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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    Century 21 and its agency, Mullen, have been doing some offbeat stuff together lately—pretending to sell Walter White's house on Craigslist; urging Twitter's mascot to upgrade to a bigger birdhouse after the company's IPO. But this new video is truly out there—a Thanksgiving ode to the soporific effects of turkey meat called "Tryptophan Slow Jam." It's available on iTunes, and Century 21 will donate all proceeds from the sales to its philanthropic partner, Easter Seals. It doesn't seem to have much to do with real estate—nor does the #Tryptophan hashtag, which Century 21 is also pushing this week. But hey, amusing content doesn't always have to double as a sales pitch. (Right?)

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    Google isn't just a technology company. It's a facilitator of dreams.

    That is, at least, according to much of the search giant's advertising, stretching back to spots like "Parisian Love" and "Dear Sophie." Those classics tackled fairly universal, big-picture milestones like getting married and having children. This new ad from 72andSunny in Amsterdam (and Backyard director Greg Kohs) gets way more esoteric, focusing on the story of Laurent Aigon.

    A French airplane enthusiast, Aigon drew international attention this year for an impressive pet project: replicating the interior of a Boeing 737 cockpit in his son's bedroom, as part of a functioning flight simulator. Apparently, Google was instrumental in helping him along the way, from leading him to the online forum that inspired him to helping him locate the components and piece them together.

    As marketing goes, it's smart—a powerful story that illustrates how the company's products aren't just practical tools but can actually make users happy. On some level, though, it also just proves that it's good to be Google: When a company's reason for being is to connect people to all the information in the world, it can eventually start to claim credit for just about anything.

    Via Design Taxi.

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    Behold this strange ad-like object, which is half internal joke and half attempt to prove baseball is still down with the hip kids.

    It's a fictional ad for a fictional law firm created by Michael Shur, the head writer on Parks and Recreation. Shur used to write a lot about baseball, and made fun of one player in particular—David Eckstein, who got a lot of praise for being scrappy but whose stats were mediocre. Shur named the fake Parks and Rec firm after three sabermetric instruments used to analyze baseball performance: BABIP, PECOTA, VORP and combined them with Eckstein to create the law firm of Babip, Pecota, Vorp & Eckstein.

    Recognizing the inside joke when it aired on Parks and Rec in October, MLB.com had Eckstein film a fake commercial for the fake law firm. In it, Eckstein talks about his "scrapitude" and tells those obsessed with statistics, "I have a number for you: four. It's the number of chambers in the best law book money can buy: my heart."

    So, if you like baseball, or inside jokes, or fake ads about baseball's inside jokes, I'm pitching this one right down the pike.

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    Kids still say the darndest things. AT&T and BBDO New York keep up their rich tradition of child-centric, ad-lib style spots (they are lightly scripted but most quickly become improvised) with this Thanksgiving gem.

    Even granting the it's-so-easy-kids-can-get-it premise, Beck Bennett's opening question this time—"What's better: better or not better?"—is a little too obvious (or maybe just dumb) to elicit much more than an annoyed twitch. But what follows—the idea of bringing a pet turkey to T-Day dinner—is plenty entertaining, if arguably low-hanging fruit as well.

    Regardless, the kid is right: A live turkey would be a way less boring Thanksgiving guest than a dead one. Nobody really likes to eat the bird anyway.

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    IDEA: Attack of the 50-foot baby! Sorry, false alarm: It's a Nationwide Insurance commercial.

    Ad agency McKinney came up with the eye-catching spot, one of Nationwide's cutest and most popular to date, from the most basic of insights. "People have massive passion for their cars, and think of them as their babies. It was that simple," said agency group creative director Liz Paradise. "And what could be more fun than making a baby car-size?"

    That's just what they did in the spot, which shows a man lovingly washing, protecting and otherwise caring for his "baby," depicted mostly as an actual giant infant—a metaphor, it turns out, for a killer Ford Mustang.

    "The strategic challenge is, how do you break through the clutter?" said Nationwide CMO Matt Jauchius. "Some of our competitors walk up to the edge of mean-spirited humor, and it's really a hard yuk and a quote. We strike a far more empathetic and authentic tone and manner. … People love their cars. We're saying, we get it, and we'll take care of it if something happens to your baby."

