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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    In what may actually be a decent metaphor for dating, a sweaty, red-faced bro who calls himself the L.A. Beast elected to keep chugging a gallon of hot sauce, even after he'd clearly had enough, until his body turned on him and rejected all the habañero-flavored Tabasco he'd just chugged.

    And it's an ad for a dating app?

    The 10-minute video below may teach a lesson about perseverance for the single women and men who might check out Hot or Not's dating app. But even with what sounds like inspirational piano and the use of time lapse, we can't imagine too many people sitting through all the vomit. There's a lot of it.

    The app, which looks like a carbon copy of Tinder, is deemed by the L.A. Beast himself to be "an ingenious way to pick up the ladies." We can't say the same for the video.

    Via Time.


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    Social media marketing is part science—and if there is a secret formula to creating content, then surely marketers equipped with the latest data tools will find it.

    Companies like Percolate, fresh off a $24 million fundraising round, help brands and agencies develop their content marketing. Then, there are players like Gnip, which indexes all of Twitter, and Brandwatch, which analyzes all this information.

    Brands are always finding new social sites to engage, new types of content to create—and more ways to message.

    Noah Brier, CEO of Percolate, likes to say marketers used to create five messages a year and now they create five a minute—Vine videos, Twitter replies, Instagram photos.

    “Content is the atomic unit of marketing,” said Brier, whose company announced last week that it had raised funding via WPP and private equity.

    He said he wants Percolate to be the biggest ad software company. Part of his plan: to help brands manage social in a new way, by tracking the creation of content and cataloging all elements in posts, from the images used to fonts that worked best.

    “We use all that data to start to understand what posts perform better,” he said.

    Meanwhile, U.K.-based Brandwatch recently partnered with Gnip.

    “It’s boom times for data and marketing,” said Brandwatch CMO Will McInnes. “Agencies and brands want to benchmark the performance of their content marketing and understand when content is distributed virally.”


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    IDEA: Endorsers needn't be universally loved. They just need to reflect—or better, embody—the brand promise.

    Take Ricky Gervais. Some people love him; others loathe him. But he's great for any brand that wants to be seen as uncompromising. For the A3, Audi assembled a group of endorsers who share that unwillingness to make concessions, much like the brand didn't cut corners with its entry-level sedan.

    A 60-second spot from Venables Bell & Partners stars Gervais, chef David Chang, photojournalist Lynsey Addario, actress Kristen Schaal, boxer Claressa Shields, street artists Cyrcle and church choir Voices of Destiny, all of whom recite the lyrics to Queen's "We Are the Champions"—signaling that Audi is no longer a challenger brand.

    "The level of engineering prowess that went into this car is what inspired this creative idea," said Loren Angelo, director of marketing for Audi of America. "We're a provocative brand, and we stand up for what we believe in. Ricky and the others very much hold true to that."

    COPYWRITING: "It's known as this arena rock song, but the lyrics are actually super poetic," said copywriter Daniel Bonder.

    The opening scenes show the endorsers each reciting a line.

    Gervais: "I've paid my dues."
    Shields: "Time after time."
    Chang: "I've done my sentence."
    Cyrcle: "But committed no crime."
    Schaal: "And bad mistakes, I've made a few."
    Addario: "I've had my share of sand kicked in my face."
    Voices of Destiny: "But I've come through!"

    The music swells, as the A3 is seen being designed and manufactured. A red A3 then screeches to a stop on a racetrack, revealing Gervais riding shotgun. As he seems ready to sing the chorus, he stops and says slyly, "You know how it goes." The melody picks up, and the screen cuts to black.

    "Whatever you do, stay uncompromised," says the on-screen copy. "The all-new Audi A3. Uncompromised luxury starts at $29,900." The spot ends with the Audi logo and tagline, "Truth in engineering."

    ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Director Adam Hashemi had one shoot day with Gervais in New York and filmed the other talent over five days in Los Angeles. Many scenes have a surreal, dreamlike quality, capturing a mindset as much as a lived moment—and lending a cinematic grandeur to the anthem spot.

    "We wanted to show them in situations familiar to their craft, but we didn't want it to be a documentary," said art director Alex Rice. For example, as Shields boxes, a giant curtain falls around the ring— isolating her with her thoughts and her opponent. "It's like an inner monologue coming out," senior art director Rich North said of the Queen lyrics.

    A subtle hit of red in every scene ties to the vehicle when it pops up later in the ad.

    TALENT: It's a diverse group in both looks and disciplines. "We wanted people who clearly lived up to this storyline of perseverance," Angelo said. "They didn't stop when their personal lives or professional lives got difficult."

    Gervais, who hasn't done many U.S. ads, was always high on the list. "He was, in our minds, the hero, and we felt like we got really lucky," said Bonder.

    SOUND: The song drives the piece. "It's so triumphant. Sound design is definitely there, but we used it more sparingly," Bonder said. The song is only slowly revealed, though, as the talent (except for the choir) speak rather than sing the lyrics. "Sometimes it takes three or four lines for people to recognize the song," he added.

    MEDIA: The spot broke during March Madness and is airing nationally. Gervais and Chang star in separate :30s about specific A3 features, and all the endorsers are featured in their own video portraits online.

    THE SPOT:

    THE TWO :30s:

    THE VIDEO PORTRAITS:

    CREDITS
    Client: Audi
    Agency: Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco
    Executive Creative Directors: Paul Venables, Will McGinness
    Creative Directors: Erich Pfeifer, Tyler Hampton
    Senior Art Director: Rich North
    Art Director: Alex Rice
    Copywriter: Daniel Bonder
    Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen
    Executive Producer: Mandi Holdorf
    Executive Strategy Director: Lucy Farey-Jones
    Senior Strategist: Kasra Saidi
    Business Leader: Colleen McGee
    Account Director: Justin Pitcher
    Account Supervisor: Natalia Montero
    Production Company: Reset
    Director: Adam Hashemi
    Director of Photography: Toby Irwin
    Executive Producer: Jeff McDougall
    Producer: Pete Vitale
    Editing Company: Final Cut
    Editor: Eric Zumbrunnen
    Sound Design: 740 Sound Design
    Sound Designer: Rommel Molina
    Music: Search Party
    Composer: Judson Crane
    Executive Music Producer: George Drakoulias
    MIX: Loren Silber / Lime Studios
    VFX: The Mill
    VFX Artist: Gareth Parr
    VFX Producer: Jessican Ambrose


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    Police often find themselves in high-stress, high-stakes scenarios—facing unruly drunken mobs, drivers stuck in cars about to explode and knife-wielding maniacs.

