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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    It's a good week to be the Bündchen-Brady offspring. Their already-considerable trust funds likely just got even fatter, as their telegenic, brand-bait parents—that would be supermodel Gisele and football star Tom—busted out their latest advertising work for H&M (hers) and UGG Australia (his).

    In Gisele's singing debut—or digitally enhanced talk-singing debut, if you will—she does a cover of the Kinks' iconic "All Day and All of the Night" to promote H&M's rocker-rific fall clothing line. (There's a Unicef tie-in so you can feel good about buying her version on iTunes.) The teaser video of the 33-year-old Brazilian bombshell landed just ahead of the TV, print, online and outdoor ads debuting next week.

    Brady, meanwhile, continues his UGG for Men sponsorship with a mini-walk through his career from high school gridiron standout to Super Bowl champ. The spot, "For Gamechangers," from M&C Saatchi in Los Angeles, will rotate for four months with other ads starring guys whose better halves haven't graced the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Still, they're being billed as inspirational dudes (who wear UGGs?).

    Check out both spots below.

    Creative: M&C Saatchi
    Media: KSL Media
    Social Media: 360i
    Public Relations: M&C Saatchi PR

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    Why do people make video trailers for novels? They never really work, and this new one for Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge is an especially sobering reminder of how ineffective they are. Pynchon—who narrated the trailer for his prevous novel, Inherent Vice—isn't a cinematic writer in the best of times (I consider that a strength), and he's also not a jerk-ass hipster—which makes this video of some guy wandering around his neighborhood in a "Hi, I'm Tom Pynchon" shirt all the more unappealing. Maybe it's for the best that Pynchon is so reclusive, since he's willing to put his name on stuff like this. Via Kottke.

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    Over the years, Go Daddy has developed a reputation for raising eyebrows with provocative ads starring very voluptuous women wearing very little clothing. The Web-hosting company's latest effort might be even more of a shocker than usual—not because of any X-rated themes, but because it doesn't have any sexy women at all. And because it's just really weird.

    The new spot, from Deutsch in New York, titled "The Baker," opens with the owner of a small bakery at work in his kitchen. Thanks to his new Go Daddy website, he's getting lots of online orders—and seems to be getting a bit overwhelmed. And then, out of nowhere, '90s action star Jean-Claude Van Damme appears, in full split position, playing a pair of bongos. (OK, so the sexual innuendo isn't entirely gone.)

    A second later, he's up near the ceiling, shaking two maracas while maintaining a manic smile. And then he's in the fridge—still in a split—blowing on panpipes so forcefully that flames are coming out the other end. Finally, an upside-down Van Damme takes a break from his musical efforts to tell the baker, "It's go time." The baker, while slightly confused, is surprisingly unfazed.

    Go Daddy is working hard to achieve a sort of hip bizarreness here—Jean-Claude Van Damme playing the bongos?! OMG, so random!—but nonetheless, it's nice to see the brand try something that doesn't involve a buxom model in a tiny tank top. Here's hoping that next winter we might be spared the annual Super Bowl cringe fest.

    Client: Go Daddy
    Agency: Deutsch, New York

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    There's two ways to go with animal ads: funny and poignant. Understandably, most choose the former—animals, after all, can be pretty damn funny. But the poignant ads, when done well, can get even more attention. We've seen this time and again over the years—notably, with Purina's 2012 "Inside Every Good Dog Is a Great Dog" spot, which left viewers a blubbering mess. This new 60-second anthem commercial from Petco, by new lead agency Vitro, fits into that tradition, going beyond the laughs into what's special about the bond between man and beast.

    The ad ushers in a "brand transformation focused on going beyond providing great products and services to becoming a purpose-driven company focused on nurturing the powerful relationship between people and their pets," says Petco. "The approach is to be the first in the pet care retail environment to inject the power of emotion into the retail experience." The new brand platform, called "The Power of Together," "seeks to showcase how the power of that bond with our pets is like no other, and therefore is at the heart of Petco's promise: to nurture that connection completely, mind and body," the company adds.

    The campaign plays off the "co" in Petco, positioning humans and their pets as companions, collaborators and copilots in life. The $10 million-plus campaign includes TV as well as social and email, followed by experiential in-store events and other engagement in 2014.

