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Is This Lovely 2-Minute Spot the Most Relaxing TV Commercial Ever?

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Viewers tuning in to a number of Sky channels in the U.K. this week will see a very strange sight indeed—a two-minute commercial in which almost nothing happens, and there's no voiceover, no people and no product pitch, except for a simple URL at the end.

In fact, the spot is almost an anti-ad.



"The world is becoming an increasingly noisy place and sometimes whispering can be more effective than shouting. No one has ever created an ad quite like this, and we hope viewers will enjoy this rare moment of calm," says Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of a mindfulness app called Calm, which made the ad and bought the airtime.

The creative was developed by agency Dancing Aardvarks, and it simply shows five relaxing scenes—a mountain view, waves onto a beach, rain in a forest, a lakeside sunset and an underwater scene. The only sounds are those of nature.

It seems anti-commercial, but in fact it's not. The Calm app, while free to download and try, costs $9.99 for a monthly subscription or $39.99 for a year. As a stunt, though, the creative certainly stands out—and nicely embodies what the app itself claims to do: help you relax and be less stressed.

It also builds on a phenomenon called "Slow TV" that has become hip in Europe. Examples include the broadcast in Norway of a seven-hour train ride between Oslo and Bergen (which a quarter of the population reportedly tuned in for) as well as a three-hour National Gallery tour and a two-hour canal boat trip broadcast on the BBC.

David LaChapelle Gives Makeup the Willy Wonka Treatment in Ads for Ulta Beauty

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Ulta Beauty is more than a chain that sells beauty products. It's a playground brimming with delight and surprise, a shopping experience that will make you feel like a kid in a candy store. Really!

That's the message of Ulta's first national brand campaign from Mullen Lowe.

Tagged "All Things Beauty," the initiative features digital units and spots directed in a whimsical, surrealistic style by filmmaker and photographer David LaChapelle. In a pair of 15-second ads, products sold at the store serve as colorful props, standing in for tasty treats in a confectionary shop in one ad, and as the rippling waves of an ornate pool in another.



"As soon as I saw these scripts, I was intrigued at the thought of the interesting colorful playground Ulta wanted to create," LaChapelle—an Andy Warhol protégé whose often provocative commercial work includes the once-controversial "kissing sailors" print ad for Diesel—tells AdFreak.

As part of the push, Ulta will make its SnapChat debut and run ads on Google Preferred/YouTube, PopSugar and Spotify. The media buy covers national cable and shows on ABC and NBC, as well as shoppable episodes of Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce on Bravo.



Stretching beyond the bounds of typical beauty campaigns was a must, says Christy Blain, group creative director at Mullen Lowe. "We had to break from the beauty clutter to stand out and get noticed. The goal of the creative was to capture the spirit of the store," which Blain describes as "bright and bubbly and fun and pressure-free."

In other words, you're not at Sephora anymore, Dorothy.

To convey that vibe, "We were adamant that all the products be real and caught in camera, so there was no CGI used to build out the sets," Blain says. "The entire pool and every single dessert in the sweet shop was made out of one or more of the 20,000 beauty products Ulta Beauty sells."

LaChapelle says he enjoyed bringing an artsy touch to a retail campaign. "Art in advertising is definitely possible," he says, "if advertisers and clients are willing to trust the artists they work with to deliver captivating work while still portraying the message and brand."

For Ulta, his playful visual élan yields some tempting eye candy that sweetens the brand proposition.

CREDITS
Client: Ulta Beauty
CMO: Dave Kimbell
Agency: Mullen Lowe, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Chief Creative Officer: Mark Wenneker
Executive Creative Director: Jason Black
Group Creative Director: Christy Blain  
Senior Copywriter: Lindsay Walker
Group Account Director: Anne Elwell
Director of Broadcast Production: Susanna Gates Rose
Senior Art Producer: John Rosato
Photographer/Director: David LaChapelle
Director of Photography: Jonathan Sela
Set Designer: Annie Sperling
Producer: Ron Morhoff
Production Company: The Mill
Producer: Leighton Greer
Lead Finishing Artist: Becky Porter
Lead Colorist: Greg Reese
Editorial: Final Cut
Editor: Adam Rudd
Producer: Jessica Locke
Audio: Beacon Street Studios
Composer: Andrew Feltenstein
Composer: John Nau
Producer: Adrea Lavezzoli
Producer: Kate Vadnais
Mixer: Mike Franklin

These Cinematic AAA Spots Focus on Brand's Insurance Plans Instead of Roadside Service

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In a new campaign for AAA, San Francisco agency Muh-tay-zik | Hof-fer tries to "re-imagine" the venerable American brand by focusing on how its insurance offerings—not just its roadside assistance—improve the quality of everyday life.

"We love the idea of taking a big, trusted American brand and breathing new life into it," says John Matejczyk, the agency's executive creative director. "AAA already had enormous trust. But we saw an opportunity to increase their relevance."

The multimedia push includes digital, social, radio and out-of-home elements, and a pair of low-key, minute-long TV spots. Each selects a visual focus around which to spin its story.

In "Miles of Life," a car's odometer sets the pace, counting down 160,000 miles in the existence of both the vehicle and the family that owns it. (Customers use their car insurance every 160,000 miles on average, according to AAA.)



"Car Selfies" puts the vehicle at the center of the frame, with the action taking place around it over long periods of time.



In each commercial, a voiceover explains that AAA helps drivers get more every day: Roadside assistance, help planning trips, and savings on clothes, restaurants, event tickets and hotel rooms. That's an appealing message, though the tagline, "Insurance that's not just insurance," is a misfire.

