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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    It's Friday, so here's an ad from Indonesia graphically illustrating the perils of not using a Hygienex disposable paper toilet-seat cover. "Save yourself from bad ass," says the copy. I don't know. Seems kind of alarmist.

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  • 03/08/13--08:09: Ad of the Day: Jaguar
  • An ad touting excellent gas mileage or a turbo-powered engine or a spectacularly designed exterior isn't enough to sell a car these days. What you need, apparently, is a narrative of cinematic proportions. Throw in an of-the-moment actor and an original song by a buzzy artist, and you've got Jaguar's short film for the F-Type convertible.

    The 15-minute branded film from agency Brooklyn Brothers and Ridley Scott's RSA Films, titled Desire, won't be out for the foreseeable future. But this week, after releasing several behind-the-scenes featurettes—something that's becoming increasingly common for even the lowliest ads—Jaguar has unveiled a full teaser trailer. It stars Homeland actor Damian Lewis (also a Brit, which we've hopefully all figured out by now) and Shannyn Sossamon (who you probably last saw in 2001's A Knight's Tale), and even features an original song, aptly titled "Burning Desire," by pretty, dead-eyed warbler Lana Del Rey.

    Based on the 1:20 spot, here's what we can deduce: Desire appears to be the tale of a car delivery gone terribly wrong. Lewis, playing suited deliveryman Sydney Clark, is attempting to get a shiny red Jaguar F-Type to a wealthy businessman. But because "in the desert, nothing is simple" (according to the title cards, or possibly an old desert saying), he ends up caught in a fight between a gangster and the gangster's ex-wife. Played by Sossamon, the ex-wife's main job seems to be brandishing a gun inches away from Lewis's head while yelling at him to drive. Meanwhile, her gangster ex takes occasional breaks from waving his own piece to call Lewis "Prince Harry" and hyperventilate into a paper bag.

    Yes, it's more than a little reminiscent of BMW Films from 2001. But all in all, it looks like good fun.

    Client: Jaguar
    Agency: Brooklyn Brothers
    Production Company: RSA Films
    Director: Adam Smith

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    For the fourth and final Oreo Separators video, Wieden + Kennedy got a nonhuman to separate the Oreo cookie from its creme. Say hello to HERB (short for "home exploring robotic butler"), a robot built by scientists at Carnegie Mellon. After some trial and error, HERB is given an algorithm that allows him to perform the task fairly well—impressive, given that he can't even pronounce "Oreo" properly. (And what's with the British accent? You're from Pittsburgh.) More ominously, HERB displays some anti-social tendencies here, including being quite argumentative when it comes to his "precious creme." He's not quite HAL-like yet, but I wouldn't let him hold that giant knife in the future.

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    You're just the average Heineken drinker. A 35-year-old hedge-fund manager who hit it big betting against the market in 2007. You're doing your jet-setting around the world thing, party hopping the most exclusive clubs in Vietnam and Nigeria. Because Thursday night is the new Friday night, and you work hard but you play hard, too. Anyways, of course the hottest ladies in the room are always gonna beeline it for you. Because come on, look at you, and because those private dance lessons you've been taking are really paying off. But see, it's just your luck that your would-be local flings always have jealous local boyfriends, who are also wealthy and thuggishly possessive. They don't take kindly to your grinding all up on their dates. It's cool, though, man, because, whatever, you're not looking for any trouble, everybody's just here to have a good time. You'll go sit at the bar and cool off with a Heineken, which by the way comes in this sexy new bottle, with a longer neck, instead of that old, stubby, chubby design you'd have never been seen holding in public.

    When your global party circuit takes you back to New York—that is to say, to civilized society—where you're confident that stealing some mustachioed doofus's woman won't result in parts of your body turning up in seven different roadside ditches outside Ho Chi Minh City or Lagos, you're totally fearless, because what would 007 do? A little bad luck—or is it something more nefarious?—impedes and humiliates your rival. You meet your new dance partner at the bar. There, you'll each have a Heineken, bartender, because a $2 bottle of beer is definitely what the bombshell in the $10,000 dress at the cocktail party always finds most charming, cause she's just really cool and down to earth like that.

