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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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    IDEA: Thank God it's Wednesday? Unless you're the Geico camel, you've never uttered those words. And Monday's even worse, particularly if you're not that into football.

    But Axe wants to redeem those two unheralded days of the week—all weekdays, in fact—to sell more fragrance products.

    "The issue was that guys were using an expensive fragrance for the weekend only, and a plain antiperspirant during the week," said Wesley Hawes, creative director at BBH London.

    The solution? Make weekdays seem like weekends, which BBH does in two high-energy Axe spots that challenge guys, manifesto-style, not to let a little work get in the way of their play.

    COPYWRITING: With a budget for two spots, the agency picked Monday because it's the least appealing day of the week, and Wednesday because it's hump day.

    At first, the creatives tried writing out full plots for Monday- and Wednesday-themed ads. "That crashed and burned," said copywriter Dan Morris. They went back and focused only on voiceover copy that would "make people sit up and pay attention. What exactly we would be seeing on screen had to wait until we got a set of words that made even us cynical advertising folks start to look forward to Monday … a bit."

    The copy, indeed, is rousing. "You get over 4,000 Mondays in your life. Don't waste them!" says the narrator in the first ad. "Nobody bothers on a Monday. Nobody cares. You should care! CARE! Monday's your weapon. Fire it! Feel it pulsing through your veins!"

    The plots are loose, playful and surreal. The Monday spot takes place mostly in an office, the Wednesday ad during a commute and at a party. Both position the protagonist as superstar with overlaid graphics, heroic sound effects and cutaways to fantasy metaphors where he's a boxer or a rugby player.

    "Don't save your best for the weekend!" shouts the narrator near the end. The ads close with a product shot and the on-screen line: "Fine fragrances for every day."

    ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Riff Raff directors Jonas & François shot the ads in Argentina over three days and two nights.

    "We approached the art direction more like a music video," said art director Carl Broadhurst. "If a visual idea made everyone say 'Whoa! That would be so cool,' then it went in." (Visual flourishes include the first hero shooting lasers and having his "I Hate Mondays" coffee cup explode, and the second planting a giant Wednesday flag on top of a mountain.)

    "It was a production and a half," said Broadhurst. "Preparation was the key, meticulous animatics and continuously evolving style boards."

    TALENT: How did they find the two heroes? "In a word, France," said creative director Gary McCreadie. "The French casting was amazing for this. We needed likable guys who were also kind of aspirational. Axe as a brand is progressing, so both guys needed a bit of swagger without losing their charm, which is very hard to find."

    SOUND: "We wanted both spots to have energy, like you were getting a kick up the ass to start caring and making an effort," said Hawes.

    Pulsating music helped, but so did the sound design by Strings and Tins.

    "With a brilliantly rich sound bed, each scene began to come to life and jump out of the screen," Hawes said. "The video game scene in 'Monday' is my favorite, and the sound design does a great job of making you feel what's going on inside our guy's mind."

    MEDIA: Online worldwide, and on TV beginning in Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.


    Client: Axe
    Global Vice President: Tomy Marcenaro
    Global Brand Director: Fer Desouches
    Global Brand Manager: Paula Marconi
    Agency: BBH London
    Creative Team: Peter Reid, Carl Broadhurst, Charlene Chandrasekaran, Dan Morris
    Creative Director: Gary McCreadie, Wesley Hawes
    Deputy ECD: David Kolbusz
    Team Manager:  Dan Gearing
    Team Director: Krista Nelson
    Strategy Director: Agathe Guerrier
    Strategist: Tom Callard
    Producer: Chris Watling
    Assistant Producer: Vaia Ikonomou
    Production Company: Riff Raff
    Directors: Jonas and Francois
    Executive Producer: Matthew Fone
    Producer: Jane Tredget
    DoP: Alex Barber
    Post Production: Electric Theatre Collective
    Editor/Editing House: Patric Ryan / Marshall Street Editors
    Sound Design and Mix: Will Cohen / String and Tins
    Music Supervision: Big Sync Music
    "Monday" Music: Birdy Nam Nam "Defiant Order"
    "Wednesday" Music: Smokey Robotic "Lady's Scream"

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    It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Isn't it?

    Less than a week after Labor Day, Kmart has launched a cheeky holiday spot from FCB Chicago touting its layaway program. The spokeswoman says, "This is not a Christmas commercial. However, let's say you have an event in late December that you need a lot of gifts for. Like, maybe your entire family is having a birthday on the same day. Now's the time to go to Kmart and put those gifts on layaway."

    Meanwhile, a jolly fat man rides through the aisles on a reindeer-drawn sleigh (presumably he's not the appliance-department manager). And those fireplace logs crackling on the screens of the store's TV display look suspiciously "yule" to me.

