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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    If the true measure of an ad's popularity is the afterlife it enjoys through parody and satire, then this 1989 LifeCall ad—featuring Mrs. Fletcher and her infamous line, "I've fallen and I can't get up!"—may be the best-loved commercial of all time.

    In the past year, thousands of Vine users—many born years after the ad was made—have been using the 6-second format to parody the cult classic (and the '90s remake). To date, there are over 6,000 posts tagged "Life Alert" (as the company is now known).

    Below is just a sample of some of the ways teens and tweens (and a few ridiculous adults) have spoofed this well-meaning but terribly melodramatic spot. It starts to get even more meta when the Vines start spoofing other Vines.

    (Click to play each clip, click again to stop.)

    Lyin' on the cold hard ground.

    If I lie here...

    Fallin' and callin'.

    Do I look like I care?

    Banana operator (with cameo).

    Basketball fakeout.

    A little help from The Beatles.

    Have you ever used tape before?

    Have you ever used tape before? (version 2)

    If you ain't talkin' money, I don't wanna talk.

    Careful with that button.

    I can lift you up!

    One of America's finest.

    I've fallen and I can't turn up!

    Don't dubstep and fall.

    Go on...

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    Under Armour is shifting creatively from brawny footballers to ballerinas.

    Pivoting from its usual focus on men's athletic apparel, UA CEO Kevin Plank announced the brand's biggest-ever women's ad campaign in New York on Thursday.

    The first spot stars ballerina Misty Copeland. She'll be the face of UA's new "I Will What I Want" campaign, along with more famous female athletes: Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, tennis player Sloane Stephens and soccer star Kelley O'Hara.

    Droga5 is creating the TV, print and digital campaign. Copeland's moving 60-second spot shows her warming up while the voice of a young girl recites rejection letters she received over the years. "You have the wrong body for ballet. And at 13, you are too old to be considered," says the voice.

    Then we see Copeland fly through the air with athletic moves that are part ballet, part Olympic gymnastics. Despite the rejections, the spot notes that Copleand eventually became a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre. The spot broke Thursday night and will air on ABC, ESPN, MTV and E!

    The global campaign takes aim not just at female athletes but "athletic females," said Plank, an ex-college football player who launched UA from his grandmother's basement in 1996.

    These consumers are "looking to wear UA, and participate with it, beyond the pitch, the court or the field," said Plank. "She's looking to wear us to the gym. Or she's thinking about going to the gym and doesn't make it. But she still looks great all day."

    Focusing on a relatively unknown ballerina instead of a famous pro athlete is a "disruptive choice," admitted Heidi Sandreuter, UA's vp of women's marketing. But the move shows the "evolution" of the type of athletes UA wants to sponsor. "It speaks to how we're trying to incorporate more women into the fold," she said.

    David Droga, founder and creative chairman of Droga5, said the rejection notice recited in the spot is not an actual letter but a "compilation" of negative feedback that Copeland overcame.

    "It wasn't creative license to create fake hurdles," he said. "As she said on stage, these are all things that were said to her."

    Client: Under Armour
    Agency: Droga5

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    The next Campbell's Soup billboard you see might just be a masterpiece.

    In fact, it could be Andy Warhol's iconic "Campbell's Soup Can" from 1964. Reproductions of that particular work, along with 57 others, will be popping up throughout the month of August on some 50,000 static and digital billboards, outdoor kiosks, transit signs and public displays in 170 American cities and towns in all 50 states—part of a project called Art Everywhere U.S.

    Inspired by a similar program last year in the U.K., the U.S. version is sponsored by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Whitney Museum in New York. Those institutions hope to attract visitors, while the OAAA is showcasing the latest technology. (You can scan the artwork via smartphone to learn about the images, their creators and the museums.)

    Art Everywhere U.S. hasn't assessed the value of the donated ad space, but the signage used for the British effort last summer—which ran for two weeks and had fewer than half as many installations—was worth almost $5 million.

    Check out a map of the locations here.

    The U.S. effort launches today in Times Square and will showcase 50 works selected by the public and eight chosen by the museums. Folks were asked to pick their favorites from among 100 possibilities; 170,000 votes were cast, and Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks"—the oft-parodied, quintessentially American "lonely diner" scene from 1942—topped the poll.

