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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    IDEA: Four directors. Five vignettes. One brand new global positioning. A lot went into Commonwealth's 90-second launch spot for Chevrolet's "Find New Roads" campaign. And the finished film is a curious piece indeed—a blend of styles, moods, songs and textures, with magical elements sprinkled throughout that embody the freewheeling inspiration for which the General Motors brand wants to be known. "It's clearly a new Chevrolet," said Linus Karlsson, co-chief creative officer of Commonwealth. "In the heart of that is the American ingenuity and imagination that has always existed inside Chevrolet."

    COPYWRITING: It's five spots in one—showing off the Volt, Spark, Sonic, Impala and Corvette. (Stand-alone spots for each are coming soon.) It opens with a girl and an animatronic dog hopping in the back of a Volt. She flips through the other four vignettes on a tablet before the action returns to her and the dog, who is seen nuzzling a deer at the end. "We really wanted to understand each car and personality," Karlsson said. "We developed very specific mood boards for each vehicle. … It's so easy to just start with messaging instead of trying to figure out what you should emotionally and visually remember about each vehicle."

    The Spark section shows five women dressed in the vehicle's bubbly colors; the Sonic careens through an industrial landscape like a skateboard; the Impala is driven by a suave suburbanite in black tie; and the Corvette Stingray is shown screeching through a sci-fi urban action movie. There is no dialogue. "With the best lineup of vehicles ever, introducing the new Chevrolet," John Cusack says in a closing voiceover. "Why just go from A to B when imagination can take you everywhere?" The tagline, "Find new roads," is voiced and appears on screen. The dog is a central, magical figure—a perfect mascot for the Volt in the sense that "the conflict between nature and technology no longer exists," said Karlsson. "The ending moment is my very favorite thing. When you see those little guys, the deer and the dog, you just feel hopeful about things to come. Leadership is all about hope."

    ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Each segment was its own production—led by directors Brian Beletic (Volt), Angus Wall (Spark), Filip Engstrom (Sonic and Impala) and Nicolai Fuglsig (Corvette)—and has its own distinct look. "To place each vehicle in its own world not only helps create great iconic images, but it helps you relate to the car. People remember images more than messages," said Karlsson. "The Sonic, a little guy with a big engine, is kind of like a Jack Russell dog, fearless and always ready for anything. The Spark is an agile, zippy urban car that fits your life like any other accessory. In a Volt, you're making a silent statement and changing your relationship with your local gas station. And the Corvette Stingray is just jaw-droppingly gorgeous, if you ask me."

    TALENT: Dozens of actors and actresses auditioned for the voiceover, but Cusack had just the right mellow tone. Theophilus London makes a cameo in the Sonic segment, driving to his own song "All Around the World." The Impala man exudes class. "That guy was born in a tux," said Karlsson. "What a classic look. Part Dean Martin, part young Elvis."

    SOUND: Jimmy Luxury, Frank Sinatra and Patty Griffin songs are also used. Cliff Martinez, who scored the movies Drive and Traffic, composed the Corvette track. "Chevrolet has a history of knowing its music," said Karlsson. "I think you look down on brands that don't."

    MEDIA:The :90 broke during CBS' broadcast of the Grammy Awards and will air again during other high-profile events and in cinemas. A :60 will also air. The full vehicle spots will roll out in the coming months.


    Client: Chevrolet
    Spot: "Find New Roads/Dog & Doe"

    Agency: Commonwealth
    Chief Creative Officer: Linus Karlsson
    Chief Creative Officer: Jeff Goodby
    Executive Creative Director: Matt Canzano
    Executive Creative Director: Andreas Dahlqvist
    Creative Director: Larry Frey
    Chief Production Officer: Brian DiLorenzo
    Director of Content: Jeff Beverly
    Senior Producer: Stacey Gizinski
    Senior Producer: Tricia Hoover
    Senior Producer: Kelly Balagna
    Executive Music Producer: Peter Gannon
    Senior Business Affairs Manager: Deborah McCauley
    Business Affairs Manager: Stacy Swann

    —Volt Segment
    Director Volt, Smuggler: Brian Beletic
    Executive Producer/Partner Smuggler Patrick Milling Smith, Brian Carmody
    Executive Producer/COO Smuggler: Lisa Rich
    Executive Producer Smuggler: Allison Kunzman
    Executive Producer Smuggler: Laura Thoel
    Line Producer Volt: Leslie Chilcott
    DOP Volt: Martin Ruhe
    —Spark Segment
    Director Spark, Elastic/Pecubu: Angus Wall
    Executive Producer Elastic/Pecubu: Jennifer Sofio
    Executive Producer Elastic/Pecubu: Megan Meloth
    Producer Elastic/Pecubu: Melinda Nugent
    Producer Elastic/Pecubu: Jason Sterman
    DOP Spark: Sal Totino
    —Sonic and Impala Segments
    Director Sonic and Impala, Smuggler Filip Engstrom
    Producer Sonic, Smuggler: Patrick Fischer
    Producer Impala, Smuggler: Dave Bernstein
    DOP Sonic: Ulrik Bentzen
    DOP Impala: Par Ekberg
    —Corvette Segment
    Director Corvette, MJZ: Nicolai Fuglsig
    President, MJZ: David Zander
    Executive Producer, Corvette, MJZ: Emma Wilcockson
    Producer, Corvette, MJZ: Suza Horvat
    DOP Corvette: Robert Elswit