    It seems to be an attempt at disarming the same people who were angry at Kmart last year for airing a Christmas spot in September. Not doing so, after all, was not an option.

    "We know it's early, and that is exactly when smart shoppers start thinking about using layaway for the holidays," says Jai Holtz, vp and general manager for financial services at Kmart parent Sears Holdings. "We are expanding no-money-down layaway nationwide to help members and customers who want to make small payments over time leading up the holidays."

    Though a Christmas ad in early September is obnoxious, it's probably a smart move, since 40 percent of Americans do their holiday shopping before Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation.

    Guess I should get to Kmart today and put plenty of junk—er, presents—on layaway. Joe Boxers for all, and to all a goodnight!

    Oh, and before I forget ... Happy New Year!

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    Ad agency 72andSunny assembled quite the crew for its latest live-action trailer for an Activision video game—in this case Destiny, a new post-apocalyptic shooter game coming out Tuesday that's set 700 years in the future and features humans struggling to stay alive in a solar system they've colonized.

    Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion and Tron:Legacy) directed it, with help from Oscar-winning DP Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi), Oscar-winning effects studio Digital Domain, Oscar-nominated effects studio Legacy Effects and Oscar-winning sound designer Per Hallberg (Skyfall, the Bourne movies).

    The results are impressive. It has that now-familiar mix of epic visuals and sly comedy. But once again—as is true in so many cinematic video-game trailers—it's the music that really makes it. And you can't get a much more epic track than Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song."

    Kosinski, of course, knows this, having directed the famous "Mad World" spot for Gears of War way back when. Kosinski also likes to shoot as much as possible in camera—and did so here by traveling to remote locations in Mexico, Arizona and Utah to film the scenes on the moon, Venus and Mars.

    Oh, and the levitating AI character of the Ghost is voiced by Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), who plays the same character in the game.

    "The live-action trailer is the culmination of an ambitious marketing campaign befitting what we hope is our next blockbuster franchise," says Activision CMO Tim Ellis. "The campaign has included a previous live-action commercial by Jon Favreau, a Beta played by 4.6 million people, the first selfie sent into deep space, the first Newsweek special edition for a commercial product, gameplay trailers exploring Mars, Venus and the Moon, and Destiny Planet View, a chance to walk through these worlds using Google Street View—the first time a video game has been mapped using Google technologies."

    Check out the Destiny Planet View site here, and the trailer for it below.

    Client: Activision Publishing
    Chief Executive Officer: Eric Hirshberg
    Chief Marketing Officer: Tim Ellis
    Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing: Todd Harvey
    Vice President, Consumer Marketing: Ryan Crosby
    Senior Manager, Consumer Marketing: Alonso Velasco
    Associate Manager, Consumer Marketing: Pam Caironi

    Agency: 72andSunny
    Chief Executive Officer: John Boiler
    Chief Creative Officer: Glenn Cole
    Chief Strategy Officer: Matt Jarvis
    Chief Production Officer: Tom Dunlap
    Head of Production: Sam Baerwald
    Executive Creative Director: Frank Hahn
    Creative Director, Writer: Tim Wolfe
    Creative Director, Designer: Peter Vattanatham
    Lead Designer: Garrett Jones
    Copywriter: Ryan Iverson
    Art Director: Vincent Barretto
    Senior Producer: Eric Rasco
    Production Coordinator: Michael Quinones
    Group Brand Director: Mike Parseghian
    Brand Director: Eli Hoy
    Brand Manager: Morgan Murray
    Brand Coordinator: Kirbee Fruehe
    Business Affairs Director: Amy Jacobsen
    Business Affairs Manager: Kelly Ventrelli
    Business Affairs Coordinator: Amy Shah

    Production Company: Reset Content
    Director: Joseph Kosinski
    Director of Photography: Claudio Miranda
    Managing Director: Dave Morrison
    Executive Producer: Jeff McDougall
    Producer: Julien Lemaitre

    Costumes: Legacy Effects
    Effects Supervisor: J. Alan Scott
    Key Artists: Vance Hartwell, Anna O' Kane, Marilyn Chaney, Greg Smith, Won Song

    Editing Company: Union Editorial/Circus
    Editor: Jono Griffith
    Assistant Editor: Jedidiah Stuber
    Executive Producer, President: Michael Raimondi
    Senior Producer: Joe Ross

    Visual Effect: Digital Domain
    Chief Creative Officer, Senior Visual Effects Supervisor: Eric Barba
    Senior Producer: Carla Attanasio
    Producer: Charles Bolwell
    Senior Visual Effects Coordinator: Alex Michael
    Computer Graphics Supervisor: Greg Teegarden
    Compositing Supervisor: Dan Akers
    Animation Director: Steve Preeg
    Effects Lead: Eddie Smith
    Computer Graphics Lead: Daisuke Nagae
    On-Set, Data Integration: Viki Chan
    Art Director/AFX: Cody Williams
    President, Advertising and Games: Rich Flier
    Executive Producer, Head of Production: Scott Gemmell

