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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

NZ Telecom, Saatchi & Saatchi Make Us Wait in ‘Waiting is Over’

How do you make an ad about waiting? The worst approach might be to show paused scenes while the dulcet notes of a piano play in the background. Sure, the hi-res shots of robots falling, halted car chases in progress, and rock concerts are good-looking, but if I saw this ad a second or a third time on TV, I would hit mute and go get some ice cream.

The new spot for New Zealand Telecom via Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand and GoodOil director Michael Spiccia ends with a close-up on a car chase hero. He blinks, and the tagline appears: “Waiting is over.” Instead of this indulgent imagery, I’d much rather see a humorous piece on how impatient we’ve become in the Internet Age, or a puppet-filled drama in a doctor’s office. “Waiting is Over” looks like something that would play (and could work) on the New Zealand equivalent of Best Buy’s panoramic screens, but watching it online or on TV, I just feel twitchy. The waiting better be over.

Additional TV, radio, digital and outdoor executions will be rolling out over the coming weeks. Check out the credits after the jump

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Grey New York, Downy Tell a T-Shirt Love Story

We all have an extra soft, hol(e)y shirt that fits perfectly, whether it’s an oversized sleepshirt once worn by a parent, an old boyfriend’s flannel, or an embarrassing Greenday tour T. In their new spot, Downy celebrates the journey of one such garment: it’s a treasured piece of memorabilia for our protagonist, a witness during a heated make-out sesh, a comfort for his pregnant wife, and finally a dress on his young daughter. It lasts through all these phases of his life, because “Downy helps protect the clothes you love.”

It’s a sweet spot, backed by a cover of Alphaville’s Forever Young. Hopefully they make this a series, telling the stories of the dirt-stained jersey you now wear to the beach with the fam, or the tattered sweatshirt that’s now one square in a grandchild’s quilt. It’s hard to go wrong with an idyllic tale of growing up, especially when the story evokes the soothing smell of laundry soap.

Credits after the jump.

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Lexus, ATTIK Combine Kaleidoscope, Cirque du Soleil for Interactive Music Video

Today, Lexus joins Kanye West on the interactive music video bandwagon. To promote the 2014 Lexus IS sport sedan, ATTIK and Blueyed Pictures created “Amazing Mix,” a surprisingly cool interactive adscape with Cirque du Soleil characters, red birds, and kaleidoscopic effects. Site visitors can type any key (or combination thereof — try “LEXUS” for a special show) to make a mix of these effects, then submit the result for a chance to win tickets to the 2014 Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, hotel stay at the event and $2,000, or a $500 cash prize.

Like with their Instagram film campaign, this is a step in the right direction for the automaker, though they didn’t get every aspect right. The music that backs Amazing Mix is a weird, blank James Bond knockoff, while the site that surrounds the scene is remarkably 2006. If Lexus wanted an immersive, individualized experience, they should have placed the mix on its own, minimalist page. Also, who are they targeting here? Middle-aged foodies who find Internet oddities amusing? That seems the only logical conclusion when the related prize is tix to the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival. If they’re going for young car owners (which they should be, with the tech and art angle), then that destination isn’t exactly enticing. Make the message more cohesive, and get us to XOXO, or Electric Zoo.

Team One, Lexus Take a Leap with 200 Instagrammers

It’s amazing how many automakers still rely on the old ad formula: shiny spinning wheels, long remote, wooded roads, sun glinting off an immaculate vehicle, and a dramatic soundtrack. Some, of course, take the innovative route with ads like Fiat’s In da (mother)hood and Landrover’s Roam Free.

Lexus falls halfway on the innovation scale with #LexusInstafilm, in which they gathered 200 Instagrammers to capture the 2014 Lexus IS F Sport in all its filtered glory, then compiled the images to create a stop-motion-y film. The collaboration turns out to be beautiful, and the people behind it good-natured. A burly bearded man asks, “How’s my hair?” And a fellow Instagrammer fixes it for him. Doesn’t get much cuter than that.

While it probably won’t go viral since the focus of the feature is a character-less car, the idea of combining controlled creativity, new technology, and enthusiastic people is a winning one. Hopefully we’ll see this kind of spot again. To check out each frame of the film, go to

Credits after the jump

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Pepsi Max, Arnold KLP #LiveForNow, Let Magician Levitate on a London Bus

To promote extraordinary moments and a general sense of YOLO, Pepsi Max, with the help of London-based Arnold KLP, employed the skills of Dynamo, a young magician from Yorkshire. “London: I love the energy of this city, and the sense that anything is possible. But sometimes, with the pace of city life, it’s hard to appreciate the magic that’s all around us,” Dynamo drawls.

He proceeds to levitate and go for a ride around Londontown, one hand on an iconic double decker bus. The people look up in surprise. “How does he do it?” “I don’t know!” We hear in the background. Online, the illusion got the same kind of attention, with 4.9 million views in 48 hours.

