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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

Art & Science Says Go Fish with Wireless Bass That Talks Through Tweets

If you’re worked up over Sharknado, you might also appreciate a smaller fish to fry: digital agency Art & Science have produced a Twitter-activated talking fish, à la Big Mouth Billy Bass the singing sensation. When people tweet to the @fishyourself account, the rubber fish on the wall of the Art & Science office turns its head and speaks whatever wise words were written, wirelessly.

The idea came about due to Art & Science’s “Awesome Idea of the Day” board, where employees are encouraged to post their serious or wackiest potential projects. Every once in awhile the agency hosts a hackathon, in which one or two of the ideas are produced.

It’s cute, and of course any expression of technological creativity is a helpful learning experience. But I wonder if the time spent engineering a talking fish could have been better used to educate an eager student on the ins-and-outs of an agency, or somehow using talent and resources to aid a charitable cause. Am I missing the point?

Code and Theory, Snapple Are Off to the Ostrich Races

The world is weird, and Snapple has succeeded in giving us small moments to reflect and delight in that with every juice. Now with their latest digital campaign from Code and Theory (check out our recent Cubes tour with the shop here), those moments are deepened via “Re-enFACTments,” videos that bring Snapple Real Facts to life.

The most recent bit of useless knowledge re-enFACTed is that the ostrich’s brain is smaller than its eyeball. To prove this point, we see the ostrich peck moodily at the camera, allow humans to ride on its feathery back, and make vague humming sounds. But the real point is that, “the true measurement of a champion *isn’t* the size of its brain.”

365: Neck-in-Neck is an HBO-24/7-style sports documentary on the wild world of ostrich racing. In the 5-minute (riveting and thus justified) spot, we watch the townfolk of Chandler, Arizona, put on their annual ostrich race, featuring both riding and chariot racing. Snapple interviews the head trainer and his prize ostrich, Julio, who was apparently bullied as a youngster. He hid his head in the sand but was still mercilessly attacked by vicious teenage beaks. Today he is a winner.

This is all real, seconded by a Daily Mail article on the “Hilarious and Unpredictable World of the Great American Ostrich Races.” There’s something fascinating about ostriches, and seeing fully-grown men on their backs is even more bizarre. Snapple strikes us with wonder every time we open a juice, and this campaign lengthens that curiosity, engaging until the last sip.

Credits after the jump

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Boost Mobile, 180LA Say ‘You Earned It’

After their amusing spot featuring a basketball player juggling a couple of extra balls, Boost Mobile and 180LA are back together once again, this time emphasizing the savings Boost customers can get. In three short videos, we see various stealing scenarios: a man on the subway gets pickpocketed, a city guy leaps over fences to evade a mugger, a woman has her purse snatched on the sidewalk. But by the end of each ad, the victim has money handed back to them, showing that “Boost Mobile puts cash back in your pocket, literally.”

It’s a good concept, and the little song that shifts each scene into celebration coupled with the actors’ yay-I’m-richer-than-I-thought smiles makes these spots sweet. I only wish they could have cast at least one white thief. Sure, they’re all good guys in the end, but these spots still reinforce tired racial stereotypes. We can do better.

Credits and the rest of the videos after the jump.

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Rihanna Joins Jay-Z in Translation, Budweiser’s ‘Made for Music’ Campaign

Budweiser’s new campaign “Made for Music” launches in 85 countries today, featuring Jay-Z and Rihanna carefully dispersed amidst other artists including an ice sculptor and street art painter. Jay-Z’s ad is backed by his song PSA, while Rihanna’s features her newest single, “Right Now.” Both spots are directed by Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go, Bee Season) and each closes with inspirational words from Bud: “It begins and ends with what you make.”

Made for Music was inspired by the Budweiser Made in America Festival which debuted in Philly last year and Jay-Z headlined. This year, Beyonce and Nine Inch Nails will take the marquee billing over Labor Day Weekend.

Jay and RiRi’s ads are mildly inspiring with their filmic, black-and-white “creative spirit.” After the Samsung deal, Jay-Z’s authenticity feels slightly compromised, but both he and Rihanna are still solid examples of hard-working performers. The scenes are nothing new–star reads in the car, star makes decisions with sweeping hand motions, star stands triumphant as the lights go down–so I wouldn’t mind a bit of original dialogue, but all in all these spots do the job. Time to turn up Magna Carta Holy Grail and channel HOV’s productivity.

Credits after the jump as well as clips from our interview last year with Translation CEO Steve Stoute on his agency’s relationship with “the king of beers.”

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Street Waxing: Advertisement or PSA?

As much as I appreciate a good fail video and laugh regularly from schadenfreude, Lowe Roche’s latest for Fuzz Wax Bar in Toronto just made me cringe. To advertise their dedication to smoother skin, Fuzz covered a male model in wax strips and sent him onto the streets. People could tear the strips (and hair) off him to receive a 25% off gift certificate. The strips were illustrated with grim-faced smileys, varying based on the amount of pain they would cause. Many people appeared to delight in making this man shout in agony.