    This series of videos from ad agency Brain Candy for the Scottish Police Federation, a professional trade group, wants you to consider how you'd handle yourself in a cop's shoes. The ads work hard to build the sort of suspense that will actually make you feel uncomfortable. They do a pretty good job of it, too—particularly the first brutal spot below.

    The personal details about the officers help anchor the ads. The only question is whether they could have done it a little more quickly. The ads clock in at between 1:45 and 2:30, which means what you might do is nod off before they get to the kicker.

    Warning: These ads contain violence and may be upsetting.


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    Nike running: So easy, a caveman can do it?

    Wieden + Kennedy made quite the discovery earlier this month. The agency says it's "pretty damn pumped" to have finally found the first ads it ever made—which happen to be the first national broadcast ads Nike ever aired. The three spots ran during the New York City Marathon in October 1982. Two of the three had been lost for decades.

    The agency writes on its blog:

    For all you ad geeks out there, we're pretty damn pumped to share something very special with you. We've uncovered the first-ever ads made by Messrs. Wieden and Kennedy, Nike's first-ever nationally broadcast work. Until today, two of these were considered lost and never vaulted. Our digital librarian Phoebe Owens has spent the entire time she's been with W+K searching for them, alongside Nike historian Scott Reames, with the help of David Kennedy. Today, some old, poorly-labeled tapes proved to have what we've been searching for.

    These aired during the NYC marathon. They were shot and cut within a couple of weeks, with a skeleton crew. They were a tiny team and they made it happen, and the rest is history.

    See the ads below.


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    Rather than drone on about product features or provide a demonstration, Gary Oldman instructs viewers to "Ask the Internet" if they want to learn more about the HTC One M8 smartphone in a pair of spots from Deutsch L.A.

    The agency just took over the HTC America account, which spent less than a year at Ogilvy & Mather L.A. Robert Downey Jr. appeared in HTC's last big push (from Ogilvy's WPP stablemate 171 Worldwide), which consisted of fast-moving, noisy, colorful spots sending up the ad business itself, with the actor riffing on what the letters "HTC" could stand for.

    Deutsch's work with Oldman, who rarely appears in ads, has a very different vibe. The grizzled, bespectacled thespian propels the "anti-advertising" concept by wandering around a retro-modern hilltop pad during a late-night rainstorm.

    In one spot, he says "blah blah blah" a lot, interspersed with lines like, "It doesn't matter what I say, because the all-new HTC One is designed for people who form their own opinions." In the other, he takes an uncomfortably long dramatic pause, during which viewers are supposed flock to the Internet to check out the phone. Outside his window, the rain continues to fall.

    This cheeky, pseudo-noir approach, awash in blues, blacks and moody reds, provides a counterpoint to the cheerful bent and bright hues of some spots from competitors like Apple, Motorola and Samsung. It's also a big change from HTC's work with Downey. Oldman shines, even though the weather is gloomy.

    "Gary crosses genres and is recognized for craftsmanship in his field," said Erin McGee, HTC's vp of North America. "He's aspirational but approachable, if you think about all the roles he's played in movies and cable TV. It's a great fit for our brand."

    Still, maybe Oldman should grab his HTC One and ask the Internet when that damn rain will clear up.

    CREDITS
    Client: HTC America
    President, HTC Americas: Jason Mackenzie
    VP Marketing, HTC Americas: Erin McGee
    Senior Director, Brand: Zola Kane

    Agency: Deutsch, Los Angeles
    CCO: Pete Favat
    Group Creative Director: Gavin Lester
    Art Director: Nick Spahr
    Copywriter: Alex Flint
    Director of Integrated Production: Vic Palumbo
    Executive Producer: Rachel Seitel
    Production Resource Manager: Evan Aronson
    Music Director: Dave Rocco

    Production Company: Reset, Los Angeles, CA
    Director: Johnny Green
    DP: Mathew Libatique
    Managing Partner/ EP: Dave Morrison
    Executive Producer: Jeff McDougall
    Head of Production: Jen Beitler
    Producer: Heather Heller

    Editorial Company: Final Cut, Los Angeles
    Editor: Jeff Buchanan
    Editor (:15): Adam Rudd
    Executive Producer: Saima Awan
    Assistant Editor(s): Hilary Ruggiano
    Producer: Suzy Ramirez

    Post Facility (Edit): Final Cut, Los Angeles
    Editor: Jeff Buchanan
    Executive Producer: Saima Awan
    Assistant Editor: Hilary Ruggiano
    Producer: Suzy Ramirez

    Post Facility (Color & Online): MPC, Santa Monica, Calif.
    Colorist: Mark Gethin
    VFX Lead: Mark Holden:
    Compositor: Ben Davidson
    Compositor: Jason Heinze
    Compositor: Arthur Argote
    Compositor: Adrian Leva
    Executive Producer: Elexis Stearn
    Producer: Abisayo Adejare
    Producer: Brian Friel

    Music/Composer: Human, Los Angeles, CA

    Sound Designer: Henryboy, Los Angeles, CA

    Audio Post Company: Lime Studios, Santa Monica, CA
    Mixer: Loren Silber
    Executive Producer: Jessica Locke

    End Tag treatment
    Laundry, Los Angeles, CA

    Additional Deutsch Credits:
    Mike Sheldon, CEO
    Kim Getty, Partner, COO

    Account Management Credits:
    Group Account Director: John McGonigle
    Account Director: Lauren Pollare
    Account Director: Megan Prince
    Account Supervisor: Tanya Oh

    Media Credits:
    Account Planners:
    Traffic/Business Affairs:
    Director of Business Affairs: Abilino Guillermo
    Business Manager: Georgette Bivins
    Director or Broadcast Traffic: Carie Bonillo

     


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    Weight loss can be one of the most deeply emotional subjects for people. Yet the category seems almost afraid of emotional advertising, preferring to go with bright, bubbly, breezy celebrity endorsements instead.