    COPYWRITING: The scripting process involved picking fun scenes in which to show the baby—getting washed in a driveway; playing peekaboo behind a garage door; almost getting hit by a cart in a grocery-store parking lot; and in the saddest moment, bumping into a fire hydrant. (It's then that we first glimpse the Mustang.)

    The visuals are just part of the story. "The baby is a metaphor, and it captures your attention, and who doesn't like babies?" said Jauchius. "But you'd better have something right after that. The copy they came up with was, 'What's precious to you is precious to us,' which really pays it off."

    The full voiceover copy is: "In the Nation, we know how you feel about your car. So when coverage really counts, count on Nationwide Insurance. Because what's precious to you is precious to us. Just another way we put members first because we don't have shareholders. Join the Nation."

    The final shot shows the logo, phone number and URL as a female voice sings the longtime "Nationwide is on your side" slogan.

    FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Directors Jonathan and Josh Baker, aka TWiN, shot the exterior scenes first, around Los Angeles, and then filmed the baby—actually, twin baby boys—on a green screen. Then they blended the footage.

    Visually, the look is meant to be relatable, from the casting to the lighting and house selection. "We're trying to put a little warmth in insurance," said Paradise. "To you, these aren't just things. There's a lot of emotion tied into them."

    TALENT: Julia Roberts does the voiceover. The actor who plays the father is an everyman type. "He has a sweet, loving face and was able to give off that 'I'm in love' vibe," said Paradise. The agency looked for twins who seemed naturally good-natured. "When these fellows came in, they were just happy, happy, happy," Paradise said.

    They shot the crying scene toward the end of the day when the babies were a bit tired. "It didn't take much. And then we all wanted to go and give him a big hug and a cuddle. And his mom was right there with him, so it was fine."

    SOUND: The music is the 1956 track "Love Is Strange" by Mickey & Sylvia. "It just puts one more layer of fun playfulness into it," said Paradise. "And that feel-good, old-time vibe is something everybody can appreciate."

    The sound design is minimal—just some ambient sound.

    MEDIA: The spot has been airing nationally, and given its success, will stay on the air at least through the NFL playoffs and the Winter Olympics, said Jauchius.


    Client: Nationwide Insurance
    Campaign: Join the Nation
    Spot: "Baby"

    Agency: McKinney, Durham, N.C.
    Chief Creative Officer: Jonathan Cude
    Group Creative Director: Liz Paradise
    Art Director: Owen Tingle
    Copywriter: Liz Paradise, Will Chambliss
    Agency Executive Producer: Naomi Newman

    Production Studio: Rabbit Content
    Directors: TWiN (Jonathan and Josh Baker)
    Editor: Andre Betz, Bug Editorial

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    Here's an inspired (if morbid) bit of viral movie marketing: Marvel has created a site called TheBentBullet.com that chronicles supervillain Magneto's role in assassinating President John F. Kennedy.

    Flipping the "magic bullet" conspiracy theory on its head, the site reflects an alternative history in which mutant mastermind Erik Lehnsherr used his powers over metal to shift the bullets fired by Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 22, 1963, ensuring they hit their target. "According to the Warren Commission," a fictional article on the site recounts, "there was no second gunman on the grassy knoll that day, as some conspiracy theorists believe. There was only Lehnsherr, trying to bend the bullet."

    The article obviously sets up the backstory for the events of the upcoming film, X-Men: Days of Future Past. And the site is certainly not comical fare; both the trailer below and the article treat the story line with a level of gravity that's compelling but also occasionally unsettling. When Jackie Kennedy screamed, "They've killed my husband! I have his brains in my hands!" I doubt she could have anticipated that her heartbroken panic would be quoted to sell a blockbuster action movie.

    Via Reddit.

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    And the award for best disembodied mouth in a commercial goes to … Australian beer Tooheys Extra Dry for this memorably unnerving 45-second spot from BMF Sydney and director Hamish Rothwell.

    Popping loose from a dude's jaws and plopping down on a countertop during a party, the garrulous gob promptly mouths off at its understandably speechless owner. "You made me do things, bad things, I can't forget," says the mouth, referring to things like sucking on women's toes, eating mystery meat and kissing dogs' mouths. "I need something back." That something, of course, is the taste of Tooheys Extra Dry.