    —Anthem, Volt, Impala and Sonic segments
    Editor, General Editorial: Noah Herzog
    Executive Producer: Robert Parker
    —Spark segment
    Editor, Rock Paper Scissors: Jamie Foord
    Executive Producer: Linda Carlson
    Executive Producer: Carol Lynn Weaver
    —Corvette segment
    Editor, Rock Paper Scissors: Ted Guard
    Executive Producer: Linda Carlson
    Executive Producer: Carol Lynn Weaver

    FX and Post
    —Anthem, Volt, Sonic, Impala segments
    Creative Directors The Mill LA: Robert Sethi and Phil Crowe
    —Corvette Segment
    VFX Supervisor The Mill NY: Ben Smith and Angus Kneal:
    —Spark Segment
    VFX Supervisor A52: Andy McKenna

    Music and Sound Design
    Mixer Lime Studios: Loren Silber
    Mixer Eleven Sound: Jeff Payne
    Music Editor: Alice Woods
    —Volt Segment
    Music: "Heavenly Day" original recording by Patty Griffin
    Sound Design Jafbox Sound: Joseph Fraloli
    —Spark Segment:
    Music: "Cha Cha Cha" original recording by Jimmy Luxury
    —Sonic Segment:
    Music: "All Around the World" original recording by Theopholis London
    Sound Design Henryboy: Bill Chesney
    —Impala Segment:
    Music: "Fly me to the Moon" original recording by Frank Sinatra
    —Corvette Segment
    Music/Composer: Cliff Martinez
    Sound Design Sound Deluxe: Lon Bender and Harry

    Voiceover: John Cusack

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  • 02/19/13--09:24: Ad of the Day: Nascar
  • Nascar isn't just a bunch of dudes driving heavily branded stock cars around in circles.

    It's also a bunch of dudes spinning out, flipping and smashing those heavily branded stock cars in spectacular crashes. It's also dudes threatening to punch each other in the face, and dudes getting really bummed out about losing and really excited about winning. Occasionally, it's not even dudes doing all this stuff (though mostly it is).

    This is "Twist," the first of five new English-language spots (plus four additional versions in Spanish) for the popular racing association. The first work for the brand from Ogilvy, it's also part of what Nascar is calling its first ever fully integrated campaign, which debuts on TV this Sunday during the sport's biggest North American race, the Daytona 500.

    Overall, the spot seems to answer the brief, "Make people think this sport isn't boring." The defensive posture isn't surprising, given the sport's declining popularity in recent years. It does an pretty good job of condensing myriad little dramas into a 60-second spot—and playing up the rubbernecking aspect of the sport, which may help give Nascar an edgier sheen for the youth demographic it's trying to reach.

    Whether it's enough to stop Nascar from hemorrhaging viewers at live events and on TV is another question. The ad doesn't show much that isn't already familiar. The most insightful bit might be that the events aren't as fleeting as they seem—that drivers spend years working to get where they are, a fact generally eclipsed by the quick thrills of the sport. The nods to gender equality and patriotism feel almost obligatory. In short, it's all very ambitious, and tightly contrived, but doesn't quite turn the corner into something moving.

    Plus, closing the loop at the end by inverting the ad's opening line—"For every turn, a twist" becomes "For every twist, there's a turn"—might not do the message any favors. As it turns out, Nascar is just a bunch of dudes driving heavily branded stock cars in circles.

    Client: Nascar
    Agency: Ogilvy, New York

    Calle Sjoenell- Chief Creative Officer
    Terry Finley- Group Creative Director
    Rich Wallace- Creative Director
    Jack Low- Creative Director
    Joey Monteverde- Copywriter
    Doug Hanshaw- Art Director
    Alvaro Cabrera- Executive Director, Creative Strategy

    Lee Weiss- Executive Producer, WW
    Susan Rafter- Senior Producer
    Dave Lambert- Assistant Producer


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    Never let the reality of a serious injury get in the way of a good advertising slogan. That appears to be Adidas's thinking with its new Robert Griffin III commercial from 180LA, which declares that he's "all in for week 1." The 23-year-old Washington Redskins quarterback, who had knee surgery in January, tweeted out a link to the new spot on Tuesday—and then, about 15 minutes later, felt the need to backtrack a little on the ad's promise. "Feel like I need to say this ... Although my goal is to start Week 1, that doesn't mean I will compromise my career to do so," he wrote. In another tweet, he added: "Starting Week 1 will be the result of healing, hard work, dedication & God's anointing. No rush, just determination." It won't be the result of an ad campaign, either. Otherwise, the new ad is pretty fun, as it explosively illustrates Griffin's voiceover suggestion that he (and every other forward-looking athlete) should "blow up last season." Of course, Redskins fans will be happy simply if he doesn't blow out his knee again.


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    Leo Burnett has won lead creative duties on Pfizer's planned over-the-counter version of Nexium.

    Leo Burnett's Chicago, London, Paris and Berlin offices all participated in a pitch for the OTC business, with support from Publicis Healthcare Communications Group. The other finalist was Publicis Groupe's TBWA, which pitched out of its New York office, said sources.

    Leo Burnett will lead the account from its Chicago headquarters, but the agency will handle Nexium globally.

    Pfizer is hoping to start selling a U.S. over-the-counter version of the prescription-only drug in early 2014, after spending $250 million dollars last year to buy the global rights to market an OTC version from AstraZeneca—Nexium's manufacturer. The FDA must approve the sale of a nonprescription version of the drug in the U.S.