    We've seen exceptions, like Medifast's memorable 2013 campaign. (Those ads, filmed over eight months, used some nifty editing to poignantly show heavier consumers talking to their future, slimmer selves.) Now, we get this inspirational campaign from Weight Watchers Australia, which is light years away from what the brand tends to do in the U.S.

    The theme is, "Awaken your incredible." And it's all about finding the person you are at your core, whom you might have lost track of over the years as you tackled all of life's other challenges. It's a simple idea, communicated effectively and movingly in the humble 60-second spot.

    The message seems much more relatable than Jessica Simpson chattering on about how she loves her body. Dieting, after all, is about pursuing the ideal version of yourself, not someone famous—about reconnecting with yourself, not connecting with others.

    The campaign also includes an interesting partnership with Getty Images, in which you answer some questions on a website, which then uses Getty photos to create short slideshows illustrating your "incredibleness."

    Via Adland.

     

    CREDITS
    Client: Weight Watchers Australia
    Agency: Reactive
    Image Partner: Getty Images


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    More people today are using online reviews—sidestepping the role of marketers—and look at both the good and the bad before making a buying decision. Meanwhile, generics are gaining on name brands and many brands have seen their bonding score—a measurement of brands’ awareness and relevance with consumers—decline over the past five years. Is this the end of the affair? 

    Illustration: Carlos Monteiro

     


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    If you were a miniature version of Abraham Lincoln, you'd be super excited about modern Illinois, according to the state's tourism campaign, which has brought back MiniAbe for another round of quirky sightseeing.

    It sort of makes sense, if you're arrogant enough to compare yourself to one of history's (and the state's) great figures but also humble enough to think of yourself as merely a downsized plastic replica.

    MiniAbe channels Joey Lawrence in the new spot, from JWT Chicago, as he utters "Whoa" wherever he goes. The approach also makes the footage of tourist locations a little more rewarding than your average vanity shots. It's hard not to wonder though, if MiniAbe isn't a distant relative of whoever's driving London's little yellow street-cleaning submarine.

    The "Be More Whoa-ed" campaign launched Monday in 16 U.S. markets and will reach the U.K., Germany, Canada and national cable later this spring and summer. A second spot in the spring campaign will break in early May.

    Credits below.

    CREDITS
    Client: Illinois Office of Tourism
    Deputy Director: Jen Hoelzle
    Assistant Deputy Director: Jan Kemmerling
    Marketing Manager: Lisa Link

    Agency: JWT, Chicago
    Executive Creative Director: Dan Bruce
    Creative Director, Copywriter: Gary Korrub
    Creative Director, Art Director: Terra Hambly
    Executive Producer: Alec Pinkston
    Agency Producer: Carolyn James
    Group Management Director: Erin Clark
    Senior Account Director: Brendan Riley

    Director: Seth Henrickson
    Production Company: Odd Machine
    Editor: Steve Morrison
    Director of Photography: Seth Henrickson
    Sound Design: Eric Cauwels, Chicago Recording
    Media: Maxus


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    An outdoor ad campaign in San Francisco is trying something novel to stop people from texting and driving: public shaming.

    Graphic designer Brian Singer has furtively been taking photos of people texting behind the wheel along the 101 Freeway and posting them to a website, Texting While in Traffic, or TWIT for short. (Singer says he's always a passenger, not a driver, when he snaps the photos.) Lately, Singer has been paying out of his own pocket to put some of the photos on billboards around town, Gizmodo reports.

    He says the number of offenders is outrageous. "For every nose picker, there's 20 texters," he estimates. He's not bothered by privacy concerns, either. "I don't think people driving on 101 have the expectation of privacy," Singer says. "All I'm really doing is taking photos in a public place."

    Singer tried to get a road-safety group to fund the project, but is going it alone for now with 11 billboards. He says he hopes the billboards freak people out enough to stop texting and driving—and even hopes other people start taking photos, which "could have a dramatic affect on people's behavior."


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    Since first signing on as the face of Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle fragrance in 2007, Keira Knightley has become firmly ensconced within Karl Lagerfeld's pantheon of waifish muses, a group that also counts Nicole Kidman, Kate Moss and Vanessa Paradis among its members. (Clearly, Lagerfeld has a type.) In addition to the ubiquitous print ads, Knightley has starred in numerous short films for the fragrance over the years, including this new one, called "She's Not There."

    Directed by Joe Wright, a longtime Knightley (and Chanel) collaborator who directed the actress in Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and Anna Karenina, the minute-long spot puts a slightly mod, 007-ish spin on the usual boy-meets-girl perfume ad narrative.

    Set to the Zombies' 1965 song "She's Not There," it tells the story of a dashingly besuited young man (played by Russian actor Danila Kozlovsky) who catches the eye of a mysterious coquette (Knightley, natch) at a very stylish party. The woman, who has the distinction of being the only person wearing white among a sea of Little Black Dresses, as well as the inexplicable gift of teleportation, plays a game of cat and mouse with her would-be suitor, dropping a bottle of Coco Mademoiselle as her glass slipper before magically disappearing in a burst of sparkles. (Aren't fragrance ads fun?)

    At some indeterminate point in the future, the man, while walking over a bridge at sunset, sees a boat speeding down the Seine. And wouldn't you know it, the driver is the object of his affection, dressed in an oh-so-Coco black-and-white ensemble. They make smoldering eye contact, and—fin.

    While the story raises quite a few questions (why on earth would Knightley's character bother owning a boat when she can teleport?), "She's Not There" certainly succeeds within the absurd boundaries of fragrance films. (Wright, it's worth nothing, also directed Brad Pitt's much-parodied Chanel No. 5 ads.)

