 

    We're moved, despite ourselves. And when Jones snaps them back awake, it's as if they've returned from a faraway dream—still clutching wrapping paper, or on the floor, holding a very small drumstick.

    This isn't the time for debating the merits of hypnosis, or for whipping out that one time you tried it to quit smoking and it didn't work. Riding the emotions that unspool here requires a certain suspension of disbelief. There's something heartbreaking about letting an adult reinhabit her 5-year-old self, then taking that memory away in a dry finger-snap. 

    And we're not sure how to feel when Jones shows them the weird footage of all the things they did while under the spell. As grownups, there's something foolish and embarrassing about it, a sense of being tricked into losing the narrative grip of your life just long enough for it to be recorded. Scary thoughts can seep in: If I did that and didn't know it, what else could I do?

    But the subjects here laugh and cry. 

    "I never thought I'd see that again," the older man marvels, while a younger one laughs and says, "That's the young me!" 

    "It's been a while since I felt like this on Christmas," a woman adds, wiping tears away. 

    What keeps "Holiday Hypnosis" afloat is Jones' gentle, decisive manner. You feel like you can trust him to guide you safely through the alien. But what we're left with is a feather-light sense of what it felt like to be buoyed into the promise of the holidays without having to carry it on our own backs (or pay for it with our own money). 

    It's a pretty memory, one that could grant us the kindness of relaxing our shoulders as we close in on Christmas: It's the last leg. Most of us have done our parts and bought the gifts, and maybe now we can just enjoy our eggnog lattés and show up smiling. Because that's what matters, right? Just being happy enough to want to remember? 

    "Holiday Hypnosis" concludes, "Everyone should feel like a kid at Christmas. Share a happy, healthy holiday." And while this probably won't go into the annals of best holiday executions, it's at least reminded us that the kid we thought we'd grown out of is still in there somewhere, looking for Santa.

    Client: Walmart

    Agency - Saatchi & Saatchi New York
    Javier Campopiano - Chief Creative Officer
    Mike Pierantozzi - Executive Creative Director
    Cristian Costa – Art Director
    Tomás Almuna - Copywriter
    Justin Roth - Creative Director
    Adam Kline - Creative Director
    Derek Peet – Junior Copywriter
    Thanh Ly - Junior Art Director
    John Doris - Head of Film
    Abe Romano - Producer
    Matty Yu - Producer
    Caitlin Reynolds – Senior Account Director
    Kate Owens - Digital Director
    Sarah Mannion - Account Director
    Preeya Vyas – Managing Director, Digital

    Production Company:  Hey Wonderful
    Director: Peking (Nat Livingston Johnson and Gregory Mitnick)
    Founder/Managing Director: Michael Di Girolamo
    Executive Producer: Sarah McMurray
    Line Producer: Scott Lane
    DP: Adam McDaid

    Edit: Rock Paper Scissors
    Editor: Noah Benezra
    Exective Producer: Eve Kornblum
    Producer: Julianne Cort

    Color: Company 3
    Colorist :  Jaime O'Bradovich

    Music: Future Perfect Music

    Mix: Sound Lounge
    Mixer: Rob Sayers

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    Planters' iconic mascot is getting to be a real nut-buster these days.

    Slap on your monocle and watch how Mr. Peanut taunts his nemesis, Richard the Nutcracker, in the new ad below, sealing the dude in a glass chamber and tempting him with snacks to test Planters' "craveability." 

    That's one sadistic nut!

    Developed by Leo Burnett, the "Irresistibly Planters" campaign rolls out on TV early next week. It focuses on taste after years of Planters ads spotlighting the nutritional attributes of peanuts. That shift "has the potential to win with our consumers when they're looking for a quick salty fix they can feel good about," Camille Vareille, head of brand building at Planters parent Kraft Heinz, tells Adweek.

    She dismisses suggestions that Mr. Peanut has morphed into a hard case. "He's trying to protect the Planters nuts from his friends who have an irresistible craving," she says. "We like to think he does so with the utmost class and a witty personality."

    In the next spot, the loquacious legume serves up a cheeky take on employee relations:

    Yo, P., maybe squirrels aren't the best workforce for a nut factory.

    Commercials break on Monday, with social and digital elements dropping next month.

    It took a 40-person stop-motion team from production firm House Special some 10,000 hours over two months to create and shoot the campaign. All told, the complex series of shoots involved seven finely detailed puppet characters and six fully-dressed sets. (Keep your paws off the merchandise, chipmunk!)