Neither spot is innovative nor a "re-imagining" in the true sense of the word. Even so, the ads are novel for the category, and effectively convey the role AAA can play in providing car owners and their vehicles with a smoother ride through life.

Do You Have 1,000 Years to See This GIF Play Through to the End?

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For most people, GIFs are a convenient way to watch cats make weird faces and fall off the couch again and again. That's not a criticism. Most of us are simple beasts, drawn to isochronous ritual.

But Juha van Ingen and Janne Särkelä, both from Helsinki, feel the GIF has a higher artistic purpose, which is at the root of their new project, "As Long as Possible."

They've created a 12-gigabyte GIF of a plain black square that counts from 1 to 48,140,288 at regular 10-minute intervals. A full loop of the GIF will take 1,000 years to complete. A whole universe of cats will live and die in that time.

If the name of their project sounds familiar, that's because they lifted it from John Cage's weird organ project, currently playing at a church in Germany. That won't finish for another 600 years or so.

In any case, van Ingen and Särkelä are trying to get this thing funded so they can display it to the public. And while it's a pretentious conceptual piece that kind of misses the entire point of GIFs, we're all for it. There's something inherently cool and inspiring about people wanting to make things that outlive not only themselves, but almost everything they know or can imagine about the world.

As van Ingen put it, "We're talking about making it run for such a long time that the people who see it finish will have long forgotten about TV or the Internet. Isn't that mind-blowing?"

How 6 Creatives Around the World Are Helping Refugees Reclaim Their Identities

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For advertising folks looking for a way to be part of something bigger than themselves, this inspiring story might just do the trick. Six creatives from different parts of the world joined forces to launch I Am Not a Refugee, a site designed to help refugees find work appropriate to their skills.

It does so in a way that pays tribute to their training—by using storytelling and design to reposition them as writers, engineers, artists, doctors and other roles they held back home.

Once users fill out the form, they are vetted by the team and appear in a Pinterest-style series of image blocks, where you can look at their taglines, read their stories and contact them directly:
 



The site is in both Arabic and English.

The creatives who launched the site—Mike Wittrup, Daniel RørbækVitali Poluzhnikov, Mitsuko Sato, Caio Andrade and Didrik Persson—met at Hyper Island, and then collaborated online to kick off this project. In this AdFreak interview, they discussed I Am Not a Refugee at length.

Describe how the project came about.
Last week we were discussing how we could find interesting people among the newcomers to Europe to collaborate with when it comes to our everyday creative work. Then we realized that we should create a resource for everyone instead and make it into a movement.

Where are you based? Are you focusing on one country, or many?
All of us are working as creatives at different places around the world, trying to make exciting projects that help people. We're based in Copenhagen, Stockholm and São Paulo. But people from all over the world have contacted us and want to help. Since the refugee status is a global label, this initiative does not have any borders.

Are you personally touched by the crisis?
We have dealt with visa complications in our past, and we know how gated our world is in reality and how hard it can be to move. But other than the legal complications, there are cultural ones. To try to build a home in a new country is not an easy task, especially when you're labeled as a refugee.



How does the service work once people fill out the form?
We just released a new version of the site. We want to give these people a voice. The idea is to have a place where they can really be themselves—no labels, no begging. Just people like everyone else, telling their stories and showing the world what they are capable of.

How many refugees have you helped find work already?
The site was released [Tuesday, Sept. 22]. And in the first 24 hours we had 12 applications with professions such as artist, software engineers and dentists. We can't wait to hear the first success stories.

Can you share one person's story?
Meet Muhab:



"I am a software engineer graduate from Syria. After graduation I settled for two years in Istanbul, Turkey. During that time I worked as a webmaster, English teacher and an interpreter. Now I am in Berlin. I came with a job-seeker visa, and I am looking to start up my career as web developer in the front-end developing. I have experience in HTML5, CSS3, Bootstrap and some experience in JQuery. I am searching for an internship or a training so I can gain more skills in that area. Thank you for reading this. Best regards, Muhab." (From the editor: Entry lightly edited.)

Find more stories on the website.

How long will the project last? Do you plan to partner with any brands or organizations to extend it?
As long as it's relevant. The service will be driven by the community around it and by additional collaborations. Maybe people will need computers and other equipment for freelance work?

Are any non-refugees using the service, and if so, do you help them?
We're not going to ask someone, "Are you really a refugee?" We're not the people to judge that. All we can do it try to make sure that the people who need the service get to know about it and then connect those people with companies and people that need them.

What do you ultimately hope to accomplish?
To create new futures. To give people back their identity. Once you label everyone a "refugee," you take away their individuality.

What resources are you using to fund your project?
Our time and some lended free resources. It's quite cheap to make, so there is no money involved and there never will be.

———

For reference, about half a million refugees have crossed European borders so far this year, making it the EU's largest refugee crisis ever. Get more context on the routes they're taking as well as how many refugees each European country is likely to take. 

If you'd like to help out, make a donation to the UN Refugee Agency and share the I Am Not a Refugee resource with companies. Most refugees are relying heavily on smartphones to navigate tricky terrain, stay in touch with loved ones, and—little by little—rebuild their lives.

Ready to Shake a Ton of Hands at Advertising Week? Try This Handshake Tester First

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Death grip or clammy clasp?

Minneapolis agency Colle+McVoy often creates a special app for Advertising Week, and this year's is designed to help you with a fundamental networking task—the simple act of shaking hands.

Head over to HandshakeTester.com on your smartphone, flip the phone sideways and shake the virtual hand that's reaching out to your. Turn the phone back upright, and the site will analyze your shake—and let you know if you're on the right track or need some work.