    Prilosec, a similar drug produced by AstraZeneca, has long been available as an OTC option in the U.S., marketed by Procter & Gamble

    AstraZeneca spent more than $20 million marketing the prescription version of Nexium across U.S. media in 2011, according to estimates from Kantar. 

    Advertisements for OTC drugs, which are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, are not subject to the same stringent rules as commercials for prescription drugs, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

    The selection of Burnett for the Nexium assignment also follows a global review of Pfizer's creative accounts that resulted this past fall in a move to consolidate all of its assignments at holding companies WPP, Omnicom and Publicis

    "Leo Burnett's track record of being a strategic and creative partner to big consumer brands, coupled with their demonstrated passion, smarts and creativity makes them the right partner to help us take Nexium over the counter," said Brian Groves, Pfizer's chief marketing officer for consumer health, in a memo to Leo Burnett employees obtained by Adweek.

    "This tremendous opportunity will take advantage of our unbeatable integrated offering and fills the consumer health opening in our portfolio," said Burnett CEO Tom Bernardin in the same memo. "We believe this is just the beginning for us with Pfizer."


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    It's not generally assumed that breasts enjoy being squashed together in a push-up bra. But apparently they do, at least according to these bizarre Valege lingerie ads from France, which depict joyful reunions between left and right breasts around the world. The best part of each spot is probably the breast-on-breast chest bump. Or wait, no, that's the most disturbing part. Fittingly, not one but two ad agencies—Marcel Paris and Publicis Espana—had to squish themselves together to generate these CGI spots. J.A.C.K. of Wanda Productions directed them.

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    Kayak.com's travel deals inspire some hotel-lobby hot steppin' in this new spot, as a middle-aged couple treat us to the "wet-dog wiggle" and the "Chattanooga check-in." (Guess which dance features one partner ringing the desk bell with his toe? Hope the staff has disinfectant wipes handy.) Like much of this company's offbeat oeuvre, the ad rivets the attention. Still, these prize-winning dancers from South Carolina kind of freak me out, especially the baggy-pants guy, who drawls/snarls, "Oh how I missed these shiny, shiny floors!" and later declares that it's "Tip-tap time!" as he stares wild-eyed into the camera. The ad has earned mainly positive reviews, and I've praised Barton F. Graf 9000's work for Kayak in the past. But here I'm unmoved. I'll just sit this one out.

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    Mother yesterday was named lead creative agency on Burger King. Today, the shop released some new ads for the fast-food chain—a :30 and two :15s pushing breakfast items. Long gone are the days when the King would suggestively wake up in bed next to you. But that doesn't mean Mother's campaign will be oddball-free. "Set within the walls of the Burger King home, its restaurant, viewers learn about the new breakfast items while meeting a soon-to-be recurring cast of characters joining the familiar cast of employees including affable patriarch of the Burger King family John the Manager," the agency tells us. John the Manager, of course, appeared in Mother's BK ads last year, including the David Beckham one. We only get a glimpse of the new characters here, but they appear to include a Muppet, a cheerleader mom, a cowboy, a security guard, a park ranger (who is carrying a deer baby kangaroo and has a parrot on her shoulder) and—hiding in the back—an astronaut. There is no Internet hacker. The spots are less eccentric than the cast would indicate, though—in fact, they're borderline corny. But we'll have to see more work to really get the tone. These first spots push two items in particular: Arabica coffee for 25 cents and the Gouda Bacon Sandwich. See the :15s after the jump.

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    Whoa, the personal hovercraft in this new ad for Microsoft's souped-up Outlook.com email service is awesome! Look at it go—va-room! The spot, from Deutsch in New York, works hard to succinctly present Outlook's suite of features, like social-network integration and the ability to sweep extraneous missives (like ads?) from one's inbox. And Microsoft certainly has an ambitious agenda for Outlook.com—it's gone from zero to 60 million users in six months, and the company says it's "ready to scale to a billion people." (Hotmail users can switch instantaneously.) Yet there's an element of overreaching at play here. Even with all these bells and whistles, we're ultimately talking about email here—as much as it wants to be, it's not the digital hub of most people's lives. It reminds me of last year's high-concept U.K. commercial for Google+, which suggested people would share and store every element of their earthly existence there, when we all know that, at best, they just Hangout there occasionally. The Outlook.com extras are nice, but ultimately it's a messaging system, and if that functionality works, that's really all anyone cares about. Will it siphon users from Gmail? Only if it comes with that hovercraft. Credits below.


    Agency: Deutsch, New York
    Partner, Chief Creative Officer: Greg DiNoto
    Group Creative Director: Paul Kekalos
    Associate Creative Directors: Luke Hughett, Sean Lee
    Senior Copywriter: Lee Tone
    Interactive Art Director: Roxy Feldman
    Senior Vice President, Director of Broadcast Production: Joe Calabrese
    Senior Producer: Jenny Hile

    Client: Microsoft
    Senior Director, Product Management, Marketing: Dharmesh Mehta

    Production Company: Anonymous Content
    Director: Malcolm Venville
    Director of Photography: Paul Cameron
    Executive Producer: Eric Stern
    Line Producer: John Benet
    Assistant Director: Bob Wagner

    Editorial: PS 260
    Editors: J.J. Lask, Maury Loeb
    Assistant Editors): Colin Edelman, Matt Posey
    Senior Producer: Laura Patterson
    Executive Producer: Zarina Mak

    Color Correction Facility: Nice Shoes
    Colorist: Chris Ryan

    Online Facility: Absolute Post
    Online Editor: Morgane Furio

    Visual Effects Company: 8VFX

    Musician: Macklemore
    Song: "Can't Hold Us"

    Music, Licensed Music Tracks:
    Composers: Ben Haggerty, Ryan Lewis
    Author (Lyrics): Ben Haggerty
    Producer: Ryan Lewis

    Audio Post Company: Sound Lounge
    Engineer: Tom Jacarone

    Shoot Location: Los Angeles

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  • 02/20/13--09:20: Ad of the Day: Dell
  • This Dell spot from Young & Rubicam in New York is barely a Dell spot, but that's sort of what makes it work as entertainment, if not particularly as advertisement.

