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- 11/14/13--09:38: _Nick Offerman Does ...
- 11/14/13--10:55: _Ad of the Day: Kmar...
- 11/17/13--00:13: _Google Does It Agai...
- 11/15/13--05:59: _Baileys Updates The...
- 11/17/13--00:13: _Leo DiCaprio, Bruce...
- 11/15/13--07:26: _Jamaica Tourism's G...
- 11/17/13--18:51: _How Olivier Françoi...
- 11/18/13--16:13: _Kohl's Christmas Ad...
- 11/18/13--06:00: _Kmart Hunks Play 'J...
- 11/18/13--06:58: _Pet Food Maker Give...
- 11/18/13--07:29: _Test Your Online En...
- 11/18/13--08:16: _Ad of the Day: Sain...
- 11/18/13--08:33: _Rob Ford Flawlessly...
- 11/18/13--10:42: _Exploding Chipmunks...
- 11/18/13--19:18: _JWT’s Global CEO-in...
- 11/19/13--05:30: _Michael Bolton Warm...
- 11/19/13--05:57: _How a Speed Demon F...
- 11/19/13--07:13: _UN Women Take Famou...
- 11/19/13--08:44: _Fun Parody of Gravi...
- 11/19/13--09:30: _Ad of the Day: JFK ...
- 11/15/13--05:59: Baileys Updates The Nutcracker in Star-Studded Christmas Ad
- 11/17/13--18:51: How Olivier François Is Fixing Fiat for Its Return to America
- 11/18/13--16:13: Kohl's Christmas Ad Warms Hearts With a Tender Twist
- 11/18/13--06:58: Pet Food Maker Gives Away 'Collar Cams' to Document Your Dog's Day
- 11/18/13--08:33: Rob Ford Flawlessly Replaces Van Damme in Epic Split Parody
- 11/18/13--19:18: JWT’s Global CEO-in-Waiting Has a Big Task Ahead of Him
- 11/19/13--05:57: How a Speed Demon From a Century Ago Got Hennessy's Heart Racing
- 11/19/13--07:13: UN Women Take Famously Empowering Autocomplete Campaign Into Video
Halfway through Movember, Nick Offerman's mustache is so excited to be growing uncontrollably that it breaks into song and dance in this crazy-weird new spot from Made Man. For some reason, Offerman's mouth becomes tiny as he belt out the Irene Cara classic "What a Feeling" from Flashdance—the perfect song for a Stachdance. The ends of his 'stache, meanwhile, punch the air and fly around joyfully like a couple of possessed baboon arms. Movember, of course, is the annual, month-long event in which dudes get hairier to raise awareness of men's health issues.
Each year, as the holidays draw near, you can depend on Kmart to start rolling out ads for its reserve-now, pay-incrementally layaway program. (In fact, Kmart couldn't even wait for the official start of fall to begin touting it this year—the company's first Christmas layaway ad aired in September.) While the ads usually focus on the convenience of the layaway plan, for its latest spot, the mass retailer is finally taking a different approach by poking fun at its competitors' not-so-great offers.
The minute-long "Boardroom" spot, by Draftfcb in Chicago, imagines the corporate headquarters of a fictitious competitor as a place where villains gather to deprive consumers of a good deal. The company's chairman kicks things off by announcing that the marketing department has asked that they start offering layaway, but, being terrible and all, he's determined to make it as inconvenient as possible. So he calls on his hodgepodge of evil board members—Genghis Khan, Satan, the "evil doll from my childhood," the "guy who always takes the last donut"—to come up with ideas for thwarting would-be layaway customers. (Blackout dates! In-store only! No apparel!)
Considering the lack of ingenuity that Kmart often displays in its layaway campaigns, it's nice to see a spot that attempts to be something other than heartwarming or mom-friendly. And frankly, I'll take weird boardroom Satan over Sandra Lee any day of the week.
Agency: Draftcb, Chicago
When the 1947 India-Pakistan partition ripped the two nations apart, Baldev was forced to relocate overnight, leaving behind his best friend Yusuf. Before that, they had been inseparable, flying kites together in the square and stealing Jhajariyas from Yusuf's family shop. Decades later, Baldev's granddaughter uses Google and those few tidbits of information from her grandfather's memories to find Yusuf and arrange a heartwarming reunion for her grandfather's birthday. It's three and half minutes long, and you will want it to be longer. I seriously think Google sent out some advertising memo demanding that all its spots have to be heartwarming, tearjerking or both. Hats off to Google in India. With their recent success covering Saroo Brierley's unbelievable story and now this, it's killing me how hard they're killing it!
Click on the Closed Captioning button to read the subtitles and truly enjoy.
