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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    At first glance, this Dulcolax ad draws you in with its warm sepia tones and lovely vignetted glow. Then you look closer, and ... oh my God. Are those turds in prison?

    Indeed, orange is the new brown in this extremely odd laxative ad, showing what appear to be the stinky love children of the Michelin Man and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Turdles?) awaiting sweet release from bowel purgatory. And they're huddled around ... is that ... ? No, it's not the Sarlacc Pit that almost eats Han Solo and Lando Calrissian.

    "Only you can set them free," explains the tagline. If the point is to make the viewer as uncomfortable as a constipation sufferer, mission accomplished.

    The agency, McCann Health in Shanghai, says the ad ran in Singapore newspapers and bus shelters. "Instead of approaching the dramatization from the patient's [point of view], we approached it from the excrement's," the agency says. True enough.

    Brand awareness is up "from almost zero to 21 percent" among the target, McCann claims, and the purchase intention rate increased 57 percent. The agency adds that it expects similar success from the next round of "media bursts" this year.

    Below is the full ad in all its glory. Click to expand, if you dare.

    Via Ads of the World.

    Client: Dulcolax
    Agency: McCann Healthcare Worldwide, Shanghai
    Executive Creative Director: Kevin Lee
    Creative Directors: Danny Li, Band Bai
    Art Directors: Danny Li, Band Bai, QinQian
    Copywriters: Kevin Lee, Bati Wu
    General Manager: Joanne Wang
    Business Director: Yama Chen
    Account Manager: Celine Lv
    Production Company: Visionary Group

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    Expedia and 180LA have done a nice job lately of thinking more broadly about the concept of travel, going beyond physical journeys into emotional, even spiritual ones. (Among its more memorable ads was the 2012 spot about the father's difficult journey to accepting his lesbian daughter.)

    Now, the travel site is getting even more ambitious—and more social—as it travels back in time with a fun project around people's Throwback Thursday photos.

    Between now and the end of August, Expedia is asking Instagram and Twitter users to tag their #TBT photo with @Expedia and #ThrowMeBack. Each week the company will pick one lucky winner and give them a travel voucher so they can indulge their nostagia and return to the place where the photo was taken—and recreate it.

    Or, says Expedia, you can travel somewhere different and made a new memory—which seems to suggest this campaign is less about actually recreating the old snapshots and more about just piggybacking on the #tbt trend in general. However, the brand is asking the winners to send in the recreated photos with the goal at the end of the campaign of telling a photo story with all the side-by-sides.

    "We all have great memories of summer vacations," says Dave Horton, creative director at 180LA. "So to promote the nostalgia of summer travel, we wanted to tap into the most nostalgic trend out there, #tbt."

    To promote the contest, Expedia has posted the video below, "Back to Ocean Beach," showing one family's journey from Washington State to their old beach spot in San Diego to recreate a cute photo from the '80s.

    Read more about the campaign at instagram.piqora.com/expediathrowmeback.

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    Here's a lovely little packaging idea from Nike, and we do mean little.

    The Nike Free 5.0 is one of the most flexible sneakers ever made. And that's clear right from looking at the box, which was designed to be one-third the size of a regular shoebox.

    As you can see from the video below, the sneakers easily fold up and fit inside. It's a cool idea for a few reasons—it uses less cardboard, it cuts down on shipping space, and of course, it communicates a product benefit right in the packaging. A great example of thinking outside the box—about the box.

    Unfortunately, it was only promotional packaging for the launch, and wasn't used on a mass scale. Still, it earned Publicis Impetu a silver Lion in Design at Cannes last month.

    Credits below. Via The Dieline.

    Client: Nike
    Agency: Publicis Impetu
    Executive Creative Directors: Esteban Barreiro, Mario Taglioretti
    Art Director: Diego Besenzoni
    Copywriter: Federico Cibils
    Account Director: María José Caponi
    Account Manager: Mauricio Minchilli
    Producer: Metrópolis Films

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    Paris Hilton has almost come full circle, returning to the hypersexualized Carl's Jr. ad campaign that began when she sudsed up a Bentley in 2005.

    The fast-food chain's strategy of selling hamburgers by wrapping them in scantily clad swimsuit models and busty pop culture icons has become a cornerstone of its advertising, thanks largely to Hilton's car washing, uh, skills.

