Warning! Warning! The robot casts of Forbidden Planet, Lost in Space, Knight Rider and more have finally assembled in the same spot for "Robots on the Move," part of GE's "Brilliant Machines" campaign from BBDO. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the husband/wife team behind Little Miss Sunshine, the ad shows each robot making its way to a shared destination via hitchhiking, bus and subway (I wonder if the flesh-and-blood passengers even noticed while plugged into their own digital devices, devouring endless streams of data). The notion of robots massing at a big confab this close to the Mayan Doomsday of 12/21 makes me nervous. The voiceover swears that the iconic pop-culture contraptions are just curious about GE's own machines designed to make the world better. In that respect, the visually arresting spot's a total tease, and ultimately frustrating, as we never learn one byte of information about these marvelous new machines, let alone see them. Since this is GE, we're probably talking about newfangled kitchen appliances. But I can't help picturing super-high-tech blenders and toasters in a back room someplace, huddled with Cylons, Daleks and HAL 9000, plotting the destruction of the human race. Oh, and speaking of robots, where's Mystery Science Theater 3000's Cambot? Maybe he could help GE figure out a way to actually upload its ads in HD.
If you’re an old-school video gamer, you’ve got to love the trailer for Karateka, a modern spin on the 1980s classic. Created by geek culture guru Adam Lisagor’s Sandwich Video, the trailer features the aging sensei of the original game’s protagonist, whose fighting “was remarkable ... for its time.” The spot was actually comissioned by Jordan Mechner, creator of both the first Karateka and the remake. Packed with meta humor and fan-savvy references to the iconic Apple II version (“Always punch the hawk!”), the promo clip is campy, clever and charming. The only thing missing is a nice zinger about the fact that the original game’s white hero and golden-haired princess have finally been replaced with actual Asians. Hat tip to Evan Travers for letting me know about this one. Credits after the jump.
Video Production: Sandwich Video
Director: Adam Lisagor
Producer: Joshua Cohen
Director of Photography: Benji Bakshi
Copywriters: Adam Lisagor, Claude Zeins, Tony Altamirano, John August
Postproduction: Pictures in a Row
Editor: Gregory Nussbaum
Game Animation: Liquid Entertainment
Production Designer: Sean Preston
Music: Christopher Tin
Norwegian sporting goods retailer XXL has agreed to stop running its new zombie-themed ad during family-oriented TV programs, a decision reached after a flurry of viewer complaints that the spot was inappropriate. The ad shows citizens of a small town banding together to fight zombies with soccer balls, hockey sticks, fishing poles and a bizarre array of other sporting goods. After the spot debuted last weekend, complaints came in swiftly on the brand's Facebook page, where one angry parent of a 9-year-old called it "stupid and provocative." Others criticized it as pointlessly violent. The ad clearly isn't scary, and it avoids most of the usual zombie ad cliches, so there's probably one of two forces at work here: Either Norwegians are the type of people who thought Army of Darkness was actually a horror movie, or (more likely) people are just getting sick of zombies. Via Huffington Post and With Leather.
If a tree falls in the forest, and it's StubHub's talking ticket tree, I hope I'm not there to hear it, because the unholy wailing sound it makes will shatter your nerves but good! I've had a love/hate relationship with Duncan/Channon's animatronic oak since it debuted last spring. But the holiday-themed "Screaming Tree" spot is just lame noise. When doofus sidekick Ben brings home a sack containing a Christmas tree, the decibels soar as the Ticket Oak mourns its piney cousin. Ben joins in, screeching that the new arrival was already dead when he bought it. There was a certain goofy/menacing edge to the StubHub tree in its previous appearances, but here there's no tension, brand message or even a fully developed concept. Besides, the bar for scream-driven marketing was set by Walmart's infamous clown spot, and "Screaming Tree," though 25 feet tall, doesn't begin to scale those heights of sublimely annoying lunacy. Overall, this is a sour note in the nonstop din of seasonal campaigns. I wish Ben had a chainsaw in his sack. Turn that tree into yule logs! Credits after the jump.