    "The new ad is sure to grab attention and drive talkability," says marketing director Matt Tapper. "It's provocative, but that is what's great about Tooheys Extra Dry as a brand. We can be a little more adventurous with our creative."

    The White Agency assisted with digital elements, and the campaign stretches across TV, online and outdoor, with the animated mouth as its focus. That pugnacious piehole was created by Alt.VFX, which sent a horde of deer to a rave in a memorable Tooheys spot a while back. The mouth is like something out of a David Cronenberg film—amusing and disturbing at the same time. This is very dark humor, and whether praised or panned, I expect it will set tongues wagging.

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    A year ago, State Farm released a wonderful commercial from agency Translation suggesting NBA star Chris Paul had a twin brother, Cliff, who happened to be a State Farm agent—because he was "born to assist." In April, agency and client released an amusing follow-up spot. And now, they're cleverly extending the campaign all the way into product design through a deal with Nike's Jordan Brand.

    Yes, the Los Angeles Clippers star's Jordan CP3.VII sneaker is now available in an argyle design—inspired by Cliff, who is always seen in an argyle sweater in the State Farm spots. (The CP3.VII sneaker is also the first Jordan brand shoe with iD customization on the Nike website.) A new State Farm spot, posted below, shows Chris and Cliff brainstorming ideas to bring their fans together—and landing on the custom shoe idea. Paul, as always, is doubly great in the new ad playing both himself and his nerdy alter ego, even if the plot line of the new :30 isn't as magical as the two previous :60s.

    "I am always amazed at how people have connected to Chris and Cliff," Paul said in a statement to AdFreak. "I enter an arena and people call out 'Where's your brother?' Working with State Farm and Jordan on the argyle customization of my new shoe adds another level of creativity to marketing both the shoe and State Farm."

    State Farm marketing chief Tim Van Hoof said the argyle iD customizations are "an exciting and cool way to connect with NBA fans and increase our relevance within the NBA culture." And Translation creative director Emily Sander said the agency wanted to "dig deeper and give fans a culturally relevant way to own a piece of the story. … We found the perfect way to organically continue infusing State Farm into sports culture, while adding more dimension to the character and his story."

    See the previous spots below:

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    Here's a wonderful little candy commercial from LoweFriends in Denmark that pulls off a rare trick. It's both edgy and traditional—with several F-bombs in the voiceover balanced out by an actually quite sweet story line about a goth girl who doesn't want to smile in public, but can't help herself while eating her delicious Nørregade candies. Likewise, the tagline, "Be happy in your mouth," is both somewhat suggestive yet disarming.

    The spot just won gold at the Epica Awards, leading the agency to post on its Facebook wall: "Fuck we are happy." Credits below.

    Client: Nørregade
    Agency: LoweFriends
    Copywriter: Hans-Henrik Langevad
    Art Director: Mads Kold
    Production Company: Parafilm
    Director: Michael Toft
    Production Company Producer: Julie Mølsgaard

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    GoldieBlox went from hero to zero in one short week, putting our ad-loving hearts through a roller coaster of emotions. Now, it's belatedly making amends by removing its parody of the Beastie Boys' "Girls" from its mega-popular "Princess Machine" ad—and posting its own "open letter" to the band (and the world) telling its side of the story.

    To recap: GoldieBlox last week released an empowering spot using a rewritten version "Girls" as the soundtrack to breaking gender roles in the toy space. (Sample lyrics: "It's time to change/We deserve to see a range/'Cause all our toys look just the same/And we would like to use our brains.") The ad was clever and cool, and everyone loved it—except they failed to ask the Beastie Boys for permission to use the song. The band objected, and GoldieBlox sued to have its soundtrack declared fair use. That precipitated a PR nightmare (especially after the Beasties' posted a frankly damning open letter in response). So now, GoldieBlox has surrendered—deleting the video, posting a new one with a more generic soundtrack and releasing its own lengthy statement about the affair.

    "We don't want to fight with you. We love you and we are actually huge fans," GoldieBlox founder Debra Sterling writes. She goes on to defend her intentions but says "our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats." Sterling says she had no idea the late Adam Yauch was opposed to using his music in ads (not every "huge fan" of Yauch's knows this, apparently, even one who is looking into doing just that), and adds: "We don't want to spend our time fighting legal battles. We want to inspire the next generation. We want to be good role models. And we want to be your friends."

