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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 ellarileyadams@gmail.com or tweet @ellarileyadams

For Singapore’s National Day, Mentos Asks Finland to Play Fiancée

Last year, in honor of Singapore’s National Day, Mentos encouraged the country’s population to procreate. Apparently their campaign went a little too well, because this year’s National Day theme addresses Singapore’s overpopulation issue.

Mentos’ answer is to marry Finland, the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. No, it’s not anywhere close to Singapore. This can’t be a serious proposition, which then leaves me wondering why Mentos created a 4-minute long lyric video for it. Is it about spreading awareness of overpopulation? Is it just for fun? If the latter, Mentos did a decent job with their Lonely Island-esque lines (distinctly reminiscent of ‘Dick in a Box’) and adorable cartoon countries.

Maybe, like their last campaign, Mentos’ spot will do too well, and Finland will say yes. Next year’s campaign will address a decrease in the country’s GDP, as they pay for all those transcontinental flights.

TBWA\Istanbul Measures Intern Passion via Brainwaves

In a TBWA Facebook post yesterday, the agency wrote “At TBWA\Istanbul the newest interns were picked based on talent AND passion for advertising.” This means that, when potential interns showed up at TBWA’s office in Turkey’s largest city, they were asked to don special headgear that would sense their brain activity. They were then shown a series of legendary ads, while a neuroscientist (presumably) compiled data on their reactions, measuring excitement and infatuation. TBWA branded this measurement category “AdLove,” and from 503 applicants, the five with the most AdLove were given TBWA internships.

Quantifying passion seems completely counter-intuitive to me, though I can’t claim to know anything about the science behind it. When advertising is all about crafting a message (and manipulating your viewer/user) agencies are much better off just assessing an intern’s ability to bullshit their way through an interview, or answer related questions, skills they’ll actually use in the office. Passion should be evident without a sophisticated sensor, and forgoing the expression of it to go straight to neurological action seems the product of poor ad understanding. It may be a cute technological gimmick, but does nothing to prove how qualified (or potentially stoked) these interns are to do the job at hand.

CP+B, Best Buy ‘Tech-Fit’ Students with Windows 8 Gadgetry

And now, for something, er, lighter. These back-to-school posts almost make me wistful for the days when a new pencil case was the joy of my September. But as I have grown, so has the sophistication of academic shopping. To keep with the times, Best Buy is branding themselves America’s go-to “Techfitter” of the season.

To show that they’ll equip students with not only the best technology, but the right technology for their pursuits, CP+B and Best Buy found real students and surprised them with personalized Best Buys, “tech-fitted” to their academic interests in a pair of new Paul Hunter-directed spots. Greg, Aerospace Engineering Major, gets a semi truck parked in front of his house. It opens, and he’s presented with the planetary system, plus a launchable rocket (sadly not available at a Best Buy near you). Lidia, a Marine Biology major, gets an underwater tech experience complete with dolphins and jellyfish. Both personalized surprise scenarios are scattered with Windows 8 laptops and tablets.

Additional spots will air later this month, and my guess is the lucky students will not include an English or PoliSci major, because those experiences would involve sheafs of paper and alcohol. Let’s expect an aspiring architect and an ambitious pre-med; they provide ideal landscapes for Best Buy’s eager urban tech-fitter to make a difference. Credits after the jump.

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Venice Shop Makes an Arcade Game with Bloody Bears

Instead of comparing fuel band scores or enjoying an office taco Tuesday, Venice, CA-based agency Ted Perez + Associates banded together to create something that would push their boundaries as storytellers and technologists. Their idea was an arcade game, made from scratch. Their designers created the characters, their copywriters (presumably) wrote the words, and their programmers built the code. Altogether, they made Gnarnia, a Wii-enabled arcade game that tells the story of an idyllic camp invaded by pesky woodland creatures. Players have to shoot the animals to stay safe and win points.

The idea is fun, and I appreciate the mashup of a title. But in reviewing this project, I wonder a few things: first, could Ted Perez and his associates have used those 26 days it took to bring this project to life for something a bit more…productive? Maybe I’m a total grinch, but because this isn’t particularly funny or nuanced, it seems like a waste of time. And second (in an admittedly off-topic issue), the tiny text on their website makes me feel like I’m about to turn 40. If an ad agency is about storytelling and technology, they should manage to put their website’s font in black, size 12. And get someone with a non-monotonous voice to narrate future promotional videos.

Digitas Associate Art Director Runs a One-Stop Shop for All Your Creative Needs

Stephen Icardi, associate art director at Digitas, and writer Catherine Penfold-Waxman, have assembled the ultimate shopping destination for the ad world. Because nothing is buyable yet, you may find yourself salivating at the possibility of the David Ogilvy Magical Tagline Pipe, or Talent Nurturing Breasts. (“Who knows when your junior help will become your future boss, so start them off right with some sweet nurturing.”)

Creative Miscellaneous Materials LLC stocks something for everyone: an Acronym Polishing Kit for account managers, a Meeting Fodder Detector for hungry interns, and Work Party Unmemory Drops for the CD who drinks the pain away. My favorite is the “Make it Digital” Powder, which is funny because it already seems to exist, in the form clients who refuse to acknowledge the possibilities of online advertising.

This is a fun little piece of gentle in-joking, and I hope that Icardi plans on making actual fake products, because they’ll be perfect Christmas gifts. I would like the Criticism-filtering Head Gear, please, to deal with some of the more uncouth commenters out there.