    Now she makes a cameo in the brand's newest commercial from 72andsunny, and this time she's serving as a sort of elder stateswoman advising Sports Illustrated model Hannah Ferguson on how to best clean a vehicle while also fellating a sandwich. (It's worth noting that at age 33, Hilton is not the campaign's most seasoned participant. That honor probably goes to Heidi Klum, who was just short of her 40th birthday when she played a meat-loving Mrs. Robinson.)

    Supposedly the new ad has something to do with Texas, from which Ferguson hails and around which a new burger is themed. But really that's all whatever, who cares, because bikinis, suds, writhing, meat, etc.

    Hilton's abrupt appearance in the ad does have a sort of strange logic, and not just because the soundtrack is a Texas-themed redux of Cole Porter's "I Love Paris." Hilton, who seemed to have faded from the public eye for a while, has, according to people who pay attention to these things, been making a comeback of sorts over the past year.

    If that's the case, she at least picked a more respectable way of raising her visibility again than simply releasing another sex tape. 

    The original:


    Agency: 72andSunny
    Chief Creative Officer, Partner: Glenn Cole
    Chief Strategic Officer, Partner: Matt Jarvis
    Group Creative Directors: Mick DiMaria, Justin Hooper
    Creative Director: Mark Maziarz
    Lead Designer: Anthony Alvaraz 
    Copywriter: Teddy Miller
    Chief Production Officer: Tom Dunlap
    Director of Film Production: Sam Baerwald
    Executive Film Producer: Molly McFarland
    Film Producer: Brooke Horne
    Film Production Coordinator: Taylor Stockwell
    Group Strategy Director: Matt Johnson
    Strategist: Josh Hughes
    Director of Business Affairs: Michelle McKinney
    Group Business Affairs Director: Amy Jacobsen
    Business Affairs Manager: Maggie Pijanowski
    Business Affairs Coordinator: Calli Howard
    Managing Director: James Townsend
    Brand Director: Alexis Varian
    Brand Manager: Michal David
    Brand Coordinator: Ali Arnold
    Communications Manager: Kayla Lostica 

    Client: CKE—Carl Karcher Enterprises
    Chief Executive Officer: Andy Puzder
    Chief Marketing Officer: Brad Haley
    Senior Vice President, Product Marketing: Bruce Frazer
    Director of Advertising: Brandon LaChance
    Vice President, Field Marketing, Media, Merchandising: Steve Lemley
    Director, Green Burrito Marketing, Development: Kathy Johnson
    Director, Product Marketing, Merchandising: Christie Cooney
    Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Public Affairs: Melissa Robinson
    Director, Public Relations: Kathleen Bush

    Production Company: HIS Productions
    Director: Chris Applebaum
    President: Stavros Merjos
    Executive Producer, Managing Director: Rebecca Skinner
    Executive Producer: Roger Zorovich
    Head of Production: Doron Kauper
    Producer: John Hardin
    Editorial: Freditor
    Producer: Yole Barrera
    Editor: Fred Fouquet
    Post Effects: Brickyard
    Visual Effects Artists: Patrick Poulatian, Mandy Sorenson, George Fitz
    Producer: Diana Young
    Telecine: CO3
    Colorist: Mike Pethel
    Senior Producer: Matt Moran
    Sound Design, Mix: ON Music & Sound
    Mixer: Chris Winston
    Music: Squeak E. Clean Productions
    Composers: Justin Hori, Charles Rojas
    Vocals: Daisy Hamel-Buffa
    Senior Music Producer: Chris Shaw

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    And you thought beans were the musical fruit.

    This memorable ad from BBH New York humorously suggests that Mr. Sketch scented markers get their smell from actual fruit farts—as we see a blueberry cutting a squeaker inside a fantastical Roald Dahl-esque odor-extraction lab.

    The flavorful flatulence infuses one of the venerable Newell Rubbermaid brand's blue marker pens, and we're led to believe this same method applies to apple, raspberry, cherry, lemon and other scents in the Mr. Sketch line.

    "We wanted a simple, entertaining concept that people would get right away," BBH group creative director Gerard Caputo tells Mashable."And since the name of the product isn't intuitive to the benefit, we wanted to do a little education."