Baileys becomes the latest big-name marketer to place an epic holiday spot under the tree with BBH London's modern take on Tchaikovsky's seasonal ballet The Nutcracker. We're treated to a Candyland holiday ball punctuated by a lengthy and superbly choreographed dance-fight between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker Prince, which ends when Clara, the object of their affection, joins in and turns the tide in the prince's favor. (You'd think a guy called "nutcracker" could take care of himself.) The film closes with our heroine rejoining her two pals for more partying, along with the line, "Spend time with the girls this Christmas." (Celebrating the spirit of women has been a recurring Baileys theme.)
Despite its contemporary trappings—the Mouse King is ripped and tattooed; the venue looks like an "in" SoHo dance club—the spot doesn't stray far enough from its source material to feel like a true reinvention. There's no magical moment or boffo payoff. Yes, it's extremely well made, and the dancing is impressive, as are the sets, costumes and direction. Maybe it needed a bit more holiday warmth? Instead, I found myself reaching for a glass of Baileys to chase away the chill.
The two-minute spot premieres Saturday during the U.K.'s first telecast of Black Swan, and there's a tie-in with that Oscar-winning film, as Benjamin Millepied, its choreographer, also designed the athletic ballet in the ad. And he's not the only notable talent involved. Royal Ballet dancers Steven McRae, Thiago Soares and Iana Salenko perform the lead roles, while Ringan Ledwidge, of "Three Little Pigs" fame, directs.
Perhaps Leo DiCaprio has been too busy. Too many films. Cigarettes. Models. His ubiquity and inflexible physiognomy appear to have inspired industrial-scale quantities of online waggery querying why he is the same character in every movie, or why all his characters inhabit the same universe. He is the muse of an army of amateur David Thomsons. Off-screen, even his peers show short shrift. Elderly coffee salesman George Clooney recently expressed concern with Leo's Entourage lifestyle. Seems as though handsome, talented, multimillionaire movie star DiCaprio just can't catch a break. The Wolf of Wall Street, his latest flick, at least delivers the reassuring prestige of a Key Arts Award-winning trailer. But even the best preview in the world can't keep us from feeling this is another Martin Scorsese mash note to his beloved (40-year-old) boy wonder.
Alexander Payne makes very few movies—but when he does, pay attention. Think Election. Or Sideways. When he casts not just the very great Bruce Dern but Stacy goddamn Keach in a black-and-white movie about an old coot who believes he's won $1 million, then just get out of the house, sink into a movie seat, and don't ask too many questions. Nebraska also stars Bob Odenkirk, so now you are definitely sold.
For reasons inexplicable to an increasing proportion of the population, many of whom are married, people get married. A useful subject for a movie then, since folks love to see what they know on screen. The Best Man Holiday is, its trailer tells us, such a movie. It's also a group-of-friends-reuniting-in-New-York movie. In New York at Christmas. In New York at Christmas, plus some of the people sleep with the people they're not supposed to, and one of them, seemingly, is a nymphomaniac. This is a modern comedy that may be the very definition of bet hedging. Still in doubt? The soundtrack features some tune called Blurred Lines.
Elsewhere this week, the ill-used and always underestimated Shia LeBeouf gets a chance to shine in Charlie Countryman, a passionate-looking debut feature about an American tourist in Europe who finds himself out of his depth in a romantic triangle that also includes a properly terrifying Mads Mikkelsen.
Palette cleanser of the week is Dear Mr. Watterson, a documentary about the 10-year romance Americans had with a small boy and his Tiger, aka Calvin and Hobbes. It's like a wormhole into a time of Barnes & Noble bookstores on every corner, videos from Blockbuster, Seinfeld on the TV, TV on the TV only, Tom and Nicole, music on portable CD players, no mobile phones. And round here, it was all fields.
New York is a stressful place, and Times Square isn't the most soothing of its neighborhoods. But thankfully, Draftfcb New York and the Jamaica Tourist Board recently plunked down an enormous stress ball on Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets, giving New Yorkers and visitors a chance to "squeeze their burdens away." The giant ball doesn't work like a regular stress ball—you'd never get your hand around it—but perhaps you were meant to just give it a big hug, mon. In any case, its big smiling face served as a de-stresser by itself. And if all else failed, reggae artist and Jamaica native Gyptian was on hand to perform his mellow tunes for the crowd. More images, and credits, below.
Client: Jamaica Tourist Board
Agency: Draftfcb, New York
Chief Creative Officer: Javier Campopiano
Group Creative Director: Kevin Jordan
Creative Directors: Bruno Acanfora, Ariel Abramovici
Associate Creative Director: Lucas Bongioanni
Group Management Director: Wendy Glass
Account Supervisor: Ashley Hughes
Account Executive: Molly Burns
Producers: Joe De Franco, Susie Rofe, Daunno Jason
In 2011, as Fiat struggled to reestablish itself in America after a near three-decade absence from the market, the Italian auto brand didn’t have to call some guy named “Tony” to pop the hood. Olivier François was available for—and as it has turned out, quite up to—the job.
