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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    If you think the prospects for agencies are challenging right now, look ahead five years.

    Some 320 marketing and agency leaders did just that, painting a bleak portrait of 2019 in an anonymous survey from RSW/US. The most cynical marketers predicted the agency world will become very niche, nonexistent or extinct, and an agency executive even admitted that future shops will be in disarray.

    In short, survival will hinge on digital capabilities. As one agency honcho put it, “For the few left standing, it’s an online world.” Said another: “Survivors— and there will be few that make the transition—will all be digital shops.”

    More sanguine respondents expect agencies to be analytical, digitally focused and data-driven, with some behaving more like general contractors than ad makers.

    Successful shops, said a marketer, will become “very flexible with third party contractors supplementing the skills the agency may not have.” Another marketer added that shops will “bring in lots of specialists— preferably the best specialist—to execute against individual tactics.”

    Such partnerships are already emerging, with agencies as diverse as Young & Rubicam and Mindshare introducing new technology companies like Interlude and Wochit to clients. “Marketers are becoming more and more accepting of that sort of a structure,” Mark Sneider, president of RSW/US, told Adweek. “This [technology] thing is moving so quickly, you can’t at the end of the day expect a single agency to be so on top of it.”

    Reebok, Acura, MetLife and Hilton were among the marketers represented in the survey, which was conducted online in December. The agency sample included execs from shops like Leo Burnett, DDB, JWT and Y&R.

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    The iconic M&M's candies call for filmgoers to turn off their cellphones and respect their fellow theater patrons in this mock blockbuster action-movie trailer from BBDO that marks the first time all six characters have appeared in a single spot.

    Speed and Die Hard-type flicks are among those deftly spoofed in the 40-second PSA, which will run in theaters nationwide. "Cellphones ruin movies. Please turn them off" is the tagline. Lobby posters starring the Red and Yellow M&M's are also part of the push.

    Sugar-coating the theme in such fashion is pretty sweet, and the approach actually makes me want to see the M&M's cast in a feature for real. They're always hanging around movie theaters anyway, usually in the snack case. And judging by the "trailer," the Blue M&M could out-act Vin Diesel any day of the week (though an M&M's wrapper could probably do that, come to think of it).

    Credits below.

    Agency: BBDO, New York
    Client: Mars/M&M's

    Video Credits
    Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars
    Executive Creative Directors: Tim Bayne, Lauren Connolly
    Senior Art Director: Eduardo Petersen
    Senior Copywriter: Christopher Cannon
    Senior Producer: Regina Iannuzzi
    Junior Producer: Samantha Errico

    Senior Account Director: Susannah Keller
    Account Director: Carrie Lipper
    Account Manager: Tani Nelson

    Production Company: Traktor
    Director: Traktor/Sam
    Producer: Richard Ulfvengren
    Head of Production: Rani Melendez

    Visual Effects: Laika/House
    President, Executive Producer: Lourri Hammack
    Animation Director: Kirk Kelly
    Producer: Zilpha Yost
    Producer: Julie Ragland
    Editing House: PS260
    Editors: Maury Loeb, Ned Borgman
    Assistant Editors: Matt Posey, Colin Edelman
    Senior Producer: Laura Patterson

    M&M'S 2013 Cinema "Teeth" Poster Creative Credits

    Print Credits:
    Chief Creative Officer: David Lubars
    Executive Creative Directors: Tim Bayne, Lauren Connolly
    Art Directors: Jonathan Bjelland, Vanessa Castaneda
    Copywriter: Tifanni Lundeen

    Executive Art Producer: Betsy Jablow
    Print Production Manager: Michael Musano
    Retoucher: Steve Lakeman

    Senior Account Director: Susannah Keller
    Account Director: Carrie Lipper
    Account Manager: Tani Nelson

    CGI Rendering: Laika
    Animation Director: Kirk Kelly
    Producer: Zilpha Yost

    Illustrator: Michael Koelsch

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    Van Wagner, the outdoor advertising company, has created billboards to advertise advertising on billboards. Catch that? It's kind of meta.

    When a billboard doesn't get sold, its owner can keep the old ad up, thus devaluing the space, leave the board blank or put a placeholder on it in the meantime. Van Wagner chose to go with the latter, but didn't want a simple black-on-white "Your Ad Here" sign.

    Instead, the company is now into its second round of posting its own curious ads on unsold billboards in New York and Los Angeles. The new ads, featuring bold colors, simple fonts and minimalist headlines (a mix of words and pictures), are fairly cryptic. They say things like, "An Apple a Day," "Cool as a Cucumber," "The Big Cheese" and "Easy as Pie." Prettier and more compelling than "Your Ad Here"? Yes. Confusing as well? Perhaps.

    The earlier round of ads was more straightforward, showing animals alongside single-word headlines ("Reach?" next to a giraffe, "Buzz?" next to a bee, etc.) that hinted at the power of outdoor advertising. (Those ads also included Van Wagner's logo and phone number.) The new ads are playful in a pop-art kind of way, but will they get someone to pick up the phone and beg Van Wagner for ad space? Time will tell.

    At the very least, they've succeeded in making me kind of hungry.

    More images below. Via City Room at The New York Times, which has lots more about the campaign and an interview with the creative director.

    The earlier round of ads:

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    The 2014 One Show Automobile Advertising of the Year awards are being presented today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. And Honda has grabbed the top prizes in both the TV and online video categories.