    Smells like a gold Lion to me! At any rate, the ad should amuse kids of all ages, even if the pungent manufacturing process on display doesn't pass the smell test.

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    BBR Saatchi & Saatchi created this print ad for Ford Israel that also happens to be an optical illusion. It promotes the Ford Explorer's Park Assist feature in a way similar to those email forwards from your aunt that ask you to stare at an image until you see the face of Jesus or the outline of Elvis.

    "Stare at the black dot for 30 seconds. Move your eyes to the empty parking space. See how easy it is to park," says the copy.

    Thirty seconds may be a long time to look at an ad, and my eyes kept ramming the SUV into the parked cars. But it's still a fun way to highlight a feature without using jargon that just feels like a lot of empty words ("aerodynamic space material for precision control!").

    What do you think? Are you into it?

    Via Digital Synopsis.

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    The 2014 NFL season is almost upon us. And while Duracell may have a tough time producing advertising on quite the level of its masterly Derrick Coleman spot from last winter, the pair of ads below—also by Saatchi & Saatchi New York—are neatly linked and should get your blood pumping for another season.

    Directed by Christopher Sargent of Anonymous Content, the spots look at the same play from scrimmage in a game between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks—the foes in last year's NFC Championship Game. (Coleman's Seahawks, of course, went on to win the Super Bowl.)

    The message isn't revolutionary: Duracell Quantum, the P&G brand's snazzy new battery, powers critical game-day communications for both teams (in devices like coaches' headsets). But the execution is nicely handled, ratcheting up the drama and leading both ads to the same violent, ambiguous conclusion.

    For Saatchi, it's a nice beginning to a season that's ending prematurely, as Duracell recently selected Anomaly as its new lead creative agency in the U.S.

    Client: Duracell
    Spots: "Duracell Quantum Powers The San Francisco 49ers," "Duracell Quantum Powers The Seattle Seahawks"

    Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
    Chief Creative Officer: Jay Benjamin
    Executive Creative Director: Peter Smith
    Creative Directors: Garrett Jones, Billy Jones
    Senior Copywriter: Lincoln Boehm
    Senior Art Director: Nathan Wigglesworth
    VP, Executive Producer: Bruce Andreini

    Production Company: Anonymous Content
    Director: Christopher Sargent
    Executive Producer: Jeff Baron
    Producer: Paul Ure

    Editorial Company: Whitehouse Post
    Editor: Shane Reid
    Assistant Editor: Sam Perkins
    Senior Producer: Melanie Klein
    Executive Producer: Lauren Hertzberg

    VFX: The Mill
    Executive Producer: Melanie Wickham
    Producer: Alex Fitzgerald
    Shoot Supervisor: Tony Robins
    2D Lead Artist: Danny Morris
    3D Lead Artists: Wyatt Savarese, Emily Meger
    Colorist: Fergus McCall

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    Do you enjoy looking at adorable animals and singing along to "Thank You for Being a Friend," the Andrew Gold song whose cover by Cynthia Fee rightfully belongs to Blanche, Rose, Sophia and Dorothy from The Golden Girls?

    Then ESPN's new spot by McKinney is for you.

    Well, you and the mascots for Mississippi State ("Bully"), Arkansas ("Tusk"), Texas A&M ("Reveille"), Auburn ("War Eagle"), Louisiana State ("Mike"), Georgia ("Uga"), South Carolina ("Sir Big Spur") and Tennessee ("Smokey").

    The ad, "Animals," features the mascots for the Southeastern Conference schools to help launch the SEC Network, a new national sports network from ESPN that debuts Aug. 14.

    Credits below.

    Client: ESPN
    Spot: "Animals"
    Agency: McKinney
    Chief Creative Officer: Jonathan Cude
    Associate Creative Director: Matt Trego
    Art Director: Jordan Eakin
    Copywriter: Roger Fish/David Sloan
    Agency Producer: Naomi Newman
    Production Company: McKinney
    Director: Michael Lawrence

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    IDEA: It's been two decades since "Macho Man" Randy Savage bellowed at young men to "Snap into a Slim Jim." Many in the current target market for the ConAgra meat sticks (males 18-25, mostly) weren't even born then. Yet the line has staying power—people know it even as the brand has tried to move away from it (most recently in the "Spicy Side" ads from Venables Bell & Partners).