    It's basically a passive-aggressive non-apology, casting the Beastie Boys as bullies and GoldieBlox as the victim—and also, irritatingly, the bigger person. The company suddenly doesn't want to fight a legal battle, even though it started one. And it wants to be friends, even though it's spent a week trying to be enemies.

    Perhaps this bitterness is understandable. The company had a huge hit on its hands—deleting it must be tough to swallow. And the new spot (posted below), without the Beastie Boys song, definitely has less energy—although maybe it just seems that way because most of us are sort of over it.

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    Logo TV reminds its "savvy audience of gay trendsetters and straight friends who are ahead of the curve" to twerk their turkeys this Thanksgiving, but not with stuffing or ham. What's their gripe with ham? Also, you can't twerk something else. Twerking has to come from within. I thought everyone knew that by now. The booty-popping headstands at 1:17 cracked me up, though. And Logo TV's Miley Cyrus gif, based off the video, is pretty ridiculous also.

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    Envy makes advertising go round—when creatives aren't busying copying ideas, they're coveting them. D&AD celebrates that dynamic with a series of new spots, created by Wieden + Kennedy in London, to promote the awards show's 2014 call for submissions.

    In the videos, industry heavyweights including Dan Wieden share their picks for work from the past year that they "wish they'd done." In Wieden's case, it's an ad by Barton F. Graf 9000 that proposes changing the titles of devastating hurricanes from apparently random names like Katrina and Sandy to names like Marco Rubio and Michele Bachmann, in an attempt to lay blame for the natural disasters on politicians who deny climate change. It's sort of like an "Oh, diss, gotcha dummy" on the dilapidated playground of American politics—but done in a way Wieden hopes will actually have some positive effect.

    The other spots focus on mediums beyond straight advertising. For the digital category, W+K alum Iain Tait, now at Google Creative Lab, praises Philips's Internet-connected, color-changing lightbulbs. For the design category, Jessica Walsh of Sagmeister & Walsh spotlights the new "W" logo for the Whitney Museum, in what may be, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most opaque explanation to the uninitiated—because design work that looks good doesn't always translate to the most down-to-earth or persuasive argument.

    The parts of the promos most worth envying may be the opening zoetrope animations that Nexus's Productions Factory Fifteen developed. The spinning toys pack in quick references to past standout work—the advertising bit, for example, includes the Guardian's "Three Little Pigs" opus (BBH), Honda's flying motors (W+K) and Cadbury's famous Phil Collins gorilla (Fallon). For insiders, the presence of such greats should amp the challenge to submit—or maybe just render it moot. Nobody is ever going to make anything half as good as a big-feeling simian beating the crap out of a drum kit.

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    After years of cornering the market on all things magenta and turquoise, Crayola makes a big, public shift into the toy category with its new "This Holiday, Get Creative" campaign.

    The oh-so-WASP-y spots, from mcgarrybowen, are cute and appealing to kids—particularly the ad for Create to Destroy—while also highlighting perks for parents. (Look, my kid is using markers on my carpet and I'm not Hulk-ing out because they're washable!)

    While the new products are toys, they're still completely Crayola—the Melt n Mold toy transforms broken down crayons into toy shaped crayons—which makes for some nice brand continuity.

    All of the new Crayola products are out in time for you to drop them in your shopping cart and throw some elbows during Black Friday shopping today.

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    The Ron Burgundy blitz continues. Now, instead of congratulating movie stars on landing porny roles or hawking Dodge Durangos, Will Ferrell is making your wildest dreams come true by co-hosting, in Anchorman 2 character, an actual news broadcast for CBS affiliate KXMB-TV in Bismarck, N.D.

    Life may imitate art, but reality is, sadly, more boring than fiction. Burgundy, on an actual journalistic leash, is not as entrancingly dumb as the Burgundy of Hollywood fantasy. Still, try not to crack a smile when he compliments the local weatherman, or narrates a nearby parking-lot trash fire.

    The gimmick may not be as brilliant or fresh as Ferrell's North Platte, Neb., Super Bowl ad for Old Milwaukee. But it's hard not not to be amused that he's back on small-town American airwaves, even though he really is everywhere these days.