    Fiat won in the print category, Hyundai in interactive, and BMW and Toyota shared the prize in experiential.

    Check out all the winners (and the finalists) below. Some solid work here, but where oh where is the RAM "Farmer" spot?

    Category: TV Commercials

    Winner: Honda "Hands," Wieden + Kennedy, London

    Other finalists:
    Dodge "It Comes Standard," Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
    Honda "Illusions," mcgarrybowen, London
    Daimler/Smart "Offroad," BBDO Germany, Dusseldorf
    Land Rover "Roam Free," Young & Rubicam, New York

    Category: Online Video

    Winner: Honda "Sound of Honda/Ayrton Senna 1989," Dentsu, Tokyo

    Other finalists:
    Audi "The Challenge," PMK*BNC, New York, and Audi of America
    Honda "Project Drive-in," RPA, Santa Monica, Calif.

    Category: Print/Outdoor

    Winner: Fiat "Letters," Leo Burnett Tailor Made, São Paulo, Brazil
    Fiat created its own typeface for posters warning people against texting and driving.

    Other finalists:
    Kia "Panoramic Sunroof – Cat," David&Goliath, Los Angeles
    Volkswagen "Child," Grabarz & Partner, Hamburg, Germany

    Category: Interactive

    Winner: Hyundai "Driveway Decision Maker," Innocean USA, Huntington Beach, Calif.

    Other finalists:
    BMW "Eli's BMW," kbs+, New York
    Fiat "Abarth 500 Zero Followers," Leo Burnett, Dusseldorf, Germany

    Category: Experiential

    Winner: BMW "Window Into the Near Future," kbs+, New York

    Winner: Toyota "Tundra Endeavor Campaign," Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles

    Other finalist:
    Toyota "Camry Thrill Ride Experience," Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles

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    Sony really wants you to know just how relevant it is.

    The legacy tech behemoth is out with an ambitious new 90-second anthem spot from Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., that draws on a star-studded cast to illustrate just how far the brand's reach extends.

    Everyone remembers that Sony invented the Walkman. This ad is smart to start by capitalizing on that familiarity. It's also smart to fast forward to the present, where DJ Cassidy, signed to Sony-owned Columbia Records, plays with one of the brand's tablets. Directed by Stacy Wall and shot in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo, the ensuing montage manages to pack in cameos from child actress Quvenzhane Wallis, who will star in Sony Pictures' new rendition of Annie, actor Grizz Chapman of 30 Rock, and Spike Lee, shooting on a Sony camera and name-checking PlayStation. In other words, it's a major production loaded with rich and specific examples of Sony's history and cultural influence, that all come together to show the company has actually stayed closely linked to the experiences audiences actually care about.

    It's far from the first tech company to try to bring to life products that can seem cold or complicated. Apple's tone, though, can come across as pretentious—it wants to be the blisteringly cool company that is inventing the future. And Google can often feel excessively sentimental—it wants to be the awesomely geeky company that is intensifying all the most important moments in your life. Sony benefits from the diversity of its business, but nonetheless, its approach keeps the message playful, and ultimately charming—it wants to be the old friend that makes sure you are having fun at the party. And the anthem's titular, feel-good soundtrack, the Who's 1972 hit "Join Together," does a great job of anchoring that message of belonging.

    The new campaign also includes shorter, goofy product-centric videos that fall somewhere between amusing and awkward—using, for example, a metaphor about popping your eyes out of your head to peddle a detachable smartphone camera lens. A little more hammy grandpa jokes than the life of the party. And yes, the anthem's breathless fascination with the meeting of art and engineering feels a little contrived. But it does succeed at fitting into the zeitgeist of "innovation" without leaning on a hackneyed buzzword. More important, for most of the spot, the script stays out of the way, letting the film craft, which is quite deft, build to the voiceover's punch line—that Sony has always been about "making you feel something"—and the ad's tagline, "Be moved."

    So go on, feel something: the vague but slightly unsettling pleasantness of a well-made sales pitch.

    Client: Sony
    Spot: "Join Together"

    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
    Creative Directors: Mike Giepert / Chris Mitton
    Copywriter: Chris Mitton
    Art Director: Mike Giepert / Matt Moore
    Producer: Jennie Lindstrom
    Account Team: Diana Gonzalez / Trish Adams / Nick Larkin
    Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Susan Hoffman
    Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz

    Production Company: Imperial Woodpecker
    Director: Stacy Wall
    Executive Producer: Doug Halbert
    Line Producer: Timory King
    Director of Photography: Mihai Malaimare, Jr.