    Here's some behind-the-scenes footage:

    Client – Planters

    Agency – Leo Burnett Chicago
    Chief Creative Officer – Britt Nolan
    EVP Executive Creative Director – Dave Loew
    EVP Executive Creative Director – Jon Wyville
    VP Creative Director – Chris von Ende
    VP Creative Director – Mike Ward
    Associate Creative Director – Kent Carmichael
    Associate Creative Director – Ryan Stotts
    Senior Producer – Rod Wilson
    Production Manager – Anne Carbo
    Talent Manager – Robyn Schwartz
    Operational Account Supervisor – Toni Duttweiler
    SVP Account Director – Kristina Lenz
    VP Account Director – Jennifer Kasmarick
    Account Supervisor – Abby Allsop
    Senior Account Executive – Sarah Wickman
    Assistant Account Executive – Blair Cooley
    SVP Strategy Director – Pushpa Gopalan
    Strategist – Chase Donahue

    Production Company – House Special
    Audio Production – Another Country
    Sound Engineer – Peter Erazmus
    Director – Mark Gustafson
    Art Director – Gee Staughton
    Editor – Cam Williams
    Flame Artist – Rex Carter
    Senior Producer for House Special – Rebecca Bowen

    Media – Starcom 

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    As we wind down for the holidays, we're looking back at the stories that were most popular among Adweek.com readers over the course of the year. Here are the 50 most read AdFreak stories of 2016: 

    50. Heathrow Airport's Christmas Ad With Two Old Teddy Bears Makes Britain Feel Happy Again
    49. W+K's New Ads for Equinox Show Wild Visions of What Your 2016 Should Look Like
    48. Guys Bribe Their Girlfriends to Watch Soccer Alone in Heineken Ad With an Awesome Twist
    47. Tecate Will Ambush Tonight's Debate With This Trump-Mocking Ad About Building a 'Beer Wall'
    46. KFC Just Made Edible 'Finger Lickin' Good' Nail Polish That, Yeah, Tastes Like Chicken
    45. College Acceptance Letters Get Seriously Dark, Beginning With One in the Harvard Crimson
    44. Wes Anderson's New H&M Christmas Ad, With Adrien Brody, Is Totally Stylish and Delightful
    43. P&G Raises the Stakes in Its Latest, Darkly Brilliant 'Thank You, Mom' Masterpiece
    42. This Animator Made 30 Excellent GIFs Celebrating His 30 Days in New York City
    41. Verizon's Old Pitchman, Paul Marcarelli, Switches to Sprint in Delicious Bit of Backstabbing

    40. Watch the Voiceover Recording for an Ice Cream Ad Go Horrendously, Comically Wrong
    39. Ikea Finally Agrees to Collaborate With Kanye West, but Not the Way He Wanted
    38. McDonald's Billboard Gives Ridiculously Lengthy Directions to a Burger King Drive-Thru
    37. This Guy Posed as a Donut Delivery Man to Get Into Agencies and Try to Land a Job
    36. Here's What's Behind the Mysterious Oreo Door That Popped Up in NYC Today
    35. Brands Post Tributes to Prince, but Struggle to Make Them Heartfelt and Not Promotional
    34. This Emoji Billboard for Deadpool Is So Stupid, It's Genius
    33. How JetBlue Achieved the Impossible: Getting Passengers to Love It When Babies Cry
    32. YouTube Music's Latest Ad Campaign Is an Infectious Ode to the Diversity of Music Lovers
    31. Here Are 25 Sweet, Simple Ads From Coca-Cola's Big New 'Taste the Feeling' Campaign

    30. See the Nivea Campaign That John Hegarty Called the Stupidest Thing He's Ever Seen
    29. Heineken Just Made an HR Campaign That's as Cool as Any Consumer Ads It's Done
    28. Introducing the Handys, the Award Show for Advertising's Biggest Wankers
    27. This Agency's New Website Is a Huge, Hilarious Parody of Terrible Agency Websites
    26. Patriotic People Are Shocked to Learn Where They Really Came From in This Viral Ad
    25. McCann Created an Escort Service That Had a Macabre Surprise for Anyone Who Tried It
    24. The Writers of Idiocracy Aren't Doing Those Anti-Trump Ads Anymore
    23. Ikea Renamed Products After Frequently Googled Problems That Those Products Solve
    22. If You Run Fast Enough Past This Reebok Ad, It Unlocks a Free Pair of Sneakers
    21. Michael Phelps Returns for One Last Swim in Under Armour's Haunting New Ad