I got the lobster claw at first, so my time in Maine is apparently paying off.

Ad of the Day: This Magazine Cleverly Hid a Dark Message in a Tour of a Luxury Home

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Home magazine is one of New Zealand's premier architecture, design and interiors titles, publishing, in its own words, "lavish spreads of inspiring homes, as well as the latest restaurants, art, furniture and homeware."

But a recent issue featured a home that held a few secrets.

It opened like any other editorial feature, with a normal shot of the home's exterior and the beginnings of an anodyne essay about the Ashworth family and the modern Auckland home they'd built over four years (click the images to enlarge):

 
But on the second spread of the feature, there appeared to be what looked like a smear of blood on a wall near the stairs:

 
The third spread was even more unsettling, with an overturned chair and a shattered bowl lying amid the otherwise luxurious surroundings:

 
And then the fourth and final spread, showing a broken table:

 
The essay itself ended without any explanation, but then, in the lower-right corner of the final page, there was a paragraph explaining that the whole thing was an elaborate domestic violence PSA—designed to raise awareness that such violence happens in high socioeconomic households in New Zealand, too.

The blurb reads: "Family violence can happen in any home. Last year alone, police made more than 100,000 family violence investigations across the country in every kind of neighborhood. And these are just the incidents we know about. If you suspect someone in your community is experiencing violence, please don't ignore it. No matter what street you live on, family violence is not OK. For more information on how to help, visit areyouok.org.nz."

FCB New Zealand created the campaign in partnership with Home and anti-domestic violence group It's Not OK. Several pieces of New Zealand data informed the campaign: that 26 percent of women who live in a home with a household income over $100,000 a year have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner, as have one in four women who have completed a university degree or higher.

"Everyone knows that family violence is a serious issue, but most people presume it's something that affects certain families," says Jeremy Hansen, editor of Home magazine. "But in reality, family violence happens in any New Zealand home, regardless of socioeconomic background. That's why, in our new issue, Home is working with It's Not OK to remind our readers that family violence can affect any household—and if it does, there's something all of us can do about it."

Check out the case study here:



CREDITS
Client: It's Not OK
Media Partner: Home magazine
Agency: FCB, Auckland, New Zealand
Regional Executive Creative Director: James Mok
Executive Creative Directors: Tony Clewett, Regan Grafton
Copywriter: Matt Williams
Art Director: Freddie Coltart
Head of Craft: Nick Smith
Designer / Retoucher: Mike Braid
Group Account Director: Jane Wardlaw
Account Manager: Chanelle McDonald
Head of Content, Art Buyer: Pip Mayne
Editors: Jared Yearsley, Grant Nicholson
Photography (Magazine): Simon Wilson
Photography (Film): Mike Braid
Head of Media (Strategy): Rufus Chuter
Media Manager: Nicole Earnshaw
Media Director: Rachel Leyland
Head of Media (PR, Activation, Social): Angela Spain
PR Account Manager: Alice Eade
Brand Experience Director: Ele Quigan
Digital Media Director: Kate Grigg

Nike Salutes the Last-Place Marathon Finisher in Ad That's Like a Sequel to 'Jogger'

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Nike has assembled the same creative partners behind the famous 2012 "Jogger" spot—ad agency Wieden + Kennedy and Park Pictures director Lance Acord—for its latest running ad, which makes a very similar point: that anyone can be a runner if they just start running.

Acord even uses a similar technique—a slow backward tracking shot—in the new ad, titled "Last," which is set on a marathon course where the final stragglers are just jogging through, trampling on a bed of crushed paper water cups and dodging the pedestrians who've already begun to reclaim the road.

Adweek responsive video player used on /video.

"Last" is a very different spot than "Jogger," though—both bigger and smaller in scope. Bigger because it's not just about running but about marathon running. ("You are not a runner," says the female voiceover. "You are especially not a marathon runner. But at the end of this, you will be.") Smaller because "Jogger," starring a very overweight kid, was clearly and starkly provocative, while "Last" is much more lighthearted.

The soundtrack here is "Every Little Bit Hurts" by Aretha Franklin from 1964. The spot points to nike.com/running and promotes the Nike+ Run Club, which democratizes running by serving runners of all ability levels.

CREDITS
Client: Nike
Spot: "Last"
Format: :60/:30
Launch Date: Oct. 11, 2015, North America TV

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Global Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O'Rourke
Interactive Director: Dan Viens
Interactive Producer: Evelyn Loomis
Global Executive Producer: Matt Hunnicutt
Writer: Heather Ryder, Darcie Burrell
Art Director: Patty Orlando
Producer: Shelley Eisner
Associate Producer: Julie Gursha
Strategic Planning: Henry Lambert
Business Affairs: Anna Beth Nagel
Account Team: Alyssa Ramsey, Marisa Weber, Molly Rugg
Executive Creative Directors: Mark Fitzloff, Joe Staples

Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Lance Acord
Executive Producer: Jackie Kelman Bisbee
Executive Producer: Mary Ann Marino
Line Producer: Caroline Kousidonis
Director of Photography: Lance Acord

Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Angus Wall
Post Producer: Angela Dorian
Post Executive Producer: Angela Dorian

VFX Company: A52
VFX Supervisor: Pat Murphy
Flame Artist: Pat Murphy
VFX Producer: Michael Steinmann
Titles/Graphics: Just Do It+ Nike title cards – Artwork from Patty Orlando

Music+Sound Company: Walker Music/Barking Owl
Composer: Edited track
Sound Designer: Michael Anastasi
Song: "Every Little Bit Hurts" – Aretha Franklin Album "Running out of Fools" 1964
Producer: Sara Matarazzo/Abbey Hickman, Walker / Kelly Bayett, Barking Owl

Mix Company: Eleven Sound
Mixer: Jeff Payne
Producer: Dawn Redmann

Ad of the Day: This Space Mission Shows Everything Wrong With Advertising Today

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What better way to kick off Advertising Week that with the ultimate brand fail?