Head of Brand and Creative: Michael Lattig
Offline Marketing Manager: Jen Millet
Executive Creative Director, Copywriter: Parker Channon
Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Ken Hall
Executive Producer: Christine Gomez
Account Director: Eric Dunn
Account Supervisor: Jenn Gbur
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Mike Maguire
Managing Director: Shawn Lacy
Executive Producer: Colleen O’Donnell
Producer: Laure Stevens
Director of Photography: Ulrik Boel Bentzen
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Matt Murphy
Assistant: Scott Butzer
Executive Producer: Saima Awan
Producer: Suzy Ramirez
Production Effects Company: MPC
Managing Director: Andrew Bell
Producer: Nicole Fina
Lead 2-D Artist, Smoke: Mark Holden
Senior Colorist, U.S. Creative Director: Mark Gethin
Telecine Producer: Amanda Ornelas
Sound Mix: Lime Studios
Engineer: Loren Silber
Animatronic Tree: Anatomorphex
Owner, Fabricator: Robert Devine
If you're too cheap to buy holiday gifts for friends and family, send virtual carolers to their virtual doors via Stella Artois's Facebook app, which uses Google Street View and other tools to direct British actress Alice Eve and her band of merrymakers. Alice portrays "Holiday Carole." Type in a name, address and message, and off she goes with her trio, passing local landmarks in the recipient's neighborhood en route to their destination. The recipient's personal info appears in newspaper headlines, on TV screens and even in a message written in lipstick on a napkin Alice hands to her chauffeur/bass player. She can roast my chestnuts on an open fire any day. Still, the personalization stuff seems forced and overdone, which, coupled with the gang's department-store-cheery cool-jazz stylings, leaves me feeling a tad cold. Ho ho ... sigh ... ho.
The tragedy of domestic violence has always inspired some of the more harrowingly beautiful PSAs.
The most famous example is Y&R Chicago's 2010 spot "It Rarely Stops" for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, featuring the battered woman who tries in vain to conceal an ever-growing set of cuts and bruises that keep mysteriously appearing on her face and neck. Now, from France, we get another striking piece of film aimed at helping women who are in abusive relationships.
Created by Paris agency W&Cie for the Fédération Nationale Solidarité Femmes (FNSF), the new spot, titled "Breath," shows menacing men, filmed against stark black backdrops, trying to attack the viewer. One after another, they are forced back by a gale-force wind. At the end, we see the full shape of the metaphor, as a woman blows out a candle and the text appears: "20 years of fighting domestic violence." Over two decades, the PSA suggests, the FNSF has snuffed out the flame of violence in thousands of relationships, blowing back the abusers through the country's domestic violence hotline, 3919.
The visuals, perhaps a little over the top in parts, are arresting nonetheless. The spot's own violence, bloodless yet overwhelming, renders the abusers impotent and represents a triumph of defense, offering a strong counterpoint to the bloody violence it opposes.
In the past 20 years, the agency says, there have been some 350,000 calls made to 3919. The spot simply and memorably raises further awareness of the number for anyone who doesn't know about it.
Advertiser: FNSF (Fédération Nationale Solidarité Femmes)
Agency: W&Cie, Paris
Creative Director: Ivan Pierens
Art Director: Arnaud Wacker
Copywriter: Renan Cottrel
Account Manager: Grégoire Weil
Advertiser Manager: Françoise Brié
Production Company: Wanda Productions
Director: Wilfrid Brimo
DOP: Nicolas Loir
Sound: THE, Paris
IDEA: Safety PSAs are gloomy and tedious and largely ignored by young people hardwired to resist them—except when they're irresistibly fun and impossible not to share with friends. McCann Australia managed just such an evolution of the genre with "Dumb Ways to Die," its animated train-safety spot for the Melbourne Metro. The three-minute music video shows adorable blobs making the stupidest decisions ever—messing with animals, sticking forks in toasters, eating superglue, etc.—leading to all sorts of gruesome, fatal accidents. The dumbest way to die, the ad suggests at the end, is by being careless around trains. "The idea for a song started from a very simple premise: What if we disguised a worthy safety message inside something that didn't feel at all like a safety message?" said McCann executive creative director John Mescall. "So we thought about what the complete opposite of a serious safety message would be and came to the conclusion it was an insanely happy and cute song." With more than 30 million YouTube views, it seems happy, cute and grisly was the way to go.