    20. Audi Made One Hell of an Entertaining Ad for Tonight's Debate That Everyone Will Love
    19. Art Director Totally Nails the Humor and Heartbreak of Millennial Life in Ads for Her Book
    18. Adobe's Cheeky New Clothing Line Celebrates Some of the Worst Stock Photos Ever
    17. See What a 14-Hour Flight Is Like in the Insane Luxury of a $21,000 Emirates Airplane Seat
    16. H&M's Stunning New Ad Subverts What You Think a Lady Should Look or Act Like
    15. Did This Missouri Democrat Just Make the Best Campaign Ad of the 2016 Election?
    14. Chevy's 'Little Red Corvette' Tribute to Prince Is So Good, It's Running in Print Too
    13. 'We All Need the D,' Says Ad Campaign That Obviously Doesn't Know What 'the D' Means
    12. Agencies on Canal Street Are Waging a Post-it-Note War, and It's Awesome
    11. Hamburger Helper Dropped an Entire Rap Album for April Fools', and It's Shockingly Good

    10. Temptations Made a Collar That Finally Gives Your Cat a Human Voice, So It Can Talk to You
    9. If You're Sick and Tired of Hipstery 'Maker' Culture, Watch This Hilarious Video Now
    8. This Photographer Takes Fun Portraits of People After One, Two and Three Glasses of Wine
    7. Burger King Had a Pretty Good Comeback to That Big, Insulting McDonald's Billboard
    6. Snickers Just Put the Most Epic Photoshop Fail on the Back of SI's Swimsuit Issue
    5. Spotify Crunches User Data in Fun Ways for This New Global Outdoor Ad Campaign
    4. Who Is Louise Delage? The Troubling Truth Behind an Overnight Instagram Success
    3. Here's the Lovely Salute to the Cubs That Nike Aired After the Final Out of the World Series
    2. Can You Figure Out the Mystery Inside This Remarkable Ad About High School Love?
    1. How This Poster in a Women's Restroom at a Bar Cleverly Combats Sexual Assault

    See also:
    The 50 Most Read Advertising and Branding Stories on Adweek.com in 2016
    The 50 Most Read Tech Stories on Adweek.com in 2016
    The 50 Most Read TV Stories on Adweek.com in 2016

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    The recent fall of Aleppo marked a turning point in Syria's long war, which began more than five years ago and reached its violent apex in 2016 as a numb and largely powerless world looked on. 

    Images of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh riding in an ambulance after a bombing—covered in dust and dried blood and unaware that he would soon lose his older brother—will feature prominently in many future summaries of the year that was. 

    As the conflict that has killed more than 300,000 and displaced 20 times that number continues, a cautiously hopeful campaign promoting the work of humanitarian group Unicef reminds us that some young people have escaped the bloodshed to make new lives for themselves. 

    Last February, the first animated "Unfairy Tales" spot by creative agency 180LA highlighted the story of Malak, a 7-year-old girl who crossed the Mediterranean Sea in a rickety boat with her mother. A later effort by the same agency focused on 13-year old Mustafa, who had to leave his toys and friends behind as some of his family fled to Germany. 

    That work has been viewed by more than half a billion people across 176 countries while winning five 2016 Cannes Lions, including the Grand Prix for Good. 

    Now, for two new spots in the series, 180LA revisits both kids one year later. Malak no longer faces daily threats of violence or an unforgiving sea, but thoughts of the conflict that separated her from her friends in Syria remain. 

    A maturing Mustafa reflects on why some German children might be wary of him, while noting that his father and sister are closer to the ongoing unrest in Iraq and Syria. 

    Despite the upbeat tone of the ads, the absence of Mustafa's family emphasizes that the narratives of many refugees will not be neatly resolved.

    "Nearly 50 million children are on the move—28 million of them forced to flee their homes because of conflict," said Unicef director of communication Paloma Escudero. "Across the world, people are showing acts of humanity to migrant and refugee children, welcoming them into communities and schools. These small acts of kindness can make all the difference to individual lives, and we encourage more people to show empathy toward children on the move." 

    "Many people were touched by these films and wanted to know what happened to the children," said Eduardo Marques, executive creative director at 180LA. "We're happy to share they've found new homes in Germany, but we all need to be reminded that these kids need to be welcomed into their new community and no act of kindness is too small."

    The new ads will be promoted across Unicef's social media channels as part of its #actofhumanity global campaign.

    180LA created the ads, with animation houses Consulado, House of Colors, Bubba's Chop Shop and Gilles+Cecilie Studio contributing their work pro bono; Circle of Sound and Therapy Studios handled the sound and music, while Media Monks produced a corresponding series of interactive e-books.

    The lead agency was one of 51 businesses that answered President Obama's September call to action regarding the global refugee crisis and the settlement of children like Malak and Mustafa.