The brand this time is AstroBoost, an energy drink you've probably never heard of (for reasons that will soon become clear). Lots of brands want to go to space lately, but when AstroBoost tried to do so, it didn't exactly work out as planned—as you can see in the spot here:

Yes, it's Adobe and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners's latest "Do you know what your marketing is doing?" campaign. Client and agency have partnered on several of these spots, and the new installment is as entertaining as the previous ones, "Click, Baby, Click!" and "Woo Woo?" The message here, clearly communicated if not in these words, is that advertising doesn't have to be rocket science, even as marketing gets more sophisticated and data heavy. The new spot comically shows that marketing decisions made without data or through siloed teams can be disastrous.

"In the two years since we launched the campaign, marketing has become increasingly complicated with an explosion of new channels and fresh sources of data," Adobe vp of experience marketing Alex Amado tells Adweek. "However, the bottom line remains the same: Adobe is the company helping marketers make sense of and act on their data, so they can really know what their marketing is doing."

The space theme is amusingly overblown, which is the point, but still relatable, says Amado.

"Launching a mission to Mars seemed like one of the largest, most audacious projects we could think of, and we thought it would be funny to show it being derailed by conflicting and disconnected sources of data," he says. "We think the campaign will resonate with marketers because while they've probably never had to scrub a space launch, many of them have had campaigns 'fail to launch' due to last-minute changes, conflicting data sources or lack of insight."

Will Elliott, creative director at GS&P, said the situation is "all too familiar as it relates to modern-day marketing—the moment you're ready to launch a campaign and suddenly there are a million voices telling you to stop or move in a different direction. And we wanted to show that if you're feeling overwhelmed by data, Adobe can help you make informed marketing decisions from the start."

In addition to paid placements, the spot will be shown at many Advertising Week sessions, as previous ads in the campaign were. But this year, Adobe is taking the campaign a step further by bring AstroBoost to life as "the official beverage of marketers" during the event. The drink will be distributed by teams on the ground, and there will be "taste tests" and other activities.

The Advertising Week integrations are key for the campaign, says Amado.

"Advertising Week provides the ideal audience for this campaign—modern marketers who are actively seeking insights and information to improve their work," he says. "It's also our third year debuting a new ad at Advertising Week, and we almost see this as a kind of 'PSA' about the pitfalls of modern marketing. Whether it's not fully understanding your data with 'Click, Baby, Click!,' trying to predict the next social media fad with 'Woo Woo?' or being overwhelmed by too many uncoordinated data sources and failing at the broader mission with 'The Launch,' these are extreme versions of very real problems, and they drive great conversations at Advertising Week and beyond."

CREDITS
Client: Adobe
Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Title of Creative Work: "The Launch"

Creative
Partner: Rich Silverstein
Creative Director: Will Elliot
Creative Director: Patrick Knowlton
Art Director: Hanna Wittmark
Copywriter: Kate Baynham

Production
Director of Content Production: Tod Puckett
Senior Content Producer: Benton Roman

Account Services
Account Director: Ed Allt-Graham
Account Manager: Chelsea Bruzzone

Brand Strategy
Group Brand Strategy Director: Bonnie Wan
Brand Strategist: Etienne Ma

Communication Strategy
Director of Communication Strategy: Christine Chen
Group Communication Strategy Director: Dong Kim
Senior Communication Strategist: Caitlin Neelon
Communication Strategist: Devon Lynch
Jr. Communication Strategists: Catherine Kim/Elyse McAvoy

Research & Analytics
Group Research & Analytics Director: Margaret Coles
Research & Analytics Director: Cassi Husain

Business Affairs
Business Affairs Manager: Heidi Killeen

Production Company
Company name: MJZ
Director: Frederik Bond
Director of Photography: Jess Hall
Production Designer: Shepherd Frankel
Producer: Jude Vermeulen
Executive Producer: Kate Leahy

Editorial Company
Company name: Union Editorial / Marshall Street Editors
Editor: Patric Ryan
Assistant Editor: Melissa Geczy
Executive Producers: Joe Ross / S.J. O'Mara

Telecine
Company name: The Mill
Colorist: Adam Scott

VFX/Finishing
Company name: The Mill
Executive Producer: Sue Troyan
VFX Producer: Jordan Sharon
Shoot Supervisors: James Allen, David Lawson
2D Lead: James Allen
3D Lead: David Lawson

Sound Design and Music
Music: Stimmung
Sound Design: Stimmung
Sound Designer: Gus Koven

Mix
Company name: Lime
Mixer: Rohan Young

Ricky Gervais Is Back as the World's Most Contemptuous Pitchman for Optus

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Australian broadband and cable company Optus has brought back Ricky Gervais for two more ads in which he absolutely, positively couldn't give a damn about what he's pitching.

That's the plot of the spots, actually—the same contemptuously meta approach that Optus took earlier this year when it first used the British comedian as a kind of anti-pitchman. Oddly, those earlier ads were a bit more engaging—the new ones don't have quite the same punch. (Maybe he took the idea too seriously.) Still, they're good for a chuckle, as Gervais delivers the goods in his trademark stupidly arrogant David Brent style.

