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Ella Riley-Adams

When not Agency Spying, Ella writes for The Content Strategist and runs The Daily Croissant, a publication for students in Paris. To talk over coffee or whiskey sours, email or tweet @ellarileyadams

Best Buy, CP+B Launch Final Back-to-School ‘Techfitter’ Spot

Continuing their back-to-school Techfitter campaign, Best Buy and CP+B are providing Tim Kong, an aspiring games designer, with the tech he needs to design and code his next action-packed adventures. Previously, Best Buy “techfitted” a marine biology major and an aerospace engineer with a set of Windows 8 gadgets.

This new spot is comparatively less exciting, maybe because stars and oceans are grander than grungy cars and code. Consequently, I wish we had more of a storyline. Is Tim Kong really just going to make a new Grand Theft Auto, or do his interests lie somewhere specific? And in that case, can we hear what he has to say? At this point, he’s a Stock Student who knows how to make a good surprised/awesome face.

But maybe it’s better that he’s a basic video games enthusiast. Many current college kids must relate, and it’s a good thing Best Buy has a spot specifically geared towards forward-thinking, technology-centered students, hence the girl scientist, a guy scientist, and a gamer. If only the campaign lasted longer and their next subject is a fashion girl, conveniently coinciding with Fashion Week. Ah, what could’ve been.

Credits after the jump

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VB&P, Audi Chase the White Whale in ‘Ahab Redux’

In 2012, a creative director fell into Herman Melville’s 720-page trap and reimagined Ahab as a tow truck driver, madly chasing his white whale, an Audi Quattro. “Sometimes, I actually think it’s mocking me,” Ahab says in a gruff voice, anxiously twisting his thermos as he waits in the arctic tundra.

Said creative director then got distracted by Cetology, but has now resurfaced to produce “Ahab Redux,” in which, obviously, our automotive whale has yet to meet his driver. Ahab has retired on an island “most folks would call paradise,” but he can’t escape his all-wheel drive demon. “There isn’t a road on earth that can stop it.”

Thankfully this ad is a departure from the old winding-mountain-road glamour reel, and I appreciate the attempt at literary allusion. We’re all familiar with Moby Dick, whether we became obsessed like Ahab or SparkNoted its entirety. “Ahab Redux” is a bit of a cop-out due to its repetition, but the general idea probably gives Audi’s target affluent audience a twinge of self-satisfaction: “Oh, I know that story!”

Credits and original Ahab after the jump Read more

HTC Places Big Bet on New Campaign Starring Robert Downey Jr.

Finally, with help from WPP-owned 171 Partners, HTC is getting creative. For their new “Here’s to Change” global campaign to promote  the HTC One smartphone, the brand has enlisted Robert Downey Jr. as both the star and purveyor of creative input. Engadget suggests that this is new CMO Ben Ho making good on his promise to make HTC’s voice louder.

So far, we’ve got RDJ as mysterious, self-important “Subversive Thinking,” a man with Terry Richardson glasses and a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. He flies in a helicopter and enjoys high-fives. He wears a puce-colored tie. We meet him in HTC’s first teasers: “Big Things Ahead,” “Prelude to Change,” and “The Arrival.” The entire “Change” campaign should run 24 to 36 months, with the first 2-minute spot debuting Thursday. And with any luck, our main man will be quirkily cooing to that cat.

Campbell Mithun Nabs Two from Annual ‘Lucky 13′ Intern Program

In April, Campbell Mithun selected the finalists of their annual Lucky 13 internship contest, which this year focused on fresh branding ideas for Twinkies. Now, two from that group, Ben Blaska and Brian Skalak, have been hired to work full-time in account positions and assist teams on KeyBank and various General Mills accounts.

“We always strive to hire our Lucky 13 interns at the end of the summer,” says Debbie Fischer, director of human resources at Campbell Mithun.  “This year Brian and Ben join us during an exciting time of organic growth.  Our other two interns, Jonathan and Harry, return to Syracuse and UNC Chapel Hill and we wish them well as they complete their degrees.”

The boys start work this coming Monday, August 12, and as you can see in the above video, they’re jazzed. I especially appreciate the hand-flailing at the end. For further amusement, you can see Ben, Brian, and fellow intern Jonathan Unger practicing ad-speak in Batman voices in the clip below.

Vancouver PD, DDB Canada Design Sunglasses So You Can Feel Like a Cop

Where art thou, David Caruso? The subhead of the announce about this reads, “DDB Canada launches arresting campaign for the Vancouver Police Foundation” and somewhere a PR intern is smiling with self-satisfaction. Initially, the Vancouver Police Foundation approached DDB for a print ad that they could distribute in local newspapers with 1950s flair. Thankfully the agency got back to them and said something along the lines of, “Today we use computers.” Thus DDB Canada’s hometown office created a social media campaign around police sunglasses, wherein community members can purchase the glasses and, if they snap a photo of themselves and share it with the hashtag #VPDPartners, win a Ride-Along experience. The Department’s website will feature the photos from the contest.

Two 30-second spots advertise the sunglasses, with the best one featuring a large man skidding on the hood of a car. We watch him, like a beached whale, for a little too long until the tagline arrives: “Wearing the sunglasses supports the cops. It doesn’t make you one.” It’s cute, and shows why we need advertising agencies. Otherwise, these spots would have been 6×9 Ariel-font jokes in the back of the Vancouver Sun.