    The selections span 230 years of U.S. history, from 1778 to 2008, and it's amazing how evocatively these works, viewed as a progression, capture the increasing complexity and ambiguity of the American experience. Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington shows our first president, who sat for the artist in 1793, in a suitably stately and assured pose. By the time we reach Grant Wood's Iowa farm couple in "American Gothic" (1930), we see a society clinging to traditions but bedeviled by change (ouch, that pitchfork!). Later works informed by mass media, like Roy Lichtenstein's Disney-fied "Look Mickey" (1961), and the aforementioned Warhol, show artists forging new forms amid sensory overload, striving to simplify and make sense of a world spinning out of control.

    In the context of Art Everywhere, "Campbell's Soup Can" really resonates. This hyper-realistic interpretation of a product that appeared in countless ads will now replace the advertising it skewered, bringing Warhol's trenchant comment on our commoditized existence full circle.

    It seems fitting that in our fickle, media-centric society, Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame keep running into overtime.

    Photos via: 12345

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    If you like watching pretty cars dance with each other, check out this new stunt driving ad from BMW South Africa.

    Five cherry red M235i coupes spin around each other in a tightly choreographed high-speed sequence on a closed traffic rotary. Titled "The Epic Driftmob," it takes pains to emulate a human flash mob. That means showing a woman dressed as a cop blocking several cars (including a Honda) from entering, and cutting in some unconvincing footage of confused and excited spectators.

    Ultimately the stunt, orchestrated by Interone in Cape Town, feels more like it's paying homage to Esther Williams than Improv Everywhere. Maybe that's because it's clearly too high-budget and well-planned to feel believable as a spontaneous event. Or maybe it's because the fast edits and burning rubber can't hide that there's a sort of grace to the whole thing—especially if you watch the clip on mute, and spare yourself the obligatory but grating sounds of revving engines and screeching tires.

    It also doesn't look quite as dangerous as some of BMW's other stunt commercials from recent years, which saw cars drifting through car-shaped holes in walls and around the edges of skyscraper helipads. But while less risky, at least we know the new spot is real (the brand says so on the YouTube page) and not CGI—unlike the recent aircraft carrier ad, which was almost certainly not real. (In the making-of video for the new spot, stunt driver Rich Rutherford points out the thin margin for error in coordinating the fast-moving cars, steered by pro drivers including drifting champions Rhys Millen and Samuel Hübinette).

    And of course, the ad has a happy ending: The hot lady cop pulls off her hat and does a dramatic hair toss before climbing into one of the Beamers. Because the brand couldn't resist suggesting its product will get you laid, too.

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    Swagger Wagon, Toyota's white-hot viral hit of 2010 (or at least the whitest viral hit of 2010), has pulled back into the cul-de-sac for a new round of awkward suburban rap.

    This time, a new family fronts the Toyota Sienna's spectacle of unapologetically cringe-inducing hip-hop shenanigans from Saatchi & Saaatchi Los Angeles. And they're joined by Busta Rhymes—who might seem like an odd fit, but as a 42-year-old father of three, probably fits right in.

    Featuring "The Neuberts"—the original Swagger Wagon crew were blatantly branded The Sienna Family—the new spot puts more lyrical responsibility on the kids, with mixed results.

    Handing over half the song to sassy children and an actual rapper saps some of Swagger Wagon's appeal. The first incarnation felt more like a self-aware bit of dry satire; the new one seems to think it's an actual music video. (This uncomfortable gray area could also be called the Rebecca Black Danger Zone.)

    The shift in tone likely stems in part from the creative talent behind it. The first Swagger Wagon was directed by Eastbound & Down creator Jody Hill and featured two stellar improv talents, Brian Juskey (recently of College Humor's "If Google Was a Guy" videos) and Groundlings alumna Rachael Drummond. The 2014 version is directed by lesser-known British writer and producer Rhys Thomas.

    Beyond its overall vibe, the new spot also takes an awkward turn when it stops halfway (a commercial break within a commercial?) to describe the benefits of Sirius XM satellite radio. "How else do you think we got Busta Rhymes on the track?" asks the mom. So now we understand the how, if not necessarily the why.

    Will the new Swagger Wagon reach its predecessor's 12 million views? Likely not, without the captive audience of a pretty substantial media buy.

    The problem is that the Swagger Wagon of 2010 was an anthem of uncoolness that young parents enjoyed watching because it had a simple message: Just because your life has become one big supporting role doesn't mean you've melted into the background of your kids' lives.