COPYWRITING/SOUND: The song begins, "Set fire to your hair/Poke a stick at a grizzly bear/Eat medicine that's out of date/Use your private parts as piranha bait," before the chorus repeats the two lines, "Dumb ways to die/So many dumb ways to die." Mescall wrote most of the lyrics in one night at the agency. "It then took a few weeks of finessing," he said, "getting rid of a few lines that weren't funny enough and replacing them with new ones." The line "Sell both your kidneys on the Internet" was a late inclusion. "I'm glad it's there. It's my favorite," he said.
Australian musician Ollie McGill from the band The Cat Empire wrote the music. "We basically gave him the lyrics and told him to set it to the catchiest nonadvertising type music he could," said Mescall. McGill delivered something almost unbearably catchy. "The melody is easy to remember and sing along to, the lyrics are fun, bite-sized chunks of naughtiness, and the vocals have just the right amount of knowing innocence," Mescall said. "It's a song that you want to hate for living in your head, but you can't bring yourself to hate it because it's also so bloody likable." The singer is Emily Lubitz of another Australian band, Tinpan Orange. (The song is credited to Tangerine Kitty, which is a mashup of the two band names.) "Emily brought a great combination of innocence, playfulness and vocal integrity," Mescall said. "She brings a level of vocal quality you don't normally get on a video about cartoon death."
ART DIRECTION: Australian designer Julian Frost did the animation. "We gave him the most open brief we could: Just make it really funny and really awesome and do it to please yourself," said Mescall. The visual reference points ranged from Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies to Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" (which showed men singing while being crucified) to "any number of hokey indie music-video flash mobs you see on YouTube," said Mescall.
"Julian was keen to contrast the extreme situations described in the lyrics with the simplest animation possible. Otherwise it would become just too much." After the spot blew up online, Frost wrote on his website: "Well, the Internet likes dead things waaay more than I expected. Hooray, my childish sense of humor pays off at last."
MEDIA: The spot lives online, in short bursts on music TV, and may reach cinemas. The campaign is also running in radio, print and outdoor. The song is on iTunes, where it reached the top 10. The agency is also producing a book as well as a smartphone game that should be ready by Christmas.
Client: Metro Trains Melbourne
General Manager, Corporate Relations: Leah Waymark
Marketing Manager: Chloe Alsop
Agency: McCann, Melbourne, Australia
Executive Creative Director: John Mescall
Creative Team: John Mescall, Pat Baron
Animation: Julian Frost
Digital Team: Huey Groves, Christian Stocker
Group Account Director: Adrian Mills
Account Director: Alec Hussain
Senior Account Manager: Tamara Broman
Senior Producer: Mark Bradley
Producer: Cinnamon Darvall
Composer and producer: Oliver McGill
Whoa, that's one wacky game of horse! Some naysayers are doubting SB Nation's contention that the clip below of dudes playing basketball in equine masks is really a "found" Mentos ad from 1992 that "only aired in Sweden and Venezuela" and was discovered on an old videotape of a Swedish Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode. Well, I can personally vouch for its veracity, having seen it numerous times back in the day. I was living in Sweden at the time. Or maybe it was Venezuela. Anyway, there's nothing more "real" than a guy in a horsey-head hanging from the rim with one hand while holding up a tube of Freshmakers in the other. It's like something you'd see after sucking on a spiked sugar cube, or downing half a dozen rolls of Mentos in less than five minutes. Which is how I keep myself awake and working after 4 p.m. most days. Via Laughing Squid.