Here are the two new ads:



"The first Ricky piece released earlier this year delivered over 8 million streams with record sharing levels. The audience enjoyed it and wanted more," says Charlie Leahy, executive creative director at agency Emotive. "This follow-up once again allows Ricky to take control of the scripts and deliver it with his globally renowned comedy style. It was a privilege to work in a true collaboration with Ricky and the team at Optus on this content campaign."

Check out the earlier Optus spots here:

Danny Trejo Is a Prison Dog in This Zany PSA for Friends of Animals

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If you ever wondered whether Danny Trejo could successfully pull off a role dressed as a floppy-eared mutt, you can rest easily at last.

The dude from Breaking Bad and Machete delivers a memorable turn in "Ruff Life," a 90-second Friends of Animals PSA that pounds home the importance of spaying and neutering pets.



Created by Atlanta agency breensmith, the work is reminiscent of its controversial print and OOH campaign last year, where it cast dogs as homeless people and a cat as a hooker. A hooker cat does appear here—played by Victoria's Secret model Cynthia Kirchner, with a long tail and ears for a hat—but Trejo is definitely top dog, portraying a scruffy pooch who can't get a break.

"My mom spent most of her life in and out of this place," he begins, behind bars at the local animal shelter. "My dad wasn't so lucky. He got hit by a drive-by when I was just a pup." Some prison humor follows (all the dogs are members of packs with gang names like Canine Crips and Bloodhound Bloods), and there's a goofy flashback to Trejo's capture, where he starts screaming, "Animal abuse!"

Fun fact: That's Jaleel White—Urkel from Family Matters!—making the collar.

Rescue Dogs Rock NYC recently took an similar left-hand approach, using the Ashley Madison hacking scandal as a springboard for a pair of pet adoption videos.

In the end, Friends of Animals directs viewers to its website for affordable spaying and neutering options, with a sobering reminder that "more than 3 million dogs and cats will die in shelters this year."

I'm not worried about Trejo rotting away on the inside, though. He knows a good lawyer.

Agency creative director Chris Breen answered a few questions for AdFreak:

Danny Trejo did time for quite a few years at one point in his life. How did he respond to the dog-as-prisoner scenario?
It never came up. Danny was amazing. One of the nicest people we have ever worked with. He did this out of the goodness of his heart and because he liked the script. I think he appreciated the slightly-off nature of the humor. He's always played the tough guy—the personification is what we wanted. I'm sure his life experiences have made him what he is today.

Are you concerned that the controversial elements might overpower the message?
We did weigh the fact that we are using the struggles of people to underline the plight of millions of animals. The idea for the video actually came from a great response we got on the outdoor and digital we created with the same messaging. We know it's a balancing act. Hopefully people understand the intent and at the very least it makes them think of the issue in a new light. At the end of the day, it's a topic that kind of gets glanced over. We wanted to give Friends of Animals a platform to break the ice and wake people up to the seriousness of the issue without preaching or putting them to sleep. OK. That was the worst pun ever. 

Any amusing stories from the shoot?
Danny can literally howl like a dog. That wasn't in the script, he just started belting out howls and we were all like, Wow. We have to use that. He would howl, and the dogs would howl back. Thank goodness no one got bit. And to the best of my knowledge, no doggie messes were stepped in. That could have thrown off the whole schedule.

Mariah Carey's Game of War Ad Is Here, and It's Actually Not Terrible

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It's just another day getting knocked on your ass by hordes of medieval soldiers and a fire-breathing dragon, and then Mariah Carey suddenly comes along and saves you.

A new ad from mobile role-playing game Game of War: Fire Age, riffs on the pop singer's 1993 hit "Hero"—with a cameo from the star herself. The approach adds a bit of humor to the barely cogent sex-sells melodrama of Kate Upton's blitz for the brand. Case in point—the sight gag of a large, angry man pancaking an enemy with a giant hammer, while Carey sweetly croons in the background.



Mariah looks oddly squished in the spot, like the aspect ratio was messed with. And she doesn't exactly look like a warrior as she runs off to kill more fire-breathing dragons. But the spot could certainly have been a whole lot worse.

The use of another huge celebrity is sure to further raise the profile of a micro-payment-hungry strategy game that's found a perhaps-surprising degree of success, given that it makes some players feel like nothing more than an ATM.

Hopefully, Machine Zone, the game's publisher, doesn't run this ad to the point where it drives everyone insane. But given what the endorsement probably cost, that's probably wishful thinking.

Barton F. Graf's First Campaign for Bai Drinks Makes No Sense, Just Like the Product

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Barton F. Graf 9000 dives into absolute nonsense, quite literally, in its first campaign for Bai, an independent maker of low-calorie health beverages.

Three comical spots play off the fact that Bai drinks are loaded with antioxidants and have only 5 calories each—yet they taste good, too. This makes no sense—and so the characters in the ads are stuck in situations that make no sense either.



This is right in Barton F. Graf's wheelhouse, of course, as the agency is known for doing plenty of absurdist work for brands like Kayak."The choice was easy in our hunt for a like-minded agency partner that champions creative and understands our irreverent brand personality," says Chad Portas, chief creative officer at Bai.

The spots were directed by O Positive's David Shane, who had a big hit with the "Awkward Family Viewing" ads for HBO Go through SS+K.

"We've been fortunate to work with brands that completely redefine their category," says Gerry Graf, chief creative officer at Barton F. Graf. "Bai is like nothing else on the shelf. We're happy that we get to tell their story."

