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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    There's a bunch of genetic meddling going on in the new video game Resident Evil Revelations. It may stand to reason, then, that marketer Capcom would stage a wholly unnatural promotion for its release. The company has created "the world's only blood-filled swimming pool"—good gawd, let's hope it's the only one—and tossed in some realistic-looking entrails and body parts. Then what, you ask? For two days later this month, it will invite people to take a dip in the London pool and search for swag! While bobbing for licensed merchandise in viscous liquid might not be everyone's idea of a good time, Capcom has reason to believe that fans of its horror-adventure franchise will be up to the task. For the last installment, Resident Evil 6, the game developer opened a fake butchery selling human body parts in London's famous Smithfields meat market. For the upcoming stunt, 200 people will have the chance to slog through intestines, brains and torsos under the watchful eyes of zombie lifeguards in a 55,000-gallon pool. (That's the equivalent of 11,327 blood-drained people, for those keeping track.) Goggles and towels will be available for loan, but no word on barf bags.

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    By now, it’s obvious that targeting Hispanics in the U.S. means more than just translating an ad into Spanish and casting ethnic stereotypes as spokespeople. For one thing, the first and second generations differ in their acculturation levels, which affects their content and advertising preferences, according to a report from Yahoo/Mindshare, Ethnicity in the Digital Age: Marketing to Hispanics. First-gen Hispanics are much more likely than the second and third gen to look for news content that speaks to their ethnicity and try brands that target them ethnically. But Hispanics of all generations care a great deal about whether the news media puts their ethnic group in a good or bad light and uses obvious stereotypes in ads.

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    Hyundai is getting a lot of coverage for putting Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" in an ad for its Assurance Connected Care in-car customer-service program, largely because the late reggae icon's music is so infrequently licensed for ads. The automaker is also sponsoring a remixed version (done by Bob's son Stephen Marley and DJ/producer Jason Bentley) of Marley's Legend album, which features the song, and a three-minute documentary about the remix project. Despite all the fuss, what strikes me most about the spot, from ad agency Innocean, is how bland it is. It's not bad per se, but the music takes a back seat, as it were, to an informative but uninspired voiceover ("What if your car could help schedule its own service? Call for help with your exact location if you ever ran into trouble out there?") and sight gags involving signs that read "No worries" and "It's all good." The only special element is the song, and it's basically background music, like a tune playing on the car's radio. Any upbeat track would have been equally effective. This is Bob Friggin' Marley! Lively up yourself! Why not seed something more, you know, high concept?

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    Intemperance comes in many flavors, and SLO Down Wines has pairings for all of them. The California winemaker has rolled out three irreverent ads (from Harvest Films director Baker Smith and Arcade Edit's Paul Martinez and Dean Miyahira) about how well its Sexual Chocolate wine goes with group sex, horse role playing and bong rips, respectively. There's some light parody of insufferable wine-chat ("It's the deep red of a … really red thing"), but they don't spend too much time dwelling on it, and I'm glad they committed to the weird direction these ads went in. Well, except for the part where I saw Brandon Allen in a thong. I may need a glass of wine to throw in my eyes after that. Credits below.

    Client: SLO Down Wines
    Campaign: Goes Great With 

    Spots: "Threesomes," "Equestrianism," "Horticulture"

    Production Company: Harvest Films
    Director: Baker Smith
    Executive Producer: Bonnie Goldfarb
    Head of Production: Niko Whelan
    Producer: Leslie Owen 

    Editorial Company: Arcade Edit
    Editors: Paul Martinez and Dean Miyahira
    Managing Partner/EP: Damian Stevens
    Executive Producer: Nicole Visram

    Online: Airship Post 

    Music: Critical Mass
    Composer: H. Scott Salinas
    Sound Design/Mix: Tobias Enhus

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    What could be better than an Auto-Tune leprechaun singing about his magically delicious cereal? Nothing! This 15-second Lucky Charms ad, which mixes current commercial footage, vintage images and goofy-great vocal manipulation, will air during high-profile TV shows this week like the Billboard Music Awards and the season finales of American Idol and The Voice. Its inspiration came from major doses of hallucinogenic drugs and/or a St. Patrick's Day promotion for the General Mills brand that included a mashup music video that went viral with nearly 1 million views. There were many hot-shot creative hands on deck here (see the credits below), but all you really need to know is that the result is super groovy. Watch the full video for a trippy walk down memory lane.

    Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
    Production: Pat-Man Studios
    Composer: Jeff Elmassian
    YouTube's Machinima channel and Melodysheep, mashup maker

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  • 05/15/13--11:18: Ad of the Day: Volkswagen
  • Not being a big Emerson Lake & Palmer fan, I had to look up the lyrics of "Lucky Man" to gauge how the song's original meaning compares to that put forth by Volkswagen in this new Passat spot—which employs a remake of the 1970 ELP classic by My Morning Jacket's Jim James.

    Turns out the new treatment isn't a total bastardization (unlike other classic tracks in car ads we could mention). Both are meant to be ironic, though of course the VW spot—the automaker's latest safety messaging from Deutsch L.A.—doesn't end in death but in life, thanks to the vehicle's coveted status as a 2013 IIHS Top Safety Pick.

    This is not the result of luck, the spot rightly suggests, but of planning. "Safety starts where luck ends," says the onscreen copy at the end, as our hero, otherwise swimming in good fortune, encounters its violent opposite, yet lives to tell the tale (and perhaps kick the other driver's ass—or he would if he weren't somewhat irritatingly perfect).

    MJZ director Matthijs van Heijningen, who also shot the Cannes-conquering "The Bear" spot for BETC and Canal+, skillfully weaves the story together here. In a way, the crash nicely repudiates the treacly opening scenes, which indeed, as it turns out, are too good to be true. This allows VW to have its cake and eat it, too—to deliver a message that's both sweet and tart, the very balance that drives the best Volkswagen spots.

    The agency went with Jim James's "Lucky Man" after also commissioning versions from Iron & Wine and M. Ward. And this is where our luck begins to run out, as everyone knows what M. Ward can do for a car commercial.

    Client: Volkswagen of America
    VP, Marketing: Kevin Mayer
    GM, Marketing Communications: Justin Osborne
    Advertising Manager: Jeff Sayen
    Advertising Specialist: Chanel Arola

    Spot: "Lucky Man"

    Agency: Deutsch, Los Angeles
    Group Creative Director: Michael Kadin
    Group Creative Director: Matt Ian
    Creative Director: Mark Peters
    Associate Creative Director: Ryan Scott
    Senior Art Director: Paul Oberlin
    Senior Copywriter: Matt Sherman
    Director of Integrated Production: Vic Palumbo
    Director of Content Production: Victoria Guenier
    Executive Integrated Producer: Jim Haight

    Production Company: MJZ
    Director: Matthijs van Heijningen
    Executive Producer: Scott Howard
    Line Producer: Betsy Oliver

    Editorial Company: Union Editorial
    Editor: Jono Griffith
    Assistant Editor: Andy Trecki
    Executive Producer: Michael Raimondi
    Producer: Joe Ross

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    Who Co-founders and co-creative directors Anthony Sperduti (l.) and Andy Spade
    What Creative studio
    Where New York offices

    When Andy Spade teamed up with Anthony Sperduti, a former colleague at Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, in 2008, they weren’t just going to market other brands but createtheir own. For Warby Parker, Partners & Spade designed the eyeware company’s flagship store. They got even more involved with Harry’s razors, supplying advice on product design, naming, identity and packaging. Sperduti and Spade,the other half of fashion mogul Kate Spade and brother of David, describe their business as a studio, a creative partnership that produces films, books, apparel and products in addition to marketing and branding. 

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    How often would your Facebook activity get you beaten, tortured or beheaded in the world's most repressive countries? A lot more often than you'd think. Amnesty International of New Zealand and agency Colenso BBDO of Auckland created an app called "Trial by Timeline" that analyzes your Facebook posts and lets you know how you might be brutalized in countries that persecute people based on everything from sexual orientation and religion to drinking and writing for the media. (I was beaten and tortured more than 270 times, but at least I wasn't beheaded or stoned to death.) It's a morbidly fascinating way to explore the liberties most of us take for granted. The app actually came out late last year but didn't get much attention until it was featured recently by The Inspiration Room and a few other sites.

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  • 05/16/13--08:15: Ad of the Day: Getty Images
  • Creating evocative narratives using the vast archives of Getty Images is becoming AlmapBBDO's stock in trade.

    Getty's stock video footage provides the raw material for the Brazilian agency's new "85 Seconds" ad, which incorporates 105 clips of people doing all sorts of activities to tell a boy-meets/loses/reunites-with-girl story that spans decades of the characters' lives. Directors Joao Simi and Marcos Kotlhar and copywriter Sophie Schoenburg sifted through 4,000 videos and worked for four months on the project, a promotional piece designed to highlight the diversity and scope of Getty's image bank, which contains video footage with a combined running time of approximately two years.