    Sound Design: Formosa Group
    Supervising Sound Editor: Per Hallberg
    1st Assistant Sound Editor: Philip D. Morrill
    Sound Designers: Ann Scibelli, Jon Title

    Mix: Lime
    Mixer: Rohan Young
    Assistant: Jeff Malen

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    The automotive industry has long been viewed as the sweet spot for location-based marketing, with campaigns that track all parts of the car-buying process. But brands have been reluctant to publicize results tied to these efforts, especially when they include geo-conquesting—the tactic of poaching shoppers from the lots of competing dealers.

    Now, Toyota Central Atlantic—which covers Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, D.C., dealerships—is joining with agency PivNet and mobile ad platform NinthDecimal to share results from the past year.

    The Toyota ads target consumers who visit Ford, Chevrolet and Mazda dealerships, among others. The automaker claims a 45 percent lift in foot traffic via consumers who were served mobile ads compared to those who did not receive one.

    The ads are then linked to car registration data, indicating whether a consumer bought a car after clicking on an ad. “We’re seeing many of the folks that produce this [online] traffic register new and certified used Toyotas in a region,” said Jay Pivec, PivNet’s president.

    Still, some experts question the validity of the results. Chris Sutton, senior director of J.D. Power’s automotive retail practice, pointed out that mobile offers have to apply to a wide group of shoppers.

    And shoppers tend to be brand loyal, noted Jeremy Lockhorn, national mobile lead at Razorfish. Said Lockhorn: “If I have gone through all my research and I know that I want to get a Mercedes E-Class, and I’m standing on the lot looking at the models … the likelihood that I’m going to see an ad on my phone and go buy a Lexus is very low.”

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    Marketers seeking to celebrate diverse families have focused a lot lately on same-sex parents and interracial parents. But there's another type of family that's much more common, yet rarely named in advertising—divorced and remarried parents and their stepchildren.

    More than 40 percent of Americans are part of a so-called "blended family," with one in three U.S weddings today creating a stepfamily, according to Honey Maid. Yet divorce is rarely mentioned in ads, beyond those from divorce lawyers.

    And why would it be mentioned? Unlike same-sex and interracial couples, divorced couples result from an objective breakdown of family. Yet Honey Maid, which has been saluting the changing face of American families all year, sees that as little reason to ostracize them—indeed, quite the opposite. (Everyone buys graham crackers, divorced or not.)

    In this two-minute spot from Droga5 (breaking Monday as a :30 on TV), the brand salutes two blended families—who share a son—for being as loving as any other.

    "Sometimes it's hard to explain our family to people. I have two moms, and I've got two dads," the little boy says at the beginning. The ad, shot like a mini documentary, then goes on to interview the parents, who explain—with quiet pride—how they made the transition as smooth as possible for the kids.

    It's nicely made, and pointedly includes a scene of the family praying together before dinner. (Divorce isn't just for heathens, after all.) And it obliquely references an older, less-P.C. term for families of divorce—"broken homes"—in the hashtag, which is #NotBroken.

    In some ways, this is actually a trickier topic than gay or interracial families. Objections to the latter are just bigotry, which is uncomplicatedly batted away by marketers. Divorce isn't as straightforward. While it's clearly heartwarming to see how well this family has fared, how will viewers react whose divorces didn't have quite as sunny an outcome? Will they be able to see themselves in this family?

    In the end, of course, it's just advertising—i.e., obviously more aspirational than realistic. And as an idealized view of a situation that most parents—divorced or not—would probably admit is not ideal, it's skillfully presented. Overcoming adversity is always a popular ad theme; and a huge percentage of the population will relate to this particular adversity, if not necessarily the transcendence this family has found.

    And anyway, for Honey Maid, the whole campaign seems to be working. Gary Osifchin, senior marketing director for the Mondelez brand, tells USA Today that sales jumped 7 percent in June and July, and Google searches for the name Honey Maid were up 400 percent.