    Client: Unicef
    Campaign: "Unfairy Tales": Follow-up Films

    Ad Agency: 180LA
    William Gelner, Chief Creative Officer
    Michael Allen, Chief Executive Officer
    Rafael Rizuto, Executive Creative Officer

    Eduardo Marques, Executive Creative Officer

    Dave Cuccinello, Creative Director

    David Povill, Creative Director

    Meredithe Woodward, Account Manager
    Michael Allen, Account Planning Director
    Natasha Wellesley, Director of Integrated Production
    ​Jason Lau, Art and Content Producer​
    Ryan Schmidt, Digital Producer
    Michelle McSorley, PR Director
    Loretta Zolliecoffer, Director of Business Affairs

    Melvin Editorial
    Dave Groseclose, Editor
    Brian Scharwath, Post Production Manager

    Mixing and Sound Design: Therapy Studios
    Executive Producer: Joe DiSanto
    Head of Production: Allegra Bartlett
    Mix: Eddie Kim
    Sound Design: Eddie Kim & Justin Lebens
    Audio Assistant: Brandon Kim

    Film: Unfairy Tales: The Next Chapter - Mustafa
    Animation House: Bubba's Chop Shop, Gilles + Cecilie Studio
    Music By: Circle of Sound
    Mixing and Sound Design: Therapy Studios
    Executive Producer: Joe DiSanto
    Head of Production: Allegra Bartlett
    Mix: Eddie Kim
    Sound Design: Eddie Kim & Justin Lebens
    Audio Assistant: Brandon Kim

    Film: Unfairy Tales: The Next Chapter - Malak
    Animation House: House of Colors
    Designer Director: Adhemas Batista
    Script and Director: André Holzmeister
    CGI: André Holzmeister
    Visual Direction: Adhemas Batista, André Holzmeister
    Sound Design & Music: Edu Luke and Elisa Gatti for Hefty Audio.
    Character Design: Jonathan Marshall, André Holzmeister, Adhemas Batista
    Concept Art: Jonathan Marshall, Adhemas Batista
    Storyboards: Jonathan Marshall, Adhemas Batista
    Animatic: Ricardo Almeida, Guilherme Neder
    Project Manager: Luiz Abud
    Render Wrangler: Rodrigo Augusto
    Rendering Sponsored by: RebusFarm GmbH / Reederservice

    "Unfairy Tales" Interactive Book
    Production: Media Monks
    Music By: Circle of Sound

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    This week Jon Hamm made his first appearance as a brand spokesman in a new campaign for tax preparation company H&R Block. Contrary to at least one report, the brand says the new spots were not made in response to comments from a certain President-elect.

    In August 2015—the earliest days of a hard-fought campaign—Donald Trump told Joe Scarborough that he dreamed of "put[ting] H&R Block right out of business" by simplifying the U.S. tax code.

    Putting aside his own admittedly complex relationship with the very concept of paying taxes, Trump's statements touched upon a common sentiment among Americans who dread the thought of struggling through their own returns every year. At the time, an H&R Block spokesperson stated that the company would support any "intelligent" reforms to the tax code.

    These new ads by Fallon aim to position H&R Block as the most reliable solution to that perennial challenge. In the first spot, Hamm urges viewers to "blow it up" ... the old way of filing taxes, that is.

    Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect a statement from H&R Block denying the new campaign was influenced by President-elect Trump's comments.

    In a press release written to accompany the campaign, H&R Block makes clear that it empathizes with those who dream of a less frustrating process.

    "At H&R Block, our purpose is to look at clients' lives through the lens of tax and find ways to help. With Get Your Taxes Won, we're taking that commitment to a whole new level," said the company's chief marketing and strategy officer Kathy Collins. "We know there are many correct ways to fill out a tax return and the IRS will accept all of them, but one way gets you the most money back."

    Collins also stated that the campaign "has absolutely nothing to do with the president-elect's past comments," adding, "We are focused solely on doing what's right for taxpayers, and our campaign was developed with them in mind. ... this campaign has been in development for months — far before any election results were in."

    Hamm uses donuts to illustrate the aforementioned "correct ways to fill out a tax return" in the second ad, which again looks to assert the importance of a service like H&R Block's in helping consumers work through what Collins calls a "nerve-wracking" experience.

    H&R Block executives have for the most part avoided mentioning Trump in quotes about the campaign. Collins did recently tell The New York Times that, "We got kicked around a little bit last year." Last month also saw the company's stock drop approximately 9 percent in what financial analysts who cited Trump's 2015 statements called "potential headwinds associated with President-elect Donald Trump's policies and the company's 'Refund Advance' plan."

    The key message H&R Block hopes viewers will take from this campaign is that its services remain valuable to millions of taxpayers despite what Trump or any other influential party might say.

    "This season—the first year of Get Your Taxes Won—we are going to be very aggressive in telling consumers how much we have to offer," Collins said. "This is about helping consumers get the best filing experience and outcome on their taxes. I believe no one can do that better than H&R Block."