    It's the latest in the "Power to Do More" series, which previously brought us Annie, the girl who could fly. In the new spot, we meet Thomas, "creator of an alternate universe." Directed by Bjoern Ruehmann, it's a lot of fun to look at (there are behind-the-scenes shorts for those suitably enchanted by the CGI characters)—especially the nervous rabbit, whose only pleasure in life seems to be the acquisition of a second ear, courtesy of Thomas Wilks, our budding-graphic-novelist protagonist.

    Ruehmann's spot does pack a lot into a few seconds: There's the humdrum eye-flirting between Thomas and the beautiful woman down the row, whom he's clearly using as fodder for the fowl fatale character in his noirish story. The frog is a lot of fun, too. But the cricket-jockey mice are definitely the highlight, as far as I'm concerned. (By the way, people enchanted by Wilks's premise should know that the hardboiled-Wind-in-the-Willows thing has already been done quite well by graphic novelist Bryan Talbot in his series Grandville.)

    The special effects here are a very convincing blend of practical and CG. The bird's feathered hand is a really beautiful piece of costuming, and the rabbit's whole getup is pretty seamless.

    But ultimately, the ad doesn't really convince me that the Dell in question can do anything really notable or different. The spot is meant to celebrate the way Dell technology helps enable interests that people pursue outside of their work life. But with all story and not much product, it has trouble making its own case.

    Maybe that's a sign of the times—computers now being no more or less preferable among brands than diet sodas—even if the tech industry is so invested in telling us otherwise.

    Client: Dell

    Agency: Young & Rubicam, New York
    Chief Creative Officer: Jim Elliott
    Executive Vice President, Global Creative Director: Jim Radosevic
    Creative Director, Art Director: Fern Cohen
    Creative Director, Copywriter: Margot Owett
    Coywriter: Bruce Jacobsen
    Executive Producer: Craig Jelniker
    Assistant Producer: Abby Bralove
    Executive Producer, Music and Creative Content: Jessica Dierauer
    Assistant Music Producer: Rachel Rauch
    Director of Business Affairs: Debra Horvath
    Senior Vice President, Account Managing Director: Lara Griggs
    Account Supervisor: Linden White

    Production Company: Furlined
    Director: Bjoern Ruehmann
    Producer: Leah Fleischmann
    Director of Photgraphy: Roman Vasyanov
    Senior Executive Producer: David Thorne
    President: Diane McArter

    Editing: Work Post
    Editor: Rich Orrick
    Assistant Editor: Healy Snow
    Executive Producer: Erica Thompson

    CG, Online: MPC (Moving Picture Company)
    Head of Production: Derek Macleod-Veilleux
    Production Assistant: Lindsay Myers
    Visual Effects Supervisor, 2-D Lead: Gigi Ng
    Visual Effects Supervisor, CG Lead, Bill Dorais

    Nuke: Alex Harding (lead), John Laughlin, Craig Sylvester, Sang Lee, Carl Fong, Mikael Petterson, Kelly Bruce
    Animators: Grae Ravell, Anderson Ko, Ross Scroble, Jacob Fradkin
    Lighters: Susie Hong, Corey Langelotti, Jimmy San, Ross Denner, Grahame Curtis

    Modeller, Rigger: Andres Weber
    Concept Artist: Andrew Brooks
    Designers: Rob Modini, Colin Hess
    Telecine: Adrian Seery
    Telecine Assistant: Dan Silverman

    Music: Tonic
    Composer: Benjamin Price
    Music Producer: Susan Stone

    Sound Design: Wave Studios
    Sound Designer: Alex Nicholls-Lee

    Mix: Heard City
    Engineer: Eric Warzecha
    Executive Producer: Gloria Pitagorsky

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    Maxwell the Geico spokespig gets rolled by the 5-0 in this ad by The Martin Agency for the company's new digital insurance ID cards. Call me paranoid, but I would never just hand my smartphone to a cop—especially if, like Maxwell, I were already paranoid enough to assume the cop was profiling me due to species-ism. That pig might be able to drive a car, but clearly he has a lot to learn about being a responsible motorist. (How do his hooves reach the pedals?) Also, not to pig-pile on here, but the trooper's baffled reaction to the digital ID probably isn't the reaction users will be hoping for. Bonus points, however, for the #PulledPork hashtag. More recent Maxwell goodness after the jump.