    Now, DDB California revives the line beginning with a charmingly goofy :30 that tells the story of one bro's epic day. "It's what people know and love about the brand," group creative director Travis Parr said of the famous old tagline. "ConAgra worried it had too much baggage or might make them seem old. But they finally decided it was cool."

    COPYWRITING: The spot tells a straightforward story—guy grabs a Slim Jim, meets some girls, goes to a party—but the narrative is chopped up and full of weird, random moments. (He and his buddies dance a bit too giddily outside a convenience store, joined by a clerk and a cop. A goat, inexplicably, is one of the party guests.)

    For the voiceover, the actors chanted lines that sum up each vignette: "Meat sticks!" "Bro sticks!" "Pro sticks!" "Meat sticks!" "Hey sticks!" "Nay sticks!" "Hooray sticks!" "Meat sticks!" There's no other dialogue.

    "We bought quite a few rhyming dictionaries," Parr joked. "Epic days often include private jets or a million hot girls. We wanted to be a little more true to how our target sees an epic day. It's very epic for him, but maybe not in the eyes of other people."

    A voiceover says at the end: "Snap into a goat party. Snap into a Slim Jim." (The tagline is also shown on screen.)

    FILMING/ART DIRECTION: The Perlorian Brothers shot the ad over three days in their home base of Toronto. "They shot the boards as we had imagined them, but with a really odd twist on every scene," Parr said.

    Everything is low-fi, with the edges showing, befitting an audience that appreciates ads that blatantly admit they're selling you something. "That's why you see a lot of gratuitous meat-stick shots in there," said Parr.

    "We didn't want it to feel like a beer commercial from the '90s. There's a temptation to idealize their life. And the other temptation is to make it weird for weird's sake. We wanted to be in the middle—something they could aspire to, but not so contrived that it lost relevance for them."

    TALENT: Parr described the archetypal Slim Jim consumer as an "almost anti-millennial millennial" and the actors reflect that. "You don't want them to be hipsters or the cool kids in class," said Parr. "Then again, you don't want to cast the total dorks. We kind of looked for people we wanted to hang out with, as opposed to people that we wanted to be."

    SOUND: The bouncy stock track almost sounds like disco. "These guys have such distinct tastes," Parr said of the target. "I think if you went with a licensed track or an actual artist, you'd immediately start to polarize people. We found something that had a lot of energy, a little bit of quirk and that ear hook that gave it some life."

    MEDIA: The :30 is launching in social. Companion :15s will get paid support in online, TV, cinema. Those spots ("as direct and in-your-face competitive as you can be," said Parr) compare Slim Jim to a generic rival by swivelling between the two and associating ludicrous imagery with each—for example, hot girls with Slim Jim and fat guys rubbing their bellies together with the competitor.


    Client: Slim Jim (ConAgra Foods)
    SVP of Content Creation, ConAgra Foods: Dave Linne
    Director of Content Creation, ConAgra Foods: Patrick Brennan
    Agency: DDB California
    Group Creative Director: Travis Parr
    Art Director: Madeline DeWree
    Copywriter: Tyler Booker
    Senior Producer: Rob Lee
    Production Company: MJZ/Soft Citizen
    Director: The Perlorian Brothers
    Producer: Merrie Wasson
    Editorial: Cutters
    Editor: Matt Walsh
    VFX/Online: Flavor
    Planning Director: Mark Rovai
    Senior Strategist: Jaime Harrelson
    SVP Group Account Director: Kristin Barbour
    Account Director: Nancy Bernacchi
    Account Supervisor: Jordan Wood
    Account Coordinator: Rose Valderrama

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    German compact-car maker Smart is so smart, it's playing dumb. And that, as it turns out, makes for some pretty entertaining marketing.

    A new campaign from BBDO Berlin rests on the premise that it's time for the brand—known for small, fuel-efficient, city-friendly two-seaters—to get into the big car game. The really, really big car game. Not so different from the cab of a tractor trailer, or maybe a Sherman tank. Definitely a ride Andre the Giant might actually find comfortable.