    "85 Seconds" is thematically and stylistically similar to "From Love to Bingo," last year's award-wining visual feast from the same client-agency team. That ad used 873 still photos to convey the story of a life in 60 seconds. The follow-up is easily equal to its lauded predecessor, and perhaps even outpaces it to some degree. Both films achieve a poignant universality by using images of different people to portray the same characters at different points in their lives. This makes the narratives seem less about strangers and more like shared experiences in which it's easy to see ourselves. Most movies are about other people—their stories. "From Love" and "85 Seconds" could be our stories, too.

    Running 15 still clips per second gave "From Love" its own special flow, but the video in "85 Seconds" perhaps better captures the rush of time—the inexorable progression of years, of chances lost—and if we're lucky, recaptured. Seemingly small moments take on deeper meaning within the broader context of the film. Note the early footage of the kids dragging luggage across a yard and the later scene of a business-suited couple racing through an airport with wheeled cases in tow. Innocence is lost as life's baggage accumulates; what was once a game is now the harried pace of adulthood.

    The above-and-below split-screen of their separate travails and misadventures play with time and space via a detour into the hippie-era 1960s. It's an unexpected move that adds a dimension of timelessness. The finale shows men and women rushing into each other's arms, finding the comfort and connection we all crave. This closing sequence doesn't feel clichéd because it speaks to such a basic human need, and its length, a full quarter of the video, underscores the primal importance of such bonding.

    Ultimately, both "85 Seconds" and "From Love to Bingo" transcend their promotional missions, which enhances their value as advertisements. They offer superior branded content and profoundly moving pictures.

    Client: Getty Images
    Agency: AlmapBBDO, Brazil
    General Creative Directors: Marcello Serpa, Luiz Sanches
    Creative Directors: André Kassu, Marcos Medeiros, Renato Simões, Bruno Prosperi
    Creatives: Marcos Kotlhar, Sophie Schoenburg
    Agency Producers: Vera Jacinto, Rafael Motta, Charles Nobili
    Production Company: ZOLA
    Directors: João Simi, Marcos Kotlhar
    Head of Art: Gustavo Vockos
    Research: Marcos Kotlhar, João Simi, Procuradoria de Filmes, Beto Araújo, Sacha Bastos, Gustavo Vockos
    Motion: Marcos Kotlhar, João Simi, Daniel Lemos, Rafael França
    Music: Satélite
    Music Producer: Kito Siqueira, Roberto Coelho
    Editor: Beto Araújo, Sacha Bastos
    Executive Producer: Jimmy Palma
    Post Production: CLAN vfx
    Project Manager: Markinhos Fagundes, Claudio Costa
    Production: Amelinha Lobo, Pedro Bueno
    Account Supervisor: Cristina Chacon, Tássia Massumi Nishida
    Media: Paulo Camossa, Patricia Moreton
    Advertiser's Supervisor: Renata Simões

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    The only really surprisingly thing about Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin's appearance in an American Express ad is that it didn't happen sooner. It's been more than a year since Dubin charmed impecunious razor purchasers everywhere with his amusing starring role in his company's debut ad. He's a born pitchman—for whoever he'd like to endorse. The AmEx spot frankly is a little bland, but it proves that while the man may know his dollars, he has trouble with his cents. Via Co.Create.

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    Just a few weeks after making the most awkward transmission-repair ad ever, Rhett & Link are back with another goofy local commercial—this one for the Ryan Lee Chiropractic Center in Los Angeles. It stars the eponymous practitioner, who twists, turns and otherwise contorts the bodies of his patients until their skeletons emit rather sickening crunching sounds. It only gets worse as the ad goes on. The tagline is "Gentle. Comfortable. Professional"—although if that's true, it's not totally clear what's going on at 0:41.

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    Looking forward to the series finale of The Office tonight? Here's something else to look forward to. The real Dunder Mifflin ad below—for the defictionalized paper brand whose products you can actually buy at Quill.com—will air in five Dunder Mifflin "branch" markets (Scranton, Pa., Akron, Ohio, and Utica, Albany and Syracuse, N.Y.) as well as Chicago (the home market of Lincolnshire-based Quill) during tonight's telecast. Just as the NBC show winds down, Dunder Mifflin paper is ramping up its advertising. (It's already among the best-selling brands in the office-supply category.) Its slogan, "Limitless paper in a paperless world," is what drives this spot, which is all about a guy who can turn anything he touches into Dunder Mifflin paper. Of course, he immediately uses his power to prank his co-workers the same way Jim pranks Dwight. The Midas touch is a well-worn theme in advertising, and they're not really challenging any conventions. But let's face it. This is as good as paper advertising gets.

