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    AshleyMadison.com doesn't get political unless there's a sex scandal to exploit, so of course they jumped all over Mark Sanford. Wait, that came out wrong. The extramarital dating website is endorsing Sanford, the former governor now running for Congress, with a billboard in his home state of South Carolina that says "Next time use AshleyMadison.com to find your 'running mate.' " That's a reference to his "Appalachian Trail" excuse for why he went missing that time for six days. I don't see how AshleyMadison would have helped him since a) his other woman lived on another continent and he still got caught, and b) Sanford is kind of an idiot. But AshleyMadison's job is sleaze, not logic. Not to be outdone, Larry Flynt has also endorsed Sanford, hailing him as "America's great sex pioneer."

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    There are knights in armor, Aztec warriors, ninjas, samurai and special ops commandos outside. There goes the neighborhood! This trailer by 72andSunny (and director Mark Romanek from Anonymous Content) for Activision's upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts features assorted masked warriors, most sporting ornate headgear or fearsome face paint. "There are those who wear masks to hide. And those who wear masks to show us what they stand for," the voiceover says. "There are those who wear masks to protect themselves. And there are those who wear masks to protect us all." That's about it. We don't really learn anything about the nature of Ghosts itself. I'm guessing it's one of those games where you bat a blob of light across the screen, but I could be wrong. We'll know for sure when Ghosts debuts at an Xbox event on May 21, with the actual release set for November. Some may yearn for gameplay footage, but I'm enjoying Activision's teaser approach, which initially masks the details. The riotous "Replacer" spots for Black Ops 2: Uprising, by the same agency, generate excitement while giving little way, and I'd wager the ominous tone and impressive visuals of the Ghosts promo will get the faithful stoked for battle. Well played!

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    Little Debbie did not consult with Gap,JCPenney or any other noted logo overhaulers before updating its own logo—the first tweak to the design since 1985. The change is remarkably subtle, so much so that the dessert-snacks brand is challenging its fans on Facebook to see how many differences they can find. "Leave a comment with the changes you can spot, and share it with your friends to see how keen their eyes are," the brand says. For hints, check out the 1,200 comments left so far.

    UPDATE: Below, check out the original 1959 photo of Debbie McKee, and the first logo, from 1960, which was based on the photo.

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  • 05/02/13--11:47: Ad of the Day: Lexus
  • There's nothing that car companies seem to love more than showing off their creativity by producing short films that have practically nothing to do with their actual products.

    Such is the case with this new Lexus spot from CHI & Partners, the first in the automaker's "Amazing in Motion" series. Titled "Steps," it follows an 11-foot-tall metal puppet—and his five black-clad puppeteers—through darkened city streets, searching for something.

    Sound odd? It is. But it's also strangely beautiful, from the slow-motion shots of the puppet walking down crowded sidewalks to the feeling of complete isolation and longing it manages to capture. The puppet lifts his head from his shoulders to peer through a window at a man sitting alone in an office. Later, he stands on the edge of a building, apparently conjuring thoughts of puppet suicide. Eventually, he finds what he was looking for—his (presumably) female counterpart, for whom he shows as much joy as a giant metal puppet is capable of displaying.

    The ambition behind "Steps" makes quite a bit more sense when you consider that its director, Daniel Kleinman, is the man responsible for designing every James Bond opening title sequence since GoldenEye (with the exception of Quantum of Solace, which was pretty lackluster anyway). Kleinman was also Adweek's official choice as the best commercial director of the '00s for ads like Guinness's "Noitulove."

    Given his talent for the dark, moody and fantastic, it's no surprise Kleinman was able to translate the tale of an enormous puppet—handlers in plain sight—into something so visually impactful. Slightly more surprising is that this is, ultimately, a spot for Lexus—not exactly the world's most out-there brand.

    But if they're going for cool, hiring the man behind some of 007's most iconic scenes is a good place to start.