    Editorial Company: Joint Editorial / Work Editorial
    Executive Producer: Patty Brebner / Corina Dennison + Erica Thompson
    Editor: Peter Wiedensmith / Rich Orrick
    Asst. Editor: Steve Sprinkel / Adam Witten + Patrick Murphree
    Post Producer: Ryan Shanholtzer / Olivia Chiu

    VFX Company: The Mill – Los Angeles
    Sr. Exec. Producer: Sue Troyan
    Producer: Dan Roberts
    Production Coordinator: Jesse Looney + David Lawrence
    Creative Director + Shoot Supervisor: Phil Crowe
    Matte Painting: Thom Price
    2D Lead Artist: John Shirley
    3D Lead Artist: David Lawson
    2D Artists: Becky Porter / Nick Tayler / Ben Smith / Remedy Huynh
    3D Artists: Milton Ramirez / Siran Liu / Martin Rivera / Blake Guest / Hartwell Durfor / Blake Sullivan / Miguel Guerrero / Danny Yoo / Krystal Sae Eua / Fabrice Le Nezet / Brett Angelillis
    Motion Graphics: Justin Demetrician
    Art Support: Clare Carrellas

    Telecene Company: The Mill
    Colorist: Adam Scott
    Executive Producer: LaRue Anderson
    Producer: Natalie Westerfield

    "Join Together (Izzie Twins Unchained Remix)" by the Who

    Sound Design Company: Human

    Mix Company: Lime
    Mixer: Rohan Young
    Asst. Mixer: Jeff Malen
    Producer: Jessica Locke

    Credits for the online spots:

    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
    Creative Directors: Mike Giepert / Chris Mitton
    Copywriter: Derek Szynal
    Art Director: Mike Giepert  / Devin Gillespie
    Producer: Jennie Lindstrom
    Account Team: Diana Gonzalez / Trish Adams / Nick Larkin
    Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Susan Hoffman
    Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz

    Production Company: Imperial Woodpecker
    Director: Stacy Wall
    Executive Producer: Doug Halbert
    Line Producer: Timory King
    Director of Photography: Mihai Malaimare, Jr.

    Editorial Company: Joint Editorial  / Work Editorial (Skeptics Only)
    Executive Producer: Patty Brebner / Corina Dennison + Erica Thompson (Skeptics Only)
    Editor: Katie Turinski + Steve Sprinkel / Patrick Murphree (Skeptics Only)
    Asst. Editor: Steve Sprinkel 
    Post Producer: Ryan Shanholtzer / Olivia Chiu (Skeptics Only)

    VFX Company: The Mill – Los Angeles
    Sr. Exec. Producer: Sue Troyan
    Producer: Dan Roberts
    Production Coordinator: David Lawrence
    Creative Director + Shoot Supervisor: Phil Crowe
    2D Lead Artist: Robin McGloin, Nick Tayler
    Motion Graphics: Justin Demetrician
    Art Support: Clare Carrellas

    Telecene Company: CO3
    Colorist: Siggy Ferstl

    "The Whistlin' Duck (feat. Theo Mertens)" by Bobbejaan Schoepen
    "Inventing Furniture" + "Floor Plan"
    "Moon Waltz" from the motion picture Beginners by Brian Reitzell, Dave Palmer and Roger Neil
    "Theme" from the motion picture Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind by Jon Brion

    Mix Company: Lime
    Mixer: Rohan Young
    Asst. Mixer: Jeff Malen
    Producer: Jessica Locke

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    Here's one baby that no one's expecting. "Devil Baby Attack," a rather mean-spirited if grimly hilarious marketing stunt for the upcoming horror film Devil's Due, shows what happens when well-meaning New Yorkers try to check on an unattended baby carriage.

    Here's what happens: They get screamed at by a horrific demon infant. And sometimes chased around by the horrific demon infant's remote-controlled stroller.

    Sure, the prank—by Thinkmodo, which also did last year's super-viral Carrie coffee-shop spot—sparks some fun jump-screams from passersby. But watching the results, it's hard not to think of last year's spot-on parody by Canadian agency John St. about the cruel lengths to which advertisers now seem willing to go.

    If we must be subjected to more prankvertising stunts, it would be nice to see ones that punish people for making poor moral choices rather than watch normal pedestrians get tormented because they tried to check on a screaming baby left alone in the snow.

    Via Mashable.

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    Planet Fitness is back with the latest spot in its campaign against "gymtimidation."

    This time, we peek in on an unnamed competitor, where an insanely pumped-up instructor is leading a class of "Pilatatumba," which appears to a combination of zumba-like jumping, twirling and dancing. A newbie can't keep up, and she later explains to a Planet Fitness employee: "And that's why I don't like gyms." The employee explains that Planet Fitness isn't a gym, and a voiceover takes over, promising "No gymtimidation. No lunks. Unlimited fitness training. Just $10 a month."

    As was the case with Crunch's old "No Judgments" positioning, it's never fully clear (at least to me) quite how Planet Fitness is different from other fitness chains. But enough people must feel uncomfortable at gyms to be open to the mere suggestion that this place is somehow mellower. Three more national spots will break soon.

    Agency: Red Tettemer O'Connell + Partners.

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    Sorry, Bart. It looks like Butterfinger's first Super Bowl ad will have a theme better suited to those over 18.

    The Super Bowl spot, by ad agency Dailey and director Clay Weiner of Biscuit Filmworks, will launch Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups. The Nestlé brand released a teaser on Tuesday showing peanut butter and chocolate going to couple's therapy in an effort to spice up their boring relationship (a not-so-subtle jab at peanut-butter cup market leader Reese's). The whole teaser is pretty suggestive, particularly when another couple, cheese and crackers, emerge from the therapist's office excitedly fondling a giant hard salami. Peanut butter and chocolate, meanwhile, begin to see the possibilities of a more satisfying union themselves by staring at the centerfold of a copy of Exotic Snacking magazine. "The cup is about to get crunchy," says the tagline.

