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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    I both love and hate the fact that "bad/offensive car dealership ad" is an accepted genre of TV marketing now. I mean, nothing sells me on a car faster than terrible acting, crappy sound and cartoonish ethnic stereotypes, and Charlie Clark Nissan employs all of those in a series of ads that are basically Hearst newsrag political cartoons from the 1930s. Also, the bald guy in the Tonto ad—which has been pulled from YouTube—looks like The Creeper from The Suffering: The Ties That Bind, which leaves me even further disinclined from ever buying a car at this place. Free marketing tip for these guys: I know you think any publicity is good publicity because you're raising awareness/generating buzz, but that only works when your target audience doesn't think you're all racist halfwits. Via Deadspin.

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    This hilarious promo for the final season of CBS's How I Met Your Mother takes the show's weird framing device to its logical and deeply unsavory conclusion. The premise of the show is that our narrator, Ted, years from now, is actually telling his kids the extremely long-winded story of how he met their mother. Thing is, the show's been on for eight years. So, if you think about it, Ted has spent all that time recounting an endless series of women he slept with while his kids were trapped on the living-room couch. In this bleep-laden promo, Ted's adorable children, now surly teenagers, point out that in the past eight years they've gone through puberty, survived by crapping in a bucket, drinking rainwater and eating spiders, and are starting to have disturbing feelings of sibling lust—and he still hasn't gotten to how he met Mom. As the series finally ends, all of us, but especially Ted's kids, are excited to hear the motherf**king ending. The final season premieres Sept. 23.

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    Mini is making the most of the summer season by introducing three incredible concept cars specially designed for campers—though you can't buy any of them (yet). And if they seem hard to believe, no wonder. At least one of them was previously unveiled as an April Fools' joke in 2012, but all three are now official Mini concept vehicles.

    The most amazing is probably the Mini Cowley Caravan, an adorable trailer that comfortably sleeps two and comes with a twin-burner gas stove; a water tank with pump and sink; and a solar panel that charges the on-board battery, with a 230-volt connection that powers a fridge, TV and audio equipment.

    The two other concepts are cool as well. The Countryman ALL4 Camp has a roof rack that cranks up into a tent.

    The Clubvan Camper is almost a home on wheels—it has a spacious sleeping area for one; an extendable kitchenette with propane stove and chest fridge; a hand-held shower with water tank; a glass panel that can be opened for ventilation or stargazing; a kayak-looking storage rack on top; and a television and auxiliary heater.

    Now, they just need to sell these things for real.

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    They say celebrity endorsements are a questionable investment, but as you can see below, they can be staggeringly successful—if the celebrity is Dikembe Mutombo and the target market is this particular baby. The Martin Agency will enjoy this. Wonder what the kid thinks of the "Hump Day" spot.

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    I really wish I'd been a fly on the wall in this meeting.

    "Hey, you guys know that painting of John Smithwick with the squirrel on his shoulder?" "I'm sorry, what painting is that?" "Well, let's see if we can get a really convincing CGI version of that little red squirrel." "I've never heard of this squirrel before, Bill." "Do you have something against squirrels brewing beer?" [long pause] "Go on."

    The spot, from adam&eveDDB and Gorgeous director Simon McQuoid, has plenty to recommend it—notably, "Learnt My Lesson Well" by the Kaiser Chiefs, which plays over our rodent hero's single-handed operation of the Smithwick's brewery. If more animals could brew and tend bar, more people would be vegetarians, I feel—this little guy can start the pilot light, add the yeast and, of course, pick the right hops. Trivia: Did you know that millions of trees grow every year as a result of squirrels forgetting between fall and winter where, exactly, they put their stockpiles of nuts? It's true. Ever thus to Smithwick's, which is apparently improved by a squirrel—whose fastidiousness recalls Remy from Ratatouille—pickily selecting exactly the right Amarillo hops.

    The Mill's animation on this little creature is largely wonderful, mind you, particularly when he's scampering across the vats and unlocking the safe full of Kilkenny's finest yeast. There's still sort of an uncanny valley thing that goes on, even with animals, in spots like this—he doesn't quite look real, but given that he knows all the secrets of the Smithwick's brewery, perhaps that's a good thing.

    The best touch is the last one: the tiny little pint glass. Cheers, you magnificent rodent. Just don't get behind the wheel of a car later.