    Client: Mondelez International/Honey Maid
    Senior Marketing Director, Wholesome Sweet: Gary Osifchin
    Senior Brand Manager: Tracey Benitz
    Senior Associate Brand Manager: Funbi Ibe
    Agency: Droga5, New York
    Creative Chairman: David Droga
    Chief Creative Officer: Ted Royer
    Executive Creative Director: Kevin Brady
    Copywriter: Tara Lawall
    Art Director: Devon Hong
    Copywriter: Nicholas Bauman
    Art Director: Sean Park
    Chief Creation Officer: Sally-­Ann Dale
    Head of Broadcast Production: Ben Davies
    Senior Producer: Anders Hedberg
    Interactive Producer: Benny Goldman
    Brand Strategy Director: Matthew Springate
    Communications Strategist: Will de Lannoy
    Group Account Director: Jodi McLeod
    Account Manager: Joan Wortmann
    Associate Account Manager: Jasmine Moesel
    Production Company: Über Content
    Director: Eliot Rausch
    DOP: Jackson Hunt
    Executive Producer: Preston Lee
    Producer: Sarah McMurray
    Editorial: Cosmo Street
    Editor: Stephen Mirrione
    Assistant Editor: Mark Potter
    Head of Production: Jaclyn Paris
    Producers: Marie Mangahas, Anne Lai
    Music: Sion Dey

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    We've seen plenty of ads that use kids to illustrate the power—and limits—of technology. But rarely does it translate in a way that doesn't seem hokey or freakishly dystopian.

    GE and BBDO are on a roll lately, making some of advertising's more conceptually profound spots. But their latest collaboration is one of the year's most poignant. In "The Boy Who Beeps," we follow the life of a child who has an unusual birth defect—instead of normal human speech, he emits a robot-like language and communicates more effectively with machines than people.

    GE argues that this is perhaps more of an advantage than a handicap, as emphasized by the on-screen line at the end.

    Perhaps advertising's sequel to "Her," the spot subtly creates a reality that could go down a subversive path. Instead it weaves today's languages, human and machine, into a charming scenario to which many in our industrial society can relate, despite the bizarre premise.

    You have to wonder why Mom was fooling around with the modem, though.

    Client: GE
    Spot: "The Boy Who Beeps"
    Agency: BBDO New York
    Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
    Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
    Executive Creative Director: Michael Aimette 
    CD/Copywriter: Tim Roan
    ACD/Art Director: Lance Vining
    Director of Integrated Production: David Rolfe
    Executive Producer: Diane Hill
    Producer: George Sholley
    Junior Producer: Sasha White
    Head of Music Production: Rani Vaz
    Executive Music Producer: John Melillo
    Production Company: Park Pictures
    Executive Producer/Owner: Jackie Kelman Bisbee
    Executive Producer: Mary Ann Marino
    Executive Producer and Line Producer: Caroline Kousidonis
    Director: Lance Acord

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    Twenty bucks says college students around the U.S. will be racing to their computers at 3 p.m. ET this afternoon. Why? Because Olive Garden, purveyor of sort-of Italian food, has—in a fit of PR genius—announced a Never Ending Pasta Pass.

    And that's when it goes on sale online.

    For $100, you can get unlimited pasta, salad, breadsticks and soft drinks for seven entire weeks. That's right—49 days in a row of all-you-can-eat carbs, more carbs and bunny food. Alcohol and gratuity not included. Food coma and chocolate mints likely are.

    I did the math, and this is cheaper than eating two packs of Ramen noodles for every meal for those 49 days (that would be $133 if you Amazon Prime it).

    But you'd better act fast right at 3 p.m. The chain is selling only 1,000 of these pasta passes. (It's a kickoff to the annual "Never Ending Pasta Bowl" promotion, running Sept. 22 to Nov. 9., which lets you eat all the pasta you want for $9.99.)

    Clever move from Olive Garden, even if all their Facebook fans are super weird.

    UPDATE: At 3 p.m. ET, the site crashed. Oops.

    UPDATE 2: Aaaaaand they're sold out.

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    The stars really aligned for Corona—well, one did, anyway—in this clever outdoor stunt from Toronto agency Zulu Alpha Kilo.

    Check out the video to see how the brand brought extra hours of sunlight to some drinkers on a bar patio. It's a great realization of the brand's tagline, "Find your beach," and surely has extra resonance in Canada, where summers are short enough.

    UPDATE: As noted in comments, this stunt bears a striking resemblance to this Bavaria beer commercial from 2013.

    Corona, of course, loves any marketing that involves celestial bodies—as seen in New York City last summer, when the brand made the waxing crescent moon look like a slice of lime resting in a Corona bottle on a billboard.

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    Xbox cannot explicitly advertise the launch of the highly anticipated first-person shooter Destiny. So, it came up with clever trick to draw attention anyway: Promote a non-existent cologne with the same name as the game.

    "The new fragrance by Xbox," reads the copy on a simple ad (posted to Xbox's social channels late last week) with a blue crystal bottle labeled Destiny. The equally coy website encourages visitors to check with retailers about Xbox One offers.

    Microsoft's slyness is born of necessity, and is a de facto dig at its chief rival in the console wars. Sony has the exclusive rights from Destiny publisher Activision to advertise the game, according to CNET. The title is available on Sony's PlayStation 4 with early access and bonus content, part of the console manufacturers' fierce competition for users.