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    Christmas may be 10 months away, but Sony knows it’s never too early to start building buzz for its long-awaited holiday release, the PlayStation 4. Beating rival Microsoft in the race to announce the new generation of game consoles, Sony today unveiled the first legitimate details of the PS4, including some of the launch titles that could be crucial in making the device a sales success right out of the gate (unlike the PS3, which initially saw sluggish adoption due to its combination of high sticker price and low game selection). What will the PS4 cost? No idea. What does the console look like? Good question. For now, Sony would rather focus on showing you how amazing these new games are going to look. So why disappoint them? After the jump, we’ve gathered up the 10 trailers that are supposed to leave you panting for a PlayStation 4. Even if you don’t plan to wait in line for one, you’re going to want to watch these:

    Sony PlayStation 4 Announcement Trailer

    Here's a quick wrapup video from Sony's announcement event, with highlights of several games and features:


    A sneak peek of the new project from Bungie, creators of the Halo franchise. Destiny will be available on current consoles, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but is also being developed for the new PS4:


    Sony describes DriveClub for the PS4 as a "next-generation, socially connected racing game that captures the heart and soul of car culture." The realism of the gameplay footage is pretty staggering:

    Deep Down (Working Title)

    Fantasy RPGs are a staple of video gaming, so it's no surprise that Sony has one lined up for the PS4 (even if it doesn't have an official name yet). In this trailer, you get to see some hot, hot man-on-dragon action:

    Infamous: Second Son

    Popular anti-hero game series Infamous returns on the PS4. Notice that the security camera footage show's the date of Sony's announcement event, Feb. 20, 2013:

    Killzone: Shadow Fall

    Another longstanding PlayStation franchise that's set to return on the PlayStation 4:

    The Witness

    Indie game icon Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid, has created a colorful and intriguing new title for the PlayStation 4:

    Watch Dogs

    Trailers for this open-world epic have been around for a few months, but here's some pretty incredible footage from the PlayStation 4, with narration from the game's lead designer:


    Just so you don't think the PS4 will be all murder and mayhem, here's a trailer for a clever game with younger players in mind:

    PlayStation 4: See the Future

    This five-minute clip featuring the brains behind the PlayStation 4 is probably a bit too geeky for most casual gamers, but if you're curious to hear about the philosophical changes that will separate the console from its predecessors, it's worth a watch:

    So what do you think? Assuming the price is right, are you intrigued enough to consider picking up a PlayStation 4 this holiday season?

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  • 02/21/13--05:32: Ad of the Day: Google Glass
  • Google is back to pushing its much-anticipated augmented reality glasses, and it's doing a better job of it.

    The company announced on Wednesday that it's opening up testing on its Google Glass project to the public through a competition geared at programmers that invites applicants to make a case for why they should be allowed to play with the the technology. The search giant has also just launched the new ad below, which makes the whole idea of what's essentially a voice-activated smartphone that you wear on your face seem more viscerally exciting—and less intrusive—than it did in the initial teaser from last spring, which leaned more toward the off-kilter geeky and curiously conceptual.

    The new spot, from Google Creative Lab and m ss ng p eces, still errs on the side of relentlessly quirky, casting potential users in roles like aerialist, ice sculptor and propeller-plane pilot. We'd venture those demographics, even combined, make up a relatively small portion of the population. Nonetheless, it includes enough range—and enough of the more mundane but still meaningful moments, like trips to the park with your kids or an elderly relative's birthday—to illustrate why anyone who isn't a gung-ho adventurer might care.

    Perhaps most important, it illustrates a social tech experience that's better integrated into a first-person view, without digital thought bubbles popping into your field of vision, or the awkwardness of having to hold up your camera to snap a photo or shoot a video. (Now you can just shout commands at yourself instead.) It's the sort of concept that, if realized, is bound to take Internet-aided narcissism—"Hey, look at what I'm doing!"—to new heights, while also delighting wannabe cyborgs everywhere.

    It's also easy to see that it could be a lot of fun.

    Executive Producer and Creative Direction: Google Creative Lab 
    Production Company: M ssn g P eces

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    Billy Corgan makes his advertising debut in this bizarre, low-budget and cobranded ad for Resistance Pro Wrestling and Chicago furniture retailer Walter E. Smithe. By way of explanation, the Smashing Pumpkins frontman has been a wrestling fan for years, and opened Resistance Pro as his own wrestling promotion firm in 2011. As if the connection between Smashing Pumpkins and smashing skulls wasn’t confusing enough, this ad also isn’t altogether clear what's being sold. It’s technically an ad for the Chicago furniture shop, which is known for its zany local commercials, but Corgan’s wrestling site gets prominent billing, too. The Chicago Tribune reports that Walter E. Smithe donated $50,000 to animal-rescue group PAWS Chicago as compensation for Corgan’s appearance. The Smithe brothers, who appear in the ad as Corgan’s musical chairs competitors, say they hope the spot will help them launch a new furniture line aimed at 24- to 40-year-olds. Via Rolling Stone.

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    While TNT has set the bar pretty high for interactive stunts in public spaces (in Holland, at least), there's still something charming about this "Best Bus Stop Ever" video from mobile firm Qualcomm. When commuters responded via mobile to a Qualcomm URL advertised on a bus shelter, the site triggered a real-world experience, such as a woman offering a ride in a Lamborghini for those who responded to the ad labeled "In a hurry?" Another ad with the headline "Seen it all?" triggered a dog sled team to arrive, and a response to "Bored?" sent in a bus of circus performers to terrorize entertain the crowd. Hat tip to The Presurfer.

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    It's a dispute petty enough to be a subplot on The Office. WNEP-TV, the ABC affiliate for the show's hometown of Scranton, Pa., is refusing to run a TV spot for Dunder Mifflin paper products during the Oscars. Why? Most likely because the fictional brand is too connected to rival network NBC. A de-fictionalized version of the show's paper brand has been sold in real life since 2011 by Staples-owned Quill.com, thanks to a licensing partnership with NBCUniversal. A Quill.com representative tells Adweek that WNEP won't air the Dunder Mifflin ad "apparently because of the brand’s NBC ties". WNEP declined to comment on whether it had rejected the ad, citing corporate policy. A similar ad just ran during the Super Bowl, apparently thanks to Scranton's CBS affiliate, WYOU-TV, being less finicky about the brand's background.