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    Stand-up comedian, actor, songwriter and noted YouTube personality Toby "Tobuscus" Turner made this fourth-wall-shattering musical ad for Hot Pockets in which he is bullied by an unseen voiceover into singing about the new Cuban Style and Spicy Beef Nacho flavors. God help us all, Spicy Beef Nacho? I can already hear my toilet crying. Anyway, the concept might not thrill you, but the execution is top notch, mostly due to Turner's facial expressions. Now I want to see him in some sort of comedy duel with Jim Gaffigan, who once compared Hot Pockets to filling a Pop Tart with nasty meat. Making this ad is like slapping Gaffigan in the face with a dueling glove.

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    There are now even more "Dumb Ways to Die"—and smart ways to live—as McCann Australia has made a video game out of its beloved, superviral train-safety ad from last year. "Starring all the characters from the viral hit Dumb Ways to Die for Metro Trains Melbourne, the game allows players to flick piranhas away from a character's private parts and defend another from a snake attack among other ways to avoid being dumb," the agency says. "Players can also pledge to 'not do dumb stuff around trains' at the click of a button." The game, developed by McCann in collaboration with local developer Barrel Of Donkeys, has been the No. 1 free app in Australia for a week, and is charting in 79 other countries. John Mescall, executive creative director of McCann Australia, said: "With the main Dumb Ways to Die video now close to 46 million views, we wanted to give young people another platform on which to enjoy the characters and, more importantly, to continue to remind them that being dumb around trains can and should be avoided."

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    What a week it's been. As Friday draws to a close, I see your defecating man in the exercise video and your threesome-inducing Sexual Chocolate wine, and I raise you one talking butt crack in this British advert for something called Polycell. It's some sort of spray product that promises "No more unsightly cracks" in your walls. Unfortunately, there's one major unsightly crack in the commercial. And it talks. David Ogilvy would be proud. Agency: 18 Feet & Rising. Full list of perpetrators below.

    Client: Polycell
    Agency: 18 Feet & Rising
    Creative Director: Stephen de Wolf
    Creatives: Alex Delaney & Oli O'Neill
    Agency Producer: Emily Hodgson Julia Methold
    Account Director: Adrienne Little
    Strategic Business Lead Rob Ward
    Director: Simon Willows
    Production Company: Blink
    Production Company Producer: Tiernan Hanby
    Executive Production Company Producer: James Bretton
    Editor: Mark Aarons
    Post Production Company: The Electric Theatre Company
    Post Production Company Producer: Helen Sutermeister
    VFX Supervisor: Andrew Stewart
    Colourist: Steffan Perry @ Framestore
    Sound Engineer: Tony @ Wave Studios

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    The best performance by a cat in a TV commercial this week goes to the fluffy mess in this new British spot for eyewear maker Specsavers. Not that the veterinarian here would know—he's not clear on what a cat is anymore. Specsavers, of course, has a long and proud history of offbeat commercials. The best mistaken-animal-identity spot, though, remains the brilliant raccoon commercial from Sears Optical.

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    'Tis the season for male-grooming brand extensions. Old Spice introduced its shaving gel last week. And now, Axe has updated its range of hair products for men. It's advertising them with four new 20-second ads from BBH London that have launched in Europe and will reach North America this weekend. The creative idea is that well-styled hair is crucial when you meet someone for the first time. The spots present various quirky first-meeting scenarios—the most faux-provocative of which is probably the home-invasion scenario, in which burglar seduces buglee with his perfectly slicked 'do. "We wanted to capture a simple truth about guys and their grooming habits," says David Kolbusz, deputy executive creative director at BBH. "Whenever a man sees a woman he fancies, he tends to touch up his hair before making the initial approach. We dramatized this behavior by setting it in the most extreme of circumstances." More spots and credits below.

    Client: Lynx/Axe
    Agency: BBH London

    BBH Creative Team: Matt Fitch & Mark Lewis and Harry Orton and Robin Warman
    BBH Creative Director: David Kolbusz
    BBH Producer: Charlie Dodd
    BBH Strategic Business Lead: Ngaio Pardon
    BBH Strategy Director: Dan Hauck
    BBH Strategist: Tim Jones
    BBH Team Director: Heather Cuss
    BBH Team Manager: Cressida Holmes Smith

    Production Company: Outsider and Station Films
    Director: Harold Einstein
    Executive Producer: Eric Liney
    Producer: Jon Stopp/Richard Packer
    DoP: Danny Cohen
    Post Production: The Mill
    Editor/Editing House: The Mill
    Sound: Factory

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  • 05/20/13--10:29: Ad of the Day: Coca-Cola
  • Coca-Cola wants to help solve one of the thorniest political conflicts in the world. How? More Coca-Cola for everyone, of course.