    Client: Lexus

    Advertising Agency: CHI & Partners
    Creative Directors: Monty Verdi & Micky Tudor
    Agency Producer: Rosie Evatt

    Production Company: Rattling Stick
    Director: Daniel Kleinman
    Executive Producer: Johnnie Frankel
    Producer: Chris Harrison

    Editor: Steve Gandolfi @ Cut & Run

    Effects: Glassworks
    Flame: Duncan Malcolm
    Flame: Iain Murray
    Flame Assist: Nina Mosand, Warren Gebhardt
    3D: Adrian Russell, Roman Polanski, Matt Lowery, Matt Fletcher, Krzysztof Klimczyk
    Telecine: Ben Rogers
    Producer: Kirsty Rutherford
    Shoot Supervisor: Ruben LLusia

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    Adrants draws our attention to this odd campaign by True&Co, an online bra outfitter. True&Co is trying to reclaim the pejorative acronym MILF. Specifically, they'd like to turn "Mom I'd like to f--k" into "Mom I'd love to fit'—as in, fit for a bra. You see, they have the same setup as Warby Parker. They send you five bras to try on at home, you send back what you don't want. Presumably, this means you get the perfect fit. And, during this promotion, you also get a free MILF temporary tattoo!

    "Mommy, what does MILF mean?" "Um. That's how you spell milk." "Cool! Can I have a tattoo, too?" At this point, it's best for True&Co to just apologize, act contrite and enjoy the attention. The company did offer this explanation on its website:"The term brings to mind pervy frat boys but who says they should own an acronym? … We think there's nothing objectifying about a woman owning her sexuality. We'd be proud to be considered a MILF (Mom I'd Love to Fit)."

    Now, I'll admit, there are moms out there who would like to be considered MILFs, but the weirdest part about this whole thing is the art direction. It's all adorable pictures of moms with their kids, and True&Co even wants you to send in your cute pics for its Mother's Day contest and online gallery. The truth? Even if you are sex positive and proud of your smoking-hot MILF status, you probably don't want to involve the kids.

    A bunch more images below.

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    I'll admit to not seeing the twist ending coming in this evocative new spot by BBH London for fruit-drink brand Robinsons. You could quibble with the end lines, perhaps—and here's why—but that's overthinking it. It's an extremely sweet ad, expertly shot by the directing duo of Si & Ad at Academy Films. The commercial breaks Saturday in the U.K. during Britain's Got Talent and will run in 30- and 60-second executions. Credits below.

    Client: Robinsons
    Agency: BBH, London

    BBH Creative Team: Matt Moreland, Chris Clarke, Sarah Hardcastle, Elliot Shiels
    BBH Creative Directors: Hamish Pinnell, Justin Moore
    BBH Producer: Glenn Paton
    BBH Strategic Business Leads: John Harrison, Becky Russell 
    BBH Strategist: Lilli English
    BBH Team Director: Alex Monger

    Production Company: Academy Films
    Director: Si & Ad
    Executive Producer: Lizie Gower
    Producer: Dom Thomas
    Director of Photography: Barry Ackroyd
    Postproduction: The Mill
    Editor, Editing House: Joe Guest @ Final Cut
    Sound: Nick Angell

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  • 05/03/13--09:58: Ad of the Day: Samsung
  • Some smartphones are smarter than other smartphones," Samsung proclaims in this new 90-second spot, which aired Thursday night on Conan. But mostly, some smartphones appear to be younger than other smartphones. Every adult at this graduation pool party has an iPhone, and every kid has a Samsung Galaxy S4—just like the real world, where iPhone popularity is plummeting and…

    No, I'm sorry, that's not happening. But you can't blame Samsung for trying. A company that comprises 20 percent of the GDP of South Korea has a lot of mouths to feed, to say the least.

    This is a good ad, but it is a little strange that there's only one joke feature in an ad about really neat stuff that actually does seem kind of off the wall and science fictional. Smellable photos aren't coming out until the GS6, at the soonest. (The phone does all the other stuff, though, right? I mean, I used to have a Palm Pilot that could turn on the TV. God, I'm old, you guys. Like, iPhone old.) I'm also not entirely clear on what the hovering-finger text-reading thing actually is.