    It's visually stunning. It has a catchy soundtrack. And it briefly convinces you that buying a bottle of Coco Mademoiselle might give you a fraction of a molecule of Knightley's chicness. (Spoiler alert: It won't.)

    CREDITS
    Client: Chanel/Coco Mademoiselle
    Director: Joe Wright


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    Specs
    Who (L. to r.) Joe Perello, co-founder and managing partner; Doug Spitzer, partner and CCO; Arie Kovant, co-founder and managing partner
    What Full-service agency
    Where New York office

    While most of the ad world relaxed during the holidays, Catch New York executives kept tabs on their lightning-quick office renovation—after all, growing a startup doesn’t pause for yuletide revelry. The three-year-old agency had to get outfitted for its data science practice (launched in February), a major part of its plan to grow revenue to $10 million this year. The shop has gone from six to 35 employees in a matter of months, boosting Web, mobile and video marketing for clients including Loews hotels, Hewlett-Packard and first lady Michelle Obama. If the data initiative goes as planned, the end of 2014 could mean moving to new digs altogether—and perhaps a bit more time to cheer with some eggnog.


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    It took a while, but someone has finally lampooned Cadillac's much-derided "Poolside" commercial starring Neal McDonough. And not just any old someone—Ford Motor Co.

    Ford's agency, Team Detroit, shot the parody below, which stars the polar opposite of the McDonough character—Pashon Murray, the founder of Detroit Dirt, a sustainability consultancy and advocacy group. The Cadillac spot showcased the CLR luxury plug-in hybrid. The Ford video shows off the Ford C-MAX hybrid. But Murray's message about today's America is light years away from Cadillac's.

    The spoof is posted on its own YouTube channel, not Ford's. But it has Ford's tacit approval. Speaking to the Deroit Free Press, Ford spokeswoman Sara Tatchio described the video as "lighthearted," and added: "I don't think we're mocking a competitor. We're trying to showcase positive work being done in our community."

    Yeah, no mockery going on here. GM has not commented.


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    In the U.S., ads about weight usually come in the form of relatively thin women eating light yogurt. Awareness of obesity, especially in children, hasn't really taken off.

    But in France, this ad has taken off—and it wasn't even approved to run.

    The ad was made by David Lesage, a student in Belgium, but gained some press after the L'Express newspaper mistook it for an ad released by the French Ministry of Health and ran it in the paper.

    The ad shows melting ice cream that also looks like an obese abdomen, with the caption, "L'obésité commence dès le plus jeune âge." Translation: "Obesity begins at a young age."

    AdFreak spoke with Lesage, who said, "I really like to work on social causes in general. I think obesity seemed to be an important subject nowadays, and it has interesting creative potential."

    Yeah, it's right up there with no-makeup selfies and genitals in socks. You know, the usual.


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    Berlin Cameron United's new work for Gilt.com is colorful, musical and stylish, but also grounded in a sales pitch.

    The ads for the online hub for clothes, shoes and accessories unfold with a catch-me-if-you-can chase on a city street, such as when one woman takes a shine to another's bright yellow dress. The music is the power-pop song "Suit" from Boom! Bap! Pow!, which has been used in ads before, though less effectively. Super slow-motion filming adds style and ensures you get a good look at the clothes.

    The yellow dress chase ends with the pursuer finding the item on a smartphone app and then clicking to buy it. Therin lies the sales pitch. To illustrate the immediacy of mobile shopping, the clothes instantly shift from one woman's body to the other, leaving the prey in her underwear. Nothing wrong with mixing some flight of fancy with reality, is there?

    The ads go up on YouTube today and will spread to TV on Monday.

     

     

    CREDITS
    Client: Gilt.com
    Chief Marketing Officer: Elizabeth Francis
    Agency: Berlin Cameron United
    Executive Creative Director: Roald Van Wyk
    Creative Director, Copywriter: Kim Devall
    Executive Producer: Jennifer Glendining
    Account Director: Wynter O-Blanquet
    Production Company: Good Egg
    Director: Christopher Sweeney
    Executive Producer: Julia Reed
    Producer: Dawn Rose
    Director of Photography: Robert Witt
    Foreign Production Company: El Camino Films
    Executive Producer: Nicolas Aznarez
    Editing: Final Cut
    Editor: J.D. Smyth
    Executive Producer: Lauren Bleiweiss
    Producer: Beth Fitzpatrick
    Finishing: Significant Others
    Visual Effects Artist: Cecil Hooker
    Audio Engineer: T. Terressa Tate
    Color: Color Collective

     


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    Grey London takes an unconventional approach for Vodafone U.K., focusing on British emergency responders, more than three-quarters of whom, we're told, use the telecom's services.

    "The Call," a riveting 60-second spot that feels almost like a PSA, eschews actors and CGI, using footage of real firefighters and burning cars. (It's not an actual crash, but a realistic scene staged by director Marcus Soderlund of Academy Films specifically for the commercial.) It features an understatedly effective voiceover by Grey creative director Vicki Maguire, who helped create the spot, playing the part of a first responder's wife.

    Her lines are simple but stirring: "People say, 'But don't you worry?' And I go, 'Well, no, it's just what they do. It's what they're trained to do. They're used to it And so are you.' But even after 27 years, you still want a call or a text. It's never, 'I love you. I'm OK. I'm safe.' It's just, 'What's for dinner?' " She closes by gently chiding, "Daft beggar," and her concern and devotion to her partner shine through.

    "The repositioning of a network away from the handset and the fun of the Internet—dancing cats, animals on wheels, that kind of shizzle—to a strength of the network is a brave one," Maguire tells Adweek.

    Might some viewers take umbrage at this approach to selling phone service? "It's an honest and transparent link," Maguire says. "The idea and subsequent spot come off an independently substantiated fact: 77 percent of our emergency services use Vodafone. It's brave and bucks the category norm, but it comes from a truth. Why hide that?"