“In the short term, the goal of the campaign is simply to raise awareness for the Vancouver Police Foundation and show support for the VPD by wearing the sunglasses,” says Martina Meckova, executive director of the Vancouver Police Foundation. “Our long term objective is to increase the membership of the Foundation and broaden the support base, so that more people in Vancouver can benefit from the work that we do in the community.” Second spot after the jump.

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Let’s Go Adventuring with Kiefer Sutherland, Jose Cuervo, Shall We?

Kiefer Sutherland’s voice is somehow simultaneously soothing and forceful. His gravelly intonation, coupled with his beautifully weathered face, is completely convincing regardless of the words involved. In this Jose Cuervo spot created by McCann Erickson New York, Sutherland’s ultimate message is, “Have a Story.” He pushes a shot across the bar to us and then we follow him for an impromptu concert, a spontaneous tattoo, a brief lover’s brawl, and some bonsai clipping.

It’s not the first time Sutherland’s channeled his 24 character, Jack Bauer, though Cuervo’s spot is a subtle representation. For Acer of course, he got jazzed about a new Dynamite Cupcakes business, obviously involving explosions and suspense.

This is the classic alcohol campaign (be more interesting, be epic, defy expectation, blah blah), but Sutherland pulls it off gracefully. And since ‘story’ has been a buzzword of late, McCann did well to incorporate in this effort for the tequila fave. Let’s take that shot.
Credits after the jump

‘Survivor’ with Smartphones: Samsung Launches ‘SOS Island’


“What would you do, if you were stranded on a tropical island with only a smartphone?” Les Stroud, survival expert and reality TV star, asks in Samsung’s new spot. #SOS? Daily selfies? Think of your answer and get it put to the test with Samsung’s promo for the Galaxy S4 Zoom. Sixteen chosen contestants will be flown to the Caribbean where they’ll learn survival skills from Mr. Stroud. The best eight will move to a secret island, where they will compete in survival challenges, accompanied by their Galaxy gadgets. Viewers of the show then vote on the contestants in real time via their social media posts. The winner gets an island (or $100,000, so an “island experience,” whatever that means).

“It’s an ambitious project but one that will surely not be forgotten,” said Craig Borders, the producer and director behind series like Laguna Beach and Ink Master and SOS Island‘s executive producer. “People crave new entertainment experiences and this series is sure to deliver, while tapping into the social media realm in an unprecedented way.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Samsung avoids a clusterfuck when they’re dealing with a cadre of stranded people, all documenting their experiences in real time. The solution, of course, is for nothing to be in real time, and no one to be really stranded. In that case, we’ll be watching another piece of canned TV. There’s nothing enticing about that, social media streamed or not.

Coca-Cola Makes Personalized Billboards with Geofence Technology

After their global campaign in which people could buy personalized Coke bottles and cans, Coca-Cola Israel and Tel Aviv-based Gefen Team built a campaign around personalized billboards. Users downloaded a special app, then entered their name. Using geofence technology, the billboard would sense the user’s nearness and display their name. Each user would receive a message notifying them their name was splashed for the street to see.

Coca Cola used Israel’s “main billboards,” meaning users would see their names in lights more than once. And no matter how finite, people love fame: during the campaign period, the app reached 100k downloads and ranked #1 in Israel’s app store.

It seems like an elementary gimmick, but it’s got new-technology legs and exciting potential. Maybe the next brand to use these billboards will display a full message, making commuters’ life that much more fun.

Team Detroit, Ford Make Trailers for Their ‘Summer Spectacular’

Ford “C-Max” 30sec from Musikvergnuegen on Vimeo.

To promote Ford’s 2013 fleet of car models, Team Detroit created a set of trailer-style spots, each paying homage to a major Hollywood genre. When a girl wants to get away from her clingy vampire boyfriend, she drives through the night in a Ford Focus. A city is under attack by a freak robot, and the man who saves the day drives Ford’s F150. Hollywood-based music house/mouthful Musikvergnuegen created original music and sound design for all of the 15 spots, giving them a more authentic blockbuster feel. Each ad feels spot on, showing how the majority of our current movie landscape is completely cookie cutter. My heart swells when two long distance lovers meet up for lunch because of their Ford Edges; I would watch the mysterious film about a “legendary” Mustang driver. It’s easy to get swept up in the sound.

Hopefully these trailers will show before movies in theatres; it’d be funny if viewers get excited. In the meantime, check out the spots via Musikvergnuegen.

Credits after the jump

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McCann Germany, Studiosus Project Ancient 3D Faces Onto Trees

Studiosus, a German “culture lover’s travel guide,” wanted to pay homage to extinct cultures of the world while publicizing their unique approach to travel. So they partnered with Clément Briend, a French artist who creates large scale projections, sometimes on the Arc de Triomphe, other times on anonymous city walls. For this project, he made 3D representations of ancient faces and projected them onto trees in Dusseldorf’s Hofgarten Park. Next to each shining work, an old-looking stone slab read, “Discover the World’s Faces – Studiosus.”

“The works of Clément Briend and the travels of Studiosus have a lot in common,” said Bill Biancoli, COO of MacCann Germany. “Both send the viewer on a journey. When looking at Clément’s projections, the viewer goes on an internal journey. With Studiosus, the outside journey with its varied impressions influences our inside, thus creating a fascinating and unique view of our world.“

Briend agreed on the multifaceted nature of his work (something that inevitably coincides with a travel brand like Studiosus): “Everyone can find his own point of view in my works,” he said. “Because reality presents itself in different perspectives. Some like my art, some are frightened by it. My photo-projections are a mirror of the viewer’s mind. They project the images they bear inside.” Are YOU afraid of the dark?