UPDATE: Keep in mind that 2012 is The Year of the Horse Head Mask, perhaps casting further doubt on whether this is indeed a real vintage commercial.
A holiday party becomes a Star Wars-like showdown for two women who show up in the same red dress in this amusing new Christmas spot from Adam & Eve DDB for British fashion retailer Harvey Nichols. Both women start shooting deadly looks at each other—literally deadly, as red lasers shoot from their eyeballs and destroy much of the apartment, while the rest of the guests party on, mostly oblivious to the commotion. A little dog gets in on the action, too. "Avoid a same dress disaster this season," says the on-screen copy at the end. This is accomplished by getting a dress from Harvey Nichols. Perhaps each dress is one of a kind. Whatever the case, you know it will still look good on that walk of shame the day after the party. Via Copyranter.
Take that, Apple fanboys.
Samsung blew away the competition, including its nemesis in Cupertino, when it came to the reach of its online videos this year—producing the No. 1 campaign, and three of the top four, on Visible Measures' new list of the most-watched technology ad campaigns of 2012. (Visible Measures calls them the most "viral" ads, although unlike Unruly Media's list of 2012's viral ads, this one technically tracks straight views, not shares.)
Samsung's campaign for the Galaxy S III, making fun of Apple's cult of fans, tops the Visible Measures list with almost 72 million "True Reach" views, which Visible Measures defines as a combination of paid, owned and earned media performance. Its LeBron James campaign for the Galaxy Note II placed at No. 3 with 42 million views. Its Galaxy Note 10.1 campaign placed fourth with 23 million. And its Galaxy Note II global launch was No. 8 with 16 million views.
The only non-Samsung campaign in the top four was Intel and Toshiba's "The Beauty Inside" campaign, which reached No. 2 on the list with 54 million views. That episodic campaign told the story of a man who wakes up every day as a different person.
Apple did crack the list, at No. 6, with its iPhone 5 introductory video pulling in 18 million views.
Rounding out the top 10 are campaigns from Google, LG and Microsoft's Surface. See the full list below.
Microsoft: Surface by Microsoft
Google: Google Nexus 7
Samsung: Global Launch Galaxy Note II
LG: So Real It's Scary
Apple: Introducing iPhone 5
Google: Project Glass
Samsung: Introducing Galaxy Note 10.1
Samsung: LeBron's Day
Intel, Toshiba: The Beauty Inside
Samsung: Galaxy S III
Oh, I get it—soccer players.
Canal+ (that's pronounced cannle-plue, francophiles!) is the European HBO, and obviously people are excited about it—and about the big soccer matches it broadcasts—if this BETC spot is anything to go by. Even if you don't get the non-American-football joke straight away, the visuals here are excellent. And really, the potbellied man with the front of his T-shirt pulled up over his face is the international sign for sports fan.
Here, three pals do the "Gooooooal!" knee-slide through a French town, and river, and dock, and wheat field, presumably because their favorite Ligue 1 team has just scored. Where there seems to be CG in this spot (if you can figure out how they got the fans through the hedge using casters or drag mats, feel free to explain it to me in the comments), it is used well—these gentlemen appear to be going faster via knee than most of us can go on the subway here in New York City. (This agency-client team knows a thing or two about effects, too, having won the Grand Prix in Film Craft at Cannes this year for their triumphant spot "The Bear.")
Other nice touches here: the costume on the biker on the little farm-country road; the trip down the stairs (again, if that was a practical effect, I'd love to know how it was done); the "Ode to Joy" going underwater and becoming briefly muffled; and, of course, the postman, who has that reaction everyone has when they recognize that people who like their team are cheering.
All of this raises some serious and important questions about knee-based inter-département travel. Do you have to have a knee license to cross regional boundaries? Can you go at any time, or must you have recently seen a rerun of Zinedine Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi? Are all knees all-terrain, or just those of soccer fans?