    The perfume theme is a particularly cheeky touch given that Destiny, the game, is about a post-apocalyptic future where players try to save humanity by battling aliens across the solar system—not the stuff of most luxury ads.

    It's also nice to see that Microsoft's cattiness isn't limited to mocking Siri.

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    IDEA: There would seem to be a large cultural gap between 19th century art and 21st century entertainment. But BBH didn't see it that way.

    "The team came in with a super simple observation: The greatest heroes through time have been immortalized in oil paintings. They thought PlayStation heroes should receive the same treatment," said executive creative director Ari Weiss.

    Thus, a fun campaign was born—spanning outdoor, online video, social and more—centered around Emanuel Leutze's 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, reimagined to feature heroes from PlayStation games (and one lucky gamer) in place of George Washington and his men.

    ART DIRECTION/TALENT: Weiss said BBH had three criteria for finding a famous work to reference: Would it be instantly recognizable? Did it have a prominent hero leading a group? And could the agency execute it beautifully?

    Leutze's painting was a yes on all counts, so the agency hired Swedish artist Andreas Englund to recreate it. "He's a photorealistic painter, which was perfect for capturing each game character in exacting detail," said art director Daniel Burke. "He also has a subtle sense of humor to his work, which can be seen in his series about an aging superhero."

    Englund left the Washington character blank, and fans were asked to pick a famous gamer, from among five choices, to take the coveted spot. (Joey Chiu, who was the first person in line to buy a PlayStation 4 last November, won that vote.)

    The campaign launched with a giant mural, mimicking Englund's painting, at the E3 conference in June.

    Next, The Mill helped bring the painting to life in a 60-second online spot. "They featured the painting textures beautifully, creating a realistic depth of field. There wasn't a more honorable way to reveal this masterpiece," said art director Diego Fonseca.

    COPYWRITING: Heroic voiceover copy on the spot was taken directly from Thomas Paine's famous pamphlet series The American Crisis. "These are the times that try men's souls," the narrator says over close-ups of the characters, now moving slightly. "Yet we have this consolation with us—that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. It matters not where you live or what rank of life you hold. I call not upon a few, but upon all."

    "We figured if it was good enough to inspire General Washington and his revolutionary army to fight for a country's freedom, it was probably good enough to inspire gamers playing for their own greatness," copywriter Evan Benedetto said of the text.

    The spot ends with the on-screen line "Where the greatest play" and the campaign tagline, "Greatness awaits."

    It also points viewers to a microsite, where they can create their own "Gamer Masterpieces" (using three classic works of art and a number of characters and backgrounds), upload them and ask for votes. The top 50 vote getters are getting a real-life version of their Gamer Masterpiece; the top 10 will get the same, plus a new PS4.

    SOUND: The music on the spot is a quietly stirring original orchestral track by Human. "We wanted a piece of music that added emotion while letting the voiceover really be the star," said Burke.

    MEDIA: The campaign was interactive at its core, but had various touch points.

    "Our audience doesn't experience ideas in siloed ways—they just grab a bit here, see a bit there, and it all needs to reward them in some way for spending time with it," said BBH New York chief creative officer John Patroulis. "In this campaign, interactivity and participation became the gravity that pulled all the elements together."


    Client: Sony PlayStation
    Guy Longworth: Senior Vice President Brand Marketing
    John Koller: VP Platform Marketing
    Franco de Cesare: Senior Director Home Consoles
    Tyler Vaught: Senior Brand Manager Home Consoles
    Cristian Cardona: Brand Manager Home Consoles
    Cody Morales: Assistant Brand Manager
    Mia Putrino: Assistant Brand Manager

    Agency: BBH, New York
    John Patroulis: CCO
    Ari Weiss: Executive Creative Director
    Evan Benedetto: Creative
    Daniel Burke: Creative
    Amanda Brencys: Creative
    Diego Fonesca: Creative
    Carey Head: Head of Production & Technology
    Kate Morrison: Head of Content Production
    Douglas Stivers: Senior Integrated Producer
    Kelly Bignell: User Experience Director
    Anthony Terruso: Creative Technologist
    Deb Archambault: Art Buyer
    Rachel Freed: Senior Print Producer
    Simon Joseph: Associate Producer
    Sean McGee: Business Affairs Manager
    Armando Turco: Head of Account Management
    Mark Williams: Account Manager
    Mike Mueller: Account Executive
    Eric Schwerdtfeger: Account Executive
    Julian Cole: Head of Comms Strategy
    Benjamin Zoll: Comms Strategist
    Sarah Watson : Head of Strategy
    Kendra Salvatore: Brand Strategy Director