    Client: Diageo
    Brand: Smithwick's
    Spot: "Squirrel"
    Agency: adam&eveDDB, London
    Creative Directors: Feargal Ballance, Patrick McClelland
    Creatives: Nikki Lindman, Toby Brewer
    Agency Producer: Richard Chambers
    Production Company: Gorgeous
    Director: Simon McQuoid
    Producer: Sam Levene
    Director of Photography: Sebastian Milaszewski
    Postproduction Company: The Mill
    Executive Producer: Gemma Humphries
    Visual Effects Supervisor: Hitesh Patel
    3-D Lead Artist: Tom Bussell
    3- Lead Animation: Jorge Montiel
    3-D Lead TD: Tom Raynor
    2-D Lead: Barnsley
    Concept Artist: Andrew Brooks
    Editing Company: Work Post
    Editor: Richard Orrick

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    Vending machines have been developing unique personalities for some time. We've had generous ones, sadistic ones, patriotic ones. Now, we've got an exceedingly empathetic one. Check out the video below from a South African airport, where coffee roaster Douwe Egberts rigged up its vending machine with facial-recognition software to dispense free cups of coffee to anyone who yawned. It's a nice stunt that turned those yawns to smiles. The fittingly named agency behind it: Joe Public. Via Foodbeast.

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    If I ever want to drive up Pikes Peak in Colorado fairly fast, I guess I'll buy a Range Rover.

    That's my takeaway from this five-minute video showing the 2014 Range Rover Sport setting records for both production-standard SUVs and standard vehicles of any kind on the 12.42-mile Pikes Peak International Hill Climb course. In June, performance and stunt driver Paul Dallenbach, who has won several events on Pikes Peak, took 12 minutes and 35.61 seconds to climb the hill, traveling at an average speed of about 60 miles per hour.

    It's a twisty track with dense forest below. This is Dallenbach's first time back since he crashed there last year during a race while driving a different type of vehicle. Footage of that accident is re-run, and race officials, a safety crew member and a Pikes Peak Ranger are on hand to discuss how perilous the course can be.

    The clip—the first in the automaker's "The Driven Challenges" series—makes every effort to play up the drama and danger. And while it's a solid piece of work, I still felt dissatisfied.

    I mean, they'd never post the video if Dallenbach drove off a cliff and smashed the SUV in a flaming heap on the rocks below, now would they? We know that he and the SUV are going to be just fine, which makes the whole approach feel strained.

    The film uses cinematic tools to build suspense where none really exists in the first place. Misty mountain tops and fast-moving cars are intercut with lingering shots of worried or thoughtful faces. Moody musical cues suggest danger in every note. The intensity peaks, so to speak, around the 2:15 mark, with the scene cutting from the starter to Paul … from the starter to Paul … from the starter to … just drive the damn truck already!

    Contrast this with "Desire," Jaguar's 13-minute branded film from a few months back. (Jaguar and Range Rover are part of the same company.) "Desire" stars Damian Lewis as a mysterious "delivery man" searching for the new owner of a red F-Type sports car. There's action, gunplay and a twist at the end. Of course, it's complete fantasy, a schlocky story and utterly derivative at that. Yet on first viewing I found myself riveted by the tricky plot. I really did want to see how it all worked out, and those 13 minutes raced by.

    Dallenbach probably was a bit on edge in that Range Rover on Pikes Peak. He'd crashed there recently. The potential for disaster was real. Still, in the video, a happy denouement is assured. Subtract any true tension, and what remains is a film about a guy driving a truck up a hill. The fact that it's a most impressive hill, and that he set some obscure speed records, didn't particularly pique my interest.

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    Pereira & O'Dell's social film "The Beauty Inside" for Intel and Toshiba was a major success—an engaging episodic tale with a delightful premise that propelled the small San Francisco agency onto the world stage when it won a Daytime Emmy and three Grand Prix at Cannes last month. So, what do they do for a sequel? They have Harvey Keitel battle zombie alien mustaches, of course.

    "The Power Inside" stars Harvey Keitel, Craig Roberts, Analeigh Tipton, Reid Ewing and Zack Pearlman in the apparently somewhat campy story of aliens who disguise themselves as mustaches or unibrows and attach themselves to unsuspecting humans, turning them into unthinking drones. With the help of his friends and technology—and you—the main character, Neil, discovers he’s the only guy who can stop the invasion. (Intel-inspired Ultrabook devices by Toshiba play an important role, we're told.)

    Check out the trailer below, and visit thepowerinside.com to audition to be in the film—as a Urick (bad guy) or Guardian (good guy). The six-episode series premieres Aug. 15 at facebook.com/insidefilms.