    This time, the parents are little more than Disney Channel clichés, and the new Swagger Wagon doesn't so much declare "I've still got it" as it is says "I've still got to get the kids to school."

    Here's the original:

    Client: Toyota
    Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles
    Director: Rhys Thomas

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    Apple's new ad for the iPhone 5S is called "Dreams," though it might have been called "In Your Dreams."

    Like other recent iPhone spots (and iPad spots, for that matter), it shows people using the device in pretty amazing ways—to measure wind speed, to plot the course of an airplane, to place a diamond in the setting of a ring. At the 37-second mark, you see a woman place her iPhone against the ribcage of a horse (they don't even bother to explain it, really—all you need to know is the iPhone is horse compatible), and it hits you. You'll never use your iPhone for any of this stuff (well, OK, the audio translation app looks pretty rad).

    Is an advertisement aspirational when you don't necessarily aspire to many of the behaviors it depicts? It's a key question for Apple, which is riding that line between rarefied and relatable in its marketing.

    The iPhone looks most impressive, of course, when it's being used by exceptional people doing exceptional things. But the spots may connect better when they show ordinary people doing ordinary things. (There's a reason why last winter's "Misunderstood" ad, showing a kid doing little more than taking video with his iPhone, was so hugely popular.) It's a tough balance. How esoteric do you want to get before going full horse-heartbeat?

    "You're more powerful than you think," the new ads say. That line casts the Apple user as a kind of superhero in disguise, thanks to the supercomputer (and the apps written for it) in his pocket. And that's fine, as long as Apple keeps acknowledging, in its ads, the countervailing truth—that we're ordinary people, too.

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    TD Canada Trust proved it knew its customers better than most banks by turning a few of its ATMs into Automated Thanking Machines and rigging them to hand out more than cash.

    A single mom got two savings accounts for her kids and trip to Disneyland. A Toronto Blue Jays fan got the experience of a lifetime—a chance to throw out the first pitch. And a mother got tickets to Trinidad so she could visit a daughter who is fighting cancer.

    The video—like a banking version of Coke's special vending machines—has 7 million views in 10 days. As with all these feel-good viral ads, it's the emotion on the customer's face that creates the connection, along with the backstory. It's one thing to give a single mom a trip to Disney. It's another to learn she's never been able to take her kids anywhere.

    But of course, someone probably said, "Hey, that's nice for those 12 people, but what about the rest of TD's customers?" Well, TD employees distributed $20 bills to every customer at over 1,100 locations, and thousands more received a direct deposit. I'm sure most of them are giving TD a big thank-you right back.

    Of course, having that YouTube view count tick up is the gift that keeps on giving.

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    Traditionally, the Playboy Mansion's main attraction has been the small army of Playmates who hang around it. But professional cyclist Danny MacAskill manages to overshadow even the bunnies, as he turns the estate's grounds into a trials-style obstacle course in this new ad for Red Bull.

    It's not that a couple of scantily clad women aren't featured heavily in the two-minute clip. But the promise of sex is practically table stakes in advertising aimed at young dudes. Sad as it may be, the oversexualized shots of ladies lounging in bikinis and under waterfalls serve more or less as background once MacAskill starts doing his tricks—it's just much more fascinating to watch him jump off walls and ride backwards down a hill on only his front wheel. In fact, even the actual birds—parrots and flamingos—make for more novel B-roll.

    Overall, though, it's deftly filmed, and fun to watch. The soundtrack, "9.2.5" by Ghosthouse, is a great fit, and showcasing an offbeat street sport in a clever way is right in Red Bull's branded content sweet spot—even if this iteration is less charmingly inventive than MacAskill's work for the brand's "Imaginate" series last year or the amusingly overcomplicated Red Bull opening machine to which he contributed in 2012.

    As for the tawdriness, MacAskill, who now has some 100 million views across his YouTube portfolio, seems more interested in the terrain than his co-stars. "It turned out there were some decent bits to ride, but it was quite hard with all those girls distracting you, quite hard work doing all this riding [laughs]," he says in a Q&A over at the brand's website. "I’m a little too shy for that kind of stuff."

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    The mighty Empire has fallen … thanks to some yogurt.