    72andSunny's best idea here is the music, a plucked-string, piano and viola combo that points up the humor and easily accommodates breaks for punch lines. The casting is good, too, especially the girls by the pool and every one of the parents, who are all very game about playing baby-boomer cluelessness.

    As a devoted Apple denialist, I am always up for a few cheap shots at the iPhone. But this ad actually has more on its mind than "Apple users are cultists," which was the point of its very funny campaign for a while. Now, Samsung is actually emphasizing the features of the phone itself, which is … yes, I'm going to definitively call that a good idea.

    Client: Samsung
    Agency: 72andSunny, Los Angeles

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    The 139th Kentucky Derby takes place at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The spectacle is as much a soiree and fashion occasion as it is a prestigious horse race. Thousands will flock to the grounds in their Sunday best. For women, flowered floppy hats and sundresses are always a hit. As for the men, a seersucker suit with a festive tie will do. But all that beauty and enimence won't hide the fact that horse racing can be, and often is, a dark sport. To that effect, PETA is launching a new mobile billboard, which will be driven outside the racetrack, to remind visitors of the cruelties that can lie beneath the surface of the thoroughbred sport. The ad, created by a Temple University student, shows a horse with a marking on his nose that looks like a syringe. (He probably races under the name Old Needleface.) The copy reads, "Drugs. Breakdowns. Death. Horse racing is a bad bet." PETA had better get the ad out there early tomorrow, though, because we all know no one remembers anything after that second mint julep.

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    Nicole Kidman frolics around in some fields, giggles a lot and just generally looks happy and healthy in her first ad campaign for Swisse Wellness, Australia's No. 1 multivitamin brand. And this isn't just some act. "During the shoot, which took place at the historic Terrara House Estate on the Australian New South Wales south coast, Ms. Kidman surprised the crew by diving into the Pacific Ocean for a spontaneous early morning swim at Seven Mile Beach," the brand tells us. "She drove a pickup truck around the rural estate and enjoyed fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden." See, truth in advertising! The spot, the first of four, was done by Melbourne-based ad agency Noisy Beast, which is said to be planning to open an office in Chicago this year to handle U.S. marketing for the Swisse brand. The shoot was styled by a fellow Australian Oscar winner of Kidman's, costume designer Lizzy Gardiner, and directed by U.S. photographer and filmmaker John Urbano. "I joined Swisse because I wanted to help bring awareness to the importance of living a healthy lifestyle in a busy, often stressful world," said Kidman, who signed up as the brand's global ambassador last year. "I love feeling healthy and fit."

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    The problem with this 30-second spot for Crickett's My First Rifle .22-caliber single-shot gun is that it basically markets it as a toy. We see a school-age boy wide-eyed with excitement when he gets his shiny new weapon—"My first rifle," the voiceover enthuses, "a moment you never forget!"—while his chum is glum because he has to make do with a soccer ball. Sis gets a pretty pink Crickett, and the whole happy, gun-toting clan shoot together at the range. (That kid's ear protection is bigger than his head!) The commercial plays like an anti-firearms parody forged by left-wingers … but feels cruelly ironic in the wake of the accidental fatal shooting of a 2-year-old Kentucky girl by her 5-year-old brother, who'd received a Crickett rifle as a gift the previous year. The most troubling aspect of the ad is its attempt to portray the main kid as a miniature adult, even dressing him in shooting vest and matching cap (with Crickett's logo and tagline clearly visible). Guns should be for those who are old enough to appreciate what life and death really are, and who can take responsibility for their actions, never mistaking a potentially deadly weapon for a toy. Crickett—which removed its website after the shooting—stresses learning gun safety at an early age in the spot, which is all well and good. But accidents happen, even in supervised situations. Besides, kids aren't exactly known for their impulse control, or for always following rules, and I doubt many of them, especially at the age shown here, can truly understand the awesome obligation that comes with pulling a trigger. Expecting them to do so assumes an unreasonable level of maturity and seems horribly unfair; it strips away a bit of their innocence best left intact for a few years more. Via Slate.