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    Cats suck. However, this ad made by students at Webster University for Tenth Life Cat Rescue, a St. Louis group that saves strays and promotes feline adoptions, does not. The spot spoofs schlocky infomercials, which is nothing new, but at least it's frank about what cat ownership is all about. "Tired of cleaning up your own vomit? Clothes too clean for you? Couch untainted?" The answer to such "problems," we're told, is adopting a cat. The best line: "Call in the next 15 minutes, and we'll throw in hairballs and extra stinky poop." Top that, Ron Popeil! On second thought, don't. Suki Peters gives an unhinged performance as a gal who really needs a Tenth Life kitty. She scratches upholstery with her fingernails and plays with a toy mouse for her own amusement. Reminds me of this woman in the old Humane Society of Boulder Valley ad, who grooms herself in front of a mirror and tries to spit up a hairball. Both ladies give me ... paws. Ouch! Scratch that. You see what cats make me do?! Via Laughing Squid.

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    Dodge Dart hits the bull's-eye with this spot from Wieden + Kennedy and Caviar director Keith Schofield that demonstrates how to make the vehicle in "100 Easy Steps." "Step 1: Study the competition," says the voiceover. "Step 2: Get angry—they're boring. 3: Make a car from scratch, the Dodge way." The remaining tongue-in-cheek instructions include driving the vehicle through a brick wall and putting pictures of it on schlocky promotional calendars, preferably surrounded by bikini gals and hunky firefighters rather than cuddly puppies—woof! (Those preferring a single step can take their cue from a previous Dodge spot and travel ahead in time to a date when the Dart of their choosing has already been made by somebody else.) W+K's campaigns for Dodge are underrated. The work's been consistently amusing and offbeat for the category, while staying on-brand and avoiding the kind of full-throttle, pedal-to-floor tomfoolery that could easily go off track. Credits below.

    Client: Dodge Dart
    Spot: "100 Steps"

    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
    Creative Directors: Aaron Allen, Michael Tabtabai, Kevin Jones
    Copywriters: Justine Armour, Matt Rivitz
    Art Directors: Matt Moore, Gianmaria Schonlieb, Tyler Magnusson
    Producer: Erika Madison
    Account Team: Lani Reichenbach, Cheryl Markley, Jourdan Merkow
    Executive Creative Directors: Susan Hoffman, Joe Staples
    Agency Executive Producer: Ben Grylewicz

    Production Company: Caviar
    Director: Keith Schofield
    Executive Producers: Jasper Thomlinson, Michael Sagol
    Line Producer: Eric Escott
    Director of Photography: Jeff Cutter

    Editing Company: Joint
    Editor: Tommy Harden
    Post Producer: Ryan Shanholtzer
    Post Executive Producer: Patty Brebner
    Assistant Editor: Steve Sprinkel

    Visual Effects Company: Method Studios
    Lead Flame Artist: Claus Hansen
    Flame Artist Assist: Sergio Crego
    Visual Effects Producer: Ananda Reavis

    Music, Sound Company: Joint
    Sound Designer: Tommy Harden
    Song (if applicable): "Atlas" by Battles

    Mix Company: Eleven
    Mixer: Jeff Payne
    Assistant Mixer: Ben Freer
    Producer: Caroline O'Sullivan

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    DDB Chicago's latest Aaron Rodgers ad for State Farm begs a timely question: Are Cheeseheads more hard-core football fans than Brateaters?

    Both camps appear in the ad, which takes place on a plane. Rodgers, the star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, finds himself awkwardly seated between "Bob" and "Carl," two characters from Saturday Night Live's "Da Bears" sketches from the 1990s. Reprising those respective roles are actor George Wendt and satirist Robert Smigel, right down to the fake mustaches, "Chee-cah-go" accents and fan apparel.

    It's an inspired seating arrangement, given the start of the NFL season—and the SNL season, for that matter. (The show's 39th year begins on Sept. 28.) And Rodgers, now in his ninth ad for the insurance giant, proves, as usual, to be a good sport.

    He takes the middle seat, even though his ticket is for the window seat. He endures needling about being the "discount double-check guy." He even puts up with the smell of brats wafting from tray-table grills that the Bears guys flip down. Only in advertising, right?