And will someone be waiting for you at the end of your journey with a spray can of Bactine and a Band-Aid? Because, as everyone who has been 6 remembers, doing that to your knees hurts like hell.
Client Management: Samantha Etienne, Béatrice Roux, Mathieu Mazuel, Guillaume Sionis
Agency: BETC, Paris
Agency Management: Alexandre George, Guillaume Espinet, Barbara Hartmann
Chief Creative Officer: Stephane Xiberras
Creative Director: Olivier Apers
Art Director: Ludovic Labayrade
Copywriter: Antoine Lenoble
TV Producer: Isabelle Ménard
Production Company: Henry de Czar
Film Director: Bart Timmer
Director of Photography: Alex Lamarque
Media Strategy Planner: Vianney Vaute
Who Co-founders Michael Krivicka (l.) and James Percelay
What Viral video marketing agency
Where Outside New York offices
Each time a mysterious new viral gimmick breaks on YouTube, among the first questions that comes to a reporter’s mind is, “Is this another Thinkmodo marketing stunt?” Michael Krivicka, a video editor, and James Percelay, a former line producer for Saturday Night Live, quickly made a name for their year-and-a-half-old venture by creating eye-catching, buzz-worthy guerilla footage for brands. Its recent video for Popcorn Indiana about a machine that shoots popcorn straight into your mouth has racked up some 1.9 million YouTube views since launching in mid-September. Still, Krivicka said, “You’ll never see us use a cute baby or a cat.”
The pre-Internet world—just before the boom, circa 1993—hella sucked. I am, of course, too young to remember that dark and disturbing era, since I'm only 9 years old. But if I could recall those grim analog times, I'd see a land of screenless phones connected to cords, like babies dangling from umbilicals, voices on the other end screaming in anguish for streams of digital data to set them free. From that overblown metaphor we smoothly segue into a discussion of Diesel's "Pre-Internet Experience" campaign via ad agency SMFB. The work promotes the relaunch of the low-tech YUK shoe, originally introduced in '93 and being brought back "just like they were," by challenging people to give up Facebook for three days or Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for two. (The contest ignores Pinterest entirely, like all sane people should.) The brand is using Facebook and a website to drive the contest, an irony that's either delicious or nonexistent, take your pick. (Diesel could hardly count on skywriting and faxes alone.) Twenty winners will receive YUKs. Promo clips offer hotel-room karate and urban parkour scenarios and play up the fact that these backward-ass, bone-age shoes don't support tracking, timing or wall posting. They just protect your feet. Who the hell wants that?
It looks like New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is finally getting a starring role. Unfortunately for him, it won't be on the field against the Jaguars this Sunday. It's in this new ad for TiVo. The company announced in two videos last month that Tebow would be its new brand ambassador—and not just because his name sounds almost identical to its own. "He is a highly Googled, highly buzzed-about, talked-about athlete as there is in the world," CEO Tom Rogers told Bloomberg. "We're going to make much better use of him than the Jets have this season." Well, have they? The new spot opens with Tebow lounging in a spare living room with two children explaining that they just got a TiVo. "Mom did a TiVo search on you … Now, whenever you're on a show, any show, it gets recorded," says the sister. "And then, she watches you in sloooow-mo," chimes in the shaggy headed little brother. "My dad is not your biggest fan right now," says the girl. "I can't see why," Tebow replies with a smile. "TiVo makes TV about a thousand times better," he says in the closing voiceover. If this whole football thing doesn't work out, he won't have acting to fall back on, either.
Expedia's journey through darkness into light continues.
The travel site isn't shying away from big, difficult topics in its "Find yours" campaign from 180 LA. Back in October, it unleashed a powerful long-form spot endorsing gay marriage through the story of a father who tells of the long journey he took to understand his lesbian daughter—but not before he almost disowned her. Now, the brand has released an even more gut-wrenching spot—the three-minute film below starring Maggie Cupit, a cancer survivor who offers an almost unbearably poignant reminiscence of a young friend named Odie.
