News Article | May 26, 2017
You just need to turn on the TV or clickety-clack the internet for five minutes to know that doing anything even remotely original in advertising is not an easy task. Now go look at some tourism ads. It usually goes something like this: beautiful scenery tastefully shot, upbeat soundtrack, ending with “Place Name: Slogan!” Now here comes Sweden, for the second year in a row, with one of the most original ideas around. Last year it was the Swedish Number, and now they go and put the entire country on Airbnb. Maybe next year they’ll invite the entire population of Buford, Wyoming, for a visit. Onward! What: A new tourism campaign for Sweden aimed directly at the wanderlust of the Airbnb generation. Why We Care: An imaginative way to both get people’s attention, but also do it using such a unique and interesting part of the local culture–the allemansrätten or “freedom to roam.” What: For Father’s Day, the brand once again aimed to get more young men real-talking to their fathers–this time by disguising the dads as a Siri-like personal assistant app. Why We Care: Gillette’s research says 84% of guys said their go-to source for information is their phone, while just 13% said they turn to Dad first. And 72% of guys said their phone was the one source of information they can’t live without, and only 10% said Dad. Those are some sad dad stats that hopefully ads like this can help turn around a bit. Netflix “Day In The Life Of Frank Underwood” What: To promote the upcoming launch of House of Cards season five, the network blended fictional Frank Underwood into Washington, D.C., reality, with the help of former White House photographer Pete Souza. Why We Care: It’s a smaller gesture, but it’s consistent with Netflix’s previous efforts–remember FU2016?–that have been just brilliant at juxtaposing the fictional world of the show with our own seemingly fictional political realities. What: An insanely stylish spot on the thievery in a morning commute. Why We Care: Sometimes you just have to acknowledge a damn good shampoo ad. Dude sleeping standing up on the train FTW. What: A spot from Brazil that tells the true story of a young autistic girl whose cat helped build both self-confidence and social skills. Why We Care: It’s a cute story, based on a true cute story. And when’s the last time you found yourself charmed more by the story than the feline in a cat food ad?
News Article | May 24, 2017
WHY WE CARE: Can it be that it was all so simple then? Back in the ’90s, when the possibilities of the internet were just coming into focus, people were amazed at how easy it was to digitally connect with a stranger. That part where the two would have to meet in real life was complicated as all get-out, but the instant ease of finding a potential love interest was brand new and shimmery with promise. This new animated short, which has been screening at film festivals throughout 2017, immortalizes the promise of that moment–partly with the use of a legendary Final Fantasy VIII dance sequence–and also telegraphs some of the heartache that would follow, as online dating evolved into . . . whatever exactly it has become now.
News Article | May 5, 2017
--: On Saturday, May 13, Ventura County letter carriers will be caravanning more than just incoming and outgoing mail and community members won't have to venture far from their doorsteps to help solve hunger. The day will mark the 25annual National Association of Letter Carriers' "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive –the largest single-day food drive—when thousands of letter carriers across the country will collect residences' food donations for their local food banks.Ventura County residents are asked to leave non-perishable, protein-rich foods in a bag next to their mailboxes for letter carriers to pick up while on their daily route. The donations will then be collected from participating post offices and taken to FOOD Share's distribution site in Oxnard. Canned tuna, chicken, meats, fruits, and vegetables as well as spaghetti, rice, dry beans, macaroni and cheese, and peanut butter are all nutritious food sought by the regional food bank.: Saturday May 13, 9am – 6pm (Hours of collection are the same as normal residential postal routes): Participating Post Offices Include:· Thousand Oaks Main Post Office, 3435 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks· East Ventura Post Office, 41 S. Wake Forrest Dr., Ventura· Ventura Main Post Office, 675 E. Santa Clara St., Ventura· Oxnard Main Post Office, 1961 N. "C" St., Oxnard· Port Hueneme Post Office, 560 E. Pleasant Valley Road, Port Hueneme· Fillmore Post Office, 333 Central Ave., FillmoreThe National Association of Letter Carriers benefitting FOOD Share of Ventura County.