    The Super Bowl ad will be a different execution but with the same couple's therapy theme, the AP reports. For more, see the campaign site at www.butterfingercups.com.

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    Buoyed by strong sales of its e-readers and expansion of its free-shipping service, Amazon topped the list of best-perceived brands of 2013, as measured by YouGov's BrandIndex. Rounding out the top 5 were Ford, Subway, History Channel and Lowe's. Last year also was a good one for financial institutions, which began to earn consumers' forgiveness for their role in the economic meltdown: Four of the five best-improved brands in 2013 were banks.

    Infographic: Carlos Monteiro

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    Want to see a Muppets movie trailer that skewers illiterate Twitter spats? Of course you do. This new parody promo for the forthcoming feature Muppets Most Wanted does a double public service by also making fun of all the mass-media self-adulation that studios crank out during Hollywood awards season. It's good, classic, silly Muppets fun—and a familiar marketing strategy for the franchise. While a similar, recent trailer (also posted below) took aim at Twitter praise, the mean one is much better—everybody hates over-aggressive online commenters who can't spell. They're such a bear ... Wakka wakka wakka.

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    Axe, the Unilever men's personal-care brand known for inciting controversy in the gender wars with ads often deemed sexist, wants everyone to just get along in its 30-second Super Bowl spot—which co-opts the famous old slogan "Make love. Not war" to push a new product line called Axe Peace.

    An extended, 60-second version of the spot hit YouTube on Tuesday. The ad, directed by MJZ's Rupert Sanders, travels the globe to various hotspots of conflict, including the Middle East and what's clearly meant to be a version of North Korea. Tensions rise as each scene seems poised to erupt in violence. But instead, each becomes a celebration of love, as the warriors put down their weapons and embrace their wives and girlfriends.

    The "Make love. Not war" slogan appears at the end, along with the logo of the Peace One Day organization, which is a partner of the campaign. (Axe is giving $250,000 to the group and promoting it on its website and Facebook.) The hashtag is #KissForPeace.

    It's an ambitious message, and its scope in some ways was prompted by last year's frontier-pushing Axe Apollo campaign.

    "At the end of the Apollo process, I was like, 'Oh shit, what are we going to do now?' " David Kolbusz, deputy executive director at Axe agency BBH London, tells Adweek. "You hold a global competition to send 23 people to space, then the next year becomes a bit of a daunting task. But the thing that struck me is that we activated that campaign across over 50 markets successfully. And to do that gave us this confidence. It dawned upon us that we could do something good, and use our influence over these markets positively."

    Focusing on the topic of war—the visual references here range from Apocalypse Now to Tiananmen Square—is difficult for any brand. And doing so in a lighthearted way runs the risk of seeming to trivialize it, particularly in the context of the very real anxieties over the Syrian conflict and a decade of American wars abroad. But while Kolbusz admitted the spot will have its critics, he said the brand's heart is in the right place, both creatively and through its partnership with Peace One Day.

    "You're using hot-button issues in some ways, but you're also using filmic clichés. So, from a creative standpoint, I think it's forgiven," he said. "But in terms of the brand profiting from moments of war, we were very, very determined to make sure we were actually doing good, and that we were effecting positive change. Having a partner was very important to us. … If you can do some good in the world, I think you can forgive the dramatic license we take in the television work."

    Asked whether the message of love is believable given Axe's history of celebrating lust, Kolbusz said the brand has been slowly evolving for a while now.

    "Some of the work in the local markets has still been using, as we call them in this country, Page 3 models," he said. "But globally we've been very conscious of the fact that we didn't want to do anything sexist. Anarchy was about everybody hooking up, and Apollo was just silly, wasn't it? I suppose you could paint that with the slightly sexist brush. But for me, there was a level of absurdity there that just went beyond. And then, out of New York, the 'Susan Glenn' stuff. And then Brainy Girl, Sporty Girl. It's a theme we've been playing with for a while now, the equilibrium of the sexes. This is just the first time we've done it in this more serious way."

    Matthew McCarthy, senior director for Axe and men's grooming at Unilever, said in a statement: "Young people care deeply about the future. This generation is socially conscious and more digitally connected than ever. ... In a world filled with conflict, we know sometimes the most powerful weapon is love. And as the film dramatizes, for one sublime moment a kiss has the power to make the world a more united and peaceful place."

    Check out the 60-second spot and print work below. An even longer version of the spot will be posted here later today.

    Client: Axe

    Agency: BBH, London
    Deputy Executive Creative Director: David Kolbusz
    Creative Team: Daniel Schaefer and Szymon Rose, Jack Smedley and George Hackforth-Jones
    Product Designer: Rosie Arnold
    Strategic Business Lead: Ngaio Pardon
    Team Director: Heather Cuss
    Team Manager:  Amy Forster
    Strategy Director: Agathe Guerrier
    Strategist: Shadi-Sade Sarreshtehdarzadeh, Tom Callard

    Film Credits
    BBH Producer: Ryan Chong
    BBH Assistant Producer: Laura Graham
    Production Company: MJZ
    Director: Rupert Sanders
    Executive Producer: Debbie Turner
    Producer: Laurie Boccaccio
    DoP: Greg Fraser
    Post Production: Iwan Zwarts @ The Mill
    Editor/Editing House: Neil Smith @ Work Post, London
    Sound: Will Cohen @ String & Tins and Factory Studios

    Print Credits
    BBH Producer: Sally Green
    Photographer: Jean-Yves Lemoigne
    Model Builders: New Deal Studios

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  • 01/15/14--08:51: If NFL Logos Were Hipsters
  • If you were to draw a Venn diagram of hipsters and the NFL, the circles would likely overlap in just one tiny spot: this oddly fascinating project from comic artist Dave Rappoccio.