    Oil Painting Artist: Washington Crossing the Delaware
Andreas Englund

    Digital Experience
we are resn: design, art production, development and animation

    Gamer Masterpiece Film Production: Mill+
    Creative Director: Rama Allen
    Executive Producer: Danielle Ameral
    Producer: Stephanie Katritos
    3D Lead: Christian Nielsen
    3D Artist: Isaiah Palmer
    2D Lead: Nick Tanner
    2D Artist: Rob Roth
    Editor: Ryan Mckenna
    Editor Assistant: Leanne Belgiomo
    Colorist: Mikey Rossiter

    Music: Human

    Sound Design: Henryboy
    Sound Designer: Bill Chesley
    Executive Producer: Kate Gibson

    Audio Mixing: Sound Lounge
    Tom Jucarone: Mixer/Audio Post
    Mark Ledwidge: Assistant Mixer/Audio Post

    0 0

    MAC Cosmetics is producing a Simpsons-themed cosmetics line—including eyeshadow, lip gloss, blush, mascara and nail stickers—to honor the show's 25th anniversary.

    One can only imagine the challenges they faced getting this out of R&D. For one thing, the show's color palette doesn't really look good on anyone. The dominant color is yellow, and one of the cartoon's enduring design characteristics revolves around not making anyone, including celebrities, look too attractive. This obviously clashes with beauty products. (The lip gloss colors alone are called Grand Pumpkin, Itchy & Scratchy & Sexy, Nacho Cheese Explosion and Red Blazer.)

    "We are celebrating the country's favorite animated family and its beloved matriarch Marge with a vibrant color collection that screams That Trillion Dollar Look," the brand says. "Our classic formulas and finishes you love are to blue dye for with an animated twist. All in limited-edition packaging that can only be described in one word: Eeeeexcellent."

    Also, the show has been bad to the point of unwatchable for at least 10 years, so they're chasing a vanishing audience that mostly watches out of habit with stuff that will make them look, at best, super weird.

    Not to mention, any real Simpsons fan involved in this project would have made at least one shade of lip gloss that referenced the monorail episode.

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    It was about as real-time as marketing gets. A mere seven minutes after the royal family's announcement Monday that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting again, Nissan U.K. posted the tweet below.

    But it wasn't a matter of lightning-fast creative. It was all planned.

    "We spotted the trend for Royal Baby when the last rumors started mid-July and created a piece ready to go at that time," said David Parkinson, head of social for Nissan in Europe. "As it happened, the rumor was never confirmed, so we kept the piece in our back pocket. It was with our media agency, [Manning Gottlieb] OMD, ready to go as soon as it was [confirmed]."

    Parkinson adds: "When the rumor was confirmed yesterday we already had everything in place with our agencies and were able to push the creative out very fast."

    The pregnancy rumors earlier this summer were spotted by Nissan and DigitasLBi France's BrandLive initiative, which is basically a control center that scans news and trends for ideas the brand might tie into.

    BrandLive started in France but is now pan-European. "Obviously it's much harder pan European," said Parkinson. "We have had a number of pieces, some for Europe—April Fool's, back to school—and others country specific. Some of this content is reactive, which takes two to four hours to be approved and ready to go, and some of it is proactive to things that we 'know' are coming."

    The system seems to be working, as Nissan was first out of the gate on the pregnancy news.

    "As with all things that look easy, there was in fact a lot of hard work behind the scenes," said Parkinson. "We are very proud of the success we have had with this piece, and of course wish the Duchess a speedy recovery from her current sickness."

    Client: Nissan U.K.
    DigitasLBi France: Creative Director, Patrick Dacquin
    DigitasLBi France: Art Director, Anthony Lepinay
    Nissan Europe: Current General Manager of Social & Digital Engagement (future GM - Head of Digital for Nissan in Africa, Middle East & India): David Parkinson
    Manning Gottlieb OMD: Media agency

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    Attention, pet owners. Do you indulge in the perfectly reasonable habit of talking to your cats and dogs as if they could grasp human ideas? Of course you do. Does watching other people who engage in the same kind of behavior amuse you? Of course it does.

    Well, Big Lots wants you to know it understands.

    To prove its commitment, it is gracing you with a series of online videos that feature two professional humans—improv comedians, actually—having totally sane conversations with animals about the quality of products made for animals.

    The "Pet Focus Group" campaign's ads are bound together by the hashtag #PetsRPeople2, because it is important to maintain an appropriate sense of gravitas around such a message.

    The commercials feature dogs with names like Boots and Hippo and Porkchop, and cats with names like Tabitha. The dogs act like dogs. The cats act like cats. The humans act like humans. Guess which turns and runs when asked a stupid question. Guess which asks a stupid question. Guess which licks another dog's butt, even though that's pretty gross.