    Maguire nailed the voiceover in a single take, basing her performance on men and women she's known whose partners have dangerous jobs. "I've always thought they are as heroic as their partners on the front line," she says. "The VO is an amalgamation of those conversations."

    She adds, "We fully expected to re-record" the narration, but "the more we worked on the ad, the more the team loved the voice. We showed it to real firemen, and they were like, 'Yep, that's the wife!' I was chuffed!"

    This is Grey London's first work for Vodafone U.K. since winning a place on the U.K. account. An earlier Grey spot for Vodafone, "The Kiss," which aired in some European markets, won two Bronze Lions at Cannes last year.

    CREDITS
    Client: Vodafone U.K.
    Director of Brand Marketing and Communications: Daryl Fielding
    Spot: "The Call"
    Executive Creative Director: Nils Leonard
    Creative Directors: Vicki Maguire, Jonathan Marlow
    Agency producer: Ange Eleini, Joe Arojojoye
    Creative producer: Stephen Kessell
    Account Management: Natalie Graeme, Sophie Fredheim, Morwenna White-Thomson
    Planning: Leo Rayman, Rachel Woolley
    Media agency: OMD
    Production company: Academy
    Director: Marcus Söderlund
    Editor: Tom Lindsay
    Producer: Medb Riordan
    DOP: Barry Ackroyd
    Music: Fragments of Self by Tom Hodge & Max Cooper
    Post-production: Electric Theatre
    Audio post-production: 750


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    Here's a simple and clever way to show why it might be a bad idea to share that supposedly private photo.

    Brazilian agency Propeg recently submitted this to Ads of the World, though it's hard to be sure if or where it actually ran. "The Internet can't keep your secret," says the ad for SaferNet Brasil. "Keep your privacy offline."

    SaferNet is a nonprofit dedicated to fighting Internet crimes like identity theft and child pornography.

    Some will surely argue that the ad is a form of "slut shaming" since it seems to put the onus of blame on the woman taking her own picture and not on all the dirtbags who pass it along. But the ad would work just as well with a guy sharing sausage in the mirror, and I think we can all agree it's a pretty accurate illustration of the way photos seem to get in all the wrong hands faster than you can say "duck face."


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    Two years ago, Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote a provocative essay in The Atlantic called “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” The piece, which sparked a national debate about the impossibilities of work-life balance, stressed that unless a profound change in mind-set occurred at the highest levels of business and government, professional women are basically screwed. The stats bear it out. Women account for just 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, while 3 percent of executive creative directors at ad agencies are female. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

    Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stormed the zeitgeist with her rallying cry to “lean in,” producing a book on how to succeed in a high-powered job as well as a movement. While this drive is nothing new—think Gloria Steinem, Camille Paglia and Helen Gurley Brown—the hope is that as more women in positions of power speak out and create change, the door will swing open and a new generation of leaders will take their rightful seat at the table.

    Women in media, advertising and technology understand well the challenge of reaching the upper ranks of power. While a handful of top television executives (A+E Networks’ Nancy Dubuc) and magazine editors (Time’s Nancy Gibbs) are female, there remains a dearth of women running ad agencies, agency holding companies and digital companies.

    To shed some light on the state of women in the business, in mid-March we gathered an accomplished group of executives and journalists, all trailblazers in their own right, for a roundtable discussion at the Hearst Tower in midtown New York. Joining me, Adweek’s managing editor, were Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles; Sarah Hofstetter, CEO of digital marketing agency 360i; Nadja Bellan-White, senior partner and managing director of Ogilvy & Mather; Nancy Reyes, managing director of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, New York; and Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. The talk was candid, intimate, enlightening—and revealing. Here are some highlights.

    Joanna Coles, Editor in chief, Cosmopolitan

     Adweek: From Helen Gurley Brown on, it seems Cosmo has pushed hard to empower women. And it almost seems—maybe because of Sheryl Sandberg—there’s something in the air right now. Is there something like a cool factor about being empowered in the workplace? 

    Joanna Coles: Well, I think it’s more than a cool factor. I mean, it’s what’s happening in the culture—and it’s about damn time it’s happening in the culture. Suddenly, I think women are feeling more comfortable talking about it. I think people like Mika and Sheryl [who both pen career advice content for Cosmo] have led the way for women to own their ambition. And the really shocking thing is how few female leaders there are still, and that’s what we need to be working on. The message that we feel resonates in the magazine, that we’ve really seen resonate is about female leadership and about women fessing up to being ambitious and wanting big jobs, a lot of money and leadership roles.

    Mika Brzezinski: I’ll go there on a deeper level and say, the change that I’m seeing is women are fessing up about not being so afraid of each other anymore.

    Coles: Although I am still afraid of you. I’m really afraid.

    Mika Brzezinski Co-host, Morning Joe

    Brzezinski: I’m 46-years-old. So when I was starting at out at 21, 22, 23 and going into my late 20s and early 30s, I feel women were still kind of like the only ones in the room. And when another one came in, it wasn’t so easy. And now what I see is women realizing that there’s a lot of value and really helping … not just mentoring or doing the right thing, like really investing in each other on a friendship level, on a business level, and that’s been fun to watch. But I think also women stepping up and owning their ambition, as you put it, a lot of men and women are finding that to be a very good business model.
    Coles: I remember when I was working at a magazine, which shall be nameless, in New York. I remember calling up and saying, “I’m going to be two hours late today because I have to take the older son for shots.” It was an annual routine thing. And the editor, who was female, was sort of, “Oh, well, this is going to be a drag.” She had children, too. She was older than me. But I was surprised that she was sort of annoyed about it. And then the very same day, one of the male editors on a similar ranking took the day off to go on a field trip with his son, who was the same age as my son. Everybody was like, oh my god, he’s such a good dad, going on a field trip. And I was like, this is absurd.


     

    Sarah Hofstetter CEO, 360i

    And so I can then say to the hundreds of employees that work for me, if I'm unplugging, that’s permission for you guys to say take your time. If you don’t unplug in your way, you're going to end up burning out.