    "What if the NFL logos were hipsters?" That was the hypothetical question Rappoccio embraced with admirable intensity, redesigning all 32 team icons into celebrations of bearded, craft-beer-infused pseudo-intelligentsia.

    Artistically, some are better than others. I'm specifically fond of the fedora-sporting Vikings, bow-tied Bears and embittered, sock-hatted Cardinals. The Starbucks-inspired Seahawks design is great, too, but since no hipster would be caught dead in a corporate chain, I assume it would be worn only ironically.

    Check out the full gallery at Kissing Suzy Kolber.

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    When global marketers portray Africa, the goal is usually humor or pity. Rarely do brands treat Africans as cultural equals, much less as inspirational role models. Breaking that trend is one of several reasons to admire "Sapeurs," the newest "Made of More" ad from Guinness and London agency AMV BBDO.

    The spot shines a light on the Society of Elegant Persons of the Congo, better known as the Sapeurs. This impeccably stylish club, made up of blue-collar workers who dedicate their off time to colorful fashion and effortless savoir faire, has drawn international attention in recent years as a bellwether of peacetime optimism and confidence in the Republic of the Congo.

    In the spot, we see real-life Sapeurs ending a day of hard work and transforming themselves into vibrant icons of the local nightlife. Though the ad was filmed in South Africa with the involvement of professional stylists, it's clear from the related behind-the-scenes video that the spot captures a vignette that's true to life.

    "They have a simple philosophy: to defy circumstance and live with joie de vivre," explains the narrator in Guinness's "Sapeurs: a Short Documentary."

    The ad itself succeeds on many levels, perhaps most of all by capturing the Sapeurs' commitment to personal style and expression rather than portraying their club as some hedonistic celebration of overpriced opulence.

    "These well-dressed gentlemen aren't African big men slapping each other on the back to celebrate just-consummated deals," the Wall Street Journal wrote back in 2011."They're Congolese everymen—taxi drivers, carpenters, gravediggers—assembled here on this sunny Sunday afternoon because they're what locals call Sapeurs, men who believe in the uplifting, redeeming, beatifying effect of dressing well."

    Client: Guinness
    Marketing Director for Guinness (Western Europe) at Diageo: Stephen O'Kelly:
    Creative Agency: AMV BBDO, London
    Executive Creative Director: Dave Buchanan
    Copywriter: Nicholas Hulley
    Art Director: Nadja Lossgott
    Agency Planner: Tom White, Steve Hopkins, Rory Gallery
    Agency Account Management Team: Michael Pring, Tom Bedwell, Amber Glenister, Laura Balfour, Giulia Watson, Oliver Short
    Senior Producer, TV Commercial: Sara Flood
    Senior Producer, Documentary: Yvonne Clayton
    Production Assistant: Jessica Tranfield
    Media Agency: Carat
    Media Planner: Matthew Jacobs (Associate Director), Chris Kelly (Comms Planning Manager) Production Company, TV Commercial: MJZ
    Production Company, Documentary: Stillking
    Director, TV Commercial: Nicolai Fuglsig 
    Director, Documentary: Hector Mediavilla
    Production Co. Producer, TV Commercial: Suza Horvat at MJZ
    Editor, TV Commercial: Rick Russell at Final Cut
    Editor, Documentary: Russ Clapham
    Post-production Company: The Mill Audio
    Post-production: Wave
    Offline Editing Company: Final Cut
    Soundtrack, TV commercial: "What Makes a Good Man" by The Heavy

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    The BBC's official trailer for its coverage of next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, has its champions and detractors, with some applauding the 90-second clip's epic sweep and others lamenting its dark tone and dearth of emotional appeal.

    Created by RKCR/Y&R and director Tomek Baginski, the film focuses on hyper-realistic winter desolation, its frames filled with frozen peaks, dagger-like ice formations and majestic pines toppling in plumes of snow. A booming narration by actor Charles Dance, as the voice of nature, begins: "I am the dreadful menace. The one whose will is done. The haunting chill upon your neck. I am the conundrum." And he gets even more intense, warning: "The ones that came before you. Stood strong and tall and brave. But I stole their dreams away. Those dreams could not be saved."

    Athletes appear around the one-minute mark, trekking across a lonely mountain pass, like some lost party of explorers inexplicably hauling skis, skates and hockey sticks in a haze of hypothermic delirium.

    Response has been decidedly mixed. Mostly I applaud the BBC for trying something a bit unexpected. If nothing else, the approach is sparking conversation and debate, fueling the promotional fires, while a more aspirational/feel-good spot, no matter how marvelously executed, would've been predictable and perhaps left some viewers (and reviewers) feeling a bit numb.

    Yes, a focus on individual athletes or specific events might have been compelling, but the clip does well in positioning the Winter Games as an outsized, soul-stirring challenge, a war waged against almost mythic forces poised to smite us at every turn. The voiceover, from Tywin Lannister himself, drives home the point that the Olympics can be the ultimate game of thrones.