    The spot is Heineken's latest from Wieden + Kennedy—and the first in its dazzling "Open Your World" campaign to come out of the agency's New York office (prior installments were created by W+K Amsterdam and by TBWA\Neboko). The ad was directed by Rupert Sanders, also director of Snow White and the Huntsman and, to the dismay of Twilight zealots everywhere, snogger of Kristen Stewart. The new bottle is already available in 170 markets, and is now coming to shelves across the U.S.

    Yacht and pheromones not included.

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    Age 51
    New gig Co-founder, cd, barrettSF
    Old gig Partner, ecd, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

    What advice did Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein have about launching your own shop? What about Pat Fallon?
    Jeff and Rich didn’t need to give me any advice. They’ve been showing me the right way to do it for the last 10 years, and Pat for the last 25. I’d put Dan [Wieden] in there as well. I’ve had unbelievable role models. Very lucky that way.

    How will barrettSF stand out in a crowded marketplace?
    Agencies burn so much time and energy trying to brand themselves. If we look in the mirror we know it’s mostly just a bunch of words. All we really are is the work we do. That’s how [co-founder] Patrick [Kelly] and I want to stand out—with the work we do.

    What’s with all the forty- and fiftysomething creative directors going solo?
    Probably a little different for all of us. I’d thought about starting something for a long time and I was just ready. I didn’t have a big account. I didn’t have a brilliant plan. I just knew I wanted to build something new. I wanted to create not just an ad but a place.

    Which recent startups do you admire and why?
    I admire anyone who chucks it all and starts over. Guys like David [Droga], Gerry [Graf] and Ty [Montague]—they’re all highly successful people who gave up a lot of stature and security.

    You grew up on the East Coast. Why do you love San Francisco?
    The West Coast takes the edge off type A people. I love New York, but I can’t last there for more than a week or two at a time. San Francisco is an amazing combination of laid-back and driven.

    How did studying English at Princeton prepare you for advertising?
    I have a recurring nightmare where I’m back at college, I’m trying to write a 100-page thesis on a Smith Corona typewriter and it’s due in two days. It’s just me and a toaster oven and a bottle of NoDoz. I think Princeton prepared me for advertising by stressing the crap out of me.

    Who’s your favorite author?
    Charles Schulz. Simple, funny and soulful. More advertising should be that way. There’s a new Charlie Brown movie coming out in 2015; that’ll be a half-day at barrettSF.

    What was it like to work with Michael Jordan on Nike?
    The whole Nike athlete experience was incredible. You realize these people are exceptional not just for their physical talents, but [also] for the strength of their minds. Jordan was driven to be the best in the world at everything he did, including commercials.

    I didn’t realize how competitive you were until you crushed me in pool in the East Village. Where does that come from?
    Ever since I was a kid I’ve hated losing to advertising journalists and older brothers. I’m a middle child. I’ll always be the little brother looking to prove himself in a lot of ways.

    What was your worst ad ever?
    A print ad for a bakery. It has a picture of a Rolls-Royce with the headline, “We Make the Second Best Rolls in the World.” I don’t typically showcase that one in new business presentations. If there were an award show called the Stinkies, I feel confident I’d do well.

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    While Peeps has been an Easter treat for six decades, who knew that 30 percent of the iconic marshmallow chicks are bought to make cool creations like dioramas, bonnets and birdhouses? Riffing off these myriad inspirations, Peeps is targeting crafty moms with its “Express Your Peepsonality” campaign, featuring its first digital effort as well as a new broadcast TV spot airing tonight—its first in several years.

    “We’ve always embraced the crafts and recipes part of our brand,” said Mark Hoffman, senior brand manager. “But how we are communicating it now really brings it all together.”

    Peep’s agency, Terri & Sandy Solution, hatched a sweet spot called Brothers by culling ad copy from the Web. In the :30 spot, a boy indoctrinates his younger brother on Peeps possibilities (Peeps in a blanket, Peeps topiaries, Peeps Abraham Lincoln statues, etc.) as they celebrate the Easter holiday. A :60 version of the commercial is available on YouTube.

    Meanwhile, Peeps will also target moms on Facebook with display ads; the brand’s 250,000 fans will see a new Peeps post every day until Easter.