    Brzezinski: So the culture of change really has to come from the top.

    Nadja Bellan-White: It does. I mean, I set the tone for my team. I tell them to manage [their] day. I mean, there's 24 hours in a day. If you have to come in late or you worked late or have to do something, I do not scrutinize that at all. As long as the work gets done, I don’t judge how you do it or when you do it. And I try to offer that for … the guys that work for me, as well as the women. I'm an equal opportunity manager.

    Reyes: That’s the thing that’s happening now, is since we’re the bosses, since we’re up at the top, we start to set the rules. That was a piece of advice I got from a male boss back in the day, is when you get to the top, you set the rules and people work around you. Because we are all programmed to work around our boss, you know. If I'm a nine-to-fiver, then folks will want to get in to see me between the hours of nine to five. You know, if I stay from nine to nine, the people feel like they have to stay from nine to nine. But if we're up at the top now, we can make the rules and we can shape and allow people to feel like they can have all the things going on that we all have.

    Adweek: Sarah, you run an agency, and I’m just wondering why you think there aren’t more women at the top, and do you think we are on the verge of change?

    Hofstetter: I can say that I think there aren’t more largely because a lot of agencies end up mirroring the clients, and the clients haven’t necessarily turned over nearly as much. So when there are CEOs walking into a room and then the senior clients are all men, and they say to you, “Oh, hi. How are you?” and I say, “Hi, I’m Sarah,” they say, “Oh, so what do you do?”—as if I’m an account executive. And I say, “Oh, I’m CEO.” “Really?”

    Coles: Why do the businesses think they can do that? We know that 30 percent is the level you need of diversity on a board to make it maximum effective. It’s nonsense, the idea of walking into a room where it’s all men like that, and you’re one woman. It’s insane. These people are stuck in Mad Men, you know?

    Nadja Bellan-White Senior partner & managing
    director, Ogilvy & Mather

     Bellan-White: It is really hard. [At a client meeting in Asia once], when I walked in with my white male colleague from [Young & Rubicam], I was actually the one in charge. But you can tell … first of all, there was the shock: she’s tall, she’s black, she’s a woman. I was kind of like, “OK, why don’t you just take two minutes and just get it together? Just speak amongst yourselves, because I’m still going to be here while you’re talking about me and then we can get the meeting started.”

    Coles: And is that generational? I mean, do you see that changing when you have younger clients?

    Hofstetter: It’s definitely generational, and it’s mid-change. There’s no question in my mind, there are more women CMOs, there are more women in the senior ranks, at least on the marketing side, and it’s definitely refreshing. And what I like even more is that what I’m seeing less of in the industry—less but not gone—is that there are fewer golf outings and champagne ladies’ lounges and more opportunities for just general collaboration or, hey, let’s just go out and have a drink or have dinner.

    Adweek: I’m curious, Nancy. There’s a real lack of women who are executive creative directors. It’s something like 3 percent. Why is there such a ceiling?
     

    Nancy Reyes, Managing director and associate
    partner, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, New York

    Nancy Reyes: What I do think, as everyone had said, advertising in particular was an old boy’s club. I mean, look at Mad Men. So many of us sort of suffer through the ramifications of a time in which men ran the show in every single way, and the idea would always come from the man. You know, it was the person who sort of broke through and was able to deliver something in a way that nobody else could.

    Coles: Which is why you have those crazy ads still on telly now where women get orgasmic over cleaning products … or with a Swiffer, as if it’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to you. It’s nonsense.

     

    Reyes: [Goodby’s] Margaret Johnson is a great executive creative director, and she’s also a partner at the agency. She’s made some of the funniest ads, some of the most emotional ads, some of the most rugged, hard, edgy ads. And I think the less sometimes we think of her as, like, wow, this woman made this ad and more like, what a great thinker, what a great creative, what a great idea. That’s the kind of conversation I think I would rather have than have it be, what did a woman make this year?

     

    Brzezinski: … I don’t think the glass ceilings are the same [in TV news]. We have had now two women who have anchored the evening news. We have a lot of women anchoring morning news and cable dayside television. And in fact, I think the numbers may be skewed the other way. But it’s the ones who make it to the top that I think … I think there's kind of an inherent problem, which is somewhat sexist, although it is not overtly sexist, it's something that happens almost subconsciously. And that is, a lot of young women are hired into television when they're not ready, because other aspects of their … you know, what they bring to the table, [they] really shine brightly. And a lot of male executives will … and female, will say well that … you know, pretty or poppy or she's got this. And it's not the talent—she doesn’t have what backs it up. And I actually remember in my career being pushed up too soon and paying for it several times to the point where, by the time I was offered a really, really big possibility of a promotion at CBS, I said, “We ought to wait a year, because I'm going to get killed.” And I did wait a year—and I still got killed.


    But the bottom line is, there are these inherent problems I think that leave a lot of women at the bottom and a few at the top who finally make it because they are so freaking scrappy that they somehow, somehow hang on and stay there. But those women, if you look at them, work around the clock, around the clock. They have lifestyles that are not balanced, they have lifestyles that have taken a toll, they have made tremendous sacrifices, and not the sacrifices that men who have made it to the top in our industry have made.

    Adweek: I want to ask about the Super Bowl. This year, the ads seemed very different. They weren’t these oversexed spots, it was more about puppies and kids. Is something changing out here?

    Hofstetter: I think so. I think what’s changed actually is the fact that a lot of the research is finally getting into the creative, which is that more men are going grocery shopping, more women drink beer—shocker. And so, what do we do about that? Well, we actually cater to human behavior. So if you look at Budweiser doing [a puppy ad], well, that’s because you’re catering to a broader audience, you’re catering to behavior instead of to a stereotype.