    Well, at least Rodgers has the support of a loyal Cheesehead. In yet another return performance, the curly-haired fan with the yellow foam cheese wedge on his head appears at the end of the commercial—on the wing of the plane, no less. "Rodgers!" he yells, before aping the QB's seatbelt move. Sadly, he loses his wedge in the process.

    Oh, well. No doubt these now-familiar State Farm players will be back soon. After all, it's a long season.

    Client: State Farm 
    Agency: DDB, Chicago
    Group Creative Directors: Barry Burdiak, John Hayes
    Associate Creatives Directors: Chad Broude, Brian Boord
    Executive Producer: Scott Kemper
    Production Manager: Scott Terry
    Production Company: Arts & Sciences
    Director: Matt Aselton
    Editing Company: Cutters
    Editor: Grant Gustafson
    Finishing: Filmworkers Club

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    DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket, which offers every game live on any digital device, turns average Joes into "the world's most powerful fans" in three goofy spots from Grey. These godlike guys grow freakishly tall, grill burgers using their bare hands as spatulas and ride around on lightning bolts and date adoring goddesses clad in sparkly bikinis and Mercury-winged caps. They're like the Titans—from mythology, not Tennessee—reborn as outsized, sports-obsessed, media-savvy fanboys. Meanwhile, regular dudes who still watch the games on cable are portrayed as nebbishy geeks.

    Guys are hyper-competitive and love to brag about everything, so I can see where these ads would appeal to some. And they're visually memorable. That said, they seem a tad mean-spirited, portraying "powerful" football fans as boastful loudmouths who lord it over everyone in earshot. What? You've got the game on DirecTV? Well, good for you, big man!

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    Your cat loves board games, just not the same way you do. Your beloved feline wants to scatter all the pieces and then park her furry bum in the middle of the action, regardless of your intention to flirt with your Mystery Date or figure out if Miss Scarlett really did it in the library with a candlestick. Hasbro gets it. For its iconic Monopoly game, the toy giant crowdsourced a new player piece earlier this year to replace the long-maligned iron. Not surprisingly, the cat won, joining the race car, battleship, thimble, top hat, shoe and Scottie dog. Finally, pet parity! For the debut of this new token, Hasbro is launching the ad below, showing us why the sleek little silver version is a much better choice than the real thing for family fun night.

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    IDEA: This isn't your father's pickup truck. But then, you're not your father. "These guys are much more involved in their children's lives than their fathers were," Leo Burnett strategist Matt MacDonell said of today's truck owners. "The male role has expanded, and the pickup is deeply involved in that."

    This is memorably illustrated in "Convert," the third ad in Burnett Detroit's first campaign for Chevrolet's Silverado. The protagonist isn't an anti-hero riding into the hills alone, à la '50s Westerns and '80s truck ads. He's a true hero—a family man whose pressing problem is a teenage son buried in his smartphone.

    "In talking to truck owners, we weren't hearing stories about bravado or rebellion or cowboys. We were hearing about a code for living," said MacDonell. "A pickup is symbolic of a set of values and a really soulful purchase. It's an extremely soulful category that lacked a soulful narrative."

    Quiet and poetic, "Convert" has plenty of soul, as the father opens his son's eyes to the world—contemporizing the Silverado for those who would do more than throw dry-cement bags into it.

    COPYWRITING: At least 15 scripts were considered for the first batch of spots. The writing in "Convert" is spare and precise. The voiceover, by John Cusack, begins: "A man. A man and his truck. And his son, who would rather play computer games than go camping."

    Over 60 seconds, the glum kid lets down his guard (and his hoodie), won over by the grandeur of nature while driving, fishing and hiking with his dad. Cusack slowly describes the scene: "And a mountain … and a valley … and a river … and a forest … and the stars." The boy is finally seen gazing upward in wonder, his face aglow in campfire light. "And a new convert."

    The writers were inspired by Greek and Roman poetry, particularly Virgil's Aeneid. "The first line is, 'Arma virumque cano.' 'I sing of a man, and arms.' That kind of beat, that stately progression—rolling thunder—was just wonderful," said Burnett executive creative director Steve Silver.