Odie was 13 when they met. They were both patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Maggie fought back her cancer and became healthy; Odie died from his. In the spot, Maggie is seen traveling to Dallas for a St. Jude's fundraiser, where she tells Odie's story—remembering their incredible bond, and in particular his almost superhuman fearlessness in the face of a viciously untimely death. Like the earlier spot, this one is about more than one kind of trip. It relates a physical journey and an emotionally transformative one at the same time—which is Expedia's larger point about all kinds of travel. "Find your understanding" was the tagline on the earlier spot. This one ends with "Find your strength."
It's a commercial that frankly bowls you over. It will have its enemies who will say it's exploitative. But in fact it feels like the opposite. It's a story that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible—it was created in collaboration with St. Jude's and thus is also a de facto PSA—and if Expedia wants to tell it, and tie a brand positioning to it, that's not the worst thing in the world. And even if it is opportunistic, it nevertheless has a tangible charitable aspect. Over at the Expedia website, the company is matching donations to St. Jude's up to $250,000.
In the wilds of uncertainty, pain and loss, these Expedia ads suddenly discover redemption. That's a significant accomplishment—and not out of character at all for a company that helps you see everything the world has to offer.
Client: St. Jude Children's Hospital
Agency: 180 LA
Executive Creative Director: William Gelner
Creative Director: Gavin Milner
Copywriter: Mike Burdick
Art Director: Mike Bokman
Head of Production, Managing Partner: Peter Cline
Producer: David Emery
Production Company: Boxer Films
Director: David Adam Roth
Director of Photography: Lawson Deming
Executive Producer: Beth George
Producer: Emile Hanton
Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Gabriel Britz
Producer: Alexandra Zickerick
Executive Producer: C.L. Weaver
Assistant Editor: Ko Massiah
Colorist: Bob Festa
Transfer Facility: New Hat
Recording Studio: Eleven Sound
Mixer: Scott Burns
Assistant Mixer: A.J. Murillo
Executive Producer: D.J. Fox
Composer: Adam Taylor
Brand Marketing Director: Vic Walia
Ellen DeGeneres lets all sorts of groan-inducing, size-based bon mots innocently fly as she exhorts Santa's elves to make more toys for a seasonal giveaway contest in this JCPenney spot. But the biggest joke here is the protest and call for a boycott by mean-spirited, tone-deaf and irrelevant conservative group One Million Moms, which continues to operate under the assumption that anyone gives a crap about what it has to say, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Previously, One Million Moms objected when Penney hired openly gay Ellen as its spokeswoman, and complained again when the retailer featured a lesbian couple in its catalog. (It's almost as if JCPenney is secretly backing the Moms, because the store's image certainly soars each time the hateful group pops off.) The organization, an offshoot of the American Family Association, has this to say about Ellen's elves ad: "JCP has made their choice to offend a huge majority of their customers again. Christians must now vote with their wallets." I'd like to think true Christians would vote with their hearts and heads … for acceptance, understanding and basic common sense.
Listen up, wankers. Two British soccer fans would like a word.
While their French counterparts are spending their time moronically knee-skidding through wheat fields, the fans of Manchester United and Manchester City have more serious business to attend to—namely, denigrating each other in the most colorful language they can find. In this ESPN spot from Wieden + Kennedy in New York, it is certainly colorful—so much so, particularly to the American ear, that it requires a whole second spot to give helpful definitions for most of the insults.
The conceit for the spot is to ask each fan to imagine rooting for the other side. But they simply can't do it. To the United fan, supporting City means you've been doomed since birth to be a moppet, a billy-no-mates, a plonker. To the City fan, supporting United means you're likewise preordained to be a divvy, a minger, a right git. None of these are compliments. Had they been born on the other side of the rivalry, both lads confirm, they'd have no self-respect, no value, no girlfriend (sorry, no "fit bird") and no future.