Subaru, Carmichael Lynch Find Love on the Road

Chances are, you’ve known a good Subie. Whether you rode to school in your mom’s, drove one yourself, or cherished your significant other’s, the thoughts are fond. Now, with their latest campaign from Carmichael Lynch, Subaru has incorporated that adoration.

In one new video, a Subaru makes an unexpected first date possible with diner milkshakes and roadside farmer’s market fun. In the second spot, “Redressing Room,” a mother puts up with her son’s affinity for nudity. The tagline for both ads is, “Love: It’s What Makes a Subaru a Subaru,” and I now wish I could be driving a car while hugging myself for maximum endorphins. These ads are sweet without being saccharine; a heartwarming play on Subaru’s role as an all-purpose family car, more a character in a story than its means of transportation. It’s a good way to win our hearts; if love is all we need, we’d better get a Subaru.

Credits after the jump

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Kmart, Draftfcb Wrangle Da Rich Kidzz for Back-to-School Track ‘My Limo’

For their new back-to-school campaign, Kmart and Draftfcb have wrangled Da Rich Kidzz, a rap group from Minneapolis aka the young geniuses behind “Hot Cheetos and Takis.”  In their new release, “My Limo,” Da Rich Kidzz give shout-outs to their school bus, their calculators, and of course, the first day of school. The chorus goes, “My school bus is my limo/I rule back to school with my cap on and my brim low.”

This spot comes after Kmart’s “Yo Mama” video, in which playground kids used the classic insult to compliment one another’s mother’s back-to-school shopping choices. The clincher: “Yo mama’s so fiscally responsible, she got all that on free layaway.” Previous to that, we got a pun-laden diptych in the form of “Ship My Pants” and “Big Gas Savings.”

If Da Rich Kidzz’ spot succeeds in making K-Mart a cool elementary school shopping destination, then power to them. Anything to make the first day of school less nerve-wracking. “Hot Cheetos & Takis” caught on with the young crowd, so maybe “My Limo” will too. But it’s also possible that, like Jay Z with Samsung, the commercial overload will leave a bad taste in consumers’ mouths. And if Da Rich Kidzz are really up and coming, this spot might arrest their creative momentum, forever branding them the K-Mart Kidzz.

F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi Skol Beer Design: Drink, Decorate, Sit On It

As part of their Skol Design line, the international beer brand and F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi invited renowned furniture designer Pedro Useche to create an armchair out of Skol bottles. Useche said, “Turning an armchair into a desirable object is not only about showing aesthetic attributes but most of all, making people feel comfortable when they sit on it.” The Skol bottles can spin, creating a massage sensation for each lucky occupant.

The video that accompanies Skol Design is in entirely in Portuguese, but if the lines were in English I can guess they would include gems like, “Here’s your house, in which you store the things you love…until your monstrous girlfriend arrives!” Said flower-loving, mirror-toting creature proceeds to completely rearrange the man cave. But! Justice is restored by Skol Designs, whose bottle lamps and clocks give the GF the chic feel she wants while still satisfying man’s need for beer.

Apparently the villainous girlfriend trope does well with South American audiences, as sister agency Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi have had success with this before. I’ll admit the Skol chair is cute, but I’d much rather see a couple making sweet love on the rolling bottles than a wide-eyed girlfriend horror story.

Credits after the jump

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Survive the Zombie Apocalypse with Hyundai’s ‘Walking Dead Chop Shop’

When zombies invade, some amass canned foods and hide in their cellars. Others create the ultimate zombie slaying machine and blast through the rubble to save mankind. For the latter breed, Hyundai and its agency partner-in-crime Innocean have invented the ultimate piece of fantasy fodder: “The Walking Dead Chop Shop.” Through the Chop Shop app, enthusiasts can use three different Hyundai cars as their base, then add vehicular accessories like a “horde plow” or two varieties of razor wire.

Host Veronica Belmont introduces the app and interviews people about their ideal car in “Conversations About a Zombie Survival Machine.” People (okay, men) seem to be filled with enthusiasm when they consider the question: Cattle Gun or Flamethrower?

In-app, they don’t have to make a choice, and aspiring zombie fighters can create as many machines as they want. One winning design will be transformed into the real thing. This does nothing for me, but judging by the 14,000 entries and level of appreciation in the videos, The Walking Dead fans will give this campaign legs.

Credits after the jump

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Did You Know a Kleenex Can Hold 32 Eggs?

Second only to snow day, experiment day was the best in elementary school. We got to see the legendary combination of Mentos and Coca-Cola, drop eggs off of roofs, and bake cookies in solar ovens. The 90 minutes flew by.

Kleenex and Studiocom, the latter of which recently gave us the “Hand Washing Station” for the Kimberly-Clark brand, channeled this concept into their latest campaign, proving Kleenex’s added strength and absorbency with Kleenex Xperiments. They challenged 100 elementary and middle schools across the country. 10 accepted, and 5 were featured in the resulting videos. I’m guessing these kids were stoked to have more than the usual one-per-unit experiment day. They came up with projects like the “Rolling Mucus Burst” and a “Slime Cannon.”

At Highland Oaks Middle School in Miami, FL the students piled egg yolks onto tissues, comparing Kleenex and “Brand X.” Brand X broke after 8 yolks, while Kleenex withstood the weight of 32 yolks. That’s a lot of representative mucus.

It’s clear that the kids involved in these projects had fun being inventive, and (perhaps due to the brand’s selectivity) their experiments showcased Kleenex’s upgrade. A good time was had by all, and I bet–at the very least–when these kids grow up to be parents, they’ll remember their results and buy Kleenex, not Brand X.

See more at  https://www.kleenex.com/school/.

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