    For those who fret that Peeps will soon fly the coop, have no fear. “People know us mainly from Easter,” Hoffman explained. “But we plan on carrying through our messaging to encourage Peeps s’mores in the summertime and into the Christmas season.” 

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    Paper? Pa-per? What the hell is that? Leo Burnett's ad for French toilet-paper brand Trefle celebrates parchment in its various forms, presenting a woman who reads printed books, puts sticky notes on the fridge, plays sudoku with a pencil and draws pictures on a paper pad with her daughter. Her doofus husband prefers doing all such activities on his tablet computer, and he admonishes her time and again for being old fashioned. But he gets his comeuppance while sitting on the can (that's Cannes in French). The toilet paper runs out, and when he calls for a refill, she slides his tablet under the door, its display aglow with the image of fluffy T.P. ("Paper has a big future," says the on-screen text.) I picture the wife in the hall, rolling—for lack of a better pun—on the floor with laughter. So, you can wipe the screen, but shouldn't use the screen to wipe? Wish I'd known that years ago.

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    "Sometimes you gotta eat people, America. That's how business works." Old Spice has a charmingly roguish new executive director of marketing, who brings a uniquely authentic vision for selling Old Spice Wild Collection "smell products." That's because he's a wild animal. But luckily, he has a futuristic wolf-to-human translator voice box contraption strapped to his neck, so he can explain himself to you, and why he's so awesome at what he does. His advice? "Follow my twitters" and "Readings my blog" to learn more about Old Spice. Failing to do so could result in your being swiftly devoured. Bring in the meat sacks! The campaign, by Wieden + Kennedy, follows the recent snarling-wolf- and screeching-eagle-heavy ads for the client's Wolfthorn and Hawkridge scents.



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    A poorly frosted cake is a tragedy in The Martin Agency's new ad for Cool Whip. "Mistreated Cakes," which breaks today and pushes Cool Whip Frosting, plays out like a PSA on behalf of the "millions of innocent cakes [that are] mangled, mistreated and hurt" by rival frostings, which just aren't as smooth. Images of sloppy cakes give way to a shot of a supermarket freezer full of Cool Whip Frosting, as a plaintive male voice explains, "There is something you can do." After a lush close-up of Cool Whip Frosting being spread on a chocolate cake, the ad shifts back to a sad sack of a birthday cake just as one of its candles topples over. "Please help," implores the voice, amid sparse piano notes. "Cool Whip Frosting. Together, we can change the way cakes are frosted." Martin senior copywriter Bob Meagher said the mock-PSA approach stemmed from a simple idea: What if a cake had feelings? To get the mood right, Meagher and senior art director Pat Wittich watched old PSAs and, yes, baked a cake. The ad, which targets moms whose families bond over dessert, will run through May during shows such as Food Network's Cupcake Wars and ABC's Grey's Anatomy, according to Marjani Coffey, brand manager on Cool Whip at Kraft Foods.

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  • 03/11/13--11:57: Ad of the Day: Dove
  • Ogilvy Toronto's latest effort in its "Real Beauty" campaign for Dove has been getting lots of praise in recent days. But while it's certainly sneaky and attention getting, it required its own retouching to be believable.

    What the agency did was create a Photoshop action (essentially, a plug-in) that claimed to add a fake skin glow to a model's appearance in a photo—but in fact reverted the image to its original, pre-manipulated state. The agency then seeded the action on Reddit, where art directors and photo retouchers could download it. Then, when they went to use it, they would be lightly admonished with a screen message that read, "Don't manipulate our perceptions of real beauty." (They would have the option of undoing the action, lest all their nefarious airbrushing were actually lost.)

    Clever, yes. Effective? It depends.

    It's been getting press, and in that sense it achieved its goal. But the campaign purposely misrepresents itself, which is a curious choice for a brand built on honesty to do.

    Did significant numbers of people download this action and use it? No. The Reddit item barely got any upvotes. And professional retouchers aren't exactly known for trolling Reddit looking for free actions offering a vague "skin glow" effect. Rather, here the case-study video itself (see below) is the marketing. And in that sense, it's hollow—and not in keeping with the brand promise.