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    Oh, hey there, ladies. Feeling fat? Of course you are. Don't worry. I've got some advice. Don't get sugary, fattening soda from that fat, tubby vending machine over there. Get delicious, trimming diet soda from from me! The Slender Vender. I'm so skinny, I fit between chairs at the hair salon, so you can be thin, but pretty too. I fit between treadmills at the gym, so you can drink more diet soda—it hydrates!—while you're working hard, so you can be more thin, like me. You won't find me, though, at that sketchy artist's loft in Brazil, where that soap company hangs out. Whatever you do, don't go there. They'll try to convince you that you're not anywhere near as fat and hideous as you think you are. And they'll probably serve you soda in a creepy skinny can. For Diet Coke, from Ogilvy Paris.

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    The ANAR Foundation, a Spanish child-advocacy organization, used lenticular printing in this powerful outdoor ad to send different messages to children and adults. Anyone under about 4-foot-3 sees bruising on the child's face in the poster, along with ANAR's hotline number and copy that reads, "If somebody hurts you, phone us and we'll help you." People taller than that—i.e., most parents—simply see the child without the bruise and the line, "Sometimes child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it." The metaphor embodied in the display is apt—the figurative differences in perception between abuser and abused here become literal. I'm glad they kept the concept and content simple, too; it makes the interactivity more immediate and less gimmicky. Ad agency: Grey Spain.

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  • 05/06/13--13:32: Ad of the Day: Target
  • If you build it, they will shop.

    That is Target's thinking, as the retailer unveiled a mind-boggling project on Monday—a life-size, two-story dollhouse in Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall stuffed full of furnishings, décor and housewares from its new Threshold home collection.

    It's not often that we feature an installation in this space, but this one is fairly incredible. Visitors can "live out their childhood dreams" as they explore the interior, and even shop for items from mobile devices, Target says.

    The dollhouse is open to the public today and Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

    More photos below.

    Client: Target
    Project Curators:
    Julie Guggemos, vice president of product design and development
    Tim Kehoe, associate product design director

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    IDEA: You're an intelligent, civilized human who enjoys all the efficiencies of modern life. So why do you use knuckledragging technology to clean your teeth? That's Philips Sonicare's question to its target market. "They've taken the technological leap in every other aspect of their lives, but they're still using a stick with bristles for a toothbrush," said Calle Sjoenell, chief creative officer at Ogilvy & Mather in New York. The manual toothbrush may still work fine for some, but Sonicare paints it as comically outdated in this 75-second spot, which literally pulls a man through history as he brainlessly scrubs away, from caveman times to now. At the end, he finally sees the (blinding) light, and makes the leap to modernity thanks to a Sonicare electric toothbrush.

    COPYWRITING: Ogilvy had a voiceover script, which became the spine of the ad. "The manual toothbrush you're using is 5,000-year-old technology," the male voice begins. "It was first used in the 36th century B.C., before some other useful technologies like writing and law, and remains essentially unchanged through time." The voice then admonishes the viewer for advancing in every other area but this. "It's time for you to leap this technology gap and end the manualbrushing era," says the voice, which then shifts to the product pitch: "Welcome to the new level of clean. Philips Sonicare delivers more brush strokes in two minutes than a manual can do in one month, and up to five times the plaque removal." The tagline is: "Stick with technology."

    ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Jonathan Notaro of Brand New School shot the ad over three days at locations around Budapest. Eight scenes are stitched together to look like one long pull back through a tunnel of time, with the hero at the center, subtly interacting with the environments—a Roman temple, a Victorian train station, an '80s nightclub.

    "I was inspired by maps that show time as a corkscrew, like a land mass in a corkscrew elevation shape," Notaro said. "What would happen if you put a camera on that corkscrew and went through it?" Rather than film the actor against a green screen and shoot the backgrounds separately, Notaro put him right in the action—actor and camera were tethered together on two dollies on a track. This presented challenges (the actor stood on a crane for scenes where he ascends or descends) but gave the spot a charming authenticity.