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    Remember that time you thought babysitting for a few extra bucks was a great idea? What could be so hard about putting an 8-year-old to bed, right? Fast-forward a few hours, and Mikey's got his head caught in the stairs. Sarah's got a wad of gum in her hair. You're fashioning a makeshift diaper out of duck tape for the one whose name you forgot. Or worse, the house catches fire. Seriously, anything can happen. Have you seen The Sitter?

    Lucky for you, the Red Cross has developed "Babysitting Basics Course," an online tutorial that teaches you how to handle—or better yet, avoid—babysitting blunders. Oh, and they teamed up with BBDO Atlanta and director Daniel Strange to produce the PSA below. The spot is a charming and adorable one-minute piece about the potential hazards of babysitting. And those cute little tykes are clearly more aware of them than their absent-mind teenage babysitter. So, to you would-be sitters out there: Before you decide to conquer you neighbor's living room, hear the warning of unlucky kids, go online and take the course.

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    Clogged drains are gross. Just think about the combination of things that go into rendering your tub drain completely nonfunctional: enough hair to knit a child's sweater, some soap scum, a load of unidentifiable brown goo. And the process of actually removing said clog? So not sexy.

    … Or is it? In the grand pornographic tradition of the housewife fantasy, brands like Clorox's Liquid-Plumr are attempting to spice up otherwise mundane products with ads in which hunky men (hey, Kraft Zesty Guy!) promise to add some excitement to your daily routine.

    Liquid-Plumr—which admittedly has an advantage with the whole "cleaning out your pipes" double entendre—first tested this idea with DDB California's spot for its "Double Impact" formula (obviously, there were two hunky would-be plumbers involved). Agency and client are now going back for seconds with this ad for the brand's new "Urgent Clear" product.

    In the ad, a woman with pipe-cleaning needs of her own spots a bottle of Urgent Clear at the supermarket. Immediately, she starts fantasizing about a sexy handyman (named Peter, naturally) showing up at her house. She's preparing to walk out the door and has no time, she insists—but he declares that he only needs seven minutes to get the (plumbing) job done. Not a lot left to the imagination with this one.

    Jason Elm, chief creative officer of DDB California, says there's at least some instructive value to the spot, though. "Note that we still clearly show the drain-clearing benefits and product demo," he says. "We just built the fantasy around it."

    Client: The Clorox Company
    Product: Liquid-Plumr Urgent Clear
    Spot: "Quickie"
    Vice President, Marketing: Heidi Dorsin
    Agency: DDB, San Francisco
    Chief Creative Officer: Lisa Bennett
    Director of Production: Frank Brooks
    Group Creative Director: Chad Ackley
    Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Kelly McCullough
    Associate Creative Director, Copywriter: Billy Leyhe
    Agency Producer: Jessica Manning
    Account Director: Rebecca Hines
    Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
    Director: Clay Weiner 
    Executive Producer: Holly Vega
    Line Producer: Lisa Stockdale
    Editorial: Beast
    Editor: Brian Lagerhausen
    Visual Effects: Beast Editorial
    Visual Effects Artist: Dave Burghardt
    Telecine: Company 3
    Colorist: Bob Festa
    Sound Design, Audio Mixing: M Squared Productions
    Sound Designer: Mark Pitchard

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    Here's an ad that's really the dog's bollocks. It's by Grey Mexico for Motor Master floor disinfectant. "What is on your floor is not always on your mind," says the tagline. The ad, though, may be on your mind for some time, and not in a good way. It is topical, though, and Grey confirms it's a real ad. "They don't have big budgets, but they are very willing to use our creativity," a Grey executive in Mexico City says of Motor Master. There's also a cat version of the ad. Via Ads of the World.

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    You plug Google's new $35 Chromecast dongle into the back of your TV set to wirelessly stream Internet video on a larger screen. "For Bigger Fun," this minute-long commercial by 72andSunny, shows all kinds of people doing just that. They watch mainly Hollywood fare (Charlie Chaplin, Austin Powers, etc.) or candid footage from their own lives. In a way, this is the YouTube generation coming full circle, as we can now broadcast ourselves onto our living-room screens and enjoy a stripped-down version of old-school TV stardom. The spot works hard to portray Chromecast as an enjoyable shared experience, though watching people watch TV isn't that exciting. The music, "Zorba the Greek," sets my teeth on edge. It reminds me of the bloody bouzouki that drones on and on and on and on in Monty Python's "Cheese Shop" sketch. Now there's some video worth streaming! Bottom line: Dongle's a funny word. Kind of.