CREDITS
Client: Bai
Chief Executive Officer/Founder: Ben Weiss
Chief Marketing Officer: Michael Simon
Chief Creative Officer: Chad Portas
Director, Marketing Deliveries: Sharon Chabot

Agency: Barton F. Graf 9000
Chief Creative Officer: Gerry Graf
Executive Creative Director/Partner: Ian Reichenthal
Creative Director: Nick Kaplan
Creative Director: Amanda Clelland
Digital Strategist: Brandon Solis
Copywriter: Richard Langhorne
Art Director: Zack Madrigal
Chief Strategy Officer: Laura Janness
Head of Integrated Production: Josh Morse
Exec. Producer: Brad Powell/Amanda Revere
Account Director: Alex Stankiewicz/Jennifer Richardi
Business Affairs Director: Jennifer Pannent

Production Company: O Positive
Director: David Shane
Exec. Producer: Ralph Laucella
Exec. Producer: Marc Grill
Producer: Ken Licata/Kate Sutherland
DP: Joe Zizzo

Editorial: MackCut
Editor: Erik Laroi
Asst. Editor: Brendan Hogan
Editorial Producer: Sabina-Elease Utley
Exec. Producer: Sasha Hirschfeld

Music House: Butter
Composer: Andrew Sherman
Exec. Producer: Ian Jeffreys

Color: Company 3
Colorist: Tim Masick

Audio Mix: Heard City
Engineer: Eric Warzecha

Netflix Made a Button That Dims the Lights, Silences Your Phone, Orders Food and Turns on Netflix

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If you thought Domino's Grand Prix-winning emoji ordering was a cool one-click trick, check this out from Netflix. The streaming service, working with Pittsburgh-based agency Deeplocal, created a button that—with a single press—turns on your TV, brings you right to Netflix, dims the lights, silences your phone and orders your favorite food.



The Netflix Switch was unveiled at the NYC Maker Faire over the weekend. And a brilliantly fun little gadget it is. There's just one small problem: If you want one, you have to make it yourself—using step-by-step instructions at makeit.netflix.com. (But be warned, in Netflix's own words: "You should be comfortable with a soldering iron and have a solid understanding of electronics and programming before embarking on your journey to one-switch watching.")

Netflix is pretty into maker culture, with its product development teams holding regular Hack Days. And it wants the public to submit more bold ideas, which it hopes to bring to life with some code.

AT&T's New 'It Can Wait' Ad Tells the Quietly Tragic Story of a Would-Be Football Star

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"Fletcher's Drive" is the latest entry in AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign, which warns against texting, web-surfing, emailing and other forms of potentially dangerous smartphone use while driving. ESPN CreativeWorks, the cable network's in-house agency, crafted the six-minute film, which focuses on former high-school football star Fletcher Cleaves. Six years ago, as Cleaves was preparing to attend Lambuth University on a gridiron scholarship, his life was tragically altered when he was paralyzed from the chest down as the result of an automobile crash.

"All I saw was the glow from the phone on the other driver's face," he says in the video.

It's a chilling detail in a production that follows Cleaves via home-movie footage and re-enactments through a physical rehabilitation process far more agonizing—both physically and emotionally—than the hits he absorbed on the playing field. At one point, his father lifts him out of a wheelchair and carries him into a van, a profound contrast to pre-crash footage of the young man catching and carrying the football as a member of Memphis' Cordova High School Wolfpack.



"Fletcher's Drive" takes a more straightforward road to its destination than the campaign's last lauded short film from BBDO, which showed a brutal crash in reverse. That said, this new PSA is no less riveting and deftly succeeds at conveying its heartfelt message.

The story ends on a hopeful note—Cleaves recently graduated from college and now lives on his own. Even so, director Miles Jay's subdued approach, with muted colors and a melancholy soundtrack, reminds viewers how much can be lost and how devastatingly lives can change, forever, in the instant it takes for a driver to check his or her phone.

CREDITS
Client: AT&T

Agency: ESPN CreativeWorks
Writer/Producer: Ata Movassaghi
Creative Director: Jay Marrotte
Account Director: Christina Carey-Dunleavy
Vice President: Carrie Brzezinski

Production Company: Smuggler
Executive Producers: Patrick Milling Smith, Brian Carmody, Allison Kunzman
Producer: Erin Wile
Director: Miles Jay
DP: Jason McCormick

Editorial: WORK
Editor: Ben Jordan
Executive Producer: Erica Thompson
Senior Producer: Sari Resnick
Assistant Editor: Adam Witten

Music: Rob Simonsen, Composer
Produced by: Rob Simonsen and Taylor Lipari-Hassett

VFX: ArtJail
Executive Creative Director: Steve Mottershead
Head of Production: John Skeffington
Compositor: Joey Deady
Compositor: Ben Vaccaro

Sound Design & Mix: Barking Owl
Sound Designer:  Michael Anastasi
Creative Director: Kelly Bayett
Associate Producer: KC Dossett
Mixer: Patrick Navarre

Color Grade: Company 3
Senior Colorist: Tom Poole
Producer: Clare Movshon

Online/Finishing: Blacksmith
Flame Artist: Iwan Zwarts
Executive Producer: Charlotte Arnold

How Dunkin' Donuts and Airbnb Are Turning Google Searches Into Experiences in NYC

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Getting coffee and seeing a few sights are on the list of most Advertising Week attendees from out of town. And Dunkin' Donuts and Airbnb are ready to provide both with Google campaigns they're running this week.

Dunkin' worked with Johannes Leonardo and Trilia Media to build timetocoffee.com, which crunches two sets of data—the walk times to Dunkin' locations in the Times Square area, and current wait times at each—to determine which Dunkin' will get you coffee quickest.