    "There's enough perfection happening with the technique," said Notaro. "There's something funny when he spins the girl around and holds on to her arm a little too long. People know it's real." At the end, the hero throws the manual brush up toward the sun, and it becomes a Sonicare—a reference, said Ogilvy art director Lucas Camargo, to the ape throwing the bone in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    TALENT: Some who auditioned for the lead simply overacted, said Camargo, like making monkey sounds as the caveman. It needed to be more subtle. The character does change a bit. "As he goes through the cave, his posture starts to sink down," said Notaro. "As the Roman, he's slightly more distinguished and proud, and the chin is up. … But I think the humor is just in the actor being re-skinned for each environment." The character's methodical brushing (Notaro used a metronome on set to keep the rhythm consistent) and limited expressions also reinforce the message—that things haven't changed for millennia.

    SOUND: The music is a rhythmic classical track from Storefront Music that slyly punctuates the hero's brushing motion. Sound design was pared back to a few key moments per scene.

    MEDIA: Banners and online video have pointed to a Facebook app, where the spot is a centerpiece. It may also be cut into a :30 for TV later this year.


    Client: Philips Sonicare
    Spot: "Odyssey"

    Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, New York
    Calle Sjoenell - Chief Creative Officer
    Jason Marks - Executive Creative Director
    Craig Mannion - Executive Creative Director
    Lucas Camargo - Art Director
    Lukas Lund - Art Director
    Andreas Hoff - Art Director
    Matt Bonin - Chief Production Officer
    Sarissa Karnbach - Producer
    David Halberstadt – Integrated Content Production Business Manager

    Production Company: Brand New School
    Director: Jonathan Notaro
    EP: Devin Brook
    DP: Tommy Wildner
    Post: Brand New School
    Telecine: Company 3
    Color: Tom Poole
    Sound Design: Machinehead
    Sound Design: Stephen Dewey

    Music: Adam Elk, Storefront Music

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    Google traditionally does a special Google Doodle for Mother's Day. This year, it's adding another gift—the commercial below from creative agency Whirled, saluting moms for everything they do. As Procter & Gamble has learned in recent years, you really can't go wrong in giving mothers some love. And in fact, it's becoming a specialty for Whirled, too. After the jump, check out a second Mother's Day spot the agency did this year—for the ASUS VivoBook touchscreen notebooks.

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    The Dove Self Esteem Project and agency Torke+CC in Lisbon, Portugal, placed an ad (and a pen) in a parenting magazine and asked adults to write down the worst thing they remembered being called as a child. When they turned the page, the disparaging remark was printed (thanks to a hidden layer of carbon paper) across the shirt of a child—to illustrate that "Words mark children forever." The initiative increased the project's local web traffic 20 percent and helped get schools involved in the program. That's all to the good, but I can't help feeling that the campaign's central metaphor is lacking and dilutes the overall message. A shirt is easily removed and discarded. It's highly impermanent. The pain of verbal abuse is more like a tattoo or a wound, something carved or seared into flesh that leaves its victims more permanently disfigured. Of course, attempting such visceral imagery, especially when kids are involved, might have provoked an outcry against the campaign itself. As it is, the work is well-intentioned and makes its point, but doesn't truly capture the lasting horror of abuse that can indeed scar or brand children for life.

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    Finlandia cheese may come from Finland, but its new ad campaign from Barton F. Graf 9000 takes a detour through Flanders with its comical paintings of a land "where cheese reigns" and some strange cheese-obsessed characters reside. There's the Cheese Dunce, the Cheese Masochist, the Flavor Caretaker and the Flavor Philosopher—all of whom will be coming to out-of-home executions near you. The accompanying radio work—which has probably the most amusing sound effects of any campaign this year, introduces the Cheese Gladiatior, the Cheese Rogue, the Cheese Thief and the Cheese Watchman. Bold flavors, indeed. The illustrations were done by Dan Craig, who's been drawn for years to the work of the 15th century Flemish masters. More work after the jump.