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    Not many brands have embraced the Anthony Weiner debacle as inspiration for ads. Spirit Airlines did it in its own traditional sleazy fashion. And now Mini has come out with a little auto erotica of its own—creating (as Weiner did) a fake Twitter identity, @CarlosDMotor, and tweeting out an image of a Mini in a bathroom, showing off a little grille. "Wanna get your hands on my stick?" says the tweet. Agency: Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners.

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    Waiting by the phone may be one of the oldest clichés in telecom advertising, but Grey London manages to put an enjoyable twist on the idea with its new international Vodafone spot, "The Wait."

    Twenty years ago, the ad would have shown a teenage girl hovering over a home phone, trying to keep her parents and siblings off the line while she waits for an important call. Now, she's camped out in a diner with her smartphone and a gaggle of friends, who are struggling to stave off boredom while sticking out the arduous wait with her.

    Grey, whose evocative Vodafone spot "The Kiss" won bronze in the Film Lions contest at Cannes last month, used Rattling Stick director Sara Dunlop this time, and the subtle and fantastic visual details tell a timeless story using only one word of dialogue: "Mom." That economy of language, coupled with a story line that almost anyone can relate to, has helped give the ad a global audience. Created to run in Ireland, it's now appearing in Australia with a slightly more coiffed love interest.

    Of course, a big part of the ad's appeal is the payoff, which clearly shows that wherever this spot runs, it most certainly originated in the mind of a Brit.

    Client: Vodafone
    Agency: Grey, London
    Executive Creative Director: Nils Leonard
    Creative Director: Simon Brotherson
    Copywriter: Mike Kennedy
    Art Director: Pauline Ashford
    TV Producer: Rachael Long
    Production Company: Rattling Stick
    Director: Sara Dunlop
    Producer: Stuart Bentham
    Postproduction: MPC
    Editing House: Work
    Post Editor: Art Jones
    Audio Post: Ben Leeves, Grand Central

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    The Marijuana Policy Project is spreading its message to Nascar fans by purchasing video ad space on a Jumbotron just outside the entrance to the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis from today through Sunday. Not only that, but the 30-second spot they're running (see below) disparages alcohol multiple times, something that Nascar sponsors Miller Lite and Crown Royal might not be too happy about. The video's specific claims are that marijuana has "no calories … no hangovers … [and] it's not linked to violence or reckless behavior." Drug cartels might have something to say about that last point, but I get what they're trying to say. If the MPP is truly interested in public service, they'll tell Nascar fans where to find decent weed. I grew up in Nascar country, and the stuff they smoke is total garbage.

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    Feminine-hygiene products have come a long way from being squeamish even just about the V-word. This hilariously written long-form spot for HelloFlo, a tampon subscription service, is full of great lines and comic visuals, as it tells the amusing story of a pre-teen girl who's the first to get her period at summer camp, and who uses that milestone to become popular—despotic, even—as she dispenses products and advice almost like she's dealing drugs.

    "It was beginning of summer, and no one knew me at camp," she begins. "I was a just a big random loser. Then, things changed. I got my period. The red badge of courage!"

    As the sudden expert on the topic, she becomes the self-styled "Camp Gyno," hosting graphic "menstruation demonstrations," barking orders at fellow campers through bullhorns, bullying newbies and generally being insufferable. "For these campers, I was their Joan of Arc," she says. "It's like, I'm Joan, and their vag is the ark."

    Soon, though, the Camp Gyno loses her power, thanks to Hello Flo. "The whole camp started getting friggin' care packages in the mail, with tampons and panty liners and candy! All perfectly timed to their cycle! It's like Santa for your vagina!" the girl cries miserably before collapsing in despair on her bed.

    "Goodbye Camp Gyno. Hello Flo," says on the onscreen text.

    The spot was produced, without an agency, by co-writers and co-directors Pete Marquis and Jamie McCelland, a copywriter and art-director team who worked together at BBDO.

    "We came up with this idea over a bottle of wine and a bunch of Thai food one night," HelloFlo founder and CEO Naama Bloom tells Adweek. "I was listing out my insights about the period experience and shared the story of the girl at camp that my friends and I all turned to for advice. When Pete said 'You mean like a Camp Gyno?' we basically knew what we had to do. Only humor could tell this story in a way that would be relatable, endearing and shareable."