    Here's what Dove says about the stunt: "After years of celebrating Real Beauty and helping women find happiness in how they look, Dove decided to try something different. For the first time, we spoke directly to those responsible for manipulating our perception of beauty—art directors, graphic designers and photo retouchers—in a place only they could be reached."

    In fact, Dove didn't speak to any of them directly. Its agency had a clever idea it knew wouldn't really work in the real world, but went ahead with it anyway—and then let the video make it seem like something it wasn't. Isn't that just the kind of obfuscating that Dove claims to oppose? Isn't it a little odd that a brand that's devoted to making a real difference would agree to make such a theoretical one? Don't manipulate our perceptions of real beauty? OK, but only if you don't manipulate the effects of a campaign that was never intended to achieve anything like what it claims to.

    The stunt got people talking, but at what cost? Dove is a brand built on trust. And while it may seem like splitting hairs, don't we now know that the brand will bend the truth a little to suit its goals?

    Ogilvy has done great work for Dove, including the famous "Evolution" video. This latest stunt is awards bait, but not much more.

    Client: Dove
    Agency: Ogilvy, Toronto
    Creative Directors: Matt Hassell, Ian MacKellar
    Art Director: Stefan D'Aversa
    Copywriter: Noah Feferman
    Account Director: Aviva Groll
    Account Supervisor: Asha Davis

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    Don Draper is a man with at least two identities, so it shouldn't be surprising that he's seeing double on the Mad Men Season 6 poster, which AMC unveiled today. The New York Times has the story behind its creation:

    Showrunner Matthew Weiner, inspired by a childhood memory of lush, painterly illustrations on T.W.A. flight menus, decided to turn back the promotional clock. He pored over commercial illustration books from the 1960s and '70s and sent images to the show's marketing team, which couldn't quite recreate the look he was after.

    "Finally," he said, "they just looked up the person who had done all these drawings that I really loved, and they said: 'Hey, we've got the guy who did them. And he's still working. His name is Brian Sanders.' "

    UPDATE: AMC also released this video offering a sneak peek at the new season.

    For use on external sites w/exclusive video premieres.


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    The outdoor industry will be the first to tell you it gets no respect. There’s a history behind that: a billboard was for decades an afterthought, tossed in only as a support to broader TV or radio campaigns.

    But the challenges of breaking through in this vintage medium have elevated creativity to new heights. The best outdoor efforts work because they’re simple—you need to “get it” within seconds as you drive by.

    It’s safe to say the envelope has been pushed, which is why we’re presenting our picks for the most visually fun and arresting work over the last three years. None of these campaigns have won Obies, the outdoor industry’s highest creative honor (save one from Mini Cooper), but they easily could have.

    Such creativity also helped the out-of-home industry, which includes digital and place-based media, grow 4 percent to $6.7 billion in 2012, per the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. Not bad for the Rodney Dangerfield of media. [NOTE: this article reflects a corrected industry revenue total.]

    View the Most Eye-Catching Ads on Billboards

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    IDEA: So much sports advertising is about glitz, glamour and superstars being superhuman. Dick's Sporting Goods wants no part of that. "You see Rory and Tiger out there hitting golf balls into cups from a hundred miles away. And that's cute and entertaining. But it's not what we're interested in," said Seth Jacobs, creative director at Dick's ad agency, Anomaly. Dick's is about real athletes in real sports moments. "It's the level underneath what you see on TV as a fan. It's the moments athletes know about," says Dick's brand vp Ryan Eckel. For this new spot, Anomaly focused on just such a moment: the dramatic tension after one pitch and before another late in a tied baseball game. Everything about the ad, from the talent to the way it's shot, is meant to feel real and remind the viewer how intense baseball can be. "There's a purity to these sports," said Eckel. "That's what we're trying to shine a light on."

    COPYWRITING: The spot opens on a batter swinging through a pitch as the crowd cheers. The camera then sweeps around behind the catcher and begins to pick out player after player in the field, all of whom are making typical baseball chatter—offering words of motivation and strategy to their teammates.