    Deutsch/LA's 2011 Super Bowl spot "The Force" for Volkswagen, which enjoyed an astonishing 41-month reign as the most shared ad of all time, has finally been dethroned—by Activia and the World Food Programme's three-and-a-half minute music video starring Shakira, created for this year's World Cup.

    As of Tuesday morning, the Activia spot, titled "La La La (Brazil 2014)," has been shared 5,409,192 times across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere, according to Unruly Media. And it's only widening its lead over "The Force," which has racked up 5,254,667 shares.

    While "The Force" is a traditional 60-second spot (the version that ran on the Super Bowl was actually a :30), the Activia video is an example of what Unruly calls "trackvertising," where a brand and a musician co-release a spot that is both a music video and an ad. The Colombian pop star's worldwide celebrity (she recently became the first person to reach 100 million Facebook likes) clearly fueled the shareability of the Dannon brand's video.

    Also, while the share counts are comparable, the view counts are not. "The Force" has about 60 million views on YouTube, while the Activia video has more than 275 million.

    "Music videos are by far the most shared type of content, so it's no surprise that brands are now blurring the lines between traditional ads and music videos in order to get themselves seen and heard on social," says Sarah Wood, co-founder and COO at Unruly.

    "Music and advertising have a long history together. Some will remember the early days of TV commercials and jingles—the Internet memes of their day. On digital, we see music deployed in a number of ways—from ads released alongside a professional artist, to parody or licensed tracks, to heavy product placement or even ads that make their own track famous," says Wood.

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    It's a special week in Honda land, as ad agency RPA is enacting a sweeping plan to spread good cheer—online and off—as part of a five-day "Summer Cheerance" event.

    A key part of the campaign involves interacting with people on Twitter—replying to seemingly random posts with "funny, crazy or just plain weird cheer videos, memes and GIFs," the automaker says.

    Check out a few of those here.

    Facebook and YouTube will also be used. Notably, the brand has teamed with YouTube star Andrew Hales (of LAHWF fame) for two videos—the first of which is already live:

    There will be real-world events, too, in select cities across the country. The brand will leave piñatas filled with goodies at random locations; use a "Cheer Detector" at a beach to find buried treasure chests and share them with onlookers; and place "Stand Here for Cheer" boxes in public places, encouraging people to climb up and receive a surprise act of cheer (like being serenaded by a saxophonist).

    A Summer Cheerance station will also feature happy tunes on Pandora. The campaign also includes six TV spots (featuring dramatizations of actual social media posts from people who are unhappy with their current cars); banner ads on auto sites like Cars.com, KBB.com and Edmunds.com and on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube; print ads in People, Sports Illustrated and top-market local newspapers; and network radio spots.

    The goal is to spread cheer to 3 million people. (A ticker is keeping track of the tally at shophonda.com.) Upon reaching that goal, Honda will donate $100,000 to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

    "We are committed to spreading unprecedented cheer and connecting with as many people as we possibly can in five days," said Susie Rossick, senior manager at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "This collection of silly and wonderful morsels of cheer across social media, and in real life, are designed to make an impact, create smile-filled buzz and remind people that summer is the best time to get a great deal on a Honda."

    Credits below.

    Client: American Honda
    Project: Honda Summer Cheerance Event

    Agency: RPA
    EVP, CCO: Joe Baratelli
    SVP, ECD: Jason Sperling
    SVP, Chief Production Officer: Gary Paticoff
    Creative Director: Nik Piscitello
    Creative Director: Aron Fried
    Art Directors: Melinda Keough, Michael Jason Enriquez, Craig Nelson
    Copywriters: Kevin Tenglin, Laura Kelley, Adam Gothelf
    Creative Interns: Dennis Haynes, Megan Leinfelder, Sarah Ross, Sarah Johnston
    VP, Executive Producer: Isadora Chesler
    Producer: Phung Vo
    Director/Sr. Producer, Content: Mark Tripp
    Production Intern: Rudy Wilson

    VP, Program Director: Dave Brezinski
    Sr. Project Manager: Linda Shin

    SVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender
    SVP, Group Account Director: Fern McCaffrey
    Account Supervisor: Adam Levitt
    Account Supervisor: Alison Bickel
    Account Executive: Katie Ahn
    Account Assistant: Wendy Kleinberg
    Social Media: Joanna Kennedy, Tyler Sweeney, Mike Goldys, Amanda Womack

    Production Company: RPA
    Director: Mark Tripp

    Editorial: RPA
    Editor: Wendy Sandoval

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    Michael Jordan's Hanes must be in a twist now that Scottie Pippen has proclaimed himself the greatest player in Chicago Bulls history in this Foot Locker commercial.