It's a timely spot—the latest Manchester derby will be played on Saturday—and it fits nicely into the ongoing "It's not crazy, it's sports" theme. We'll ignore the inconvenient fact that British fans often are crazy, renowned for having criminals and bigots in their midst, and focus instead on the more lighthearted core truth here—that ridiculing the opposition's fans is a fundamental, and usually harmlessly amusing, part of sports.
Got that, you tosser?
Spot "Born Into It"
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, New York
Executive Creative Directors: Scott Vitrone, Ian Reichenthal
Creative Directors: Brandon Henderson, Stuart Jennings
Copywriter: Dave Canning
Art Director: Cyrus Coulter
Head of Content Production: Lora Schulson
Executive Producer: Temma Shoaf
Brand Strategists: Jason Gingold, Marshall Ball (Digital Strategist)
Account Team: Casey Bernard, Katie Hoak, Alex Scaros
Business Affairs: Sara Jagielski, Kara Driscoll
Production Company: Imperial Woodpecker
Director: Stacy Wall
Executive Producer, Chief Operating Officer: Doug Halbert
Line Producer: Sam Levine
Director of Photography: Danny Cohen
Editorial Company: Mackenzie Cutler
Editor: Ian Mackenzie
Post Executive Producer: Sasha Hirschfeld
Visual Effects Company: Mass Market
Visual Effects Flame Artists: Fabien Coupez, Drew Downes
Executive Producer: Louisa Cartwright
Producer: Giselle Bailey
Telecine Company: Company 3
Colorist: Tom Poole
Mix Company: Heard City
Mixer: Philip Loeb
Sound Designers: Sam Shaffer, Mackenzie Cutler
Producer: Gloria Pitagorsky
Song: "Beginning of the End"
Artist: Cockney Rejects
On the heels of College Humor's viral Instagram parody set to Nickleback, Newcastle Brown Ale is offering an app called The Subtexter—part of its ongoing "No bollocks" campaign from Droga5—that lets you expose the more honest subtext behind your shoddily lit, clichéd photos of everyday crap. All those humblebrag shots of you on vacation? Or the billion and one photos you took of your cat in the hope that one of them will catapult your feline (and by proxy, you) to meme stardom? You can now turn that subtext into actual text directly on the picture. Created by Droga, The Subtexter lets you choose a clichéd category, select a stock photo and cover it, meme style, with impact type and a number of witty captions like "Look, I'm relaxing and bragging" for vacation pics and "I'm at brunch, I hope you wish you were here" for the many budding food photographers. Of course, the idea is to Subtext your own pictures, not the stock ones, which takes a certain amount of irony awareness. But who cares? It's good, branded fun!
Two numbers spurred Jamie Barrett, a former partner and executive creative director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, to open his own agency in San Francisco: 10 and 50.
“[Last year] I hit my 10-year mark [at Goodby], and I turned 50 years old,” said Barrett, a veteran creative leader known for his work on Nike, Comcast and the NBA. “Those two things made me go, ‘I’ve got another big chapter in me, and what’s that going to be?’”
This month, Barrett, who’s now 51, and another Goodby expat, Patrick Kelly, 35, launch barrettSF with two accounts (Pac-12 Networks and California Redwood Association), a handful of projects and the deceptively simple goal of creating great ads and having fun. Barrett, who in his 27-year career also worked at Fallon and Wieden + Kennedy, is creative director, and Kelly, who was director of brand publicity at Goodby, is managing director.
With barrettSF, Barrett joins a string of accomplished creative leaders who have left established shops in the past two years to strike out on their own, including Ty Montague, Gerry Graf and Alex Bogusky. Each was in his 40s or early 50s and drew on decades of experience to start anew.
“It’s a challenge for agencies, but a great time for clients because small, new startup agencies have a tremendous amount of top-level talent that is underutilized,” said Ken Robinson of Ark Advisors. “It’s a terrific opportunity to get people who are going to work even harder to prove themselves and give you tremendous access and great insight.”