You may recall the old joke that Fiat was an acronym for “Fix it again, Tony”—meant to underscore the brand’s perceived lack of quality and penchant for rusting. Fiat, in fact, suffered a disastrous run of about 10 years in the U.S., in which annual sales went from about 100,000 vehicles in the mid-’70s to some 15,000 by the time it up and left in 1984.
While the company still faces a long road before its comeback can safely be deemed a success, industry experts credit François—who joined the automaker in 2005 and, since 2011, has served as worldwide Fiat brand CEO and CMO of Chrysler Group and Fiat Group—with getting its U.S. marketing effort headed in the right direction. “America is not the core of our sales but a very interesting field of experimentation for the brand,” says the marketing chief.
The fact that Fiat, in its current incarnation, is still a newcomer here rather than the established brand it is in Europe allows François and his team to try new things without the intense pressure that comes with being a market leader. “You need to be hungry for sales but not at any cost,” he says. “Growth is one thing, but the quality of the growth is something else. We have to protect the brand.”
After Fiat pulled out, the brand was largely forgotten in the U.S., though it remained popular in many foreign markets, including Latin America and Europe. (At home in Italy, Fiat’s standing is comparable to that of Ford in the U.S., while Brazil is also a stronghold.) By March 2011, Fiat and Chrysler were closely aligned (Fiat owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler and exercises operational control). Seeking to enter a potentially lucrative market as Europe’s economy sagged, Fiat returned to U.S. soil with the small-frame Fiat 500 city car, sporting a base sticker price of $15,500.
Industry watchers predicted Fiat would face a steep climb. “It’s tough to reintroduce a brand once it has failed in the U.S.,” notes George Peterson, president of the consulting firm AutoPacific, owing to “lots of old baggage left in the memories of consumers. Plus, they wonder if they can trust the brand to stick around for the long haul. Confidence is a big part of the buying decision. ‘Fix it again, Tony’ is still remembered.”
The comeback was quickly stalled by several challenges: an anemic U.S. economy; the fact that Fiat debuted with a single subcompact model in a market where size impresses consumers; and a failure to get dealers on board. “Fiat’s pitch to dealers was weak in the beginning,” says Peterson, resulting in just 30 domestic dealerships at launch. “Insisting on separate showrooms made adding a Fiat franchise to a Chrysler store an expensive proposition. They later weakened those requirements.”
The Long Road
Having a solid advertising program in place might have helped compensate for such deficiencies, but Fiat’s initial efforts to promote its comeback generated little buzz. In retrospect, the brand excelled at peripheral marketing programs while ignoring the bigger brand-building picture.
A big part of Fiat USA’s strategy was targeting younger consumers via social media. The brand had a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook right from the start. Fiat also released an iPad app early on, as well as a music video featuring a rocked-up version of Vivaldi. The brand even got experiential, unveiling pop-up drive-ins around the country where it would screen original versions of films that had since been remade (a nod to the fact that its return to the U.S. was itself a “remake”).
But many in the auto industry, including Fiat’s own dealers, lamented the lack of a broad-based marketing strategy with a strong TV component. Social outreach and experimental efforts were all well and good but failed to make an impact. Few prospective buyers even knew the brand was back. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat S.p.A. and chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group, summed up the launch in January 2012 by telling Automotive News: “It was a poorly executed plan.”
Fiat’s national TV spot, from Detroit agency Impatto, didn’t break until five months after the models were available. Drenched in nostalgia, with Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock” as the soundtrack, the drive-in-themed clip showed a 1957 Fiat 500 morphing into a new model. A voiceover informed viewers: “Another icon has arrived, and ready to prove once again it’s the simple things in life that have the biggest impact.” Reactions were mixed. Adweek’s Tim Nudd judged the message “a little overwritten,” but noted, “The tagline, ‘Simply more,’ positions the model as a deceptively diminutive vehicle that hits well above its weight.”
Chris Cedergren, president of consumer insight firm Iceology, is far less charitable. “That first ad was horrible,” he says. “It wasn’t what Fiat was all about.”
Soul of the Machine
Quickly finding the “soul” of Fiat and distilling its essence in advertising that would connect with American audiences became paramount—before the comeback effort drove into a ditch. There were changes in the driver’s seat. Laura Soave, who initially oversaw Fiat’s return, left in late 2011, replaced by Tim Kuniskis (who moved to Chrysler’s Dodge brand in April 2013, succeeded at Fiat by Jason Stoicevich). The keys to the brand were handed to Paris-born Olivier François—already an important executive on Chrysler, Fiat and Lancia—who has set the tone and style of Fiat’s U.S. marketing ever since.
Insiders describe François as wickedly smart, passionate about cars and unafraid to make quick decisions based on his gut. “He has the confidence to make splashy, attention-getting changes, kind of an innate understanding of how to cleverly generate consideration,” says Peterson, who adds that François likely “salvaged” Fiat’s U.S. launch from complete disaster. (A belated but concerted effort to add dealerships also helped get sales rolling.)