    Bellan-White: Since the recession, the people making the decisions, the clients, they’re so conservative. They have to answer to their shareholders, they’re pushing the agencies to say, you know, I just need this to be as effective as possible. And what we try to say is, you know, pervasive creativity. You can be creative and effective. Let’s not lose that humor. And so we’re constantly trying to push the envelope of humor in a very culturally relevant way. And it’s hard sometimes because clients are looking at their board saying, “You know what? I don’t know if you can spend that money anymore. I don’t know if you can do that ad anymore,” and they shift your dollars to other, far more effective channels. So we’re constantly trying to tell the clients, let’s find different ways to engage them. And what you’re seeing on the Super Bowl is the manifestation of that.

    Adweek: Do campaigns by women outperform those created by men if it’s a product for women?

    Hofstetter: I would say it’s actually less about the creative and more about the strategy. If you look at those who are creating the strategy, if you can really get into the mind of the consumer and guide the creatives, the creatives should be able to get into whatever character you’re designing. Good creative should be flexible, so a woman can create for a man and vice versa, and different mind-sets, different cultures. That, I think, doesn’t matter.

    Bellan-White: The insights really have to drive the work. I think of the Dove campaign, for example. One of the reasons why Dove is so successful is that it started with a real insight about how women felt about themselves, and it started with the planning team really kind of doing the research. And we had clients that listened to the research and said, look at what women are really feeling about themselves. That drove the success of that campaign.

    Reyes: Respect for the consumer is critical. ... What do we know about this consumer, gender-neutral, that can help us make an effective [campaign]? Once you’ve identified that and stop thinking about us as women and more as consumers ... it changes the conversation completely.

     


    Adweek: Joanna, I have a question here from a Cosmo reader [via Twitter]: Could [photos of] un-photoshopped women sell magazines?

    Coles: Well actually, the funny thing is, when I was at Marie Claire, we did a cover and whole shoot with Jessica Simpson with no makeup. We didn’t retouch it. Nobody believed us. You cannot win at this game. And in fact, I was just on the Today show, and we had the Today show anchors come in and we did a big photo shoot with them. We retouched it at various levels. And I've never said we don’t retouch magazines, retouch images in the magazine—and I want my Editor's Note to be the first to be retouched, I am telling you right now.

    But we do very light retouches, so you know, if someone comes in with a zit or a cold sore or they’ve got a piece of hair sticking up here which nobody noticed at the shoot, we will take it out because otherwise it's distracting. And what often people don’t realize when they haven't been to a photo shoot is the disproportionate impact that very strong lighting can have. So you know, one limb could look enormous or your shoulders are suddenly up here. So we might address those things because photographs do weird things to people. So, we don’t do drastic retouching—I never take 30 pounds off someone.

    [Photoshopping] has become a sort of conversation out there, which I feel isn't actually one of those real conversations. I feel people get very excited about it and think, oh, advertising or magazines, it’s all your fault, it's all your fault. But actually, most people who use Instagram love the filters …

    Brzezinski: Well, everyone is doing it to themselves now. My new phone has [the app] Pretty Face on it—and I've put it on [level] five. And I mean, everyone's editing themselves now and I think it’s less of an issue.

    Coles: People take 30 photos before they find the photo to put on Facebook, so I find it an old-fashioned question. And the one time we did [a makeup-free shoot], no one believed us.

    Adweek: Isn't that funny.

    Coles: Yeah, and then they accused us of lying, and it was, like, honestly, you should have come to the shoot.

    Adweek: In February, the Today show hosts went on-camera without makeup. Could you see yourself doing this?

    Brzezinski: [Calling out to her publicist] Lauren, get my license. I'll show you something worse. I'll show you a picture … it's in my phone. Bring my phone. I'll show you a picture of me after working all night long, after having my second child and coming home, but I had to go get my license [photo taken]. It is the worst … it's what I look like in real life. It's fantastic. … So no, I'm not afraid of that. I think it was kind of shtick-y. I mean, just take your makeup off and … wow. [Shows driver’s license to other panelists.] I'm unrecognizable.

    Reyes: Oh my gosh, there's no way.

    Coles: I don’t think that’s you.

    Brzezinski: But my point is … you know, it’s fun to see people without their makeup, and I've done it a few times in my career. I've been in television for 25 years—I've done that once.

    Adweek: Joanna, you run a magazine for women and I’m sure published mostly by women. I’m wondering what it’s like in your office. What kind of culture is it?

    Coles: We have a lot of women with children. People are pretty upfront about the stresses. A lot of people find the office very calm compared to home. A lot of people come in and go, “Thank god it’s Monday.” So there’s a feeling of camaraderie among the staff who do have children that this is exhausting doing this stuff. But it’s also fun. …

    I don’t think there is any [work-life] balance, and I don’t think we should be pursuing balance. And I think it’s a particularly American obsession, as is the quest for perfection. I think we should embrace the chaos. ... I think life and careers have ebbs and flows and you can’t give everything, all things, all the time. And you just have to have judgment on it and judgment comes a little bit with experience, and from listening to female friends and the bonds. Nadja and I met each other at school where our children go together. Mika and I have met through work. ... But that sense in which women have a camaraderie, it’s almost like we have a code that the men have no part of. We have all been in rooms where men have looked over to us and said, “Let me tell you what women want.” And we’re just sitting there, quietly nodding, and thinking in the back of our head, oh, yet another dick guy. And then there is this kind of code that goes on with women, which is, you know, we’re all supporting each other, we’re laughing, we’re falling about, we’re saying, “Jesus, can you get me a glass of wine?”

    Adweek: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career, and the worst?

    Hofstetter: The best I got—and listening to people here, it looks like either you’ve gotten it or you’ve given it to yourself—is, you are going to be spending a lot of time working, so you better love what you do. And I've switched my career a couple of times, and I think that that was what gave me my North Star—you have to love what you do. Because you're trying to inspire a lot of other people, you're spending a lot of time doing it, and it's got to be rewarding. So somebody gave me advice very early on: If you're going to be spending all this time, you better love what you do. And when you don’t, it’s time to do something else.

    Coles: And what about the piece of advice that was wrong?