Users who search for "coffee near me" on Google Maps or in Google Search on their mobile phone will see an ad that says, "Find the fastest coffee." Clicking the ad brings up Google Maps, which auto-populates the user's location and points to the right Dunkin' to patronize.

Airbnb, meanwhile, is launching a campaign called "Hosted Walks" that's meant to help NYC visitors see hidden gems and not just the usual tourist traps. Airbnb also partnered with Johannes Leonardo, which tapped into the site's vast hosting community to provide host-led audio tours of Midtown Manhattan via Google Maps.

When a user searches for touristy things to do in the Times Square area, or input their tourist destinations into Google Maps, an ad will prompt them to see New York like a local. Clicking on the ad brings up Google Maps, which auto-populates user's location and calculates a route to their location that takes them by hidden gems—which are then narrated by Airbnb hosts in audio as well as speech bubbles.

Fiber One Unveils New Line of Delicious, Zero-Calorie, All-Rubber Desserts

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Your dog has chew toys. Why shouldn't you have chew treats—particularly if you shouldn't really be eating actual calorie-laden desserts in the first place?

Well, now you can. Sit back and enjoy this new infomercial for Chew Treats:



Saatchi & Saatchi in New York made the mock-fomercial, which comes on the heels of the agency's comical pregnant-man spot for the same client. Actual Chew Treats were made available at GetChewTreats.com, although sadly they seem to be out of stock currently. Instead, you can get a couple for Fiber One, which makes delicious snacks you can eat guilt-free.

The tagline is: "Don't fight your instincts." This one-month campaign includes digital, social, online, display, TV and PR.

CREDITS
Client: Fiber One
Project: Chew Treats
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi NY
Chief Creative Officer: Jay Benjamin
Global Creative Director: Luca Lorenzini
Global Creative Director: Luca Pannese
Copywriter: Rees Steel, Paul Spelman
Art Director: Lisandro Ancewicz, James Tucker
Head of Content Production: John Doris
VP, Executive Producer: Bruce Andreini
Producer: Tina Lam
Business Manager: Christina Mattson
Production Company: argentinacine
Director: Augusto Gimenez Zapiola
Co-Director: Hernan Corera
Executive Producer: Nano Tidone
Producers: Lorena Habichayn, Natali Sussman
Director of Photography: Julian Ledesma
Editing Company: Cosmo Street Editorial, NY
Editor: Aaron Langley
Assistant Editor: Zoe Mougin
Executive Producer: Maura Woodward
Producer: Valerie Sachs
Online/VFX: SwitchFX
Mixers: Adam Charity and Brett Fuchs

Ad of the Day: Here's the Most Enchanted, Surreal, Least Bank-Like Bank Ad of the Year

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Umpqua Bank tries something decidedly different for the financial services category with "The Seed and the Moon," a visually stunning animated short by CAA Marketing and Nexus director Kibwe Tavares.

The three-minute film is a parable about growth and humanity. It opens when a lone tree in a forbidding, Blade Runner-esque metropolis is torn apart by an earth-moving machine. One of its seeds manages to take root in the cracks of an alley. Nurtured by moonbeams, the little green guy grows and grows, ultimately shooting toward the clouds and utterly transforming the harsh urban sprawl into a sun-splashed, verdant wonderland.



Jónsi of Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós provides the enigmatic and uplifting ambient soundtrack, and lines from the poem "Good Timber" by Douglas Malloch—labeled "The Lumberjack Poet" in the early 20th century—form the narrative: "The tree that never had to fight/For sun and sky and air and light/But stood out in the open plain/And always got its share of rain/Never became a forest king/But lived and died a scrubby thing."

Tavares says he "wanted to create a beautifully simple, magical narrative that would hit the key themes of hope, empowerment and triumph, showing how something relatively ordinary, that we take for granted, can transform into something spectacular."

At the spot's close, viewers are invited to check out Umpqua's new "Open Account" podcast, which tallied 13,000 downloads less than a week into its launch, according to the bank. ("The Seed and the Moon" itself is approaching 400,000 views on YouTube after nine days.)

The film and podcast, plus a traveling art installation on financial themes called "Exhibit: Growth," are elements of Umpqua's overarching "Made to Grow" initiative, designed to "kickstart conversations about money," Umpqua's evp of communications, Eve Callahan, tells Adweek.

"Through creative and artistic content and experience, our goal is to help people make decisions about money that help them achieve their full potential," Callahan says.

This holistic, humanist approach is in keeping with Umpqua's progressive image. The Portland, Ore.-based institution prides itself on customer service and brags about hosting movie nights, yoga classes and other community-building events at its 400-plus West Coast locations.

That said, the images of the vegetation bursting through the sidewalks and essentially taking over the city—which Callahan says have a joyous, "fairy tale" quality—also seem kind of apocalyptic. These mutant plants will kill us all! Grab a weed-whacker and defend humanity!

The film also lacks a human focus—actual people to root for, whose struggles viewers can identify with. Contrast Umpqua's ad with Grey London's innovative elevator spot a few months back for HSBC, which put our hero front and center.

"Our goal is to inspire and empower people to take action," says Callahan. "We want people to realize that money and banking don't have to be intimidating, and that they can start easing the confusion and stress associated with these topics right now by having a conversation."

That's a noble notion, and, to its credit, the campaign provides a welcome break from ads that drone on about free checking and convenient online banking. Sure, Umpqua's tactics could prove polarizing, but that's the risk you take going out on a limb.