“We have a small car selling in a niche segment, so we can’t pitch it here the way we pitch a mainstream brand in Europe,” François explains. “We cannot pitch it as a car you need, but as a car you want. It’s not a commodity, not mainstream. It’s a great design. It is cool. The language is youth, fun, trendy.”
Comfy nostalgia and nods to Fiat being a “remake” were jettisoned in favor of big-name stars and mildly risqué concepts that would generate earned media attention beyond their paid placements. François put über-diva Jennifer Lopez and Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen behind the wheel in separate efforts crafted by ad agency Doner.
Some scoffed at J.Lo tooling around her old Bronx neighborhood in a 500 Cabrio convertible that probably cost less than her earrings, but that advertising—the first under François—got big play in late 2011 and catapulted the Fiat name into the public consciousness. (Brand awareness jumped from 9 percent to 45 percent after the ad’s launch.) And the sight of Sheen screeching around his mansion in a high-performance 500 Abarth—cheekily telling Romanian model Catrinel Menghia, “I love being under house arrest!”—was a perfect pop-culture fit in early 2012.
Style on Wheels
“We looked at it as style on wheels,” explains Rob Strasberg, co-CEO and creative chief at Doner. “You’ve got icons playing with icons,” he adds—the cars were made “cool” and “fun” by association with larger-than-life celebrities.
Brand expert Cedergren believes this creative route was best for Fiat. “The car business is the fashion business,” he says. “The only difference between a car company and Giorgio Armani is that Armani uses fabric, and cars use glass and metal.” Car advertising based solely on specs like gas mileage and safety features can fall flat, he adds, “and the last thing you want to do is sell a commodity. We’re selling sex. We’re selling passion. Make people lust after the product.”
Cue Menghia, who returned for two more commercials designed to overheat radiators. “Seduction,” aired during the 2012 Super Bowl, cast the model as the sultry, latte-foam-dripping personification of an Abarth in an average worker dude’s midday daydream. Some slammed it as sexist, while others echoed Adrants blogger Steve Hall, who wrote, “It’s just a true statement of fact. … Men are perplexed, dumbfounded and all-out distracted when in the presence of a hot woman, or a hot car.” (François has proven quite the player in the year’s biggest sports event, throwing Super Bowl touchdowns for Chrysler in ’11 with Eminem’s “Imported From Detroit” ad and with Clint Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” spot a year later. Adweek named François its Grand Brand Genius for 2012.)
For the follow-up, “Topless,” Menghia was shown catching rays at the beach as a scorpion snipped off her bikini strap with its pincers. “It’s like the ad was created by two seventh-grade boys in the bathroom between classes,” says Hall. Any controversy was short-lived and the ad, once again, generated social shares and plenty of publicity. David Canright, copywriter and cd at The Richards Group, which did the Menghia spots, describes them as “very sexy and playfully wicked,” aligned with the brand’s Italian sense of fun.
The brand’s ethnic origins played into subsequent ads. Richards literally cast the vehicles as “Immigrants” in a mid-2012 spot that had Fiats driving underwater from Italy to New York. Doner’s “Italian Invasion” spot from this summer, touting the 2014 Fiat 500L—a five-door mini MPV and major U.S. line extension—went one further, showing Colonial America overrun not by British garrisons but by groovy Italians in red Fiats. (The incursion was marked by ample cleavage, shapely legs and steaming cups of espresso.)
The knock on François’ efforts is that they offer a scattershot array of imagery devoid of recurring spokespeople or taglines. He counters that the ads “all speak the same language. They’re all connected to each other. They speak about being Italian, about being different.”
While the strategy has translated well for the brand, it remains far too soon to call Fiat’s American reinvasion triumphant, or complete. The U.S. market contributed a sliver of the company’s global vehicle sales, which topped 4 million last year. Though Fiat had hoped to sell 50,000 cars annually in North America, it sold slightly less than 20,000 in the U.S. in 2011, growing to 43,772 in 2012 and 36,416 through October of this year. (By comparison, BMW’s Mini—a small car like Fiat, and also one noted for its quirky advertising—sold 24,590 vehicles with its 2002 U.S. debut and 36,010 its second year in the market.)
“Fiat remains a work in progress,” offers analyst Peterson. “The product line is fleshed out but still needs one or two more entries to make the brand fully competitive. … Check back in two years when and if they have received the Alfa Romeo franchise to see if Fiat dealers are smiling or not.”
No smiles yet. Automotive News reports that only about 45 percent of the 210 Fiat dealers in the U.S. are profitable. Meaning that even though François’ tactics may have kept the wheels from falling off, Fiat still hasn’t turned the corner.
Man, this holiday season is all about forcing me to confront my unfair assumptions. Kohl's delivers with an ad that starts out with a photogenic couple decking out an apartment with lights, a tree and such. I was mentally preparing a nice Grinchy rant about it until the reveal that there's more going on than meets the eye. (Watch the video below before reading on if you don't want me to spoil the surprise.) There's still the question of how they got into this woman's apartment, but poking plot holes in an ad this touching just makes me feel like I'm lecturing Bob Cratchit to go easy on the coal.