    They pared the copy back to mostly nouns. "We wanted the sentences like two-by-fours—posts driven into the ground," Silver said. Finally, they put their faith in the viewer to embrace the lines, which can sound like a riddle. "You take a little Virgil and a few two-by-fours and a helping of respect, and you end up with this," said Silver.

    Cusack concludes: "The all-new Chevy Silverado. From one generation to the next. Strong. For all the roads ahead." The ad wraps with the Chevy logo and global positioning line, "Find new roads."

    FILMING/ART DIRECTION: French director Frederic Planchon filmed the three spots on a nine-day shoot in Montana and Wyoming. Visually, the storytelling is nonlinear, moving around in time and offering fractured visions rather than a clearly sequential story, yet realizing the emotional arc from skepticism to belief. The lighting and color grade vary within the spot as well.

    Planchon ran two cameras simultaneously. "The camera didn't sit still very often," said Burnett chief creative officer Steve Chavez. "I wouldn't call it a handheld approach. Each shot is beautifully art directed and well composed. But within the parameters of that, he always had energy and humanity in his shots."

    TALENT/SOUND: Planchon found two actors who could carry the weight of the story while having no dialogue to work with. (He also convinced the agency that the boy should be older—he was originally written as pre-teen.)

    Burnett had to use Cusack, who's the global voice of Chevy, though the agency was a bit skeptical at first. "We requested that he drink the night before and come in with a cigar in his mouth," Silver joked. "He brought the life into the scripts that we were looking for."

    An atmospheric guitar track by Earhole Studios leaves plenty of room for the voiceover.

    MEDIA: National broadcast and cable.

    Client: Chevrolet
    Model: Silverado
    Spot: "A Man and His Truck, Convert"
    Agency: Leo Burnett
    Chief Creative Officer, LB Detroit: Steve Chavez
    Executive Creative Director: Steve Silver
    Art Directors: Jack Crifasi, Dave Ayriss
    Copywriters: Steve Silver, Cameron McIntosh, Ron Saltmarsh
    Senior Producer: Adam Simmons
    Production Company: Anonymous Content
    Director: Frederic Planchon
    Effects: MPC
    Editorial: Work Post
    Editor: Rich Orrick
    Music Company: Earhole
    Director of Photography: Patrick Duroux

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    A Wisconsin golf course posted an apology on Facebook late Monday for a newspaper ad pledging to commemorate 9/11 with an offer of "9 holes with cart for only $9.11." The ad for Tumbledown Trails Golf Course, which reportedly ran in Monday's Wisconsin State Journal, offered the $9.11 rate (or $19.11 for 18 holes) only on Wednesday, Sept. 11, to honor the 12th anniversary of the terror attacks on New York and Washington.

    As the ad spread online, critics came out in droves, sparking two apologies from the business on Facebook. First, the course said it would raise the rate back to normal and donate the difference to the National September 11 Memorial. A follow-up comment pleaded, "We are a family owned business & proudly support all local charities and have always gave 20% off everyday to all Police, Fire, Emergency, Military, etc. Please accept our apology." Finally, in a third Facebook update, the course said it might simply close on Wednesday because "we are now worried about what people will do/say to our staff & do not want anything to happen or get out of control."

    Hat tip to Josh Orton on Twitter, via Scott Stratten.

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    Traditional TV may soon be overgrown with Vines.

    Big players like Dunkin' Donuts, Nissan and Virgin Mobile have all either aired TV spots created on the Twitter-owned six-second video platform or plan to do so. The ad business is all about bandwagons, so expect just about every other marketer to hop on soon.

    Trident launched a Vine spot on Fuse last night that will air 100 times in the next two weeks. The clip stars 24-year-old Brooklyn musicians Nicholas Megalis and his partner Rudy Mancuso (the David Ogilvys of Vine!) performing a jaunty jingle: "Layers of flavor, that's how the world gets paid. Strawberry, citrus, grape, lemonade!" (The Stephen Sondheims of Vine they're not.)

    It's basically two dudes goofing around, singin' about gum. Nothing wrong with that. And Vine is so condensed, there's no time to waste. It's a quick burst of sound and motion, an image or two, some keywords, a social call to action … BAM! That's all you get. (Of course, this is really just a millennial spin on old-school advertising, complete with a catchy tune and the hashtag standing in for the tagline. But let the babies think they've discovered something new.)