    Fallon Worldwide created the ads, which were directed by Simon McQuoid of the forthcoming Mortal Kombat reboot. The campaign debuted on Christmas night and will continue airing throughout the season via TV and radio spots starring Hamm. H&R Block has not revealed any details regarding its marketing spend, but does state that this work will have "more broadcast presence" than past campaigns.

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    We've come to the end of another year, friends. Which means it's time to look back and evaluate what happened in the movie marketing world over the past 12 months.

    There were a number of notable trends this year when it came to marketing Hollywood's latest releases. There was, of course, a heavy reliance on nostalgia, as studios pulled out titles that hadn't been touched for over a decade, like Independence Day, Bridget Jones and others for "legacy sequels" that hoped to rekindle some of that old magic. And superheroes continued to be available regularly, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Doctor Strange and other costumed choices at the box office.

    It was also a year when a few trends started to solidify in terms of platforms and tactics. Studios are regularly hosting Facebook Q&As with stars in the weeks before release. Snapchat is becoming a regular platform as well, both for organic stories and paid executions such as the "Snap to Unlock" ads run for The Girl on the Train, Passengers and other movies. Official websites are also becoming less and less essential, with many movies putting up placeholder sites with little to no information, or skipping owned sites altogether.

    With all that said, a number of campaigns were more notable than others. Below are the ones that really broke through the clutter and made a big impression, though it should be noted that not all of these led to box-office success. Here, then, in no particular order, are the 10 most memorable movie campaigns of 2016.

    Rogue One
    Let's face it, the first time Jyn Erso turned around at the end of the teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, most all of us were hooked. Or else it was the shot of the dish being lowered into place on the uncompleted Death Star. Or it was Jyn saying, "I rebel." Whatever it was, Disney and Lucasfilm pulled out all the stops for this latest Star Wars installment, featuring a multicultural cast and a story of the ground-level Rebellion before Luke and Han entered the picture.

    La La Land
    From the moment it debuted at the Venice Film Festival, La La Land has had all the buzz. Critics immediately latched on to the movie, an original musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, that tells the story of two struggling artists falling in love in Los Angeles. It's a story about Hollywood, which always plays well with the entertainment industry and reporters. But it also just looks completely charming, with trailers that emphasize the big musical numbers and the doe-eyed looks Gosling and Stone give each other.

    Swiss Army Man
    Similarly, this one got everyone's attention at its Sundance debut back in January, quickly becoming known as the movie featuring Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse. The rest of the campaign played up that theme, with trailers and other elements that featured Radcliffe's Manny, a stiff with wide-ranging capabilities that help Paul Dano's Hank survive the deserted island he's become stranded on. There was even a press tour involving a Radcliffe look-alike dummy to keep hammering that idea home.

    10 Cloverfield Lane
    It's been eight years since the marketing for Cloverfield took over the internet, so the bar was high when it came time to market the sequel, which wasn't really a sequel but part of the same universe, maybe, we're not quite sure, but just go with it. The teaser trailer dropped with almost no notice, and the movie as a whole had only been vaguely hinted at before that. So, when we saw John Goodman acting deranged and dangerous, it was creepy and intriguing. An online puzzle slowly unlocked clues about the backstory and set the stage for what wound up being a truly original horror story.

    Zoolander 2
    Paramount ran a good campaign for Derek Zoolander's return to the runway and theaters, one that played up the character's cluelessness and inevitable involvement in some kind of international espionage. The marketing kicked off at an international fashion show, where Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson appeared in character, and continued along those same lines right up until release, with fake commercials and ads accompanying the formal campaign. All that didn't add up to box-office success, unfortunately, but even so, you can't knock a campaign that went all-in on the conceit of the story.

    I mean, come on, like this one wasn't going to make the list. Deadpool was the star of 2016, and that's because the movie was sold with a campaign that featured the Merc With a Mouth acting like ... well ... the Merc With a Mouth. It was super violent and super raunchy, from the moment the first red-band trailer dropped through a series of viral videos, a Christmas-themed countdown and lots more. Yes, much of that marketing was done in 2015, but this is my list and because the movie came out in early 2016, it counts. Deal.

    Sausage Party
    The marketing for what amounts to "Toy Story but in a grocery store" did not hold back in showing off the food-based sex puns that dominated the movie. Everything, from the handful of red-band trailers to the posters and website, all made it clear that this was not for kids, despite the cute animated characters. Instead, it was sold as part of the raunchy comedy brand of creator Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the guys behind This Is the End, Superbad and other modern comedy classics.

    The Nice Guys
    Another movie that didn't fare well with moviegoers, unfortunately. But that can't be laid at the feet of the marketing campaign, which sold this story of 1970s private eyes and tough guys with a funny, charming and otherwise cool campaign. The graphic concept that dominated the posters and other elements looked like it was pulled off the cover to an 8-track tape, and the trailers all presented Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as America's Favorite New Comedy Pair. Not only was this sold as a return to the buddy cop comedies many of us grew up with, like 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon and more, but it struck a chord in those of us who still enjoy a good episode of The Rockford Files now and again.