    See the full half-hour below. Via Deadspin.

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    How do you deal with holiday stress? Activewear maker Lucy is humorously urging women to try something unconventional this year. Try dropping to the floor and adopting the "child's pose" from yoga—with your legs tucked under you, your head down and your arms outstretched in front. That should calm your nerves in line at Macy's, as long as security doesn't come running.

    The tongue-in-cheek spot below from ad agency Mono, directed by the actress Elizabeth Banks, shows the strategy in action. Give it a shot, and let us know how it goes.

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    For all the earnest and sappy Christmas ads out there, there's a countervailing trend toward presenting a more realistic view of the holiday season—i.e., that it's actually a very stressful time of year. This can make for good comedy, of course, and over in Britain, KFC has produced this year's grandest seasonal piss-take—a two-and-a-half-minute musical extravaganza that recommends uniting with yuletide enemies over a bucket of chicken and eating your holiday cares away.

    The spot, from BBH London and Biscuit Filmworks director Tim Godsall, opens with a showdown in a store between angry moms. "I almost tore your hair out for the last doll in the store," one sings. "But the things that once divided us don't matter anymore," the other one sings in reply. And we're off on a grandiose musical journey, as traditional holiday foes (carolers and carolees, snowballers and snowballees, Santa Claus and incontinent children) put aside their differences and bond over the soothing comfort of 11 herbs and spices.

    It's all amusingly goofy and completely over the top—even the lip-syncing at times seems intentionally bad. (And to an American audience, the British pronunciation of "herbs" only adds to the comedy.) Yet the song is catchy enough to tie it all together—it's parody, yes, but also genuinely infectious. And the spot has quite the impressive finale, as the KFC Choir appears (no, really, you can follow them on Twitter) to belt out the chorus one last time.

    "We wanted to make something that stood out from a lot of ads you come to expect this time of year," says David Kolbusz, deputy executive creative director at BBH (which, showing its range, also did the stately and elaborately choreographed Baileys Christmas ad)."The trick was to address the reality of unavoidable yuletide stress and conflict without depressing people. We decided the best way to do this was through the medium of song. A schmaltzy, sugar-coated song."

    There's a nice social tie-in, too. All this week, people are encouraged to tweet about someone they'd like to make peace with this Christmas—using the hashtag #UniteThisXmas. The winning tweeter will have his or her conflict resolved by starring in a new commercial that will air Dec. 14 on the finale of Britain's version of The X Factor.

    The song is also available for purchase on iTunes, although that's really superfluous, since it will be in your head for the rest of the day regardless.

    Client: KFC
    Jennelle Tilling, Vice President, Marketing
    Meghan Farren, Marketing Director

    Agency: BBH London
    Deputy Executive Creative Director: David Kolbusz
    Copywriters: David Kolbusz, Matt Moreland
    Art Directors: David Kolbusz, Chris Clarke
    Creative Director: Marc Hatfield
    Producer: Rachel Hough
    Assistant Producer: Vaia Ikonomou
    Strategic Business Lead: Sian Cook
    Team Director: Phil Baker
    Team Manager: Leo Sloley
    Strategy Director: Ross Berthinussen
    Strategist: John Jones

    Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
    Director: Tim Godsall
    Managing Director: Shawn Lacy
    Executive Producer: Orlando Wood
    Producer: Amy Appleton
    Production Manager: Nicola Dempsey
    Director of Photography: David Procter
    Postproduction: Electric Theatre Collective
    Visual Effects Supervisor: Giles Cheetham
    Telecine: Aubrey Woodiwiss
    Post Producer: Matt Williams
    Editing House: Final Cut
    Editor: Rick Russell
    Music Supervision: The Most Radicalist Black Sheep Music
    Artist: The Hot Sauce Posse
    Sound: String and Tins
    Sound Designer: Will Cohen

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    To get a sense of the scale of online ad-sharing growth since 2006, look no further than Dove. The Unilever brand had a major viral advertising hit that year, and again this year—"Evolution" and "Real Beauty Sketches"—providing useful bookends to see how sharing has expanded exponentially in eight years.

    The "Evolution" spot was shared 60,954 times in its first year, compared to 4.24 million shares for "Real Beauty Sketches," according to Unruly Media, which has released a new version of its "Viral Spiral" infographic (see below) looking at branded-video shares through the years.

