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Ad of the Day: Linus Karlsson Tries Comedy Again With a Bizarre Fishing Anti-Campaign


Eight out of 10 fishermen prefer Smith sunglasses over other brands. So, what on earth is wrong with the other two guys?

That was where Linus Karlsson started out in brainstorming ideas for Smith's ChromaPop sunglasses, which help their wearers see better on the water. And it led to a whole bizarre, comic anti-campaign launching today, titled "Marty & Frank," whose colorful titular characters deem ChromaPop to be an unfair affront to pure, unadorned fishing.

The basic idea here isn't totally new—Trident has done ads about the one dentist out of five who wouldn't recommend the brand to patients. But the McCann/Commonwealth chairman and his startup agency, Ming, take "Marty & Frank" to absurdly amusing lengths in several long-form films and a bunch of teasers.

First, check out a five-minute establishing film here:

Karlsson did a lot of comedy early in his career, of course, including the famous Miller Lite work (including "Evil Beaver"), Buddy Lee and MTV's "Jukka Brothers" while at Fallon Minneapolis. He soon felt typecast, though, and ended up focusing for years on building businesses like Mother and McCann-Erickson instead of writing comedy. But about a year ago, he tells Adweek, he got the itch to get back into it.

"A year ago, someone showed me something and said, 'This is really funny.' Maybe it was me who was wrong, but I found it not funny at all," he says. "So, I started thinking I wanted to write something that I think is funny. But I have no idea if anyone else will think it is."

Judge for yourself. It's certainly quirky. Check out a few more longer films below.

Karlsson co-directed the campaign Josh Nussbaum of M ss ng P eces. Casting was interesting. They looked all over YouTube to find real people for the two lead roles. The older character is played by a man, Captain Steve, who is "the only licensed swamp tour guide in the Everglades," according to Karlsson. The younger man was found through a real-people casting agency.

In "Marty & Frank," fans of Karlsson's early work will quickly see that his affection for eccentric characters hasn't diminished. "I have always liked this world, for some reason," Karlsson says. "I've always been fascinated by people who don't necessarily live in the mainstream. I've also been fascinated with anything happening outside New York. I like going to small towns and places most people don't think about going. I don't know why, exactly. It just seems more interesting to me."

One danger, though, was that the ads could be seen as making fun of Marty and Frank, and people like them. Karlsson says that's the opposite of the intention. 

"It was very important to make them likable," he says. "It's easy to stereotype, making them like Duck Dynasty—just kind of angry. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to show their more loving side. It's kind of like, you want to be there—it's a wonderful world where they make stuff. They're inventors. They just have their own way. And I would say it's a very imaginative world in which they live in. I think they're super happy in this world, too."

Karlsson is particularly fond of the squid salad scenes, and of Marty reading Frank a bedtime story. (The bedtime reading is from the book Fish Psychology, which, as you can see, isn't real—it was "written" by Karlsson. Oh, and the scientist in Norway who supposedly taught a salmon to nod hello in the morning isn't real, either.)

It's a fun series of spots, and a brave one too, says Karlsson.

"It actually shows the confidence of a brand that can do a whole campaign about two guys who don't like you," he says. "It's a little inverted. I've been talking to people and calling it 'inverted advertising.' Whatever that means."

See the campaign teasers and credits below.

Client: Smith Optics
Agency: Ming Utility And Entertainment
Chief Creative Officer: Linus Karlsson
Head of Production: Brian DiLorenzo
Creative Directors: Rasmus Keger, Joanna Crean
Creatives: Johan Leborg, Natalie Kocsis
Titles/Graphics: Olga Vladova
Client Manger: Lynn Hurley
Production Manager: Ilaria Conte
Production Company: M ss ng P eces
Directors: Linus Karlsson, Josh Nussbaum
Executive Producers: Ari Kuschnir, Kate Oppenheim, Brian Latt
Head of Production: Dave Saltzman
Producer: Brian Quinlan
Director of Photography: Adam Jandrup
Assistant Director: Dafna Harrison
Art Direction: Mark Dillon
Production Supervisor: Joe Falasca
Editorial: Jump Editorial
Executive Producer: Wade Weliever
Editors: David Johnston, Luis Moreno
Assistant Editor: Mickey Micklos
Music/Mix: We Are Walker/Heard Studios
Music Producer: Peter Gannon
Music Producer: Rachel Rauch
Producer: Heath Raymond
Engineer: Mike Vitacco
Color: Color Collective
Colorist: Alex Bickel
Executive Producer: Claudia Guevara

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