    Pippen's cheeky claim comes toward the end of the amusing BBDO spot, in which Charles Barkley tells Houston Rockets star James Harden that all the greats have short memories.

    "Achieving greatness requires never dwelling on the past," explains Foot Locker evp of marketing Stacy Cunningham. "It's always about looking ahead to the next opportunity and staying fresh."

    In the ad, Barkley says he has no recollection of being nicknamed "the Round Mound of Rebound." Harden himself, of course, always forgets to shave. Kidding. Dude rocks that look! The spot is nothing but net for Foot Locker, generating lots of positive coverage and more than half a million views in less than 24 hours on YouTube. It's called "Short Memory Pt. 1." I wonder who'll be forgetting stuff next?

    Jordan's long memory is well documented, and he isn't exactly famous for being able to take a joke. I wouldn't be surprised if the big grouch calls Pippen out for slinging bull.

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    Bud Light had a major success with its 2014 Super Bowl campaign from BBDO, in which it ditched its traditional gameday dog and bro jokes for a real-world stunt that rewarded a random Bud Light drinker for being "Up for Whatever" by treating him to a spontaneous, celeb-filled epic night.

    Conceptually strong, the work was well executed too, and won a gold Lion in Film Craft at Cannes this summer.

    By the time of the Cannes festival, though, the Anheuser-Busch brand was already well into executing even an more ambitious "Up for Whatever" campaign from BBDO. It's been creating a whole mysterious Bud Light town called "Whatever USA" and inviting millennials—via a huge summer-long TV, social and in-bar campaign—to audition for a chance to be invited there in September for a weekend of all-out branded partying.

    Bud Light brand director David Daniels said the real-world nature of the Super Bowl ad, and the element of unexpectedness it embraced, were hugely appealing to its target of 21- to 27-year-old beer drinkers—and inspired the brand team, too.

    "There was one tweet we put on the wall here coming out of the Super Bowl. It said, 'I thought I heard helicopters outside. Bud Light. I'm up for whatever.' We've used that as inspiration as we've built out the campaign," Daniels said. "These are real moments with real people who have no idea what's going to happen, but they're willing to take a chance and embrace the unexpected, which is a very strong millennial insight."

    The Whatever USA campaign kicked off in mid-May in the on-trade (i.e., on site at bars), with brand activation managers using a toolkit, including a camera, to audition people to be invited to the mystery town for the big event on Sept. 5-7. Consumers can also audition at UpForWhatever.com.

    The brand has been posting some audition videos to YouTube:

    "These are basically 10-second clips, where we ask them questions ranging from 'What's your spirit animal?' to 'What's your favorite dance?' to 'What are the three things you would bring with you to Whatever USA?' " said Daniels. "People are having fun with the answers, and it really helps show us who's up for whatever."

    About 1,000 people will eventually be invited for the weekend, where various events (which the brand won't reveal) will also be filmed.

    "This is content marketing on steroids," said Daniels. "We're capturing content all summer long in the on-premise promotions all the way up into and through the event. And our plan is to release some of that content in broader media channels immediately following the weekend."

    The brand has already auditioned more than 100,000 people, and held 11,000 on-trade promotions. That's thanks in part to a major ad campaign that kicked off in early June, including new TV executions every two to three weeks (featuring the supposed mayor of this party town) and huge outreach online.

    Here are the two most recent TV spots:

    The campaign also includes fake news reports from Whatever USA produced by The Onion, as well as comical lists on BuzzFeed.

    "We're reaching approximately 50 percent of 21- to 27-year-olds every week via Facebook," Daniels said. "And we should reach about 80 percent of the 21- to 27-year-old population an average of 50 times throughout the summer. There are a lot of resources behind this."

    Bud Light won't say anything about the location of the town, or what exactly will go on there on the big weekend. "We even have people within the walls here who have no idea," Daniels said. In the town itself, he added, "We're just being very careful [to keep things secret]. As few people as possible know. So far, we're hoping we can maintain that."