    The Lobster
    Along with Swiss Army Man, this counts as one of the year's quirkier movies and campaigns. The story follows Colin Farrell as a man on his mandated visit to a hotel where he must find love or turn into an animal of his choosing. The trailers were understated and quietly funny, showing off an understated performance by Farrell, and like La La Land, it got a jumpstart with festival buzz, in this case a Palme d'Or win at 2015's Cannes Film Festival.

    Suicide Squad
    OK, the movie itself was kind of a mess. But the trailers, starting with the first look that debuted at 2015's San Diego Comic-Con, were awesome. Admittedly, the entire campaign overplayed the presence of the Joker, and the press stories of Jared Leto's on-set antics were a bit excessive, adding up to a massive HR violation. The trailers were so fun, though, showing off Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn as the breakout star of the movie and selling a madcap adventure featuring "the worst of the worst." If only the movie had wound up being that much fun.

    BONUS! Captain America: Civil War
    Here's an 11th campaign, which I'm including solely because, let's face it, Spider-Man's appearance at the end of the second trailer was one of the top movie-geek moments of the year. It confirmed Spidey, now played by Tom Holland and on the cusp of another reboot of his own franchise, would be in the movie. And that "Hey everyone" quickly became a GIF you saw everywhere.

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    In 2015, Women's Aid released "Look at Me," a digital billboard where the bruises on a woman's face faded when more bystanders looked at her. Created by WCRS, it was a powerful way to remind us of the red flags in plain sight that often slip past our attention. 

    But domestic violence doesn't always leave bruises you can see. It's often more insidious—manifesting itself in a person who progressively takes control of your bank account and monitors your phone or even the food you eat or the amount you exercise. 

    These patterns of controlling behavior, which slowly pare away at a person's sense of autonomy and self, are called "coercive control." But this is a pretty abstract idea for people who don't have direct experience with it, or aren't sure how to recognize it. How do you convey damage happening on the inside? 

    For the holiday season, when domestic violence spikes, and to honor the first anniversary of legislation criminalizing coercive control in the U.K., Women's Aid and WCRS released a new set of digital out-of-home ads.

    Conceptually, they're subtler than "Look at Me," and focused on the less visible ways a person can hurt you. 

    Ad seen from a distance:

    Ad seen close up:

    "Coercive control is the heart of domestic abuse. Physical violence often comes at a later point in an abusive relationship; what comes first is the systematic destruction of a survivor's self-esteem and autonomy, piece by piece," says Women's Aid CEO Polly Neate. 

    The ads use the displacement effect, a technique where you see different copy depending on the angle or distance at which you're viewing them—kind of like the hologram stickers you used to get in cereal boxes, except you really don't want to get these ones. Above, the words "I love you no matter what" transform into "You are mine no matter what."

    It's often said that much of our communication is nonverbal. Depending on the context, most of it lies in body language and tone of voice, with only a small percentage being the actual words we say. The creepy thing about coercive control is that it can look and sound an awful lot like love to people outside the relationship—and worse still, even to the person it's happening to.

    When a threat is made between the lines, meaning can be hard to prove, which puts victims in an especially fraught position—they aren't just gaslit by others, they probably also wonder for years whether they're crazy themselves. 

    This point is nicely illustrated below, where "You have no idea how great you are" becomes "I'll make you question who you are": 

    The campaign will run in London, Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh, with ad space donated by 8 Outdoor. It will appear on roadside sites with long dwell time and viewability, making it easy for drivers and other road users to absorb both messages as they approach. 

    "The opportunity WCRS has always sought with Women's Aid is to marry messaging with an element of the interactive," says Ross Neil, executive creative director of WCRS. "Interactivity on a media site that consumers speed past in seconds is therefore slightly limiting. Limiting can also be a challenge to creativity; that is why we are so proud of this piece of work. It uses the displacement illusion to deliver hidden messages to consumers, depending on their distance to the media site. Super simple, super effective." 

    Below, "You must know that I love you" becomes "No one will ever love you."

    "Women's Aid campaigned to have coercive control recognized in law, and we are thrilled to have the support of 8 Outdoor and WCRS in communicating what coercive control is to the world in such a cutting-edge way," Neate says. "If we do not understand the nature of domestic abuse, we cannot reduce or prevent it—but this powerful campaign will go a long way to helping many more people understand the reality." 

    Next, "You look great wearing that to the party" becomes "You are not wearing that to the party."

    This last ad plays on feelings of shame: "You look beautiful in that dress" subtly becomes "You look like a tart in that dress." 