    One of two deadpan spots features Smart executives talking about the giant new vehicle. It's blisteringly well written, dripping with snark in all the right places. The second video features a Smart rep doing hidden-camera-style interviews (never entirely convincing) with consumers, who, after seeing a video introducing "the prototype" and handling an enormous to-scale wheel, offer reactions ranging from surprisingly agreeable to entirely incredulous.

    In a sense, it could seem too much to ask of viewers that they track the sarcasm as a critique of real, oversize gas guzzlers, and follow through to the point that Smart's cars are the opposite. On the other hand, it's a message much of the brand's target will probably already find sympathetic. And sanctimonious as it may be, it's grounded enough in practicality and pop consciousness to serve its purpose as a sales pitch. (But it is hard, at times like these, not to think of South Park's take on hybrid cars).

    Worst of all, though, the big car probably wouldn't be very good as a Pong controller.

    Client: Smart
    Agency: BBDO, Berlin
    Chief Creative Officer: Wolfgang Schneider
    Chief Creative Director: Jan Harbeck
    Creative Directors: Lukas Liske, Daniel Schweinzer
    Account Team: Jens Fauth, Anne Hohmann
    Agency Producer: Silke Rochow
    Director: Daniel Warwick
    Production Company: Bigfish

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    At last, you don't need to be a degenerate military dictator (or Ed Gein) to soak up the luxuries of sitting on piles of human skin. Or at least, creepy facsimiles thereof.

    London-based designer Gigi Barker has made a leather "Skin Chair" that looks (and smells!) like actual human flesh, thanks to the modern miracle that is pheromone-infused silicone. The design and smell of the chair are apparently modeled after an actual individual's body, and it probably feels a lot like sitting on Jabba the Hutt.

    Barker made these for the London Design Festival in September, but they're for sale to the public as well, just in case you have $2,500 lying around. (The ottoman, though, officially called the "Skin Stool," is a steal at $675.)

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    The numbers don't lie: When a YouTube preroll ad comes on, users are primed to click the "Skip Ad" button the very millisecond it appears on screen. Research says 94 percent of preroll gets skipped shortly after the first five seconds (which are unskippable). And frankly, that number seems low.

    The seemingly obvious solution is to make the first five seconds so compelling that people have to watch the rest—rather than just post your TV spot and hope for the best. Embracing the former, ad agency Nail in Providence, R.I., did a simple experiment. It tried to come up with an unskippable YouTube preroll ad.

    See the results below.

    It's not very subtle, and it uses a trick from an old National Lampoon magazine cover. It's also super low budget. Yet it got a view rate of 26 percent, which is impressive. And it made a few bucks for charity along the way.

    What do you think? Is it worth building ad executions specifically to work better as YouTube preroll? Or is that just too much of a bother?

    Here is Nail's blurb about the dog video:

    As marketers, it's time we change the way we do YouTube preroll.

    The current model seems to be to simply throw your TV commercial in front of any video a loosely defined demographic happens to be watching.

    What a missed opportunity. The skip rates are unbelievable (94 percent is a generous estimate). And when there is no skip button, you can practically feel the resentment oozing through the Internet. Hardly the temperament most brands want to inspire from their customers, right?

    Yes, content is king. But here, context is also king. (A gay royal couple if you will.)

    Think about what we know at that moment: we know what they're going to watch, we know what they just Googled, we know where they are, we know what device they are watching on, heck, we know they can skip the ad. All of this information is an opportunity to customize a message that respects the viewer and the platform.

    We need to stop repurposing content designed for other channels and start taking advantage of the amazing abilities YouTube is throwing at us.

    It's like we're NASA and we're only using the Hubble Telescope to look at our neighbor's boobs.

    YouTube ads should be designed for YouTube. They should use the tools and features given to us and interact with the user and the platform in a way that can't be rivaled. They should be self-aware. They should talk to one person at a time.

    What the heck are we talking about, you ask?

    OK, here's an example. We wanted to raise awareness and money for an organization near and dear to us: the ASPCA. We had virtually no money but had given ourselves a serious challenge: can we make a skippable YouTube that virtually no one skips?

    Did we do it? You tell us.

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    Jude Law hasn't had the best of luck on boats in the past. But he puts that behind him for this stylish short film for Johnnie Walker Blue, directed by Jake Scott.