    In a rare moment that makes little sense, one human seems to struggle to keep a straight face while trying to recommend an outfit for a pooch. "I think it's a pirate?" she says, snickering, as if dog clothes were a laughing matter.

    "We realized that instead of scripting this, it would be so much more fun to let pets be pets, and get really good improvisers to react in real time to whatever those animals are doing," says Sue Gillan, creative director at the agency, O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul. "And because you have these human facilitators in the room with the pets, they get to do the heavy lifting around uncovering the quality of the products without the event feeling commercialized. The result feels like a genuine discovery of the products."

    O'Keefe is the agency and pet-whispering firm that has also in the past served as Big Lots's awkward-mom-dance choreography consultancy and millennial a cappella production company, in attempts to sell more Hostess snack cakes to humans.

    Those commercials were clearly shortsighted by comparison, given the dog demographic is so vocally an underserved market for Twinkies.

    Client: Big Lots

    Agency: O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul
    Chief Executive Officer: Tom O'Keefe
    Chief Creative Officer: Matt Reinhard
    Creative Director: Sue Gillan
    Exectutive Producer: Scott Mitchell

    Production Company: Community Films
    Director: The Hoffman Brothers
    Executive Producers: Lizzie Schwartz, Carl Swan
    Producer: Francie Moore
    Director of Photography: David Wilson
    Production Designer: Craig Reynolds

    Editing: Whiskey & Bananas
    Executive Producer: Scott Mitchell
    Editor: Mark Jepsen

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    Here's a clever little social game—involving just Instagram video and your phone's screenshot function—from ad agency Forsman & Bodenfors for a Swedish department store.

    The retailer, Åhléns, posted three stop-motion Instagram videos featuring various products (clothes, furniture, makeup and more) flashing past at rapid speed. If you could capture any item in a screenshot on your phone (and then hashtag the image, post it to your Instagram account and present the post at the register), you got the item at half price.

    Simple, clever and fun—and enough of a reward to risk annoying your friends. Check out the case study and the three videos below.

    Advertiser: Åhléns
    Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors
    Copywriter: Pontus Levahn
    Art Director: Silla Levin
    Designer: Ellinor Bjarnolf
    Account Director: Susanna Glenndahl Thorslund
    Account Manager: Sara Kling
    Planner: My Troedsson
    Agency Producer: Karl Wettre
    Production Company: Snask
    Media Agency: Mindshare

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    Apple wrapped up its iPhone 6/Apple Watch event today with quite the kicker: a performance by U2 followed by a remarkable offer: Everyone can get the band's new album, Songs of Innocence, for free on iTunes through Oct. 13.

    Below is the new spot celebrating the partnership, and it's a throwback in more ways than one. It's reminiscent, of course, of Apple's old "Silhouettes" iPod commercials. (You'll remember that U2 did an Apple ad, plus a longer video, around Vertigo in 2004.)

    And then, in the new spot, you've also got glimpses of the Ramones and the Clash, to whom U2 is apparently paying tribute with the new record.

    U2 and Apple have had a fruitful partnership for years, as Bono and Jonathan Ive discussed this summer at Cannes. One eagle-eyed observer suggested Tuesday that U2 might even be broadcasting hidden Apple messages. After all, Songs of Innocence abbreviated is S.O.I., which backwards is iOS. And U2 S.O.I. backwards is iOS2U.

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    Does the three-minute "Perspective" film that kicked off Apple's product event on Tuesday borrow ideas from a popular music video by OK Go? The band seems to think so and is weighing its legal options, its manager, Andy Gershon, tells Bloomberg Businessweek.

    Both "Perspective" and OK Go's "The Writing's on the Wall" video take place inside large white rooms and rely on optical illusions. In Apple's mainly black-and-white video, tricks of perspective make inspirational slogans like "See things differently" and "Follow a vision" appear as the camera pans around.

    OK Go's more colorful film sees band members interacting with various objects in different ways to create a series of hypnotic visuals. That video has been viewed more than 10 million times since June and won an MTV Video Music Award for optical effects.

    Perhaps most damningly, Gershon says OK Go pitched its visual concept to Apple in April, hoping for a collaboration with the brand, but the company declined. After OK Go made its own video, Apple hired the same production company, 1stAveMachine, to create "Perspective."

    Apple did not immediately respond to AdFreak's requests for comment.

    In advertising and other creative fields, it's not unusual for similar concepts to crop up in work from different sources. Tricks of perspective have been used in several notable campaigns lately, including this trippy Honda CR-V spot from 2013, which some found derivative of an earlier ad by Audi.

    For Apple, it's a particularly thorny issue, though, because appearing to borrow concepts from others repudiates the brand's core message of being original and innovative. Simply put, Gershon believes Apple didn't think differently enough when creating its film. "The videos speak for themselves," he says, "and you can draw your own conclusions."