    Daniels acknowledges the element of secrecy in some ways makes it harder to promote the event. But the upside is more than worth it, he added.

    "Anytime you're holding things back, it takes a little more work to get consumers engaged and excited," he said. "But the heart of the campaign idea is being up for whatever. And if you know what whatever is, then you can weigh your options. This is more about being spontaneous and embracing the unexpected. And I think young beer drinkers are giving us credit for staying true to that."

    What will success look like for the Whatever USA campaign?

    "We're looking at numerous metrics," said Daniels. "We expect not only some movement in brand health and perception, but we're also trying to drive persuasion. We're seeing some positive results in markets where we've executed the promotions. We're seeing some positive performance in the off-trade for Bud Light. And we'll have some consumer analysis—pre, during and post studies—to see if we've moved the needle in brand perception. Those are the top-line things we're trying to achieve."

    Bud Light is no stranger to large-scale activations, of course, having done plenty of sweepstakes and events like the Bud Light Hotel and Bud Light Port Paradise. But this is a little different.

    "What's a little bit unique about this is it's really as much of an on-premise retail and social-media platform as it is an experiential activation," said Daniels. "And of course, we've never created a town before."

    Check out the earlier TV spots here:

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    Old Navy has become famous for its quirky TV spots over the years. But the apparel retailer is branching out for this year's back-to-school season with an ambitious four-minute music video titled "Unlimited."

    The spot, created by CAA Marketing and featuring a catchy-in-a-Broadway-sort-of-way song written by Tony-nominated songwriters Benji Pasek and Justin Paul, follows a teen girl (played by 14-year-old Isabella Balbi) as she embarks on her first day of school while singing about the hopes and doubts every kid faces at the start of the academic year.

    This being an Old Navy ad, "Unlimited" has moments you'd have to consider odd—most of which center around the "Womp Womp," a giant, furry, bizarre-looking and sort of terrifying creature that's meant to personify the girl's inner fears.

    We first meet the Womp Womp when the girl opens her locker and is yanked into the darkness within by the monster, who warns her that no one is going to like her.

    He continues to pop up and dampen the mood every time the girl becomes hopeful about her future. When she imagines herself as a famous inventor, the Womp Womp tells her, "Awards are nice, but they don't pay the bills." When she dreams of becoming an athlete, he cautions, "Let's just hope you don't tear your ACL."

    By the end of the song, the girl manages to get the best of her inner Womp Womp and leaves him behind as she drives away on the school bus with a new friend who also happens to know all the words to "Unlimited."

    (On the subject of weird things, it also bears mentioning that "Unlimited" involves a singing plate of cafeteria food. As in, the googly-eyed Claymation food starts singing. Even the girl looks a little freaked out.)

    Considering tweens' love of heartfelt musical numbers (how many times have you been forced to listen to "Let It Go" in the past year?) and the cameos from various AwesomenessTV stars, "Unlimited" should be pretty appealing to its target audience. (In fact, it's racked up almost 3.5 million YouTube views in a week.) And if your household tween does beg you to download the song on iTunes, at least you'll feel better knowing that part of the proceeds go directly to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

    Client: Old Navy

    Agency: CAA Marketing

    Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
    Director: Matt Dilmore
    Managing Director: Shawn Lacy
    Executive Producer: Colleen O’Donnell
    Head of Production: Rachel Glaub
    Producer: Jonathan Wang
    Production Supervisor: Mercedes Allen-Sarria
    Director of Photography: Alexis Zabe
    Production Designer: Josh Locy

    Editing: Rock Paper Scissors
    Editor: Carlos Arias
    Producer: Leah Carnahan
    Executive Producers: Dave Sellars, Angela Dorian

    Effects: a52
    Colorist: Paul Yacono
    Flame Artist: Matt Sousa
    Animator: Michael Relth
    Producer: Jamie McBriety
    Executive Producer: Megan Meloth

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    Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's a horrifying latex mask.

    The Onion just rolled out this spoof Maybelline ad mocking conventional standards of beauty. In it, the brand introduces a new product, the Ideal Woman Rubber Mask, a convenient replacement for the copious amounts of product that women are wont to put on their faces. Yes, it's just as creepy as it sounds.

    "By simply yanking it over your face, you can instantly achieve a fresh look that conforms to Western ideals of beauty," praises the Fake-belline (I don't know, I'm trying here) director of marketing.