    It begins with Law and co-star Giancarlo Giannini kicking back luxuriously on a fabulous handcrafted boat in rich waters somewhere in the world. (The ocean scenes were filmed in the British Virgin Islands.) Law wants the boat for himself, but Giannini says it's not for sale. The only way Law can get it is through a friendly gentlemen's wager. And it turns out Law wants to dance for it—which he does, in between sips of Johnnie Walker Blue.

    Later we discover the real nature of the betting between the two, and the reveal is firmly in line with traditional luxury marketing—they're just two regular old consumers of ultra-expensive goods relentlessly seeking something money can't buy.

    "The film is about improvement and progress, and this is something I try to do in my work and my everyday life," says Law. "I had to learn new skills shooting this film that combined with the places we visited and shot in, alongside working with Jake and with Giancarlo, made it a truly rare experience."

    For my money, though, if you're going to go over five minutes with a Johnnie Walker spot, it needs to have Robert Carlyle and be shot in a single take.

    "The Gentlemen's Wager" was made by Anomaly in New York and is being distributed by Unruly Media.

    Client: Johnnie Walker Blue Label
    Spot: "The Gentlemen's Wager"
    Agency: Anomaly, New York
    President: Karina Wilsher
    Writers: Mike Byrne, Dave Douglass
    Art Director: Mark Sarosi
    Account Director: Lauren Bozarth
    Executive Producer: Winslow Dennis
    Director: Jake Scott
    Production Company: RSA Films
    Video Distribution: Unruly Media

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    Some aspects of the techno-utopian fantasy are especially worth skewering, and Dutch insurer Centraal Beheer does a pretty nice number on one of them: the self-driving car.

    The brand has a knack for making disaster funny by casting some obnoxious stereotype as fictional villain. A couple of years back, it was a moron in a red Speedo doing circus tricks with his speedboat wheel. Now, in a new ad, it's a self-important ass reading the paper in the backseat of a Volkswagen that's being driven by a computer.

    The commercial does bear a resemblance to Liberty Mutual's 2012 spot about human error, but adds another layer to the slapstick joke, and keeps it au courant by blaming the escalating fiasco on the disbelief of spectators distracted by the driverless VW. That premise is a stretch, but it's definitely good for a chuckle.

    Now, if only the computer chauffeur would take its passenger into the ocean, or maybe just into a shipping container bound for a remote island inhabited entirely by robots.

    Client: Centraal Beheer Achmea
    Agency: DDB & Tribal Worldwide, Amsterdam
    Production Company: Passion Raw
    Director: Owen Trevor
    Director of Photography: Tim Hudson
    Producers: Dan Scott-Croxford, Kwok Yau
    Editor: Guy Savin
    Grading: Brian Krijgsman
    Online: Ton Habraken, Stephen Pepper, Jeroen van Berkel
    Sound Studio: Rens Pluym, Wessel-Jan van Zijderveld
    Music: Massive Music

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    There's a lot going on in this new ad from India, and the Internet is fired up about it.

    The spot, for mobile provider Airtel, opens on two working professionals in a meeting. A woman, who's the boss, gives her male employees a task, and one protests, claiming there's not enough time to finish it. The boss is sympathetic, but lets him know it has to be done.

    She heads home for the day, while he begrudgingly burns the midnight oil. We watch her make dinner, and then there's an O. Henry twist.

    Watch the spot before reading further:

    Now, I don't speak the language, so maybe I'm missing something. But still, I'm confused. The mix of progressive and regressive messaging here is mystifying. At work she's a strong, resolute boss, but at home she's a lonely housewife pleading for her husband to leave the office and spend the evening with her? Or maybe she just really likes to cook?

    Whatever the case, the Internet is certainly taking sides.

    Also, I'm probably being picky in pointing this out, but reporting to your spouse is sort of a corporate no-no, isn't it?

    What say you?

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    We'll always listen and be here for you. Even when you're wrong.

    That's the somewhat odd message that Johnson's Baby offers consumers in this video emphasizing the Johnson & Johnson brand's commitment to the safety of its products—to the point of reformulating them even when there's nothing wrong.

    The ad, "Our Safety Promise," explains that Johnson's Baby heard the worries of customers bothered by news that "chemicals of concern" had been found in its products. "Although always safe, for your peace of mind, we removed them," the video says of the chemical.