    In another Office-esque twist, Dunder Mifflin's ad has found a new home during the Oscars broadcast on ABC affiliate WUTR in Utica, N.Y. — home of Scranton's rival branch in the show. As for the new spot itself, "The Battle" is a fairly straightforward follow-up to the brand's "Paper Fight" Super Bowl Debut, featuring more white collar grunts attacking one another with paper weaponry. It's like the perfect metaphor for an ad-placement spat. PR agency Olson is leading strategy on the campaign, and both ads were created through crowd-sourcing platform Tongal.

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    Here’s a creative way to highlight an issue as mundane as cramped working conditions. Instead of using computer-generated special effects, agency Dare creates optical illusions through custom set design in new ads for the British Columbia Children's Hospital Foundation. The skewed perspectives and furniture are properly disorienting (it's like they put a hospital in Willy Wonka's house), and the spots illustrate the hospital's current space issues in a way that might have proven too distracting with digital effects. Check out one ad below, watch another after the jump, and read more about the effort over at Adrants.

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    The battle of the Oscar dresses appears to have gone to Gucci, at least when it comes to getting people talking on social media.

    Amy Adams and her Oscar de la Renta dress took an early lead in the social sentiment on the red carpet, according to social tracking by Attensity Media. Anne Hathaway's Prada dress caused a spike later. But Garner and her Gucci dress topped all other spikes in data, Attensity said.

    See the rest of the dress buzz in the chart above.

    Going into Sunday's ceremony, Argo was the early social favorite for the Best Picture award.

    Attensity Media provides real-time language processing and sentiment analysis drawn from public social media sources including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and blogs.

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    Quick: picture a “mom.” Fifty years ago, advertisers and their agencies envisioned a domestic dervish spinning through her kitchen, preparing supper with one hand while waxing the floor with the other—despite the fact that the place was already spotless. And they created ads reflecting that idyllic scene. Problem was, as everyone has since acknowledged, such depictions in no way represented the complexity of women’s everyday lives.

    Fast forward to nine years ago, when Ogilvy & Mather’s groundbreaking “Real Beauty” campaign for Unilever’s Dove shifted the focus from stylized images of magazine-model beauty to emphasize how women of all shapes, sizes, colors and social strata really look and feel.

    It would seem we have evolved far beyond simple tropes and learned to more realistically portray women in advertising. Or have we?

    Quick: picture a “mom.” A modern mom. What springs to mind? Is she in a pinstriped power suit, hair perfectly coiffed, reading a bedtime story to her kids while checking email from work on her iPhone?

    While such images may be dynamic and, to some extent, flattering, they can come off as just as bogus as those housebound-yet-happy suburban superwomen of yesteryear.

    Famously fearful of taking risks and steeped in the slow-moving process of creating campaigns, the consumer packaged-goods giants have long leaned on generalizations, especially when it comes to targeting women, often substituting one stereotype (the tireless, too-perfect suburban housewife) with another (the über-mom, juggling work and family while hardly breaking a sweat).

    “Too often, marketers will generalize when they could have been more personal, more engaging,” says Sarah Kramer, president and global managing director at Starcom MediaVest Group, who steers the Procter & Gamble account.

    Industry experts agree that a key challenge for today’s CPG sector—which accounts for more than $20 billion annually in domestic ad spending alone—is moving beyond catchall clichés and finding more relevant ways to engage female consumers.

    How are brands doing in their quest to forge better marketing relationships with women? The results are mixed. Even the target audience feels a profound lack of connection. The oft-quoted Greenfield Online Study from 2002 found that 91 percent of women believed that advertisers of every stripe didn’t understand them. Recent research from Insights in Marketing’s i-on-Women unit suggests little has changed over the last decade. Just 17 percent of 1,300 women surveyed said today’s advertisers market effectively to females, while a mere 9 percent believed marketers were effectively communicating to them personally.

    “Part of where they’re missing the boat is, they’re painting all customers with the same broad brushstrokes,” says Tinesha Craig, division director of i-on-Women. “All moms aren’t quite the same. All women aren’t the same. Companies haven’t figured out how to customize their message in a way that’s meaningful. I think they leave a little bit of opportunity on the table because they’re looking at just one aspect of who you are.”

    Progress is being made as brands acknowledge that simplistic, broad-strokes marketing approaches are doomed to failure—and, in this social media age, subject to instant, widespread ridicule.

    “Reaching the consumer wherever she is, wherever she wants to hear from you, is much more complex than in the days of the soap opera,” says Erin Hunter, global head of CPG marketing at Facebook. Without naming names, Hunter notes that “some CPG marketers are a couple of decades behind.”

    The proliferation of digital platforms, the mainstreaming of social media and the rapid adoption of mobile and real-time platforms present more challenges for large, process-heavy marketers than the TV, print and radio landscape of less than 20 years ago. Even so, the conversational nature of digital media is actually helping clients break away from old stereotypes and clichés.

    “Marketers have the ability for real-time feedback now like never before,” says Kramer. “Women have the ability to help marketers develop direction and make messages more relevant.”