    Brevity usually raises the bar for creativity, forcing artists to finely hone their ideas, so Vine's transition into the mainstream could herald a super-short-form commercial renaissance, with lots of experimentation and mind-blowing approaches to come. Then again, I could see this trend going in an anti-creative direction, which is, in fact, hinted at in the Trident spot. Two of its four seconds simply show packages of gum and the #paymeinlayers hashtag.

    Will marketers at some point just start tossing up six-second still product shots, perhaps with snatches of music and some lighting effects, and trumpet these unmoving video billboards as the next step in Vines? Will they create clips with bikini babes cradling their products while hashtags flash incessantly? Or pose the babes atop muscle cars, pickup trucks, home electronics and who-knows-what-else in six-second distillations of every shlocky commercial ever made? Will they run six brain-dead Vines in a row to fill traditional 30-second slots?

    Marketers always stress creativity, foster innovation and take the high road, so I'm sure we've got nothing to worry about. Right?

    Via Mashable.

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    General Electric's technology is making time travel easier. Kind of. Not really. Still, that hasn't stopped the brand from making a new ad based on Back to the Future.

    The spot, from BBDO in New York, part of the client's "Brilliant Machines" campaign, features enough of the essential cues: the souped-up DeLorean with the "Outatime" license plate; Marty McFly's scuffed Nike sneakers; and a voiceover by Michael J. Fox. The commercial doesn't actually show Fox, perhaps because it would shatter the illusion to see a middle-aged McFly droning on about how you kids don't know how good you have it. Back in his day, it wasn't so easy to find 1.21 gigawatts of electricity.

    Instead, we get an animated trip through the DeLorean's charging apparatus. McFly riffs about the wonders of GE's hardware and software. Ultimately, we learn, the brand's technology powers entire cities, as the camera zooms out to feature a bird's-eye, Lite-Brite profile of New York City (bringing to mind the surreal Hurricane Sandy photo of a blacked-out lower Manhattan). "The turbines of today will power us all into the future," says Fox, as the sci-fi ride takes flight and disappears in a characteristic flash of blue.

    The pop-culture premise of the ad is cool. The metaphor is a bit thin—the virtual ride through a power grid and stream of buzzwords don't quite forge a convincing connection between the classic work of fiction and the brand's products. On the other hand, the dazzling, vague sense of warm and fuzzy that this ad is meant to spark may be the best a brand like GE—which deals in such a wide range of hard-to-explain technologies—can hope to deliver in 30 seconds.

    Sure, if Doc and Marty had had GE's 2013 technology, they wouldn't have had to chase lightning bolts up a clock tower. That would have been a less interesting movie. Don't hate on GE for trying to ruin classic films, though. It should keep paying famous actors lots of money to rattle off 30 seconds of marketing speak, and make the brand look nice.

    Client: GE
    Spot: "The Future Is Now"

    Agency: BBDO, New York
    Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars
    Senior Creative Directors: Eric Cosper, Michael Aimette
    Group Executive Producer: Anthony Nelson
    Producer: George Sholley
    Copywriter: Laszlo Szloboda
    Art Director: Akos Papp
    Director of Music and Radio Production: Rani Vaz
    Worldwide Senior Account Director: Emma Armstrong
    Senior Account Director: Peter McCallum
    Account Managers: Lindsey Conklin, Sam White
    Assistant Account Executive: David Slifer

    Production Company: Chelsea
    Director: David Gordon Green
    Director of Photography: Simon Duggan

    Music House: Human

    Editing House: MacKenzie Cutler
    Editor: Ian MacKenzie

    Visual Effects House: Framestore

    Audio Mix: Sonic Union
    Mixer: Michael Marinelli

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    Running-shoe brand Pearl Izumi recently learned, as we all must, that "Run until you kill your dog" isn't a message the public is ready to accept. This print ad, which is part of a campaign that includes a video, has been the target of much consumer umbrage since it appeared in Canadian Running magazine, and rightfully so. Images like that alienate people, and worse, they might prompt Sarah McLachlan to lecture us about giving to the ASPCA. Pearl Izumi has apologized at length, saying the ad "overstepped the bounds of good taste. A lot." The company also made a $10,000 donation to the Boulder Valley Humane Society.