CREDITS
Client: Umpqua Bank
Spot: "The Seed & The Moon"
Agency: CAA Marketing
Production Company: Nexus
Director: Kibwe Tavares
ECD: Chris O'Reilly
Executive Producers: Jeremy Smith / Julia Parfitt
Producer: Jo Bierton / Demi Jones
Project Lead: Dave Walker / Ben Cowell Thomas
Animation: Nexus
Compositing: Nexus
Editor: David Slade at Nexus
Grade: Time Based Artists
Sound Design: Tom Myers (SkySound)
Music: Jónsi of Sigur Rós

Yamaha Tries to Capture the Meaning of Music in This Epic Six-Minute Tearjerker of an Ad

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It's tricky to pull off a six-minute dramatic commercial, but Yamaha might have managed it—with a few caveats.

"The Gift" is an odd mix of epic tearjerker and cheesy promo. On the one hand, it's a tour of Yamaha products through the ages, featuring everything from a beginner's acoustic guitar to pianos and synthesizers, drums and mixing consoles. (There's even a cameo from a compact disk, known in modern parlance as a coaster.)

It's reminiscent of Sony's also-lengthy—but less melodramatic—celebration of its own history, and the intersection between art and engineering.



But Yamaha's wordless approach weaves in a powerful, more focused truth: Music is a gift that keeps giving, for the professional and hobbyist alike. The brand illustrates that point across three generations of a single family, where music is a source of passion, bonding and celebration, enhancing the human experience at key moments and across genres—something advertisers have struggled to articulate in the past, though neurologists (and pop producers!) could happily help to explain how it works on the human brain.

The spot is also generically nostalgic enough to be like an ad for a car. But however saccharine this is, it's hard to blame an instrument-maker as big as Yamaha for wanting to celebrate the fundamental pull and power underlying its business. It might particularly resonate with anyone who's had the privilege of owning an instrument that doubles as a family heirloom, or who was inspired to pursue music by a parent, teacher or friend.

Dramatizations of musical performance can easily become tedious. And the commercial's arc is a bit disappointing—in the end, one character's ultimate achievement is becoming a famous pop star (that's a grandiose, disproportionate payoff when so much of the ad focuses on simpler, more personal joys). But the outcome also makes brand sense, given that the advertiser, Yamaha Entertainment Group, also handles a broad array of celebrity partnerships, branded concert productions and the company's in-house label. (The ad was filmed in Tennessee and produced by YEG's founder and vp, Chris Gero).

In the end, it's hard to argue the deeper point. Maybe they could have gotten there a bit quicker—and with a few less spoonfuls of Velveeta.

Ads for Colleges Are Usually Terrible, but McCann Melbourne Just Made a Fascinating One

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Creative ads for universities are very rare. Most rate about a D+ (particularly this 2010 campaign for Drake University, whose actual theme, hilariously enough, was "D+"). But now and again, you see a good one. And the latest comes once again from Australia, which seems to specialize in college ads that don't suck.

McCann Melbourne made the spot below for the University of Melbourne, and you know right away that it's unusual—it opens at night, which is unheard of in college ads. A woman sit on a campus bench, reading, when suddenly she rises and begins sprinting toward a building. From there, it gets quite surreal.



The Pilobolus-like choreography is impressive (particularly as the ad features the university's own students, teachers, academics and executives). It's a bit like a high-minded version of PlayStation's famous "Mountain" spot, except it's conceptually the opposite—the piles of people here have risen through learning, and laying off the video games.

The metaphor of great minds colliding is a bit obtuse, and not paid off in the visuals, where it's bodies colliding and clambering over each other. But the idea of collision is a useful one for higher education.

"This campaign acknowledges that contributions that impact us all, aren't for the most part created by individuals working alone in dark spaces, but through the bright minds and their imaginations colliding and collaborating. A little bit like advertising agencies," says Pat Baron, executive creative director McCann Melbourne.

The campaign includes social and digital media, cinema, TV, print, outdoor and a content partnership with the Guardian. This is McCann's first major work for the university since winning the business in a pitch earlier this year.

CREDITS
Client: The University Of Melbourne
Executive Director, Marketing and Communications: Lara McKay

Agency: McCann Melbourne
Executive Creative Director: Patrick Baron
Creative Director: Andy Jones
Creative Director: Alex Wadelton
Art Director: Corey Thorn
Copywriter: Chesney Payet
Head of Broadcast: Victoria Conners
Production Assistant: Afrim Memed
Editor: Patrick Jennings
Managing Director: Adrian Mills
Head of Strategy & Media: David Phillips
Senior Channel Strategist: Ross Dougall
Executive Director: Serrin Dewar
Account Director: Jessica Jolley
Account Director: Sally Bradley
Print Producer: Anthea Waters
Retoucher: Ross Goddard
Senior Finished Artist: Daniel Hickey
Digital Director: Tony Prysten
Senior Digital Producer: Joe Guario
Digital Producer: Rebecca Earwaker
Social Lead: Chris Baker

Production Company: Exit Films
Director: Mark Daly
Producer: Martin Box
Managing Director/EP: Kim Wildenburg
DOP: Geoffrey Simpson

Postproduction: The Editors
Editor: Ryan Boucher
Producer: Nicoletta Rousianos

Visual FX: Fin Design
Colourist: Ben Eagleton
Producer: Amelia Babos

Sound Design: Klang
Sound Designer / Composer: Brendan Woithe
Producer: Paul Healy

Additional Sound Mix: Soundlounge
Richard Buxton
Sam Hopgood

Sarah Ewing Agency: Still Photography/Print
Photographer: Chris Von Menge
Producer: James Mauger
Retoucher: Jamie Phillips