    That message may be transparent. To me, it's also condescending. It's like saying, "We're doing this to appease you. But we still know better than you." Perhaps it's a legal thing. Still, the wording could be much better.

    The brand then goes on to celebrate its bigheartedness by having its employees make 1,000 origami storks, which apparently signify "a hope granted and a promise fulfilled," according to a Japanese legend about origami cranes.

    It could be I'm just not the target for the ad, which is obviously meant to be touching and sweet. (I'd call it more feel-good for feel-good's sake.) But after watching, I was even more curious about the controversial chemicals.

    The spot is part of a new social-media effort that will see 40 more videos released throughout the rest of the year. Let's hope they're less awkward than this one.

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    2012 called, and it wants its prankvertising back.

    Danish real-estate site Lejebolig.dk and production company Mayday Films staged a hidden-camera apartment haunting that was designed to warn the public to use common sense and avoid rental rip-offs.

    The scenario is well staged and restrained by the standards of the genre. Still, the basic setup seems stale from its use in other campaigns, and there's a disconnect between intent and execution that further lessens its impact.

    An actor plays a landlord seeking to interest tenants in the Copenhagen flat of his recently deceased father. He leaves for a few minutes, and the weirdness begins. Picture frames, lamps, cookware and a clown doll on a mini-tricycle—the latter a nod to the Saw films—move by themselves. There are also freaky noises, and a radio suddenly springs to life.

    Frankly, I'd take the place. Who cares about ghosts? That living room is huge!

    Some of the victims scream a lot, probably horrified that they're trapped in yet another "spooky" ad stunt. Indeed, it's scary how familiar such pranks have become, so it's probably time to exorcise them from the marketing playbook.

    Via Adrants.

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    People often question why documentary filmmakers direct commercials. What's the motivation? Ask just about any documentary filmmaker worth his or her salt, they'll tell you. It's the opportunity to capture humanity in short form.

    Capturing humanity is a very important part of making an effective commercial, or any film. Let me preface that statement. It's important for the soft-sell approach, not the hard-sell campaigns with actors holding up product and announcing this is "new and improved." Stories about the interesting lives of real people who are motivated by honest emotions are entertaining, powerful and uplifting. And like a rising tide that lifts all boats, these stories create an uplifting experience for the brands involved and a feeling of trust.

    How do you capture humanity poignantly in 30 seconds, or three minutes? Here are six principles that have helped me.

    Emotions at Light Speed—In commercials and short films, you have a short amount of time to get to know your subjects. The first thing you do is gain their trust. Let them know who you are, what you're looking for, what do you find interesting about them. You end up having a very intimate relationship that passes very quickly, yet it can be very deep.

    There should be a word or phrase for it, emotions at light speed; you go in there and have an incredibly full experience in a short amount of time. When it's over, it feels like you've been with them for months.

    Surrender—Put your ego and needs aside, and surrender to the story. Dive into it and explore. Surrender yourself to the people you're talking to. Devote your full attention to them so they feel really comfortable and know you're listening to them, so they'll know through your interest there's no reason to be nervous about a camera pointed at them.

    The conversation becomes candid, real and authentic. You're not just making the film as a director. You're making it as a person.

    Structure—You should always hope that the people you're filming surprise you and take you on an unexpected journey. But you have to know the potential of the story, and prepare yourself in case the story isn't as strong as you hoped, or the characters are not as charismatic as you hoped, or they don't know how to articulate their experience.

    You need to have prepared questions and a structure. You have to determine the beginning, middle and end of a story. If you have all that, it's going to be a more satisfying experience for audiences.

    Sweet Spot—There's always been a stigma about documentary films and sometimes about nonfiction work in general, that it's "serious" and people say they are glad they watched it but it was like eating a vegetable.

    Go ahead and give them the vegetable, but also make viewers feel like they've had something sweet and enjoyable as well. You're not just competing against other nonfiction filmmakers; you're competing against Spider-Man and The Wire. You have to make your work entertaining, and you want to be entertained while doing it.

    Context Is King—Lately, people keep saying content is king. I believe context is king. When you can tell a meaningful story and tie it to a product, it makes that product meaningful. Look for a way to focus on a product, and show how it really worked and affected someone's life.