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    IDEA: It's a brutal irony of the automobile: Speed and power are its strengths, yet they combine to make its occupants ever more vulnerable. It's true of any driving, and especially true of drunk driving, when you are prone to errors that can have shattering consequences.

    Iris Worldwide's new responsible-driving spot for Johnnie Walker—tied to the brand's sponsorship of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 racing team—expertly captures this dance between strength and fragility through a potent metaphor: a glass car. The 90-second, almost completely CGI spot shows hundreds of drinking glasses flying out of boxes, magically assembling in the shape of a race car and then breaking into a thousand shards—before coming back together in a powerful, beautiful plea not to drink and drive.

    "The film acts as a reminder of the fragility of human life," said Grant Hunter, Iris creative director for Asia-Pacific. "Ultimately it's an alcohol brand stepping up to its responsibilities. And I like to think we've delivered it in a beautiful and considered manner."

    COPYWRITING: The spot takes place in a spare white room—a reproduction of a space at the McLaren Technology Centre in England, where F1 cars are built.

    As the glasses fly about, a male voice says: "When you're racing against the world's best, in the quickest machines on the planet, control is everything, just as it is every time you get behind the wheel. A split-second decision can be the difference between finishing first, last"—this is where the glasses shatter—"or not at all. Make the right choice and stay in control … and help us get the world home safely." The hashtag #ImNOTdriving and JoinThePact.com appear.

    "The voiceover has to tread a fine line," said Hunter. "We have an alcohol brand sponsoring very fast cars promoting a never-drink-and-drive message. I think the voiceover connects those elements in a believable, emotionally powerful way. … I think it was draft 11 when we were all really happy."

    F1 driver Mika Hakkinen, a brand ambassador, appears at the end—letting a glass float out of his hand in the ad's only non-CGI moment.

    FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Director Russell Appleford painstakingly built everything in CGI. The visual look is modeled on McLaren's facility.

    "It's a futuristic, minimal, architectural masterpiece," said Hunter. The CGI room is accurate to within 3 millimeters of the real room. "But it ran the risk of being too sterile," Hunter said, "so we were keen to add a filmic quality to the CGI. We achieved this by creating shallow depth of field to many of the shots."

    It took 1,750 glasses to create the perfect scale model of a 2013 McLaren MP4-28. The smash simulation, created using Houdini software, took over a week to generate.

    TALENT: Scottish actor and screenwriter Louis Mellis, who has narrated ads for Guinness (including the famous "Surfer" spot) and F1 itself, does the voiceover. "We all felt Louis' voice has gravitas but also depth and a certain warmth," said Hunter. "It was crucial that the voiceover was delivered without lecturing the viewer. Louis being a Scot felt a natural fit for Walker's Scottish heritage and he's also a recognized voice in the world of Formula 1."

    SOUND: Gavin Little at Echolab did the music and sound design, which are simple but dramatic. "The soundtrack to the film Solaris was one of our references," said Hunter. "I particularly like the use of the glass sounds at the start. We were conscious that the music was just as important as the amazing visuals, but we didn't want the sound effects to overpower the voiceover."

    MEDIA: The film's release on YouTube coincided with the final F1 race of 2013 in Brazil. It has also run on television in Latin America and will reach other TV markets in 2014.


    Client: Johnnie Walker
    Agency: iris Worldwide, Singapore
    APAC Creative Director/Writer: Grant Hunter
    Director: Russell Appleford
    Production Company: The Other Side Creative
    Producer: Louise Oliver
    3D: Russell Appleford
    2D: Garrett Honn, Victor Perez
    Editor: Peter Booth
    Music and Sound Design: Gavin Little / Echolab
    Sound Mix: Rich Martin / Envy Post
    Creative Group Head: Jonathan Cockett
    Senior Creative: Shawn Foo
    Creative: Lam Nasril
    Planning Director: Paul Gage
    Board Director: Hannah Dogger
    Senior Account Manager: Prema Techinamurthi
    Senior Account Executive: Cheryl Chan

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    Even lawyers not named Scott Hoy tend to have trouble coming up with good advertising. Here's an exception—a clever new campaign from Rockville, Md., law firm Esteban Gergely from Grey's Hispanic agency, Wing. The three spots advertise the firm's divorce services through a pretty awesome use of YouTube. Just make sure you let the videos run.

    Credits below. (And thanks to @irenyofirene for the headline help.)

    Note: Don't be fooled by the message that the videos have been removed. Keep watching.

    Agency: Wing
    Chief Creative Officer: Favio Ucedo
    Senior Copywriter: Facundo Paglia
    Copywriter: Marc Duran
    Senior Copywriter: Facundo Paglia,
    Copywriter: Marc Duran
    Brian Novoa, Art Director
    Producer Keyla Hernandez
    Editor: Alejandro Ussa
    Director of Business Development: Daniel Gergely
    AAE of Business Development: Andrés Tello

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    IFC just released the key art for Season 4 of Portlandia, and the photos are fantastic. Not only did the network get the great young photographer Alex Prager on board—she decided to shoot the ads in the style of her "Face in the Crowd" photos (many of which are on display through March 9 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and at Lehmann Maupin in New York through Feb. 22). It's almost like getting a couple of non-advertising Prager originals as gift.

    AdFreak spoke on Thursday with Blake Callaway, IFC's svp of marketing, about how Prager got involved, and how the two photos will be used differently in the media buy.