    After a pickoff throw to first base, the camera circles back around to the pitcher, all in one take, as he begins to throw—and the scene abruptly cuts to black. "Every pitch. Every inning. Every game. Every season starts at Dick's Sporting Goods," says the onscreen copy. "We want to show the strategy of baseball—what everyone is doing, not just the pitcher and the batter," said Jacobs. All of the players are athletes—not actors—and they didn't work from a script. "If you cast a real athlete, there's no line I'm going to write that will be better than what they would naturally say," said Jacobs.

    ART DIRECTION/FILMING: @radical.media director Derek Cianfrance shot for two nights at Blair Field, a college park in Long Beach, Calif. In the end, they used a take from the first night, when a lifting fog gave the air an ethereal quality. Cianfrance used zooms—something of a forgotten art. "We were looking at old Westerns and the way they used zooms," Jacobs said. "We all felt if you could do it with zooms in one take, moving around on a dolly track, that you'd get a much more real, on-the-field feeling, instead of going all digital with spidercams and crazy stuff like that." Anomaly designed the uniforms from scratch—the fictional Rock City Ramblers and Ashland Aces—and went for "a glory-days-of-baseball look without being too retro," said Jacobs. (The players loved them so much, they stole them.) The 200 extras were multiplied in post to make a bigger crowd. The ad was shot on film and letterboxed to enhance the cinematic feel.

    TALENT: The real star is the pitcher, Cody Buckel, a 20-year-old from Simi Valley, Calif., who is currently in spring training with the Texas Rangers. He radiates intensity. He did some acting in high school, but this was mostly about drawing on his experiences on the mound. "Sometimes I poke fun at commercials, like, 'That would never happen in baseball,'" Buckel told Adweek. "But this ad is very realistic. The feeling of a full crowd, the pressure of the moment—I've been in situations like that. It turned out pretty cool."

    SOUND: Every player was miked. Underneath the players' chatter and the crowd noise, subtle dramatic music builds—discordant low- and high-pitched sounds, mostly strings—to ratchet up the tension. "That sets up the smash to black," said Jacobs. "It's important that you don't know what happens after the pitch. It's a cliffhanger. We show the moment honestly, and not anything afterward."

    MEDIA: The spot is running on cable channels including ESPN, MLB Network and NBC Sports Network, as well as online.


    Client: Dick’s Sporting Goods
    Spot: “Every Pitch”

    Agency: Anomaly
    CCO: Mike Byrne
    Creative Director: Seth Jacobs
    Creatives: Taylor Twist, Mike Warzin
    Brand Director: Damien Reid
    Head of Production: Andrew Loevenguth
    Producer: Chris Noble

    Production Company: @radical.media
    Director: Derek Cianfrance
    Director of Photography: Peter Deming
    Executive Producers: Donna Portaro, Frank Scherma
    Executive Producer / Line Producer: Tommy Turtle
    Production Designer: Gill Gayle

    VFX Studio: A52
    VFX Supervisor / Flame Artist: Andy McKenna
    CG Supervisor: Kirk Shintani
    2D VFX Artist(s): Andy McKenna, David Parker
    3D Artists: Joe Chiechi
    PreViz Artist: Matt Neapolitan
    Producer: Scott Boyajan
    Executive Producer: Jennifer Sofio Hall, Megan Meloth

    Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
    Editor: Biff Butler
    Assistant Editor: Dan DeWinter
    Executive Producer: Eve Kornblum
    Producer: Melanie Gagliano

    Color Correction Facility: CO3 NY
    Colorist: Tom Poole

    Music: MAS - Music and Strategy
    Executive Producer: James Alvich
    Producer: Alex Derhohannesian
    Music Composers: Eric Hachikien and John Jennings Boyd
    Sound Design: Brian Emrich
    Mix Studio: Sound Lounge
    Mixer: Rob Sayers

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    Happy drivers wanted. Volkswagen's free Smileage app for Android, developed with Deutsch LA and Grow Interactive as part of Google's Art, Copy & Code initiative, is set for an early summer release, just in time for road trips. It syncs with systems in most cars (not just VWs) and facilitates all manner of information sharing, including routes, photos and comments. Digital bumper stickers and a variation of the Punch Buggy game (drivers receive virtual punches when they pass VWs) are included. Trip highlights are shared via Google+. The application of technology is impressively innovative, but the broader concept seems kind of forced and creepy. It's like keeping yourself under surveillance as you travel, blithely uploading data to Google as you go—but you're supposed to be happy about it, because this is social media and nothing beats sharing everything all the time. Are most long drives so freaking happy? A weekend trapped in a car with broken air conditioning, three bladder-challenged kids and a irritated spouse sounds more like Frownage. Maybe Bing and Chrysler can jump on that one.