    Marquis adds: "A lot of girls don't go to their parents when they first get their period. They go to their friends. And a 12-year-old might not be the best source of information. We ran with the idea from there, and thought camp could be a funny setting. And a girl who embraced the idea of getting her period and seeing it as an opportunity to become popular, instead of being mortified, was pretty funny, too."

    The comic style also distinguishes HelloFlo from similar services, "which all feel like they're advertising gourmet food," said Marquis. "We're hoping it gives the brand an open personality that embraces the topic and doesn't tip-toe around the delicate subject matter. As you can see, we didn't exactly tip-toe."

    The new video is a kind of back-to-school effort. While the subscription service is for women and girls of all ages, the company today is launching a "Period Starter Kit," which helps parents and girls get ready for puberty "in a fun and informative way," Bloom said.

    Client: Hello Flo
    Founder and CEO: Naama Bloom
    Writers/Directors: Pete Marquis and Jamie McCelland

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    Talk about a loud poster! Novalia in England has developed a drum-kit poster you can play with your fingertips. The interactive paper works like a touchsceen and produces seven different drum sounds, including cymbals. (Sadly, there's no cowbell.) The poster itself acts as a speaker. There's also a Bluetooth version that plays through iPads and iPhones. When the neighbors complain, you can let them look around your apartment and honestly say, "Drums? I don't have any drums. Must be the people upstairs." (Ba-dum-bum-CHING!) Needless to say, the company has a more enlightened vision for the technology. "Packaging, greeting-card manufacturers, point-of-sale, bus-shelter advertising, books, newspapers—yes, you can touch a story in a newspaper and if you've got your smartphone with our app anywhere on your person it can automatically pick up the recording of the actual press conference," Novalia's Kate Stone tells Cambridge News. The company has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund volume production. Fusing traditional media with new technology is becoming a trend. What will they think of next—a print ad that charges your cell phone? Via PSFK.

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    You would think the epic-ness of a Strawberry Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich would speak for itself. But just to be safe, Carl's Jr. has layered its new ad (via 72andSunny) for the dessert treat with breathless commentary from the blogosphere and perhaps the most awe-inspiring soundtrack around: Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra," otherwise known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Can the product possibly stand up to this grand teaser? Judging by the early reviews, yes—yes, it can.

    UPDATE: Carl's Jr.'s sister brand Hardee's rolled out a new spot from 72andSunny today—for the Texas Toast Breakfast Sandwich, featuring bull rider and Texas native Douglas Duncan. See that spot below.

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    Here's a simple concept executed simply for Adidas. This beautifully shot, expertly cut short tells the story of the opening of the D Rose Jump Store in London. This unique store gave fans a chance to jump with the Chicago Bulls point guard to get a pair of Derrick Rose signature Adidas sneakers. Hundreds of fans descended and tried to make the 10-foot jump. Great moments, from Rose laughing at a girl who can't get enough air to helping a kid reach a pair, are offset by some pretty impressive jumps—including a dude who not only reaches the shoes but manages to kiss them on the shelf. Best pop-up store promotion in a while.

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    Subaru stakes its claim as the car for people whose lives are just so damn cute in this pair of new spots from Carmichael Lynch.

    "The Date" follows a young couple as they drive down country roads, first stopping at a diner for chocolate shakes and then at a produce stand, where the woman sticks an orange in her mouth for, I dunno, an impromptu impression of Marlon Brando from The Godfather, or something. It's such an awkward moment, I would've split and left her there. This guy's more of a gentleman, however, and drives her straight to the commercial's cutesy twist ending. Turns out they're strangers who just met when her truck ran out of gas and he drove her to the station to get some. I guess they really clicked on the ride. How sweet.

    "Redressing Room" tells the tale of a toddler who keeps undressing in the back seat. "If I've gotta wear clothes, you've gotta wear clothes," says his perky mom. (If I had a dime for every time my boss at AdFreak has told me that!)

    Look, there's nothing wrong with these spots; they're well directed by Lance Acord, and I'm sure they'll resonate for some. That said, I found them strangely insincere. They just feel too much like, well, Commercials with a capital C, right down to details like the hunky "Date" dude's windblown hair and scraggy bread and the "Redressing Room" mom's cutesy (yet disturbing) decision to keep extra kids' clothes in plastic drawers in the hatchback.

    Stranded in this deflating post-modern-Rockwell vision of America, I'm the one who needs a lift.


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