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    I sometimes think billboards are watching, beaming out messages meant just for me. Then I get back on my meds, and everything seems fine. Anyway, BMW's Mini, as part of its "Not Normal" campaign, worked with agencies Iris and Vizeum over the summer to personalize content to drivers of its cars on nine consecutive digital billboards along a busy London motorway. Spotters armed with iPads identified approaching Minis, and the text and images on the boards were then tailored to the individual cars. Drivers' photos were even flashed on signs further up the road. Offers of commuting snacks, car washes and flowers were also in the mix. For example, a driver in a grey Mini drove past successive signs that read, "Early start, Mr. Grey Mini driver? … Need a pick me up? … Fancy a tasty bacon butty? … Mini's buying … See you at the next garage." Nearly 2,000 Mini drivers received such personal greetings in a week. All those folks driving Vauxhalls probably felt sullen and neglected. But that's nothing new for them, now is it?

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    Robert De Niro narrates this new spot for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, encouraging viewers to "take a day to remember" that morning 12 years ago, when thousands of men and women died in the heart of New York City—and "to honor the best in humanity that overcame the worst." The spot, created pro bono by BBDO, New York, will air on donated media throughout the week. The campaign also includes print, outdoor, digital and video advertising and points to 911memorial.org to learn more. Credits below.

    Client: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum
    Spot: "Day to Remember"

    Agency: BBDO, New York
    Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars
    Executive Creative Directors: Greg Hahn, Mike Smith
    Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Marcel Yunes
    Associate Creative Director, Copywriter: Rick Williams

    Group Executive Producer: Julian Katz
    Senior Integrated Producer: Neely Lisk
    Executive Music Producer: Rani Vaz

    Account Director: Neil Onsdorff
    Account Executive: Jennifer Sullivan

    Production Company: Brand New School
    Executive Creative Director: Jonathan Notaro
    Managing Partner: Devin Brook
    Head of Production: Julie Shevach
    Art Director: Kris Wong
    Animators: Morten Christensen, Peter Harp, Jim Forster
    Flame Artist: Mark French
    Producer: Joe Balint

    Music: AKM Productions
    Recording Studio: The Kitchen
    Mixing Engineer: Corey Bauman

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    After getting bombarded with hate tweets for about an hour this afternoon, AT&T removed an image from Twitter that had been meant as a 9/11 tribute—a photo showing a hand holding a phone up in front of the Tribute in Light searchlights. "We apologize to anyone who felt our post was in poor taste. The image was solely meant to pay respect to those affected by the 9/11 tragedy," the company wrote in a follow-up tweet. (As of this writing, the photo remained up on AT&T's Facebook page. UPDATE: The photo was removed from Facebook as well, about another hour after the tweet came down.) An AT&T spokesman later reiterated that same statement when reached by Adweek.

    The episode highlights yet again the difficult task of doing any corporate messaging around 9/11. For AT&T, Wednesday's reaction on Twitter was an especially stinging rebuke, considering the company posted quite a similar style of photo last year on 9/11—and got much better feedback.

    The difference? Last year's image showed the Freedom Tower, and the headline read, "Standing tall." It was simply a more forward-looking, patriotic execution. The Tribute in Light is a more sacred image, and this year's headline, "Never forget," is incompatible with any hint of a sales message, even one as simple as the image of a phone.

    In the end, 9/11 may not be totally off limits to brands—American Express and many others posted well-received tweets today. But you'd better be careful, especially if you want to throw a product in there, too.

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    I just want to point out that these (largely excellent) new ads from Geico point up something that many critics have observed about advertising and media in general: The suburban housewives checking out the giant are surprisingly put-together and attractive, while the scuba divers inside the whale are surprisingly schlubby. Or rather, they're to be admired for their confidence in themselves. To quote somebody or other, "Men and women will never be equal until a fat, bald woman can walk through Times Square wearing nothing but sweatpants and know that she is beautiful."

    Also, y'all know that whales have internal organs, right? Livers, kidneys, lungs, the works.