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    There's nothing new about marketers trying their hand at popular Internet memes. But Electronic Arts takes a pretty clever stab at it in the new trailer for The Sims 3 University Life expansion pack. The video uses in-game footage of college Sims to reenact the Lazy Senior and College Freshman photo memes, along with two that are less college specific—Overly Attached Girlfriend and the classic Ermahgerd. Over on Reddit, where most meme fodder is generated these days, the response to the trailer has been surprisingly positive, considering the level of hate that gaming Redditors typically reserve for all things EA, which most recently bungled the highly anticipated launch of the new Sim City with insufficient servers. But it's always hard to direct a significant level of rage against The Sims, which has been reveling in self-aware cheesiness for more than a decade.

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  • 03/12/13--10:50: Ad of the Day: Oreo
  • It's not quite Life of Pi.

    You're sitting, stranded at sea, in a lifeboat with your best friend, who you don't really even like that much, but he's the only other person around, so you'll go with what you've got. But soon the two of you are fighting over whether the imaginary cream or the imaginary cookies are the best part of your imaginary Oreos, and things quickly spiral out of control.

    Still, better than if your shipmate were a tiger. 

    This spot—the latest from Wieden + Kennedy for Oreo—is the second of two spots that came out of the agency's Super Bowl assignment for the Mondelez brand. (The first, the slapstick number "Whisper Fight," aired on the big game. Both were directed by MJZ's Tom Kuntz.) W+K has also been rolling out a series of web videos about elaborate cookie-separation machines under the same "Cookies vs. Creme" campaign banner. Clocking in at a few minutes apiece, each of those succeeds in offering enough entertainment—in the form of wry, absurdist humor—to keep them from feeling like a total waste of time.

    "Life Raft" packs a similarly comedic, if slightly more surreal, ethos into its 50 seconds. Without getting into spoilers, it features the kind of offbeat writing that's easy to laugh at, and invites the question, "Where did they come up with that?"—without flying so far off the handle as to be off-putting. And while it's a soft sell, the product stays at the center of the story line. That makes it strong, classic, memorable TV advertising worth envying.

    Client: Oreo
    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
    Creative Directors: Jason Bagley / Craig Allen
    Copywriter: Nathanial Lawlor
    Art Director: Christina Gignac
    Producer: Colleen Wellman
    Account Team: Ken Smith / Jessie Young
    Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Susan Hoffman
    Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz

    Production Company: MJZ
    Director: Tom Kuntz
    Executive Producer: Scott Howard
    Line Producer: Emily Skinner
    Director of Photography: Toby Irwin

    Editorial Company: Mackenzie Cutler
    Editor: Gavin Cutler
    Assistant Editor: Ryan Steele
    Post Executive Producer: Sasha Hirschfeld

    VFX Company: The Mill
    Flame Lead Artist: Ant Walsham
    2D Artists: Sarah Eim / Emma White / Trent Shumway / Patrick Munoz
    3D Artists: Michael Panov / Brett Angeleillis
    Production Coordinator: Ben Sposato
    VFX Producer: Christina Thompson
    Titles/Graphics: Clarice Chin

    Music+Sound Company: Mackenzie Cutler
    Sound Designer: Sam Shaffer / Mackenzie Cutler

    Mix Company: Eleven Sound
    Mixer: Loren Silber
    Producer: Jessica Locke


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    Have you heard of Hatsune Miku? Perhaps not, but Domino's sure has. Here's a hint: She's one of Japan's biggest stars. More precisely, she is a holographic avatar created for a "singing synthesizer application" from Crypton Future Media. So, what better way for Domino's Pizza to introduce a new iPhone app to the Japanese than by teaming up with its most beloved digital sensation?