    That two-way street yields more data and insights than were previously available. “Data helps us to understand what’s most meaningful to them [and] to understand how women are unique in terms of why they engage with brands and why they care” about various products and services, Kramer adds.

    Advertisers are slowly getting to know female consumers well enough to credibly reach different types and learning to stress, according to Hunter, “what makes a brand something she wants to hear from and share with her friends.”

    Here are some of the brands getting it right—campaigns that are making strides in targeting women in novel ways while eschewing stereotypes.

    One recent, high-profile and counterintuitive example is the Super Bowl salvo for P&G’s Tide, from Saatchi & Saatchi in New York. Absent was the familiar image of a women doing laundry. In fact, also missing was any overt pitch to female consumers, even though women are Tide’s primary audience. Instead, the creative employed the kind of goofy humor more often associated with campaigns targeting young adult men.

    A faux infomercial teaser rolled out more than a week prior to the game via Tide’s online channels and NFL Network. The two-minute clip featured a self-consciously wacky pitchman with a Cockney accent demonstrating a patch designed to save “special stains” people might want to keep—among them, a splotch of fruit punch that looks like a unicorn.

    A 60-second spot followed in the fourth quarter of the big game, tracing the journey of a miraculous stain shaped like San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana. We witness the spill by a rabid Niners fan, the resulting media frenzy and finally the stain’s demise in the Tide-powered wash cycle of the fan’s wife, who just happens to root for the Baltimore Ravens.

    “Her character isn’t simply there to do the laundry,” notes Saatchi creative director Daniela Vojta. Making the wife and Tide itself central to the comic payoff while avoiding the classic women-doing-laundry stereotype was key, Vojta says—an approach that resonated in a big way.

    Adds Angela Natividad, digital strategist at E2C2 and a high-profile industry blogger: “It takes a too-easy trope—the hubby who has a freak-out over his divine stain and starts a cultural craze—and tosses the punch line into the more practical woman’s hands: Oops, she washed the shirt. Oh, it was going to change your life? Better luck next time, kid.”

    Katherine Wintsch, founder of The Mom Complex, a marketing consultancy inside The Martin Agency, says the campaign’s “quirky humor and gender neutrality were refreshing for the category and represent a formula more packaged-goods advertisers targeting women should emulate. Who would think that a laundry detergent would do a Super Bowl ad—and that it would be funny?”


    An offbeat comic approach also drives Target’s “Everyday Collection” campaign, which could well provide the ultimate ironic inversion of the female stereotype. Unlike Tide’s more traditional TV push, Target uses a Twitter tie-in to drive consumer engagement.

    Crafted by Minneapolis agency Mono, Target’s campaign spoofs high-fashion ads by showing exotic women interacting with a range of ordinary packaged-goods and grocery items in unexpected ways. Especially category-defying are a spot promoting prenatal vitamins that shows a pregnant woman tearing open packages of Oreo cookies and another promoting Tide that describes “the other sock” as that magical something we all “yearn for.”

    The campaign’s “Tweet-to-Runway” gambit takes the concept to its thematic extreme. Users were invited to use the #EverydayShow hashtag for a chance to have runway models read their comments. What results is a strikingly effective juxtaposition of models mock-seriously reciting product-related tweets such as: “Just found a dryer sheet attached to the sweatshirt I’ve been wearing all day. At least I smelled good.”

    The approach manages to skewer supermodel and “women-as-sales-accessory” stereotypes without insult or condescension because it lets the audience in on the joke (in fact, for the runway iteration, consumers wrote the dialogue)—this, at the same time it celebrates the everyday necessity of packaged goods. “So,” explains Natividad, “you have this self-deprecating cultural interplay. You get this immediate recognize-the-customer hit, a nice marriage of the quotidian world to ‘untouchable fashion’ and a little bit of irony.”


    Also tossing aside stereotypes while emphasizing social media elements plus adding utility to the mix is Ogilvy Chicago’s “Mommy Answers” campaign for Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies—which might hold the distinction of the least stereotyped diaper ad of all time. Absent are the usual cooing, crawling babies and moms at the changing table. In fact, the diapers themselves don’t play much of a role.

    Instead, we get naturalistic performances in cinema verite-style, slice-of-life vignettes that show couples with babies on the way asking questions sure to cross the mind of any expectant parent: “How accurate are ultrasounds?” “What do contractions feel like?” “What music is best for my baby?”

    Viewers are directed to huggies.com/answers, where they can pose questions via the brand’s Facebook page as well as get email updates, coupons and customized advice.

    The Huggies effort, featuring traditional 30-second spots that drive consumers online where they can engage further with the brand, is an example of the seamless integration that’s become essential for marketers. “Utility and customization are going to win” for brands seeking to build relationships with busy female consumers, says Shaun Stripling, CMO and managing partner of Frank About Women, a consultancy housed inside the agency Mullen. “Give her shortcuts, something useful—and save her time. Her time is at a premium, and utility is the new value.”

    Using Facebook in a mom-targeted campaign today is a given considering their immersion in the world’s largest social network. While the average user spends seven hours on Facebook each month, mothers spend about seven hours every week on the site, according to a Datalogix survey provided by Facebook. What’s more, moms average 25 percent more friends than the average Facebook user, and one out of every six of those friends is another mom—boosting the shareability factor.

    “One of the things we recommend our clients to do is to understand what’s shareable in that market,” says Facebook’s Hunter. “You have to take into account what makes your brand something she wants to hear from and share with her friends. In the CPG space, that can be a little tricky.”