And you thought the NBA guys were talented for playing "Jingle Bells" via well-timed three-pointers. Check out the Kmart studs in the retailer's crazy Christmas cross-promotion with Joe Boxer via Draftfcb in Chicago—swaying their sacks to chime out their own impressive version of the holiday standard. That's some musical junk right there. It caps an offbeat year for agency and client, stretching from "Ship My Pants" through last week's evil-filled "Boardroom" spot. Sometimes it's just better to be on the naughty list.
There will be no question about who rummaged through the trash, shredded the sofa or butt-scooted across the carpet. The pet cam will tell all. But that's not really the purpose of this lightweight collar camera, the centerpiece of a digital campaign for Nature's Recipe pet food. The device is supposed to capture the world from your dog or cat's perspective, snapping photos so you can create an online scrapbook under headings like "So That's What My Shins Look Like."
The campaign, from JWT's Digitaria in San Diego, public relations firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies, media shop Starcom and social agency VaynerMedia, launched recently with online scrapbooks from bloggers and pet advocates. (Nonspoiler alert: there's lots of sky, trees and food bowls in a day in the life of a pet.)
From now until March, animal lovers can win their own collar cams and, possibly, a pet-friendly vacation as part of the "Nature's Recipe for Moments" contest. Or they could just end up with a bunch of pictures of the inside of their toilets.
Taking its cues from the great 1997 documentary Hands on a Hardbody, Dodge and Wieden + Kennedy will launch a contest Tuesday called Hands on Ron Burgundy—an online test of endurance that will feature daily prizes as well as a grand prize of (as in the movie) a new car. In the film, contestants put their hands on a pickup truck, and the last person to take his or her hand off won the truck. The Burgundy contest, part of a larger campaign promoting the Dodge Durango and the upcoming film Anchorman 2, will go live at noon ET on Tuesday—and it looks like it will challenge users to click on Burgundy in photo after photo. The details will become clearer tomorrow, but it will surely take some serious stamina to win the car.
This kind of advertising as punishment was popular a few years back, when Burger King made people watch a spinning Whopper for hours on end to get coupons—and, in a somewhat similar idea to Dodge's, Peugeot had people click and hold their mouse button on a car for a chance at a free week's rental. People lasted up to 15 hours in that contest (and 77 hours in the movie)—so, proceed with this Burgundy thing with caution.
Are you ready for a crowdsourced Christmas ad?
Yes, it sounds like a bad idea. But this British spot for grocery chain Sainbury's from AMV BBDO—actually a trailer for a longer film, coming at the end of the month—is pretty wonderful. And it reminds you that crowdsourced footage, in the right hands, can be very moving indeed.
In this case, the hands are Kevin Macdonald's. In 2010, the Scottish director—known for movies including The Last King of Scotland and Touching the Void—made a documentary called Life in a Day, which spliced together footage shot on a single day by people around the world. Now, in partnership with Sainbury's, he has made a sequel of sorts—a 50-minute film called Christmas in a Day, which will be posted to YouTube on Nov. 29. This three-and-a-half minute spot, which consumed an entire ad break last Wednesday on Coronation Street, is a trailer for it—but serves as a lovely holiday ad in its own right.
"When we made Life in a Day, we asked people around the globe to record their lives on a single ordinary day," Macdonald says. "When we were cutting that film, we talked about what it might be like if we chose a day that already had significance to people. The result is Christmas in a Day."
Many stories about the trailer have focused on the final scene, which is understandable, as it's very emotional. But there are lots of gems throughout—in particular, the kids preparing for Santa and his reindeer, and the guy planning his Christmas lunch with a spreadsheet (he's already become something of a folk hero in the U.K.).
It's an overused word, but this is as authentic as it gets, capturing genuine moments that are peculiar, adorable and just plain real. The clear contrast, of course, is Wieden + Kennedy's Tesco spot—a painstaking replica of a family at Christmas. Both approaches can work. But with a talent like Macdonald, Sainbury's put itself in a position to produce something very special—well beyond the scope of a traditional Christmas ad. The finished film should be something else.
Agency: AMV BBDO, London
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Sometimes, the best parodies are the most subtle. Case in point: This truly impressive face dub of disgraced Toronto Mayor Rob Ford onto the body of Jean-Claude Van Damme in his "Epic Split" ad for Volvo Trucks. There's really nothing to it beyond the face switch, but the effect is so perfectly executed by New York-based visual effects shop Artjail, it's plenty satisfying. "We were completely in awe of the Volvo Van Damme Epic Splits spot," Artjail writes in its YouTube summary, "and remain completely in awe of Mayor Ford's Epic lifestyle north of the border." Check out Artjail's demo reel after the jump and see some images of how it was done over on Fstoppers. Hat tip to Evan Travers for sending me this one.