    Each ends with a simple tagline: "Emotional abuse is harder to see." Between the lines, we'd add, "That doesn't make it less harmful."

    The campaign kicked off Dec. 19, and will run for two weeks.

    Client: Polly Neate, Teresa Parker / Women's Aid
    Agency: WCRS
    Executive Creative Director: Ross Neil
    Head of Art: Lance Crozier
    Creatives: Matthew Kennedy & Georgia Horrocks
    Agency Producer: Anna Stina Lippert-Larsen
    Account Handling: Torie Wilkinson, Lucy Nebel, Katherine Morris
    Planning: Stuart Williams
    Agency Designers: Jacinto Caetano - Lead Designer, Craig Townsend - Designer
    Director of Technology: Dino Burbidge

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    It merits studying how many kids (and adults) cried this weekend because Santa forgot to pack batteries to go with the drone, or those creepy Hatchimals.

    We hate batteries. More than that, we hate that little "Batteries not included" disclaimer, which is printed so small on otherwise-seductive packaging that even if you wanted to read it while stumbling through the obstacle course that is holiday shopping, it would take five minutes to find.

    That's five minutes off your whole life.

    Recognizing that its core product is the source of so much chagrin, Duracell did the best it could this year—short of totally transforming its business and ridding us of the need for AA's altogether. It launched Duracell Express, an on-demand delivery service for forgetful parents and mythological gift-givers alike. 

    As one guy in this video says, "You can call me the Santa of batteries."

    Created by Wieden + Kennedy New York, Duracell Express served Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis on Christmas Eve, with help from delivery service Postmates. Families could request a last-minute visit between noon and midnight—not unlike calling an Uber—and Duracell's battery-bearers came right to their front doors, ensuring joy amid all the torn paper the next morning. The service (and product) was free while supplies lasted. 

    "In the end, over a ton of batteries were delivered!" beams the press release.

    Building on the Christmas surprises, World Series champion David Ross, formerly of the Chicago Cubs (he's now retired), helped make deliveries to Toys for Tots Chicago, along with the toys themselves. Duracell itself donates 1 million batteries to Toys for Tots each year. 

    "As a father of three young kids, I've witnessed the temper tantrums that can ensue when we've forgotten to purchase the right batteries for the toys Santa brings," says Duracell vp of marketing Ramon Velutini. "I was happy I got to help spread the word about Duracell Express and make sure the magic of Christmas morning wasn't spoiled for any local children due to a lack of batteries."

    Ross adds that over one-third of holiday consumers nationwide forget to buy batteries for their gifts. Sadly, though, when the power of those batteries runs out, you'll have to go back to buying your own.

    Client: Duracell
    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy New York

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    Want to attack your pizza like a Neanderthal, but worried about getting sauce all over your fancy clothes? Domino's has the perfect gag garment for you.

    Just in time for New Year's Day, which is Domino's busiest day of the year in the U.K., the pizza chain has unveiled what it's calling "the world's first 'wipeable' onesie," a ridiculous piece of attire made of "stain proof fabric with soft velveteen for comfort and resilience."

    Made by fashion designer Charlotte Denn, it allows the wearer to eat pizza with wild abandon—without having to worry about sauce spillage.

    Domino's says it took Denn about 13 hours to create the first prototype. We're not sure if that's efficient or not, but before you suggest that any time spent on this was a colossal waste of energy, please note that this "ultimate home uniform" also comes fitted with two giant pockets on each side "to store dips and drinks." That's the kind of innovation you get with Charlotte Denn.

    Along with being timed to New Year's Day, when Domino's expects to deliver 300,000 pizzas across the U.K., the creation of the onesie was also pegged to research revealing that almost three quarters of Brits (73 percent) change into pajamas or comfy clothes the moment they get home each evening.

    The wipeable onesies cost £25, with Domino's matching each sale and donating all proceeds to charities including Teenage Cancer Trust.

    "We expect the first of January to be our busiest day of the year as the whole nation puts their feet up to unwind after bidding farewell to a surprise-filled 2016," says Domino's rep Louise Butler. "We know there's nothing quite like a freshly handmade pizza and a box set on New Year's Day so what better way to celebrate the start of 2017 than with the launch of the ultimate relaxation accessory – not only is our home uniform cosy but it's wipeable and comes with an extra serving of Domino's cheeky humor on the side!"

    Food marketers have been all into silly fashions in recent years, from a whole McDonald's collection to select pieces from Cheetos.

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    God bless the seeds his hands let fall ... for the farmer, he must feed us all.