News Article | June 15, 2017
The scale and scope of the work are as vast as our own media consumption. It’s why among the upwards of 15,000 people heading to the south of France next week, for what’s often been called the Oscars of advertising, will be people from IBM and Deloitte, mingling with people from Snap and Facebook, strolling with names like A$AP Rocky, Helen Mirren, Elizabeth Moss, and Halsey, all surrounded by some of the best and brightest from ad agencies around the world. Anyway, that’s a long way to say for the purposes of this pre-Cannes list, I’m sticking to the good ol’ fashioned film category, as good a barometer as any for brand creativity, since its demise has been reported for about a decade now, yet it keeps on ticking. Of course efforts like Addict Aide’s “Like My Addiction,” TAC Victoria’s “Meet Graham,” and State Street’s “Fearless Girl” will also be highly awarded across other categories. Fear not, I’ll put together a Top 5 winners post after the festivities have wrapped on the Croisette. So, caveats aside, here are five ads–and pretty safe bets–we’re pulling for heading into Cannes Lions. En avant! WHAT: A PSA that brilliantly illustrates the need to watch for warning signs of gun violence. WHY WE CARE: Sandy Hook Promise says that 80% of school shooters and 70% of individuals who completed suicides told someone of their violent plans prior to taking action, yet no interventions weren’t made. This expertly told story aims to raise our awareness to better see and hear the potential warning signs. As BBDO New York creative director Peter Alsante told me back in December, one of the biggest challenges in crafting a story for this issue is that it’s often difficult for most people to relate to. “It’s such a tragedy, and so many people say, ‘That’s terrible but it would never happen here.’ Our big goal or challenge going into this is to take this thing that’s so abstract to so many people, and frame it in a way that it becomes believable, relatable, something tangible,” WHAT: WHAT?!? Possibly the greatest fragrance ad of all time, directed by Spike Jonze and featuring Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers, The Nice Guys) moving her body–and face–in mesmerizing, and sometimes explosive, ways to the sounds of “Mutant Brain” by Sam Spiegel and Ape Drums. WHY WE CARE: Aside from just being a swift kick to the funballs of your brain, it’s also a result of creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim’s approach to advertising and their goal to infiltrate culture with culture (which also helped them land Kenzo on Fast Company‘s 2017 Most Innovative Companies list). “We’re cultural nerds and buffs, and it’s exciting for us to tap into culture in any way we can,” Leon told me back in October. “Two years ago we said, ‘How can we do advertising that feels different?’ I came up with the idea to do short films and then do print ads that were done up like movie posters for the short films. Super simple idea. And it worked out really well for us.” WHAT: A Samsung ad that takes on a new perspective for the inspirational potential of its Gear VR. WHY WE CARE: It’s product demo as an expression of pure joy. Not an easy feat. That, and pairing Elton John and a charming, giant flightless bird can never go wrong. WHAT: A fun, inspirational look at the athletes to promote the UK broadcaster’s coverage of the Paralympic Games in Rio. WHY WE CARE: For too many, the Paralympics get relegated to afterthought once the Olympic Games are over. Here, Channel 4 serves up plenty of reasons to watch, celebrating the athletes’ accomplishments on and off the athletic field of competition, in a delightfully inspirational way, all set to a snappy Sammy Davis cover. WHAT: A PSA campaign to raise awareness, particularly with young men, about the importance of being an organ donor. WHY WE CARE: Narrated by Will Arnett, this is the story of Coleman F. Sweeney (played by Thomas Jane), one of the world’s preeminent a-holes. Knowing that millennials like to be entertained even when the topic is serious, that they like darker, edgier storytelling, and see through marketing BS faster than any other demographic, and if they like something they share it with friends, Coleman seemed like a great way to get a point across. Martin Agency group creative director Wade Alger told me back in August, “We also realized given today’s media-drenched society, we wouldn’t just be competing with other nonprofit work that is out there–we are competing with everything that is out there,” says Alger. “So we had to do something that really stood out. And while the campaign uses language that may be startling to some, it is increasingly routine among younger audiences.”
News Article | June 8, 2017
WHO: A video editor extraordinaire who goes by the sobriquet, Roman Holiday. WHY WE CARE: Probably the best scene in Pulp Fiction was when John Travolta looked right into the camera and said, “Man, sometimes the criminal lifestyle feels more like, I don’t know, pulp fiction to me.” What a scene! Unforgettable. Except it did not happen, probably because Quentin Tarantino generally doesn’t literalize his evocative titles at any point in his films. Can you imagine if midway through Reservoir Dogs, Steve Buscemi broke up a fight between Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen by saying “Stop acting like a couple of reservoir dogs, whatever those are.” It would have felt odd. Buscemi did not say that; instead he said the N-word, and it was gross. Other intrepid filmmakers, however, are less concerned with whether an effort at putting the title in the movie itself comes across as sweaty. The Upright Citizens Brigade TV show once featured a sketch about those moments, but what’s better than the real thing? A new video called Title Drops collects a staggering four-and-a-half minutes of those titular line reads, each of them gems. The films range from classics like Chinatown to whatever the opposite of a classic is, like Suicide Squad. In some cases, the filmmakers clearly knew they were being cute in dropping the title, though, so be warned that there are nearly as many eye rolls as chuckles in this compilation.