“Street Waxing” seems to me the opposite of an attractive ad campaign. The selling point of waxing is the final product: smooth skin. In between appointments, one primary goal is to forget about the pain. That makes this experience more of an anti-waxing PSA. Fuzz Wax Bar reminds us, very viscerally, that waxing is not a pleasant experience. And adding insult to injury, (unlike this model), you’re going to have to pay to get yours yanked off.

Credits after the jump

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Full Contact Teams with The Hoff to Advertise Gas-Station Coffee

Convenience store Cumberland Farms (informally known as Cumby’s, Wikipedia informs me) has released their latest #icedhoffee advertisement, in which David Hasselhoff sings about his thirst and how it is quenched with 99 cent Cumberland Farms iced coffee. His voice sounds like Bruce Springsteen’s, evoking July days of yesteryear (Would you sing along if this were on the radio? I think so.), while the green screened beach-centric scenery couldn’t be more kitsch-perfect.

On CNN New Day, anchors said the ad sparked “just a touch of outrage” online. I hardly think the cited tweets count as outrage, but apparently they were enough to incite the Hoff, who called in to the show. “Did you ever think [the ad] would take off like this?” The inquiring anchors wanted to know. Hoff says no, and rightfully so since 150,000 views is nothing on Youtube.  But then Hoffster goes on to say that life is what you make it and amidst all this reality TV he’s happy to provide some respite for our wearied souls.

Everything “Thirsty for Love” stands for is bad: Cumberland Farms coffee is maybe slightly more refreshing than stagnant subway water, and it’s ridiculous the Hoff is making so much money parodying himself. But the ad is self-aware enough that it is fun, and judging by the related hashtag’s stream on Twitter, people are participating in the campaign for that: we all love to make fun.

Aardman Animations Brings Insect Tattoos to Life for Random Acts Short Film

After all episodes of Big Brother are exhausted, late night TV on England’s Channel 4 consists of Random Acts, a short-form “daily arts strand.” They call it television as art, rather than about art.

An upcoming part of this stream comes from Aardman Animations directors Karni & Saul, who have made a 3-minute “Lynchian” film about a sunbathing, flower crown-wearing girl who is infested by her own insect tattoos. “In ‘Skinmeal,’ we tried to make a piece that was visually tempting and at the same time had a sharp edge to it,” Karni & Saul said.

The concept sounds terrifying, and when a spider crawls out of our protagonist’s scalp I do feel a little squeamish. But with its plinky mood music and limited length, I wonder how the piece will fully employ the fear factor. Skinmeal is a great title; let’s hope they follow through and she really gets devoured, albeit artfully.

Arnold Worldwide, New Balance Compete to be Most Patriotic

Conveniently timed for the 4th of July, Arnold Worldwide and New Balance have launched a campaign celebrating the latter’s commitment to the United States. In a four-video series titled, “Our U.S. Factory Workers vs. Their U.S. Factory Workers,” actual NB factory workers compete in a hot-dog eating contest, ping-point match, basketball game, and ice hockey challenge. The pitch is their home factory, and the catch is that they have no opponents.

According to the parties involved, while 25 percent of New Balance shoes are made or assembled in the U.S., their competitors represent an embarrassing goose egg: NB employs more than 1300 U.S. factory workers, while their competitors employ none.

One-fourth still isn’t a huge amount, but it’s clearly not an exaggeration to say NB wins the game when it comes to patriotism. That makes for a lot of pride, and a lonely hot dog eating contest.

Credits and other videos after the jump

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Arnold, Jack Daniel’s Bring Back King Bee, This Time with a Swarm

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey has been repped by King Bee for a while now, with the insect always fiercely flying, always backed by rock and roll. In the latest spot, King Bee is followed by his swarm, representing the followers the brand has gained in the last year.

Pre-released on Twitter and Facebook, “Swarm” amassed over 10 million impressions before launching on TV. Though it was apparently carefully calibrated to get the right lighting and “a gritty feeling” (essential for any American whiskey brand), the spot’s not exactly rife with excitement or engagement. It works for exactly 30 seconds, though, and with the accompanying copywriting- “Like any good night out, things get interesting when there’s a swarm.” and “Fly straight. Drink responsibly,” King Bee and his crew get get an A for effort.

Credits after the jump

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David Shane Writes a Sweet ‘Ghost Story’ for Nerve Dating

Dating–especially online–is nerve-wracking, funny, and requires the bravery of a preteen on a diving team (take a deep breath and pray your bottoms don’t fall off). Dating sites’ advertisements generally don’t help the cause. Match.com and eHarmony spots look like weight loss commercials, and How About We… goes for the student film aesthetic. In contrast, Nerve Dating’s “Ghost Story” is an authentic piece not only about starting a new relationship, but about moving on (which we’re all doing/hoping for every time we do this dating thing).

“Ghost Story” is directed by Emmy award-winning David Shane, the man behind Bud Light’s funny “Swear Jar” and Land Rover’s “Pathological Liar.” It features actors with charming, soft British accents. The heartwarming angle is a surprising move for Nerve, a site infamous for its explicit sex essays before Vice took over. It’s artfully done and helps carve them a unique space in the overdone online dating realm, not for people with dead boyfriends, but for those who need to come alive.

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