    "It's incredible. You immediately see the difference," adds a a focus group participant. "The very first time I tried it on, my pores were minimized, my skin tone was more even, and all of the idiosyncratic little wrinkles, physical imperfections and tiny irregularities that make my face unique were erased."

    As for the YouTube comments asking why all of the masks are Caucasian, I'm guessing that's kind of the point.

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    Lots of advertising for television-related products—from HD screens to DVR recorders—immerses an everyman viewer into chaotic scenes from film and TV as a metaphor for how real the experience feels.

    But as the high-tech products have gotten high-techer, the options for this imagined world where the viewer enters the action have gotten more varied.

    BBDO New York just rolled out two very nicely done :60s for AT&T's U-Verse entertainment offering. One takes place at a police house; the other inside a speeding space capsule. In each case, the drama is interrupted by a character who's a proxy for the AT&T U-Verse user—and whose personal life is suddenly intruding on his viewing of the show.

    The idea is reminiscent of ads for DirecTV and others, but MZJ director Steve Ayson does a nice job of bringing each genre convincingly to life. And the final scene in the cop-drama spot is amusingly understated.

    See the credits below.

    Client: AT&T U-verse
    Spots: "Police Drama," "Space Capsule"
    Agency: BBDO New York
    CCO Worldwide: David Lubars
    CCO NY: Greg Hahn
    Executive Creative Director: Matt MacDonald
    Senior Creative Director: Erik FahrenKopf
    Senior Creative Director: LP Tremblay
    ACD / Art Director: Carolyn Davis
    ACD / Copywriter: Matthew Page
    Director of Integrated Production: Dave Rolfe
    Group Executive Producer Julie Collins
    Exec Agency Producer: Dan Blaney
    Production Company: MJZ
    Director: Steve Ayson
    Line Producer: Donald Taylor
    Director of Photographer: Greig Fraser
    MJZ President: David Zander
    MJZ Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson
    Production Designer: Jahmin Assa
    VFX: The Mill
    Executive Producer: Sean Costelloe
    VFX Producer: Christa Cox
    Shoot Supervisor: Andres Eguiguren
    2D Lead Compositor: Iwan Zwarts
    CG Lead Artist: Andres Eguiguren
    Colorist: Fergus McCall
    Edit House: Final Cut NY
    Editor: Rick Russell, JD Smyth
    Sound Designer: Brian Emrich
    Music: Q Department
    Audio Mix: Heard City
    Audio Mixer: Phil Loeb
    Titles: ImagefactoryDC

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    Live long enough and you just might see an automobile that sucks up discarded plastic bottles anteater-style through its front and spits them out the back as recycled plastic bricks that can be used to build houses. That is, if a South African 10-year-old's concept for the Toyota Dream Car Art Contest ever comes true.

    In the meantime, you can check out the Vine video that the brand created to animate Sumeeth Singh's idea below, along with the drawings and video clips for dozens of other finalists in the global competition on the microsite.

    It's the eighth such contest the automaker has hosted since 2008, and this one netted some 600,000 submissions. For more than two months, Toyota has been posting a daily Vine based on a "Dream Car of the Day." So far it's put out more than 70 of 90 total finalists. The brand's packaging around each idea is especially impressive. Visual geeks may want to take a spin over to the site to check out explanations of the creative process for each Vine.

    The concepts themselves range from zany and nonsensical—a banana spaceship car; a car that's small enough to drive around DNA strands; a fish with wheels—to clever and caring and conscientious—like Singh's, and a number of others themed around recycling, or generating water for deserts and fields and flowers, or helping people by bringing them food and books and ice cream.

    Many of the ideas are animal-car hybrids. There's even a giant bird-car that swoops in over cities and sucks out all the air pollution. Basically, you know, a Prius. 

    In other words, children's imaginations are entertaining to beaten-down grownups because kids' minds are filled with fantastic ideas that aren't bound by any concern about what's actually possible. And Toyota's is leveraging that to great effect as marketing.

    It's far from an unfamiliar dynamic. McCann Worldgroup and Wes Anderson did it exceptionally well for Sony Xperia back in 2012, and BBDO has built a strong AT&T campaign out of the endearingly ridiculous things that kids tend to blurt out. But if you have a lot of time on your hands, and get a kick out of this sort of thing, you might want to start wading through Toyota's whole collection.