Here's one for the file on unexpected PSAs: Exploding chipmunks that warn you against purchasing bootleg electrical goods. U.K. charity Electric Safety Council is using a gruesome, two-minute mock documentary to push Christmas shoppers to buy "genuine goods" that are less likely to cause violent electrical fires. It's fun, if a bit of a head-scratcher—begging for attention by striking the right mix of stupidity and shock value (yes, we're taking the bait) but also trivializing the cause it's meant to spotlight by making the punch line so absurd. Yes, the group needs people not to ignore an easily overlooked problem, but it also needs them to take it seriously. Then again, maybe it'll get lucky and draw fire from PETA — the kind of charity troll that's able to make an exploding-rodent tactic look sane by comparison. Agency: Code Computerlove. Via The Drum.
Gustavo Martinez will have nearly a year to establish himself at JWT as global president before he succeeds Bob Jeffrey as CEO in 2015. Given the scale of the top job—and the significant challenges before him—he’ll need all the time he can get.
For now, Martinez remains at McCann Worldgroup, where he’s winding down as president of Europe and Asia. He won’t join JWT until February, so he’s not talking about his new agency just yet. Past, present and future colleagues, however, offered Adweek a glimpse into his strengths and weaknesses and the hurdles he’ll face.
Chief among them is to raise the caliber and consistency of the WPP Group shop’s creative work. JWT has made strides under Jeffrey—accumulating 185 Cannes Lions since 2009 for an annual average of 37—but the results have been uneven across regions, offices and years. “They haven’t had a creative director who stuck at a global level, and you can see that in the work,” a rival CEO said. “There’s no consistency, and there’s no ambition in it.”
The agency’s last global creative chief was Craig Davis, who left in early 2009. Rather than fill that job, Jeffrey instead installed veteran cds in regional roles, including Jeff Benjamin, for North America. JWT also has a worldwide creative council that includes creative leaders for regions and global accounts.
As CEO, Martinez also will need to help revitalize JWT’s New York headquarters, which was flying high as recently as 2009 when the shop deepened its relationship with Microsoft and was Adweek’s Global Agency of the Year. Since then, however, leaders like Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague have left, and Microsoft has shifted its business elsewhere, including Bing, which JWT helped launch.
Recently, under new office CEO Peter Sherman, New York has expanded its Energizer relationship and added some Google business. Martinez will need to help compound and accelerate such wins.
Another formidable challenge facing the CEO-in-waiting is simply the size of the job. Put plainly, Martinez has run regions before but never a global operation—let alone one with an estimated total revenue of $1.7 billion and 10,000 employees in 90 countries like JWT. Running a global shop is a massive and relentless task, given internal fiefdoms, talent turnover and the ever-changing demands of marketers—and you don’t quite know what it’s like until you try.
“This is quite a large and complicated machine,” said a JWT insider, who wondered if Martinez had the discipline and attention to detail needed to “keep the various constituents in play and working well together.”
The good news is that client management is a Martinez strength. At Ogilvy and Worldgroup, he forged close ties with major marketers like Coca-Cola, L’Oréal and Nestlé. And he developed his relationship-building skills under the tutelage of premier client manager Shelly Lazarus, Ogilvy’s former CEO. What’s more, current Ogilvy CEO Miles Young thought enough of Martinez’s abilities to put him in charge of global brand management in 2011.
“He’s spectacularly good at dealing with clients, and he does it with Latin charm that’s highly persuasive,” Young said of Martinez, a multilinguist who has a Ph.D. in economics. “He’s just a bundle of energy—and clients like energy.”
At JWT, where the top global accounts include Ford, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and HSBC, Martinez will need every bit of that vigor to succeed.
Honda loves Michael Bolton. Maybe even more than the Bobs, the doofus business consultants from Office Space, who really, really, love Michael Bolton.
The 60-year-old pop crooner—who has popped up in ads recently for brands like Optimum and Starburst—stars in the automaker's holiday campaign, called Happy Honda Days, because marketers also love bad puns. The short original songs Bolton belts out are characteristically saccharin, meant to capture the feeling of spiritual-love-ecstasy that some men of a certain age can only get from Bolton—and, the automaker would have you believe, anyone can get from buying a Honda.
The generally fantastical series wins points for poking fun at itself with melodramatic guitar solos and idiotic lyrical gems like "This special time of year, it's filled with joy and cheer, for me and you and you and you, too." Most realistic, though, are the dumbstruck stares of the relatively young buyers, whose sometimes ambiguous expressions seem to range from charmed to baffled to terrified to regretful (at least Honda didn't include him in the crash package it sent to that poor couple's wedding).
Still, if you're a sucker for punishment—or just want to torture your loved ones—Honda has arranged for Bolton to deliver season's greetings to the family and friends of people willing to tweet the hashtag #XOXOBolton. Because if you didn't want to buy a Honda already, maybe Bolton can sing you into submission. Plus, once you own the car, you can insist nobody ever play Michael Bolton in it again.