    How did Alex get involved with this?
    We always collaborate early on in the creative process for each new season with Fred [Armisen] and Carrie [Brownstein]. In the ads for past seasons, we've always focused solely on them. And so much of the show is about the community of Portlandia and their observations about the bigger world. So we thought, Let's put them in the bigger world. And then it became a fun conversation about who could do that in a unique way. We at IFC had always been a fan of Alex, Fred and Carrie had been a fan of Alex, and we just reached out. She's a hot artist right now, and she was a fan of the show and said she'd love to do it.

    The ads are just like her "Face in the Crowd" photos. That's pretty special.
    So much of it is directly from the work she's putting out there right now. We just said, Alex, what do you want to do? It was Fred and Carrie and Alex working through some ideas, and it's just pure Prager. Some of her same extras are in these photos. Her sister's in there; her mother's in there. And we have nine Portlandia extras that she actually cast into this world as well. And so they're sprinkled throughout. Portlandia fans will be able to pick out, Oh that's the girl from the thrift shop. Or that's someone I've seen in the feminist bookstore. So it works on a couple of different levels.

    I suppose if any TV show is going to reference high art in its advertising, it would be Portlandia.
    I always kind of get excited when we get coverage off of the TV page, when we're in the arts and culture section. And I agree, I think we sort of have permission to play in that space. And the reason it works is because so many people in that world are also fans of the show. Portlandia gently sends up that world as well, and Fred and Carrie's projects beyond Portlandia cross-pollinate with that world.

    Creatively, we like to look not just at what's going on at other networks but what's going on in pop culture, or art references, or other things we can be inspired by. And for this project, all the stars aligned. And the more time you spend with it, you see different little elements in each picture. There's just a lot to take in.

    Was it always the idea to have two photos? One seems a bit more dressed-up than the other.
    Alex wanted to get two different shots. And we thought maybe at one point we'd pick a favorite. But we think they're both pretty interesting. What you'll probably see is the one we're calling "Going to Work" (below); you may see that on midtown subway platforms. And then we may put the other one in a different environment that's maybe a little less office focused. We've also tried to pick media placements that are bigger, like Interview magazine, The Hollywood Reporter—things that are bigger scale, so you can see the art.

    I see—because it reads better at a bigger size.
    Yeah. We decided this isn't the thing you put on the side of a bus as it zooms past you.

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    Chances are you've already got an idea of what the typical Subaru owner looks like: They enjoy L.L. Bean, buying granola at Whole Foods and being very involved in their kid's soccer team. And they probably have a couple of big, slobbery dogs in the backseat.

    Subaru is happily embracing that last stereotype with its new "Meet the Barkleys" campaign. The four 30-second spots (and website) follow the Subaru-loving Barkley clan as they deal with everyday situations from teenage dating dramas to family road trips to a dad getting chastised for paying a little too much attention to an attractive female. You know, stuff that everyone can relate to.

    Oh, and did we mention the Barkleys are dogs?

    Yes, Subaru is so dedicated to its canine passengers that it's been putting them behind the wheel for some time. And these aren't CGI-enhanced, cutesy talking animals—they're dogs that occasionally act like, well, dogs. (And can also drive.) In one spot, "What's the Fuss About?," the otherwise good-natured family suddenly experiences a barking attack while on the highway, which, it turns out, is because they've passed a mail truck. In "Road Trip Convenience Store," the group takes a detour to stop at a gas station, but rather than going inside to buy some Twizzlers, they go to the bathroom to take a nice, long drink from the toilet. And the object of Mr. Barkley's wandering eye in "In the Dog House"? A very well-groomed poodle.

    The ads, from Carmichael Lynch and director Brian Lee Hughes of Skunk, aren't especially groundbreaking, but they have a sort of low-key humor that's hard not to find at least a bit appealing. Nor does it hurt that the dogs—especially the youngest Barkley, a squee-worthy Golden Retriever puppy—are straight-up adorable. And come on, who doesn't want to see a few more cute pups in their commercial breaks?

    Client: Subaru of North America

    Agency: Carmichael Lynch
    Chief Creative Officer: Dave Damman
    Exec Creative Director: Randy Hughes
    Writer: Nick Nelson
    Senior Art Director: Matt Pruett 
    Director of Integrated Production: Joe Grundhoefer
    Exec Content Producer: Freddie Richards
    Senior Interactive Producer: Laura Coyle
    Director of Business Affairs: Vicki Oachs
    Account Service Team: David Eiben, Catherine Finn
    Senior Project Manager: Jane Williams-Petersen

    Production Company: SKUNK
    Director: Brian Lee Hughes
    Managing Partner/EP:  Matt Factor
    Exec Producer: Shelly Townsend
    Head of Production: Jeanne Stawiarski
    Producer: Geoff McLean
    Director of Photography: Jason McCormick

    Edit House: Drive Thru
    Editor: Mick Uzendoski
    Exec Producer: Beth Wilson
    VFX House/Online Artist: Drive Thru, Derek Johnson
    Telecine: CO3, Sean Coleman
    Audio Mix/Sound Design: BWN
    Music Company: Echo Boys

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    And speaking of Subaru, here's another new spot from Carmichael Lynch for the automaker, and it's a whole lot more sobering than that snogging-dogs one.