    That is certainly true of Huggies’ “Mommy Answers,” which constitutes a bold stroke that carries some risk for an established brand. “It’s an interesting idea if you want to engage with moms earlier in the pregnancy, but there is an inherent tension,” cautions i-on-Women’s Craig.

    One downside, some say, is that consumers might construe the campaign as a pushy play by Huggies to prod expectant parents to buy diapers months before they need them.

    Let Others Do the Talking

    While Tide, Target and Huggies strive to “keep it real” in their marketing approaches, at the end of the day all those campaigns still employ actors, writers and directors to get the messages across. That’s why brands are increasingly enlisting real people, often bloggers, to speak on behalf of their products, building consumer trust and driving shareability along the way. With such peer-to-peer communications, there’s less opportunity for the flagrant stereotyping so typical of major marketing campaigns.

    That said, brands must choose credible partners and be willing to cede some control of the message. If consumers are satisfied that messages are not simply bought and paid for, significant brand goodwill, more shareability and meaningful conversation can follow.

    Kelcey Kintner, a mother of four who authors the Mama Bird Diaries, a blog boasting 50,000 monthly pageviews, explains: “Too many of these companies are trying to promote themselves on social media with just boring promotional tweets or Facebook updates. They need to hire clever, funny writers who engage with the audience as a way to connect with women.”

    As an example, P&G’s Luvs diaper brand let six bloggers, including Kintner, take over its Twitter feed for a week. Says Kintner, “Companies need to work harder at being a part of the conversation.”

    Fashion and cosmetics brands have also made good use of that strategy. For example, L’Oréal’s Destination Beauty channel on YouTube features content by various beauty experts. “With an expert, even if there’s a little bit of brand integration, the experience is still very authentic,” says Julie Tucker Rollauer, head of industry and CPG at Google. “They’re not going to endorse a L’Oréal product if they don’t believe in it.”

    In a sense, marketing to women has come full circle, as a category famous for perpetuating stereotypes is also helping to break them down. And the evolution continues, with brands working to create a credible snapshot of the female consumer while fashioning more relevant ways to reach her.

    “I give brands credit,” says i-on-Women’s Craig. “They figured out savvy consumers aren’t going to fall for [stereotypes]. A lot of companies are making a real effort.” 

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    Which way to the bar car? John Jameson returns in another fun, rollicking tall tale from TBWA\Chiat\Day, this time rescuing comely lasses and barrels of his namesake Irish whiskey from a speeding 19th-century train. The Iron Horse engine, however, shoots over a cliff and falls into the sea, where it smashes a Prussian ship and sends the would-be invaders sinking to the bottom. Poor Prussians, I bet they got swallowed by a giant octopus. Kidding, of course. I know the octopus is fictional, just like Prussia. (I'm not seeing it on the Google Maps, people! Oh, there it is in Pennsylvania.)

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  • 02/25/13--07:24: Ad of the Day: Velveeta
  • In a classic print campaign for the Citibank AAdvantage credit card nearly 20 years ago, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners raised the question of what motivates men to buy presents for women—suggesting it might not all be about pure love but about mileage points instead.

    In a similar vein, Wieden + Kennedy's new campaign for Velveeta, breaking today, introduces the notion of a "Liquid Gold Digger"—or a guy who's really only interested in your golden sauce, not you per se. He wants you to think it's all about you, though, even while he angles for the cheese.

    In one new TV spot, a teenage boy turns up for a sleepover at his friend's house, knowing full well that his friend is away. He feigns enough disappointment that the mom invites him to stay for dinner. He demands Velveeta on a hot dog.

    Another ad takes place at a potluck dinner, with a young man named Jay telling a white-haired woman how young she looks, even as he digs into her macaroni and Velveeta.

    In a third ad, a woman breaks the news to her friend in a kitchen that her partner is really just after her Velveeta cheesy broccoli soup.

    The tagline is, "Liquid gold diggers love liquid gold."

    Previous W+K campaigns for the Kraft Foods brand looked to sell prepared meals such as Velveeta Cheesy Skillets and Velveeta Shells & Cheese. This effort sells the cheese itself, with a wink, a nod and even a Facebook quiz to determine if you're digger.

    Traditional, blue-collar moms 25-54 are the primary target this time, according to Velveeta brand manager Richard Bode. Here's hoping they have a sense of humor about cheese.

    Client: Velveeta

    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
    Creative Directors: Karl Lieberman, Eric Baldwin
    Copywriter: Michael Illick
    Art Director: Rob Kendall
    Producer: Monica Ranes
    Agency Post Producer: Hayley Goggin
    Account Team: Kara York, Jennifer Segerholt, Ken Smith
    Executive Creative Directors: Mark Fitzloff, Susan Hoffman, Joe Staples
    Agency Executive Producer: Ben Grylewicz

    Production Company: Moxie
    Director: Martin Granger
    Executive Producers: Robert Fernandez, Roger Zorovich, Karol Zeno
    Line Producer: Heidi Soltesz
    Director of Photography: Eric Schmidt

    Editorial Company: HutchCo
    Editor: Jim Hutchins
    Asst. Editor: Patrick O'Leary
    Post Executive Producer: Jane Hutchins

    VFX Company: A52
    VFX Producer: Jamie McBriety
    Flame Artist: Andres Barrios

    Mix Company: Lime
    Mixer: Dave Wagg
    Mix Producer: Jessica Locke

    Sound Design
    Sound Design Company: Barking Owl
    Sound Designer: Michael Anastasi
    Executive Producer: Kelley Bayett


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