    Domino's did just that last week, as the chain's president and CEO, Scott Oelkers, introduced the new app in the corny, somewhat comical video below. Oelkers's enthusiasm, which comes off as more than a little forced and awkward, makes the video either awful or awesome, depending on how you look at it. The app, though, seems legitimately cool, as it allows you to "create vocaloid songs," among other snazzy features. "From the menu to the order, it looks very cute. Just like Miku," says Oelkers.

    Sure, Oelkers may need some acting lessons. But it's not all bad. Now, when you order a pizza in Japan, you can get a mini-avatar augmented reality performance right on you pizza box. That's gotta be worth it, no?

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    Who Co-founders William Pearson (l.) and Mangesh Hattikudur
    What Magazine and e-commerce business
    Where New York offices

    Mental Floss is known for its engaging Wikipedia-like articles (“How Many Languages Is It Possible to Learn?”) that nourish the mind. Few realize the Dennis Publishing bimonthly has a robust e-commerce arm with 1,300 products from T-shirts to beer-tasting kits. Here’s how it all began: After Pluto lost its planetary status, a reader wrote in: “You guys should make a shirt that mourns the loss of Pluto. It should say RIP, but instead of Rest in Peace, it should say ‘Revolve in Peace: 1930-2006.’” The title took the advice to heart, and its business has become a shooting star, with sales projected to hit $2.5 million this year.

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    If Gatorade's latest commercial from TBWA\Chiat\Day seems vaguely familiar, that's because it treads some of the same ground as Element 79's mid-'00s work for the brand, recounting the drink's 1965 creation in a lab at the University of Florida. From there, the TBWA spot mixes stock footage and new clips of Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade and others as it assesses the brand's place in the history of modern sports. This heady concept works best in a pop-culture context. Gatorade is a beloved and ubiquitous game-day fixture, itself iconic, sloshing around in small plastic cups and giant buckets, ever ready to drench the winners in sparkling showers of limey-electrolyte glory. Sure, Gatorade might help gifted athletes—and by extension, you and me—win on the playing field. But more important, the brand is synonymous with triumph and superior achievement overall. That status gives Gatorade a shared meaning that transcends its sporty origins and helps ads like these appeal to anyone hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

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  • 03/13/13--10:24: Ad of the Day: Virgin Mobile
  • I usually have at least one question for our intrepid Ad of the Day candidates. But I have several for Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne. First, why did you make me play that one album on four different boom boxes sitting in the corners of my living room? Also, what in the world is going on in your new Virgin Mobile commercial?

    Coyne is in this ad (following his and the band's recent turn for Hyundai), telling us to retrain our brains, and it feels a lot like watching one of the weirder Flaming Lips songs (like this cover of "If I Only Had a Brain," for example). My favorite moment here is the "cat video" of a person playing with a ball of yarn, apparently filmed by Colonel Meow, not to be confused with Chairman Meow. The brain leaping off the reverse-exploding couch is also quite effective, as are the red-suited interpretive dancers who swirl the giant Kleenex through the air.

    One of the most solid axioms of copywriting is that if you don't have anything to say, say something funny, and that is exactly what this spot does. Honestly, pay-as-you-go cellphones don't really seem like that great of an idea anymore, but Virgin is sticking to its guns and Coyne is convincing enough to make you go, "Wait, why was my cellphone bill $95 last month, again?" It might not make you switch, but it makes you laugh, and that keeps the ad's subject on your mind.

    I'm also not convinced it's not forcibly inserting itself into your brain in some weird way. This is the kind of thing I watch and then expect to start clucking like a chicken an hour later solely to amuse people like Coyne and agency Mother.

    The New York agency has done a great job on this one, too. The casting is great, and it's got a solid Adult Swim vibe. To be honest, it feels most like something from the late, lamented Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, which is a little weird, since Tim Heidecker usually works for Weiden + Kennedy. Maybe it's just the Flaming Lips effect.

    Also, Wayne, is this part of a new direction for the band? Why did you put out your last record exclusively on vinyl for two months? Does not having a turntable make me a loser? Cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck … !

    Client: Virgin Mobile
    Agency: Mother, New York


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