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    British luxury brand Burberry has launched a new fragrance, My Burberry, and you can even put your name on it, sort of.

    The spot promoting it is your typical fragrance spot (good looking people, nothing makes sense, etc.) featuring Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne, but what really shines is the website.

    It's a beautifully designed, interactive, one-scroll site. The background starts as gently falling rain ("My Burberry is a contemporary grand floral that captures the fragrance of a London garden after the rain") and includes images of flowers, the iconic Burberry trench, and is generally a lovely Internet experience when you consider all of the alternatives out there.

    The bottle itself is well designed, although I think the font chosen for "My" in "My Burberry" kills the look a little. You can even have the bottle engraved—a personalized touch pointing back to brand messaging—although again, I think it takes away from the general aesthetic of the bottle.

    I could probably scroll up and down this site for a solid 15 minutes though.

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    It's a good time to make an ad with Serena Williams, and Beats by Dre has done a particularly good job of it. Hot off the tennis star's sixth U.S. Open win, her 18th major victory overall, the headphone brand is spotlighting the gym routine that helps her get so much crushing power on the court.

    It would be standard-fare fitness footage if not for the fact that it continues Beats by Dre's habit of creating ads that feel more like exceptionally shot,psychologically rich sports-themed music videos rather than commercials.

    In this case, the clip (from R/GA's London and Los Angeles offices) weaves in flashbacks to Williams's childhood in Compton, Calif., as she pushes through her workout, while the song "Black Unicorn" by 2 Chainz featuring Sunni Patterson plays.

    The track is a spectacular match, with beautiful lyrics about struggle and success. And that goes a long way to making the spot feel greater than the sum of its parts—packed with a inspiring storyline about an athlete at the top of her game, rewarding to listen to and watch—even if it is also loaded with product shots that demonstrate the value proposition.

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    There's an inherent impossibility in advertising something physically intangible—say, a scent—via print or television. This, presumably, is why the fragrance industry attempts to sell an idea of a product rather than the product itself.

    In the case of a designer fragrance for women, that "idea" tends to come to life in the form of an A-list celebrity (or occasionally a model) wandering aimlessly in some decadent setting, perhaps uttering an awkward phrase or two, preferably in a language not her own, and generally causing the average TV viewer to think, "What on earth was that all about?"

    Case in point: Dior's new spot for J'adore.

    Dior's minute-long "film," titled "The Future Is Gold," is about as textbook a fragrance ad as one could imagine. There's an untouchably gorgeous star (longtime spokeswoman Charlize Theron) doing some rather bizarre activities (such as climbing up a silk rope like a member of Cirque de Soleil) in various fantastical settings (an ornate ballroom followed by a futuristic cityscape) while wearing a lavish gown (not exactly the outfit one might choose for rope-climbing, but at least she had the good sense to lose the four-inch heels).

    There's a voiceover—something about memories and dreams and the past and the future and heaven. And of course, there's Theron seductively purring the final "J'adore Dior."

    Doesn't make sense? You're overthinking it.

    You're not actually supposed to understand the incoherent dialogue. You're not supposed to know why Theron is climbing onto the roof wearing a red-carpet gown. And you're certainly not supposed to figure out what any of this has to do with J'adore's base notes of "Sambac Jasmine" and "Ylang Ylang from the Comoro Islands."

    No, you're supposed to watch it (more than 10 million already have on YouTube), and absorb it—feel it. And then drop $70 on an ounce of eau de toilette next time you're killing time at Macy's before going to pick up your kids at the food court.

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    Great Odin's Raven! If you ever wanted to play video games with self-proclaimed video game wiz Will Ferrell, here's your chance to do so—and support a great cause.

    The Saturday Night Live alum is asking fans to donate money to help kids who are battling childhood cancers. One lucky donor will get to spend an evening gaming with Ferrell in San Francisco, all of which will be livestreamed on Twitch.

    The proceeds from the campaign, being crowdfunded on Indiegogo, will go to Cancer for College and DonateGames.org. The former provides scholarships to cancer survivors; the latter helps children with cancer and their families by using video games and other technology, including selling game bundles to raise money for financial aid or donating video games and equipment to hospitals.

    Hear the contest announcement from Will Pharell himself, who allegedly once played Asteroids for 37 hours without taking a bathroom break:

    If you don't win Will Ferrell's SuperMegaBlastMax Gamer Challenge, there's still plenty of swag to take home from partners like Amazon, Twitch and Microsoft. There's also awesome limited-edition Ferrell gear including his special gamers' sunscreen, and best of all, signed cowbells. Trust me: We all need a little more cowbell in our life.


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