    And if you work at an agency, think about sourcing all your ideas from a bunch of 10-year-olds, and then just pay your adult staff to polish them up.

    See more of the Vines below. Via Co.Exist.


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    Penélope Cruz is back to hawk L'Agent, the lingerie line she and her sister Monica developed for Agent Provocateur. And in the least surprising news of the year, the ad features a lot of almost-naked women.

    After Penélope's ass-fest directorial debut last year, she wrote, directed and also appears on camera in this ad for the brand, driving what looks like a '70s-era two-door coupe (Lincoln Continental, car experts?), cherry red of course, to a halt in a desert. An impossible number of models pour out of the whip, and naturally proceed to have a sexy strip-dance party in the middle of nowhere.

    Video is NSFW.

    This means lots of bending and bouncing, and to quote Reggie Watts, shaking of their jiggly bits. It's not that different from a music video, if the focus of the music video were the almost-naked girls rather than the music. (So, yeah, it's like a lot of music videos.) There's even a pseudo-storyline. See, some poor sap of a guy is stranded and thirsty, and these girls are all just a mirage. Or are they?

    Just when you thought the three-and-a-half-minute video couldn't get any more raunchy, the ladies start doing totally unnecessary splits and spilling bottled water all over themselves, and it devolves, as this brand's ads tend to, into soft-core porn. Then again, what's the point of creating advertising for an intimates brand if it doesn't?

    As delirious fantasies go, it could be a lot worse.

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    Advertisers kept us at arm's length, then wanted to give us a hug, in this somewhat schizophrenic collection of the week's best commercials.

    Dodge was the standoffish one, while TD Bank wanted to shower everyone with love. Old Navy went back to school with a quirky musical, while Apple and AT&T gave us new executions on well worn themes.

    See our picks for the week's five best spots below, and vote for your favorite. And if we missed a good one, tell us in the comments.

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    The 50th anniversary publication of Roald Dahl's children's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is leaving a bad taste in some mouths.

    Controversy surrounds the cover of the Penguin Modern Classics edition, which eschews Willy Wonka's fanciful factory, golden tickets, Oompa-Loompas and other familiar story elements. Instead, we get a stylized image of a young girl, quaffed to the hilt in colorful bows and silks, sitting in her mother's lap.

    Detractors are denouncing the shot for sexualizing kids, and they deride its sleazy '60s vibe as inappropriate for a story geared toward young people. They have a valid point, though in fairness, the broader meaning of the image is open to all sorts of interpretations. (It's not overtly sexual. I mean, we don't see Wonka's willy, thank goodness.)

    The picture is a cropped version of a photo used in a 2008 fashion magazine feature (see below) completely unrelated to Dahl and the book in question. According to the publisher, the cover "looks at the children at the center of the story, and highlights the way Roald Dahl's writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life."

    The tale does mix in stronger themes about child-parent relationships and manipulation (memorably personified by bratty schoolgirl Veruca Salt). Still, that's hardly the book's primary focus, and it's tempting to dismiss Penguin's explanation as candy coating for a publicity ploy designed to drive debate and sell copies. (The publisher certainly seems to be relishing the attention.)

    Among the public, bitter reactions outweigh the sweet, with most reasoned negative opinions running along the lines of this comment in Creative Review:"It seems a bit misleading, doesn't it? If I knew nothing about the book, this cover would suggest to me that it's a really disturbing story for adults, probably a thriller about young girls in the beauty industry."

    The most deliciously snarky critique comes from the Guardian, which calls it the worst cover of all time, grousing that the image "reimagines Dahl's classic as 1960s Wyndhamesque horror, robotic alien children stranded in a stark asylum."

    Here's the original photo, published in Numéro magazine in 2008. Image via.

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    The Royal British Legion is behind a weighty ad campaign called "Every Man Remembered," featuring soldiers from World War I who share names with famous people a century later (although "Tom Jones" really is an insanely common name) and making the case that the soldier should be famous, too. Each ad provides a mini-biography of the featured soldier, including when and where he was killed.

    Heavy stuff, yes, but it's respectful and not gloomy or maudlin, to ad agency RKCR/Y&R's credit. It's a pity organizations like this have to invoke celebrities at all, but at least they picked some relatively classy ones.

    I doubt a Russell Brand execution would have gone over as well.

    More images below.


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