IDEA: Can an Englishman who died in 1948 convince American millennials to drink cognac in 2013? Hennessy hopes so.
The brand has been urging consumers 21-34 to chase their "Wild Rabbit" (i.e., any deeply held passion) in ads from Droga5—and found a hero for its latest spot in Sir Malcolm Campbell, a racecar driver who set nine land-speed records in the 1920s and '30s. (In Utah in 1935, he became the first person to drive an automobile over 300 mph.)
Hennessy tells Campbell's story in a gorgeous and gripping 90-second period piece called "The Man Who Couldn't Slow Down" (also cut into a :60, but with a radically different voiceover). Whether or not someone known for driving insanely fast should be a liquor spokesman, Campbell does embody everything Hennessy wants its target to believe about themselves.
"This guy had an insatiable inner desire to master something, and it was a death-defying feat each time," said Moët Hennessy svp Rodney Williams. Thus, while obscure to them, he can be a role model for young Americans—who, given the economic times, said Williams, "have their own obstacles they need to scale."
COPYWRITING: The spot is both realistic and dreamlike as it shows Campbell's literal and figurative drives—the feats in his Blue Bird racing car and his psychological compulsion to move ever faster. It begins with him tearing across oceanside beach flats and celebrating a new record—but then brooding on a train, improving the car with his engineers, running through grassy fields at night. It ends with him back in his car, flying toward a raging sandstorm on the horizon.
"It's not a film just about racing. It's also a psychological story," said Droga5 copywriter Felix Richter. "Obviously he never raced into a sandstorm. But what he did was a little bit dark, and certainly dangerous."
On-screen text says: "Malcolm Campell broke the world land speed record 9 times" and then: "What's your Wild Rabbit?" The spot closes with the tagline, "Never stop. Never settle. Since 1765," next to a Hennessy bottle.
The :90 features a recording of Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl talking about humans' unrelenting need to find meaning in life—"a work to do, a job to complete, a task, a meaning, a mission." Richter explained: "The visual storytelling is so self-explanatory that we wanted a voiceover that talked about 'Never stop. Never settle' in a more abstract and bigger way—so Malcolm becomes an example of something that is important for everyone."
ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Martin De Thurah shot for three days on Miami Beach, just down the coast from Daytona Beach, where Campbell raced in 1928, 1932, 1933 and 1935. "It was the rainiest week in the history of Miami. It was very, very stressful," said Droga5 art director Alexander Nowak. "But in the end, it helped us, because the spot has this moody atmosphere, not that shiny Miami Beach look."
The costumes are all vintage, and L.A.-based car builder Ghostlight even custom-made a 26-foot-long working replica of the Blue Bird, complete with a 500-horsepower GM LS3 engine.
TALENT: An actor named Ronnie Walsh plays Campbell. "He has this amazing look—sort of intense but with the right hairstyle for that time and an elegance to him," said Richter.
The hip-hop star Nas is also involved in the campaign. An Emmy winner for an ESPN documentary he narrated in 2010, Nas does the voiceover here for the :60—a more conventional script that focuses on the enigma of Campbell. "What was he chasing? What are you chasing?" Nas asks.
SOUND: Original music by Q Department is "minimal but very elegant, and not too overpowering," said Nowak. The sound design, like the visuals, mixes realism with surreal effects designed to mine the character's psychology.
MEDIA: National broadcast, digital and print.
Campaign: "Wild Rabbit"
Spot "The Man Who Couldn’t Slow Down"
Agency: Droga5, New York
Creative Chairman: David Droga
Chief Creative Officer: Ted Royer
Group Creative Director: Paul Bichler
Copywriter: Felix Richter
Art Director: Alexander Nowak
Head of Integrated Production: Sally-Ann Dale
Head of Broadcast: Ben Davies
Producer: Sam Kilbreth
Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer
Group Strategic Director: Donny Jensen
Strategic Director: Veda Partalo
Group Account Director: Whitney Radia
Group Account Director: Nick Simons
Account Manager: Bola Adekoya
Client: Moët Hennessy USA
Senior VP: Rodney Williams
VP Consumer Marketing: Barbara Jackson
Production Company: Epoch Films
Director: Martin De Thurah
DOP: Kasper Tuxen
Executive Producer: Melissa Culligan
Producer: Karen O’Brien
Editorial: Spot Welders
Editor: Leo Scott
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Crane
Executive Producer: Joanne Ferraro
Producer: Shada Shariatzadeh/Amanda Slamin
Post Production: The Mill NY
On Set Supervisors: Westley Sarokin/Jeffrey Dates
Executive Producer: Sean Costelloe
VFX Producer: Lily Tilton
VFX Supervisors: Iwan Zwarts/Jeffrey Dates
3D: Tech Dir Jimmy Gass
2D: Kyle Cody
Color: Fergus McCall
Music: Q Department
Song Title: "Follow the Rabbit"
Executive Producer: Zack Rice
Producer: Guin Frehling
Assistant Producer: Heather Macfarlane
Sound: Sonic Union
Mixer: David Papa
Voice Over Record: Sound Lounge
Sound Design: Rasmus Winther Jensen
UN Women sparked a global debate last month, surprising even the group itself, when their modest print campaign, The Autocomplete Truth, went viral across the Web. Now, the organization and agency Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai are back with a video extension of the campaign, as they hinted at in a recent interview with AdFreak. The clip is mostly a collection of great moments in the history of female empowerment, and I was a bit disappointed to see just one of the Google autocomplete examples at the end. It feels like this could have been an opportunity to truly expand the campaign, showing new examples of search suggestions worldwide or even just highlighting the countless blog posts, articles and online conversations generated by the print ads. Still, it's good to see UN Women building on that initial success and creating something—including the hashtag #womenshould—that gives fans more content and context to share.