    —Radio spots

    Client: Finlandia Cheese
    Campaign: "Where Cheese Reigns"
    Agency: Barton F. Graf 9000
    Illustrator: Dan Craig
    Photographer: Jamie Chung
    Typography/Crest: Jordan Metcalf
    Retoucher: Box Graphics
    Record/Mix: Heard City
    Media: MediaWorx

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    Any Mother's Day commercial with Susie Essman is not going to be warm and fuzzy. The Curb Your Enthusiasm star appears in the new online video below for Virgin Mobile urging young adults to give their moms a great gift this Mother's Day—by getting off the family cellphone plan and getting on one of Virgin's no-contract deals (starting at $35 per month for unlimited text and data). According to a recent survey Virgin Mobile survey, 46 percent of Americans in their 20s still receive some sort of financial assistance from their parents. Half also said they know at least one friend who is still on their parents' mobile plan, and 38 percent said they would hide it from their friends even if they were. Today only, Virgin Mobile is giving online customers 30 percent off the purchase of a new Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE to switch over to one of its no-contract plans.

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    A "Spock vs. Spock" ad should, when considered logically, be a complete nerdfest packed with inside jokes only Star Trek superfans would appreciate. Instead, Audi's new spot, "The Challenge," is a charmingly bizarre vignette in which two of geek culture's greatest heroes refrain from taking themselves too seriously. "New Spock" Zachary Quinto plays his part pretty straight, leaving plenty of room for the original Vulcan, Leonard Nimoy, to be straight-up amazing. With his chaotic mop of hair, gravelly grumble of a voice and inspiring rendition of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" (from the actor's second album, released in 1968), Nimoy steals every scene of this nearly three-minute oddity. The spot was created by agency PMK*BNC and Paulilu, the comedy team behind Dollar Shave Club's viral launch video.

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    It's shaping up to be an astonishing spring for ads on YouTube.

    In March, Pepsi MAX's Jeff Gordon spot screeched its way to 33 million views, or about 13 million more than 2012's most-watched spot did for the entire year. But it turned out that was indeed just a test drive.

    In April, not one but two viral juggernauts did even better than the Pepsi MAX video. The first was Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches" video from Ogilvy Brazil, uploaded to YouTube on April 14. Then, five days later, Evian posted its latest babies commercial from BETC Paris. Both spots stormed past the Pepsi MAX view count to become 2013's most-watched YouTube ads so far.

    Click through to the gallery here to see which one emerged victorious in this particular clash of the titans:

    • Video Gallery: YouTube's 10 Most-Watched Ads in April

    Elsewhere on this month's list, Kmart shipped its pants,Beyoncé strutted for Pepsi, and Old Spice delivered a pair of absurd spots that bookended the latest "Replacers" video for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

    Fernando Machado, vp of Dove Skin, spoke with Adweek about the phenomenal success of the Real Beauty Sketches campaign. YouTube view counts are nice, he said, but it's the emotional connection driving that engagement which is key.

    "The brand has been overwhelmed by the positive response to the Dove Real Beauty Sketches film," he said. "We launched the film in mid-April and it has already received over 100 million views globally—45 million in the U.S—across Dove branded video platforms. The moment the film was uploaded to the Dove YouTube page, it received an overwhelming response and quickly started to gain traction around the world with women, men, media and even other brands sharing the film."

    He adds: "Dove believes that all women are beautiful and is saddened by the fact that only 4 percent of women around the world think that they're beautiful. The Real Beauty Sketches campaign struck an emotional chord with millions of women who recognize that they are their own worst beauty critic. People felt compelled to share the film with others to inspire them to see the beauty in themselves that others do. Since the film launched, Dove has received an outpouring of testimonials from women around the world telling us how deeply the Real Beauty Sketches film has resonated with them."

    The view counts on this month's YouTube Ads Leaderboard are as of May 2. To be eligible for the Leaderboard, videos must be marked as ads on YouTube (i.e., they get some paid views) but must also earn significant organic views. See all 10 spots at the link above.


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