    Geico has pretty good comedy creative across the board (thank God the gecko is nowhere to be found in these ads), but does anyone else think there's probably a funnier punch line for these spots than "I just saved 15 percent on my car insurance?" It seems like the brand's insistence on its service/tagline staying focal is maybe not the best thing for the creative. Not that this should just be a 30-second joke with no branding, but perhaps there actually are more creative ways to illustrate the joys of being insured.

    Anyway, if there are, The Martin Agency seems like a prime candidate to provide them. These are funny spots, lame punch line or no lame punch line, especially the whale one—the gent floating in on the kayak at the end is priceless. In all of them but the giant spot, too, the proclamation of the silver lining—in the form of cheap insurance—kind of begs the question. Yes, but why is that good? You'll never see your car again, guys who are in the belly of a whale/spaceship/girl who probably won't be driving anytime soon.

    The bad-magician spot is a lot of fun as well, especially since he actually seems to have uncontrollable superpowers, rather than butterfingers.

    Casting, as always, is key here—the Close Encounters guys have a great buddy-comedy thing going, and the women sipping their coffee while looking out at the giant are smilingly oblivious in a very funny Stepford Wives kind of way.

    Good job, Geico. Maybe now it's time for a new tagline.

    Client: Geico
    Agency: The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.

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    Fiona Apple, CAA Marketing and the Oscar-winning animators at Moonbot Studios prove to be impressive collaborators as Chipotle takes the formula that worked so well two years ago—celebrity cover of a famous song + gorgeous long-form animation + potent environmental message—and replicates it for a new campaign.

    In fact, it enhances the formula by adding a gaming component, too.

    Like the acclaimed, award-winning "Back to the Start" campaign, the new effort, called "The Scarecrow," is another grand statement from the restaurant chain about the world of industrial food production. The centerpiece is a free, arcade-style adventure game for the iPhone and iPad, supported by an animated short film of the same name.

    The film, posted below, is a dystopian fantasy in which a famously antagonistic relationship—that of crow and scarecrow—is turned on its head. Crows are running the show at the Crow Foods factory, which is staffed by scarecrows who've lost their jobs at the farm and are forced into supporting the unsustainable processed-food system. The first two-thirds of the film are oppressively bleak, as chickens and cows are pumped full of hormones and our hero scarecrow all but blanches at the horror of it all. In the end, of course, he breaks free and opens his own little restaurant, where he serves—naturally—wholesome-looking handmade burritos.

    The animation by Moonbot is lovely. (The studio won the Oscar for Best Animated Short in 2012 for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.) And the music—a Fiona Apple cover of the song "Pure Imagination" from 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—is flat-out hypnotic. Together, they produce a deeply evocative atmosphere that connects the viewer emotionally to the story—even if it's not quite as magical as the brilliant, stripped-down, stop-motion "Back to the Start" video.

    But it's not all about the film anyway. The game, also developed with Moonbot and CAA, is a major focus, too. You're challenged to "fly through the city of Plenty to transport confined animals to open pastures, fill fields with diverse crops at Scarecrow Farms, and serve wholesome food to the citizens at PlentyFull Plaza, all while avoiding menacing Crowbots." And if you get at least three stars out of five in each of the game's worlds, you get a coupon for free food at Chipotle.

    Branded entertainment goes doesn't get much more well rounded or better executed than this. Apple's song will hit the iTunes Store soon, with 60 cents per download benefiting the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. And the game is available for free at the App Store.

    Now, go get those evil crows.

    Client: Chipotle
    Agency: CAA Marketing
    Animation: Moonbot Studios
    Music: Fiona Apple

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    Fresh from his U.S. Open triumph, Rafael Nadal comes on like the candy man in ESPN's latest tongue-in-cheek SportsCenter spot from Wieden + Kennedy in New York. Network personalities John Anderson and Bram Weinstein just can't figure out why Rafa is such a chick magnet around the ESPN offices. Could it be his tan? His dimples? Keep your shirts on, gentlemen, because the answer comes at the end, when we learn that it's the sweet, sweet stuff in Nadal's big, shiny cup that keeps them coming back for more. Roger Federer's commercial performances, even when he's pimping Lindt chocolates, are never as tasty.


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