    Hofstetter: You might want to stay home. It was after my first child was born. It wasn’t a debate whether or not I was going to go back to work—I knew I was going back to work. And in fact, when I told my boss—that was a very male-dominated environment—and I told my boss I was pregnant and he said to me, “I figured it was going to happen at some point.” And I'm like … congratulations, I'm so happy for you. Anyway, so when I was on [maternity] leave, there were a few women that were at the office who said, you know, “You might want just a little more time for yourself, like, maybe you can come back when you're done having kids.” And I'm like, “Uh, nah.”

    Coles: Good for you.

    Hofstetter: I like it. And like you say, you can’t be ashamed if you like what you do. And the truth is, my kids, they're at an age right now where they really love that their mom is doing great stuff. When I got my most recent promotion, I came home from work that night and my kids had made dinner, they decorated the front of the house, they had this whole, like, “Congratulations, mommy!” They had a candlelit dinner and a big card, and they're so incredibly supportive, and I think it's really great that they're seeing that and saying, not, “Oh, you're not home again” but like “Hey, you're doing something really cool.” My kids … I get to work on a brand like Oreo, so they get to go to school and tell their friends, “My mommy makes this stuff work in advertising.” And that kind of stuff is really … it's kind of cred for them, so that kind of stuff is kind of fun. I love that my kids like it and respect it and work with the system. They don’t really know any other alternative, although they certainly see their friends around them [whose] moms generally don’t work.

    Coles: Well, I think the best piece of advice—and I don’t really know where I heard it, but everybody hears it—is, listen to the voice within. When faced with a fork in the road, I feel like, for the most part, I've … instinctively known where to go. And I think the other piece of advice that I wish someone had told me is, you know, be open to opportunity because you never know where it's coming from. And it sort of blindsides you.

    And I'm not doing anything that I ever sort of dreamt I would be doing, but I'm having a fantastic time, thoroughly enjoying it.

    Bellan-White: I think for me, the best advice I've been given, and what I try to do, is really be good to the people around you—people you're competing against, your clients. Because the people that you see across who you may think are your enemies could be your friends the next day. So be good to everybody. I try to tell that particularly to the younger folks coming in. They think you can be so competitive that you cut people off. You’ve got to be really, really good to the people around you.

    The second thing is, I was once told that I would never survive in this industry because I was not white male. So I had a client who said, “I don’t want someone like her calling on me”—and I remember crying about it. And my then-boss, who was also upset, said, “Now I'm going to give you 10 minutes, 10 minutes to cry about this, and then I need you to dust yourself off and go back out there and do what you do.” So I've always believed that I've got to do better, be better than everybody else, so that I can continuously discount others that might try to dissuade other women from doing the same thing.

    Brzezinski: The best advice I've ever gotten is advice I give to young women … especially young women trying to get into television and this type of career, but any type of high-level, high-stress job: Don’t forget to get married and have kids if that’s something you want. A good guy is hard to find, and the most important decision you'll ever make in your life. And for me, anything that I'm doing in my career is, for me personally, not worth it if I don’t have a family to share it with. And when I was fired and I went home, I was very proud of that decision because I would have been really upset if I had passed up on that opportunity.

    But I think it actually is the best advice because I think nothing makes you better at what you do and who you are than having a partner in life and children to raise. That’s my opinion—some people choose not to have that. It is also the worst advice I've ever gotten. Because it’s hard, and they don’t like you back sometimes. Do you notice that, teenage girls … What? They don’t like you.

    Hofstetter: Yeah, I'm not looking forward to that.

    Brzezinski: No, don’t.

    Reyes: I guess the best advice I ever got was, try not to do it all, just do what works. It’s not about, how do I do the family thing? How do I do the work thing? Do one thing at a time and it'll figure itself out, you know. And if it means sleep with your kids because it feels good and you have that moment, then you do that. So doing what works for myself and for my family has always been a guiding principle.

    The worst advice actually was when I started my career, I worked at Ogilvy, and after a couple of years, I decided I wanted to do something else—I wanted to leave, I wanted to go to work on something which allowed me a more strategic opportunity. And you know, my boss at the time said, “Don’t leave. It's too risky. You're making the biggest mistake of your life.” And you know, I definitely thought, wow, I'm 23. If this is the biggest mistake I'm going to make, I am set. Like, this is as bad as it gets? Cool. No problem.
     


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    A Danish travel agency wants the country's people to do the patriotic thing by getting out of town and getting busy.

    A wry new campaign from Spies puts an unusually clever twist on using sex to sell, highlighting the country's fast-declining birth rate and packing in fun statistics and scientific claims to support what seems like an obvious fact—that people are more likely to copulate while on vacation.

    It's opportunistic in the best possible way—rewarding for viewers, with at least the illusion of being genuinely concerned. For those of you who are serious about procreating, the brand even offers an "ovulation calendar" to help plan trips on a schedule that would improve your odds. Anyone who proves they succeeded could win three years' worth of baby supplies.

    There have been similar campaigns in the past—notably, the hilarious baby-making anthem by Mentos in Singapore (also a country with a declining birth rate). Hell, even NPR has run ads encouraging baby making.

    The Danish would be more creepy if it weren't so funny and practical at the same time. And while advertising certainly doesn't need any more puns-as-taglines or juvenile jokes, it's hard to be bothered by one that so perfectly fits the message: "Do it for Denmark."


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    Not since Alice Cooper ran for governor of Arizona under the slogan "A troubled man for troubled times" have we seen such refreshingly honest political advertising.

    Actually, these new campaign ads, for decidedly unglamorous mayoral candidates in Toronto, are fake. But they're still pretty amusing. They were put up by a group called No Ford Nation, which is dedicated to getting anyone besides the crack-smoking Ford elected in October. And apparently they do mean anyone.

    To that end, the website, NoFordNation.com, includes information about whoever else is running. "You don't want to say 'anyone but Ford' and then not give them any resources to make an informed decision," says Christina Robins, who started the site. "We want to get back to a mayor who doesn't embarrass us."

    Can any of Ford's rivals do the Van Damme split, though?

    Photos: @lachlan@FriendsofTriBel@yourk44.


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