    Documentary filmmakers have an advantage: They're capturing something that really happened. Also, working with real people allows the director to turn the "brand" or the "specific product" into a viable character within the story. Highlighting the brand or product as a character presents a true-life experience of how that brand or product was used. There is nothing made up.

    Swell Times—Having a good time on set or location is incredibly important. There's no place for egos and tantrums. The best thing is to work really hard and have a lot of fun and a lot of laughs.

    The people on camera feel it. I can't tell you how often the on-camera talent asks me: "Do you work together all the time?" And the answer is no, but that's the kind of atmosphere you need to create, because it makes the subjects feel good, and our job is to make them feel good so they'll be candid and liberated.

    In fact, making commercials should be a little bit like surfing. As I always say about surfing, all you have to do is get out there and ride, that's all that matters. The person who's having the most fun in the water, no matter the skill level, that's the best surfer out there.

    —Stacy Peralta is the director of Dogtown and Z-Boys, about the birth of skateboard culture in Southern California; Riding Giants, about big-wave surfing featuring Laird Hamilton; Crips and Bloods: Made in America, about the tangled history and relationships of gangs in Los Angeles; and Bones Brigade: An Autobiography. He shoots commercials through Nonfiction Unlimited.

    Here is his latest commercial, for Holiday Inn:

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    Who (From left) Xavier Facon, chief technical officer and founder; Tom Jones, chief revenue officer; Stacey Hafers, chief financial officer; and Jason Young, chief executive officer
    What Mobile ad-tech provider
    Where New York office

    Since launching in 2002, Crisp Media has been on a mission to convert Sunday circular promos to location-based mobile advertisers that change on the fly with personalized products. The New York-based mobile tech player has evolved from building rich media ads to developing hyperlocal mobile promos aimed at tracking the entire path to purchase for clients like Unilever, Walmart, McDonald’s, American Express and Chrysler. “We believe there’s a huge opportunity in the combination of mobile, digital and shopper marketing programming,” said CEO Jason Young. The tactic is paying off—Crisp’s revenue has grown 50 percent in each of the last two years. When they’re not looking for the next slam dunk in mobile, employees blow off steam shooting hoops at the office’s Pop-a-Shot basketball game.

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    In the eight years since he last released a full-length film, David Lynch has amassed a list of projects almost as bizarre as his signature directorial style.

    His efforts in the world of marketing have been especially notable: In the past few years, Lynch has launched his own line of coffee (and made a couple of suitably Lynch-ian spots to sell the stuff), written and directed a video for Dior, designed limited-edition labels for Dom Perignon, and earlier this month lent his name to a capsule collection of women's workout apparel. (David Lynch Leggings, anyone?)

    Lynch's latest work is this minute-long spot for Christian Louboutin's brand-new $50 nail polish, Rouge Louboutin.

    What could possibly make this bottle of nail polish worth $50, you ask? According to the brand, this "true objet d'art" has a "tall slender cap, inspired by calligraphy" that "turns the application into a luxurious experience." The "highly pigmented, super glossy formula delivers in just two coats the effect of 20 layers of traditional lacquer."

    And, of course, it's the same exact shade of red as Louboutin's famous crimson soles, the earliest versions of which were actually painted with nail polish (which presumably didn't cost $50).

    Now that we have that sorted out, let's return to Lynch's ad. It is, to no one's surprise, very strange. The spot opens on a 3-D outer-space cityscape that appears to have been rendered on a computer running Windows 95. Cut to the image of a frighteningly fetishistic Louboutin ballet pump, which gives way to a fleet of Rouge Louboutin bottles, looking quite menacing with their black, spiked lids.

    After some camera shots of a woman's red-lacquered nails (which would look very much at home framed on the wall of a tacky beauty salon) and a brief return to Mykonos-by-way-of-a-far-away-galaxy, the spot ends on a close-up of the woman's hand delicately clutching a bottle of Rouge Louboutin in a shiny protective case.

    After watching the spot several times, one begins to wonder whether Lynch, sensing that Louboutin must be trolling its customers by attempting to sell them $50 bottles of nail polish, is simply perpetuating the scam with this dreadful mishmash of New Age-y music and terrible computer graphics that was probably called "transcendent" by a team of marketing executives.

    Otherwise, let's hope Lynch sticks to coffee.


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