Few things are more perilous and panic-inducing than getting separated from your companions in an Ikea—an experience that some young filmmakers have now captured in a perfect parody of the trailer for Gravity.
"If I don't make it … promise you'll keep shopping," pleads the Sandra Bullock stand-in, wandering the desolate consumer wasteland and cowering in the throes of Ikeaphobia. "Promise you'll find everything else on the list."
With her cellphone battery almost drained, will she make it? Will they be reunited? Will the self-serve area even have half the stuff they just spent nine hours picking out? My blood pressure rises just imagining such a nightmare.
It's understandable that most Americans who were alive on Nov. 22, 1963, remember where they were and what they were doing when they leaned that John F. Kennedy, the nation's 35th president, had been assassinated. The promise of Camelot and the nightmare of Dealey Plaza were seared into the shared memory of a generation. For them, the JFK era transcends history, and each individual's experience of the event is deeply personal.
Now, as we approach Friday's 50th anniversary of that fateful day in Dallas, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum launches an interactive tribute, designed by The Martin Agency and Tool of North America, that's meant to make JFK come alive in a highly personal way for a new generation of Americans, many of whom were born decades after the man was laid to rest.
An Idea Lives On draws inspiration from a speech in which Kennedy said, "A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on." By assembling stories about JFK from a wide cross-section of people, young and old, in videos, photographs, audio files, text and tweets, the site uses the power of ideas and shared narrative to give Kennedy's legacy renewed vitality. As contributors explain what JFK meant to them and the impact he had on their lives—or, in some cases, simply discuss what they've done or achieved, with the Kennedy connection providing context—we see the connective tissue between the past, present and future begin to form.
Example: Richard Garriott de Cayeux, a video game designer and private astronaut, recounts growing up as the son of a NASA astronaut and poetically describes what it feels like to sit atop a rocket as it's launched into space. His tale is intercut with Kennedy's famous "We choose to go to the moon" speech. JFK seemingly played no direct role in de Cayeux's personal development. Yet the slain president's quest for a U.S. lunar landing inspired decades of space exploration and technological growth. That vision laid the groundwork for both de Cayeux's interest in space travel and his gaming career. And it continues to drive our data-driven lives and sets the stage for innovations yet to come.
Others sharing stories in various formats include comedian Conan O'Brien; former Massachusetts governor and Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis; astronaut Chris Cassidy; actor Martin Sheen; House leader Nancy Pelosi; journalist Luke Russert; and poet Richard Blanco. The JFK Library is soliciting stories via the hashtag #AnIdeaLivesOn. Content is curated in categories such as public service, the space program, arts and humanities, civil rights, fashion, politics, education and religion, and all stories are sharable through social media.
The work is reminiscent of Martin's previous projects for the client, commemorating the Apollo 11 moon mission and the Cuban Missile Crisis (the latter also done with Tool). This time, however, the work cuts a bit deeper by emphasizing personal impressions and striking a potent emotional chord.
It's not so much that history comes alive, but that JFK isn't viewed as "history" in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, An Idea Lives On presents him in an accessible, emotionally resonant fashion that lets those who weren't around during his lifetime understand and appreciate his lasting impact. The site treats JFK's legacy as a vibrant continuum, informing our present age and providing a blueprint for tomorrow.
Project: An Idea Lives on
Created by: Brian Williams, Wade Alger, Joe Alexander & Ben Tricklebank
Client: The JFK Presidential Library & Museum Foundation
Executive Director: Tom McNaught
Director of Marketing and Sales: Lee Statham
Director of Communications: Rachel Flor
Agency: The Martin Agency
Concept & Project Leads: Brian Williams & Wade Alger
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Alexander
Executive Producer: Steve Humble
Producer: Anya Mills
Director of Digital Production: Darren Himebrook
Interactive Producer: Neil Cox
Project Manager/Junior Interactive Producer: Ryan Micklos
Account Supervisor: Carrie Bird
Account Executive: Josh Lybarger
Director of Brand Partnerships: Leslie Griles
Digital Production: Tool
Director: Ben Tricklebank
Live Action Production: Tool & The Martin Agency