    The brand today launched the latest video in its "Open happiness" campaign. The three-minute spot from Leo Burnett showcases a pair of connected vending machines that Coke and the agency set up in India and Pakistan. Each vending machine featured a webcam and a giant touchscreen monitor. Passersby could grant free sodas to the people on the other side of the digital window—but only if both parties participated in a series of simple joint activities, like touching their hands to corresponding places on the screen, drawing concurrent peace signs, and dancing with each other.

    Creatively, it's a powerful piece, and very well executed. It also feels like a souped-up extension of the smartphone app that earned Coca-Cola the inaugural Mobile Grand Prix at Cannes last year—which let users buy unsuspecting strangers around the world cans of soda. While that campaign lacked the explicit political theme of this one, both are built around making a gesture of kindness to someone you don't know, and are rooted in the global Kumbaya spirit of the brand's classic Hilltop campaign from some 40 years ago.

    The political element raises the stakes considerably, though. Cola diplomacy runs the risk of coming across as painfully naive by oversimplifying a complex issue that's tangled up in a long history of imperialism, religious conflict and nuclear stand-off, to name a few factors. Coke frames this powder keg of a problem as, on some level, simply one of miscommunication—because that's small enough that the brand can then frame itself as the solution. Sure, more understanding and common ground isn't a bad thing, and Coke takes some pains to temper the portrayal of its own success, erring on the side of aspirational everyman/everywoman voiceover platitudes throughout the spot (e.g., "We are going to take minor steps so that we are going to solve bigger issues.") But really, what the brand is taking minor steps toward is selling more sugar water in a way that isn't explicitly about selling more sugar water, and has at least the veneer of a higher purpose.

    That's no surprise—the social-media zeitgeist holds that doing good is good for business. Yes, a warm-and-fuzzy video like this has some entertainment value, and it's is certainly more palatable—and arguably more effective—than a hard-sell product spot. But doesn't distilling a geopolitical conflict into short-form branded content do more harm than good by trivializing it?

    Or if everyone just drank a Coke, would they really get along?

    Client: Coca-Cola
    Ad: "Small World Machines"
    Agency: Leo Burnett, Chicago & Sydney
    Global Chief Creative Officer: Mark Tutssel
    Chief Creative Officer: Andy DiLallo
    Executive Creative Directors: Dave Loew, Jon Wyville
    Creative Directors: Grant McAloon, Vince Lagana
    Art Director: Justin Carew
    Copywriter: Iggy Rodriguez
    Designers: Omari Miller, John-Henry Pajak, David Mugford
    Director of Creative Technology: Chad Mirshak
    Creative Technologists: Brendan Crich, Keong Seet, Scott North
    Executive Director of Production: Vincent Geraghty
    Directors of Production Operations: Michael Shanahan, Amir Mireskandari
    Executive Producer: Adrian Gunadi
    Producer: Stephen Clark, Michelle Browne
    Executive Strategy Director: Wells Davis
    Strategy Director: Olivier Tse
    Executive Account Director: Bob Raidt
    Account Supervisor: Katie Nikolaus
    Director, DOP, Editor: Patrick Fileti
    2nd Unit Director: Angus Forbes
    2nd Unit Dop: Angus Forbes
    Technology Partner/Company: The Super Group
    Production Company: Highlight Films
    Music Company: Song Zu
    Set Dressing: Full Circle Corporation Marketing

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    "Every time you get drunk, you separate yourself from the things that matter most. Like your family." That's the voiceover in this weird anti-drinking ad from Spain, aimed at young adults. The girl in the ad is seen vomiting up what is apparently her father. The sound effects are nasty, and the metaphor isn't much better. Second spot after the jump, in which a guy gets "separated" from his girlfriend—by upchucking her on a bathroom floor. Agency: Bungalow 25. Via Ads of the World.

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    If you can ship your pants skillfully and creatively, you have a good chance of working at Kmart's ad agency, Draftfcb. The agency said today that it has brought in a new intern in large part because of his pants-shipping abilities. Alf Zapata shipped his actual pants and résumé to Draftfcb's recruiting department. That got him an interview; his "portfolio, witty humor and enthusiasm" got him the internship, the agency says. This raises the possibility that you could get an internship at Y&R in New York simply by apologizing and then acting superior. More images below.


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