Barrett said his move didn’t stem from any disaffection with his previous agency. Rather, he sought a new challenge in a market that he knows well. Also, he had considered starting a shop as far back as 1998, when he left Wieden’s Portland, Ore., office to become the creative chief at the New York office of Fallon.
“I’m really looking to assemble a group of people where collectively we’re able to do anything and everything well,” said Barrett. “That’s the nature of advertising now. You have to look at it holistically. You can’t be good at one thing but blind in another area.”
Classically, barrettSF’s initial accounts came via past relationships. A friend introduced Barrett to executives at the Redwood Association, which seeks to promote the virtues of using redwood for, say, building a deck. The group hasn’t advertised before. Likewise, Pac-12, which launched in August, is just getting into marketing. The network’s president, Gary Stevenson, is a former marketing leader at the NBA, which Barrett and Kelly worked on at Goodby.
Like most startups, barrettSF is self-financed. “I was just naive enough, I suppose, just emotionally ready to do this, that I didn’t have [investors] lined up when I made this decision,” Barrett said.
Barrett is all about creating a more casual and quirky office environment by going shoeless and displaying a baby redwood tree as a plant.
Soon, he’ll also hang a photo of oddly profound graffiti that someone spray-painted last week on the glass door to barrettSF’s storefront office: “Don’t Let Your Dreams Be Dreams.”
“If you’re going to write graffiti, it’s better than, ‘Screw you, new ad agency,’” Barrett joked.
New gig President, TBWAChiatDay, New York
Old gig Group president, TBWA U.K.
As soon as you arrived at TBWAChiatDay N.Y., one of the agency’s largest clients, Vonage, went into review. What’s that been like?
You have to wrestle advantage out of these situations. I want to try to make the office agile and modern, and it’s an opportunity to sit down and completely reassess where we’re at and build a new team out of it.
Any advice from TBWA CEO Tom Carroll?
He said, “Build more from what you have here.” This agency has been quite focused on New York, but I want to make it feel more worldly and bigger, more globally connected to the TBWA network.
You studied archeology at university, specializing in French Paleolithic cave painting. How did you get into advertising?
I didn’t have a [career] plan. I was playing sports with somebody who worked in the industry. I joined Young & Rubicam’s media department in London. I was one of those guys back in the early ‘90s with a calculator and a big pile of paper, trying to work out rates and negotiate.
I’m genuinely an explorer and try to figure things out for myself. I’ve tried everything from the peaceful end of the spectrum with meditation to the crazy end where I was jumping off a hill with a hang glider. Mentors have been a very wide and eclectic bunch. Nancy Koehn, a professor of history and business at Harvard, taught me at Babson College, which is the [TBWA parent] Omnicom University. Of all the speakers, she was the one I was drawn to as a mentor because she combined the love of classics, history and ancient Greek plays with modern business context.
You’re living in SoHo after working for TBWA in London, L.A. and Manchester. How do you like Manhattan?
It makes you burn brightly. And for somebody who enjoys that phosphorescence, it makes me feel that way. There are so many possibilities here, it’s a very exciting place for somebody like myself who always wants to go out there and explore, learn and do.
Was it a hard decision to uproot your family?
My children have had exactly the same response to the city as me. They’re wandering around, bright-eyed and getting stuck into everything.
How did you become a good friend of Craig Carton, co-host of WFAN’s Boomer and Carton radio show?
We got to know him through our kids, who are best friends at [Chris Whittle’s new private school] Avenues. There was an instant connection. Our wives are best friends as well. Beer and pizza on a Sunday afternoon is a fairly regular format for us, but Craig’s obviously watching five screens at once and interpreting the games, and I’m still wrestling to understand the basic rules of American football.
How long have you had the nickname “Badger”?
I’ve tried to leave it behind and here I am being asked about it again. I went pretty much salt-and-pepper gray virtually overnight when I was 18.
You’re a serious runner. How is a marathon like running an agency?
You’ve got to have a long game in your head about how you’re going the distance and a sense of how you’ll get there. You need to cut out a lot of noise around you and be quite Zen about how you’ll get there.