    This one's about safety, and it boldly shows something you rarely see in car commercials—the twisted wreckage of what's left of one of the automaker's vehicles after a horrendous accident. The wrecked Subaru Outback here is not a prop—it's a real car that really got totaled. But the driver survived, and that's the point of the ad (directed by Lance Acord of Park Pictures). "They lived," the characters say—from the policeman at the crash site to the workers at the junkyard. "Subaru. Five 2014 IIHS top safety picks," says the on-screen copy at the end.

    Extending the reality theme, a companion website features actual letters from Subaru owners explaining how the vehicles helped save their lives.

    Safety spots almost always imply danger rather than graphically showing the effects of it. And indeed, it's a bold move to leave viewers pondering a pile of your own disfigured steel. What do you think—good move, or over the top?

    Credits below.

    Client: Subaru of America
    Spot: "They Lived"

    Agency: Carmichael Lynch
    Chief Creative Officer: Dave Damman
    Executive Creative Director: Randy Hughes
    Writer, Associate Creative Director: Conn Newton
    Art Director, Associate Creative Director: Michael Rogers
    Head of Production: Joe Grundhoefer
    Executive Producer: Brynn Hausmann
    Business Manager: Vicki Oachs
    Account Service Team: David Eiben, Krista Kelly, Kate Moret

    Production Company: Park Pictures
    Director: Lance Acord
    Executive Producer: MaryAnn Marino
    Line Producer: Aristides McGarry
    Director of Photography: Lance Acord

    Editing House: Whitehouse Post
    Editor: Stephen Jess
    Assistant Editor: Tim Quackenbush
    Visual Effects: Steve Medin, Volt
    Telecine: Sean Coleman, Company 3
    Audio Mix, Sound Design: Carl White, BWN Music

    "Clear Moment"
    Composer: Miles Hankins, scoreAscore
    Music Supervisor: Jonathan Hecht

    On-camera talent: Tim Lane, Diane Luby Lane, Millie Lane, Charlie Burrows, Aaron Norwell, Frederick Lawrence, Stephen Taylor, Kevin Bowers
    Voiceover Talent: Tim Lane, Justin Beere (announcer)

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    Pandora isn't just an Internet radio provider, says Internet radio provider Pandora. It's actually part of your destiny, or a series of chance events, or a magical discovery algorithm, or whatever it is that conspires in the brain of your computer overlords to make sure the right song comes on at exactly the right time—so you actually have a good life where you do kind of dumb, impulsive things, instead of a lame life, where you don't.

    That right song might be the one that makes you jump your date's bones without regard for what's on the table behind him, says one of two new ads from twofifteenmccann. Because Pandora will get you laid. Sure, music is a mood setter. But really, if you like the date, you might knock those meatballs on top of spaghetti all covered with cheese onto the floor while jumping his or her bones anyways—even if the wrong song (e.g., "On Top of Spaghetti") came on. Because someone has to break the ice somehow, and how much awkwardness can you take? Plus, it's only natural.

    Or the right song might be the one that makes you lose your mind after a tense night of working late and trash your office with an impromptu dance party, says the other ad. Because you just don't care that you're going to have to stay even later cleaning it all up anyways, or something. Also because sometimes agency life, the low-hanging fruit of writers writing what they know, is a little too obvious in brand spots, even when it's a stretch for the client, or strains basic credulity.

    It's appropriate to Pandora, and also generally nice, that the ads use real tracks by artists from outside the mainstream—"If I Could Only" by Popkillers in the meatball spot, and "Sha Bang Bang" by Dice Raw and Mike Taylor in the office spot. The basic conceit—music, and by extension the personalized recommendations of Pandora, can play an influential role in your life—is more or less dead on. And the tagline, "Now playing. You," aspires to capture the lofty truth that individual identity can get bound up in music.

    The ads are almost endearing, but perhaps too overwrought. Even simple, stupid fun that might feel transcendent in the moment doesn't necessarily warrant a dramatic frozen-moment-in-time treatment. Or maybe it's just a category problem, and online broadcasters need to stop trying to articulate the sweeping power of something that intrinsically can't quite be described.

    Client: Pandora
    Agency: twofifteenmccann
    Chief Creative Officer: Scott Duchon
    Executive Creative Director: James Robinson
    Copywriter / Associate Creative Director: Quentin Shuldiner
    Art Director: Alper Kologlu
    Senior Producer: Jan O'Malley
    Senior Producer: Brandon Romer
    Director of Integrated Production: Alex Spahr
    Managing Director: Kelly Johnson
    Management Supervisor: Hannah Schaefer
    Business Affairs Director: Mary Beth Barney
    Social Media Strategist: Paige Robertson
    Production Company: Park Pictures
    Director: Terri Timely
    Executive Producers: Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Justin Pollock
    Head of Production: Anne Bobroff
    Producer: David Lambert
    VFX Studio: Spy Post
    VFX Supervisor: Darren Orr
    CG Supervisor: Michael Lester
    Colorist: Carey Burens
    Executive Producer: Lori Joseph
    Music: "Sha Bang Bang" by Mike Taylor feat. Dice Raw
    Music: “If I Could Only” by Popkillers
    Music Companies: Agoraphone ("Office"), Beta Patrol ("Accident")
    Mixing Studio: One Union Recording
    Mixer: Joaby Deal


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