News Article | June 9, 2017
Aside from the dog-and-Comey show on Capitol Hill, the other big event of the week live-tweeted by obsessives was Apple’s latest WWDC. While we got the expected collection of new products and features, some more celebrated than others, the brand also took the opportunity to unveil two very different ads. The first was to remind us just how much it has us all balled up in its tightfisted techno-grip . . . but in a lighthearted funny way! The second, used Carl Sagan and some beautiful “Shot on iPhone” footage to remind us that our little blue planet is dying and we should probably do something about it. Only one made this week’s list. Can you guess which one? Onward! What: In the wake of the U.S. pulling out of the Paris accord, a new iPhone ad uses Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot as a reminder of what’s at stake. Why We Care: Okay, hear me out. I really liked “Appocalypse” even if, despite the laughs, it kind of creeped me out that they made a joke out of our dependence on their products. But while that one was for the real Apple heads at WWDC, the brand chose to debut “Earth” during the NBA Finals as a direct response to where U.S. policy is on climate change. Of course, it has to back up its words (or, in this case, Carl Sagan’s) with action, but by taking a defined stand on such a significant issue, Apple is staking a claim and standing for something—an approach that will prove to pay off in the long run. What: A thoughtful spot that uses the Swedish retailer’s simple blue bag as a metaphor for its entire brand mission. Why We Care: Simply put, this is a brand truth told beautifully well. Those damn blue bags are everywhere, and we use them for everything. Turns out, so does everyone else. Hell, it’s even been high fashion. But as this ad points out, it actually doesn’t have any lofty ambitions at all and is just fine with its global utilitarian role, thanks. What: A new Father’s Day ad from the fundraising foundation for Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Why We Care: This ongoing campaign has been top notch since it launched last year, right up to this past Mother’s Day, and now it uses another real story for Father’s Day. It’s a slow, deliberate, heartbreaking yet inspirational look at what the daily grind looks like when you have a gravely ill child. What: For Pride Month, Equinox partnered with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center for a dance film that illustrates just how diverse the LGBTQ community really is. Why We Care: I think Equinox executive creative director Liz Nolan said it best to my colleague KC Ifeanyi about the campaign earlier this week. “We went into this saying there is an [existing] idea of pride: It’s rainbows, it’s electronic dance music, it’s the parade, and that’s all fantastic,” she said. “But there’s also a more serious, thoughtful side of it, too. What this film does is provoke a new conversation around pride and specifically a brand’s right to speak about pride by deepening this understanding of what LGBTQA means.” What: A lovely, simple ad to attract more people to sign up as foster families in Norway. Who: Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs, Kitchen Oslo Why We Care: It’s cute and gets the point across. Job done, right? In the last week, it’s also attracted almost 120 million Facebook video views, and hopefully, a lot more new foster families.
News Article | June 23, 2017
WHO: This unsettling experience was written, directed, and programmed by Noah Levenson. WHY WE CARE: It’s so natural to get used to the way things are that one seldom stops to question how odd it is to constantly come across intimate photos of friends, family, and acquaintances. The delightfully disturbing new short, Weird Box, presents the act of scrolling through another person’s Instagram in an analog format (the titular box full of photos) as though Instagram itself never existed. A woman confronts her boyfriend about why he is collecting photos of a stranger and his answer is an exaggerated version of the truth. Over the past decade, we have normalized stalking people we barely know or don’t know at all. And the fact that the person being stalked in this instance is YOU should induce shudders.
News Article | June 12, 2017
WHY WE CARE: Given that its actual product and services have disrupted an entire industry and changed the way many of us get around, is it unrealistic to expect Uber to have a better ad? The concept of a seamless journey through a fun night on the town is fine enough, but perhaps it’s the “awkward first date” feel of it all, combined with the slow, mellow sounds of Elvis’s “You’re The Boss,” that just makes it, well, boring. Aside from the seamless transportation experience, what does it tell us about the brand? Its image? Personality? Not much. In fact, if you took the tagline off the end, could this pass for some sort of mid-range vodka ad? Probably. Last week, Apple marketing executive Bozoma Saint John announced she was leaving to become Uber’s new chief brand officer. Given her tenure at Apple including working on spots like Taylor Swift’s workout, that Slick Rick hangout with Mary J. Blige, Kerry Washington, and Taraji P. Henson, as well as appearing in an ad herself with James Corden, her impact on the creative advertising at Uber can’t come soon enough.
News Article | June 21, 2017
WHAT: “You’ve Got This, Mom On!”, an empowering Yoplait ad that reminds moms not to take any crap from anybody. (Except their kids, whom they literally have to take crap from at some point.) WHY WE CARE: “The first rule of motherhood: Someone’s always judging,” explains one of several narrators early on in the latest ad for Yoplait. What follows is a gleeful tour through some of the many behaviors moms are prone to that can cause strangers to do double takes. These include public breastfeeding, showing cleavage, bribing one’s children, and drinking wine, aka “mommy’s special juice.” It’s not exactly the hard-drinking heroes of Bad Moms, the surprise hit from last summer but more along the lines of the gently decadent podcast One Bad Mother. Overall, it’s a corporate-sponsored reminder to leave moms alone if whatever they’re doing is working.
News Article | June 9, 2017
WHAT: A new ad from Volvo that uses a little girl’s first day of school to illustrate how just one moment can impact an entire life. What’s that got to do with the new XC60? You’ll see. WHY WE CARE: Car commercials are a staple of advertising–from local dealerships to national ads of the latest models careening through Sedona. But lately, we’ve been seeing less of these glorified product demos and a hint at something more soulful–a realization that brand story and image can be as powerful than a slick hood design and leather interior. Back in March, it was Mercedes, and here Volvo uses emotionally deft storytelling that actually revolves around a product strength.