    "Evolution," released just a year after YouTube launched, was the No. 3 viral spot of 2006, while "Real Beauty Sketches" was this year's No. 1. The gap in their shares, of course, reflects the maturing of the online video marketplace—and is reflected in the broader numbers. Unruly says sharing of branded video has increased 50 times in last eight years.

    The Viral Spiral—a fun way to look at some of the biggest viral spots since 2006—has been spiced up since its last appearance in 2011. You can filter by year, shares and sector; see synopses of the major themes in each year; and learn all sorts of sharing-related info-nuggets. As a nod to the year of prankvertising, Unruly also threw in an "infoprank," so don't worry if the NSA appears to be tracking you while you browse.

    Some other tidbits:

    • Sharing of the top three branded videos has grown sevenfold from 2010 (the year of the game-changing Old Spice ad) to 2013—from 1.6 million to 11.6 million.
    • Eight of the top 20 most viral ads of all time were released in 2013.
    • The top 10 ads in 2013 generated 28.8 million shares, up from 19 million in 2012.

    Play around with the full Viral Spiral below.

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    Interactive design and branding company 8k in Poland is getting some visibility from its "Pay What You Want" pricing system ($1 minimum) that covers services including logos, slogans, letterheads, business cards, naming and sales letters.

    The goal is two-fold: get some attention for the shop, and address the always-murky issue of suitable pricing for different agency services. "We are hoping to catch a few nice regular customers and we wanted to provoke a discussion about a difficult situation in the advertising industry," the shop's Marek Bartosinski told AdFreak. "We took the risk and we will see what happens. In the worst case scenario, we will have material for a unique case study and some fame."

    There are some ground rules. For instance, prospective clients must justify their payment offers, and the agency reserves the right to turn down projects. So far, its PWYW clients include local firms Poligrafiko and Impools, as well as 7 Starz in England. The five-person shop has completed 23 assignments using PWYW for an average payment of $74. Luckily for 8k, the publicity is probably worth a whole lot more.

    Below, you can check out two of the design projects the agency has done on its PWYW pricing so far.

    Hat tip to PSFK.

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    Everyone who's ever tried to watch a video on the Internet knows that pre-roll ads are generally annoying. The Burger King marketing team also knows this. But marketers always want to have their cake and eat it, too. So New Zealand agency Colenso BBDO created dozens of variations on a pre-roll ad featuring a couple of bros making fun of pre-roll ads.

    Each spot is themed to match the video that viewers are attempting to watch, and the actors groan in sympathy about having to endure yet another pre-roll ad. So, they consist, more or less, of a couple of guys saying "Oh, sorry guy, were you trying to watch that? Burgers!"

    The case study video fulfills its reason for being by exaggerating the effects of the campaign, saying the ads turned "the worst thing on the internet" into "lolz." Credit to BK and the Auckland agency for making the best of a bad thing. It's clever, and viewers will probably find it worthy of a chuckle the first time around. That said, acknowledging you're an interloper doesn't really excuse it.

    (Via The Drum).

    Heads-up for those at work: Mildly NSFW language at the beginning.

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    More Messi, more Kobe—this time, Turkish Airlines (which, you will remember, has pitted the two athletes against each other before) has the epic-est epic selfie contest of all time.

    There is much flying back and forth, much face-licking of CGI lions, and much money spent both by the sports stars in the fictional world of the ad, and also presumably by the agency, the London office of Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

    To be completely honest, the only shot that is a completely unqualified win as far as I'm concerned is the punch line. Kobe photobombing Messi at the Hagia Sophia Blue Mosque is great, although I do like the shoulder monkey taking the picture of Kobe in the jungle.

    It's a cute spot with fun music and two likable guys, though I still don't quite get the demographic for this ad, unless I underestimate the draw of Kobe Bryant outside the U.S. or Lionel Messi within it. Seems like a very serious effort to have one's cake and eat it too, but not entirely a successful one.

    At any rate, it certainly communicates (to this weary traveler, at least) a positive brand message: You can fly all around the world on Turkish Airlines and still be able to smile at a camera. Dude, sold.

    Client: Turkish Airlines
    Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky, London


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