    This is the closing line from Amelia E. Barr's poem "The Farmer," written by the British immigrant and prolific writer after observing farm life in Texas in the late 1800s. It's a galvanizing piece of work, a reminder to a rapidly changing America that whoever you are—king or poet, doctor or soldier, lord or merchant, craftsman or beggar—you'll need to eat, and this responsibility rests on the shoulders of farmers. 

    Now it's the anchor for an ad from Land O'Lakes.

    Created by The Martin Agency, "The Farmer" recites Barr's poem as picturesque scenes of American agriculture, shot by a National Geographic team, flick across the screen. 

    The result is a reclaiming of our agricultural roots, mingled with something sad and nostalgic. After all, how many of our childhood's sun-drenched wheat fields remain? 

    The ad ends, "Land O'Lakes: Farmer-owned since 1921." 

    The spot's job is to tell viewers that Land O'Lakes does more than churn table butter. It's also a farmer-owned co-op that's nearly 100 years old, and is a major butter and cheese producer in the country—one that boasts few detours between the farm and your table. 

    Agriculture.com likens "The Farmer" to RAM's "Farmer" ad that aired during the 2013 Super Bowl, in which agricultural photos illustrated Paul Harvey's 1978 speech by the same name. Land O'Lakes CMO Tim Scott uses an interview with Agriculture.com to absolve the brand of possible cries of "Copycat!" 

    "I enjoyed that commercial, as did most, but ["The Farmer"] was never intended to be used outside our own walls," Scott tells the site. 

    It turns out The Martin Agency found Barr's poem by chance. Inspired by its beauty, Scott and his team asked for an accompanying video they could use in internal meetings.

    "It was never intended to be shared with the broader public," Scott says. "But when we saw how it resonated with our employees and members, the decision was made to share the video more broadly." 

    CEO Chris Policinski hopes the ad will "showcase our owners' rural values, their hard work and the vital role they play in all of our lives"—but those who grew up in cities may feel inclined to dismiss it, observing that farming is no longer a romantic, self-sustaining profession.

    That's mostly true. In many cases, farmers are forced to sell land to developers, creating urban deserts where you can't find fresh produce at all—but also widening the disconnect between city-dwellers and farming folk. (This ironically makes us more likely to waste food, which aggravates the challenge of supply and demand that so haunts food growers.) 

    But farming has never really been all that romantic. Being, as Barr wrote, a partnership with sky and earth, sun and rain (not to mention economics), it's a relationship that can be characterized only by volatility. 

    When Barr wrote "The Farmer," rural life had already lost many of the charms we attribute to history. Most Americans still lived in rural areas in 1900, but urban sites were growing faster. A drought in the late 1800s drove many homesteaders into debt, forcing farmers to build alliances and even try forming a political party. (It didn't work out.) 

    The agricultural revolution was also in full swing, with new technology (and hybridized corn!) completely disrupting established ways of life—paving the way for farming that looks a lot more like the creepy, cyberpunkish dystopia of Chipotle's "The Scarecrow."

    With all this in mind, Barr's poem isn't so much a romance as a warning: "And men may rise, or men may fall/But the farmer, he must feed them all." 

    We are often lulled into believing our urban professions are more meaningful or important than the "country work" so many of our ancestors left behind. But most of us can't grow our own food—indeed, most would die if "the farmer" weren't scrambling for ways to keep us alive. It's a critical lesson, especially in times as fraught and strange as these.

    "The Farmer" debuted last week and will run in its entirety over a series of college bowl games, including the Music City Bowl, Orange Bowl, Outback Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Sugar Bowl. Online, it will run through the end of January. 

    Check out the 60-second cut of the spot below, along with the full text of Amelia E. Barr's "The Farmer."

    The Farmer

    The king may rule o'er land and sea,
    The lord may live right royally,
    The soldier ride in pomp and pride,
    The sailor roam o'er ocean wide;
    But this or that, whate'er befall,
    The farmer he must feed them all.

    The writer thinks, the poet sings,
    The craftsmen fashion wondrous things,
    The doctor heals, the lawyer pleads,
    The miner follows the precious leads;
    But this or that, whate'er befall,
    The farmer he must feed them all.

    The merchant he may buy and sell,
    The teacher do his duty well;
    But men may toil through busy days,
    Or men may stroll through pleasant ways;
    From king to beggar, whate'er befall,
    The farmer he must feed them all.
    The farmer's trade is one of worth;
    He's partner with the sky and earth,
    He's partner with the sun and rain,
    And no man loses for his gain;
    And men may rise, or men may fall,
    But the farmer he must feed them all.

    God bless the man who sows the wheat,
    Who finds us milk and fruit and meat;
    May his purse be heavy, his heart be light,
    His cattle and corn and all go right;
    God bless the seeds his hands let fall,
    For the farmer he must feed us all.

    Client: Land O'Lakes
    Agency: The Martin Agency


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