If we’re to believe YouTube commenters, Dynamo is either Jesus, Satan, or using a fake arm and harness to stay afloat. Take your pick. In any case, the stunt is a fun way to pull people out of the daily grey drone, though its accompanying hashtag is an unfortunate double entendre. Try levitating on the side of a bus crossing Westminster bridge, and live…for now. Credits after the jump.

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IFC Promotes ‘Comedy Bang Bang’ as ‘The Ultimate Comedy Fantasy’

As mentioned, IFC is marketing the new season of original series Comedy Bang Bang as “the ultimate comedy fantasy.” In the video spot, hosts Reggie Watts and Scott Aukerman bounce along in a psychedelic van that runs on autopilot, produces a stewardess proffering pillows, and plays the radio (“Come Back,” by The J Geils Band). Watts and Aukerman exchange lines in their usual cheerful deadpan until their chariot announces the start of the new season.

The accompanying poster features Watts riding a centaur that has Aukerman’s head, and a background similar to a poster you probably bought from the book fair in fifth grade.

Though not especially enticing, the idea is cute and fans of Comedy Bang Bang will continue watching regardless. For newbies, the trailer for Season 1 gives better evidence of a show worth checking out.

Poster after the jump

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Hornitos Tequila Says Choose Your Shots Carefully

As the actors speak their lines in this ad for Hornito’s Tequila from La Comunidad Miami, all I hear is “Blah blah blah. Blah blah.” There must have been some problem with the bar bathroom that day, because every man on set looks like he’s experiencing the demi-anguish of needing to pee. “Tequila shots, please,” the bearded one says with a wince. “Which tequila?” The bartender responds, equally awkward. “Doesn’t matter, any tequila,” beard says. Then we’re whisked through various situations in which one would never say, “Doesn’t matter…”

“Doesn’t matter, any haircut,” leaves the men with patchy heads. “Doesn’t matter, any tattoo,” renders one with cat whiskers and another with a tea cup forehead tat. We get it: direction is important in life, why leave your tequila choice up to someone else?

I’m all for the promotion of quality, but in this case, it seems a bit off-track. If Hornitos is “not just any tequila,” then it shouldn’t be just a shot. A good tequila shot will come with salt, lime, and a set of fun friends. Branding and, frankly, taste, doesn’t matter. Hornitos would be better off promoting adventure, a theme they’ve already begun with their tagline: Grab Life by the Hornitos.

Target, Deutsch LA Launch Four-Day Interactive College Experience

To showcase their back-to-school dorm room wares, Target and Deutsch LA have built Bullseye University, a 4-day interactive installation housing social media stars such as actor/musician Chester See and Jenn Im of Clothes Encounters. Online visitors can see live-streams of the University’s inhabitants and then click to purchase the items in each of their rooms. The Bullseye U site also hosts back to school-centric giveaways and events like a Ben and Jerry’s milkshake dunk tank, which starts at 10am PST today by the way.

As a preteen who once waited with bated breath for the newest Pbteen catalogue, I can imagine getting into this scheme as a college freshman. Especially if I was already a follower of the social media celebs involved, Target’s campaign would play to my college fantasies. Alas, we all know the truth is less colorful and more drinking-oriented, but Bullseye University’s version lets us run wild with creative, Internet-savvy roommates and purple throw pillows.

Kleenex Hand Towels Are Clean, Brooklyn People Learn

To demonstrate the purpose of a Kleenex Hand Towel, the brand set up a free handwashing station in Carroll Park, Brooklyn. They provided people with two drying options: a “sketchy” cloth towel and a dispenser filled with Kleenex Hand Towels. Studiocom and director Paul Iannacchino (of the original Coke Happiness Machine) then filmed a video in which people look dubiously at the dirty cloth towel and joyously wipe their hands on Kleenex’s offering.

The opening shot of babies swinging is adorable, and a hands-on approach is smart, but all the Purell-squirting people who are now tempted to use Kleenex Hand Towels should know that the video is set to a soundtrack of trees crying. The wail is just indiscernible to the human ear.

Do You Watch Movies on Netflix? Then You’re a Hipster, New Test Reveals

These days, it’s easy being hip. You think waffles taste good? You should probably just put on your Ray-Bans and bang your head against your bird-wallpapered wall because you’re a f*cking hipster. You went to college? Might want to reconsider the granola in your cupboard and the tattered Converse in your closet, because your hipster is already showing. Find out what else makes you a candidate for hipster-shaming via, a side project from Noise Marketing copywriter Daniel Blaser and designer Keith Maneri. Blaser’s last public service was banning the word awesome from the agency lexicon.

Answer yes to the Hipstertest, and you’ll get affirmation (“You are a hipster!”), accessorized with a mustache, glasses, and bird. Answer no, and the site simply serves you the next question. In the latter case, I’d love to get some other snarky response, like “You must wear only Brooks Brothers loafers,” or “Do you own a gun?”

Hipstertest is an on-point reminder that the hipster label now means nothing, and those who use it acerbically are stuck in 2011. But if it’s hurled ironically? We need another test for that “hipster.”