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Downton Abbey’s Classy, Charitable Response to ‘Water Bottle-Gate’

By now, you’ve probably seen the promotional image for Downton Abbey that’s had fans, history purists, and the internet in general in a multi-day frenzy, but in case you haven’t, here it is — out-of-place plastic water bottle and all:

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In response to the media madness, the cast of the hit show has released another image, and this one is chock-full of water bottles. Only this time, their presence is intentional, and intended to refocus the public’s attention on a worthy issue.

A spokesperson for British TV network ITV explained, “After seeing the reaction the picture caused earlier this week, the cast and crew came up with the idea of turning some of this attention towards an issue around water that really matters. They hope that by posing for this picture they will be able to raise awareness and amplify the work of international charity – WaterAid.”

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WaterAid is a charitable organization that has spent decades bringing water, sanitation and hygiene education to where it’s needed most.

Barbara Frost, Chief Executive of WaterAid, said: Read more

Q&A: Top Firms Expanding into the Asia Pacific Region

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It’s not exactly news that the Asia Pacific region is one of the biggest opportunities for international firms looking to expand and serve a more global audience. Allison + Partners recently opened an office in Singapore while firms like Edelman and Ogilvy have maintained a presence in China for some time.

Still, much of the market remains untapped by top Western firms, and the act of reaching the billions of consumers living in the Asia Pacific region presents significant challenges for many US-based organizations.

Siegel+Gale recently announced a partnership with Gramco, Japan’s largest branding firm, in the interest of better serving the Chinese public.

We spoke to Jason Cieslak, president of Siegel+Gale’s Pacific Rim operations, to get his take on the trend.

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Google Removes ‘Bomb Gaza’ Game from App Store After Backlash

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What could possibly be offensive about a mobile game that makes light of the bloody and ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict by encouraging bored Android and tablet users to drop animated explosives on Gaza, where over 1,800 real, human Palestinians have been killed since the start of the fighting? Oh, that’s right — everything.

To make matters worse, the game, titled “Bomb Gaza,” released by developer PLAYFTW, had a “low” maturity rating, meaning children were given the green light to play it. Excellent.

Angry and disgusted complaints flooded the game’s (now-deleted) comments section, and while some comments were political and defended one side of the conflict or the other, the overwhelming sentiment of the outraged objections can be pretty-well summed up by this simple, straight-forward one (heads-up for some swearing):

“WTF There is ongoing conflict in which people are dying and you seem to find it acceptable to make a game of it. That’s fucked up.”

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Celestial Couture: Premiere Catwalk at One World Trade Center

WTC Fashion Show Poster JMA“Having friends in high places” is often considered to be a ticket to business and personal success. For model turned entrepreneur Jessica Minh Ahn, it’s all about fashion in high places. She’s staged catwalk events worldwide in spots like the Grand Canyon Skywalk, London’s Tower Bridge and sky-high settings in the Middle East and Asia.

On Wednesday evening Minh Ahn assembled a global cast of designers for a first-ever catwalk event at One World Trade Center (WTC) in New York. She was undaunted by the ongoing construction at the tallest building in the western hemisphere and hosted the show on the 63rd floor. The runway was a mix of 8 brands, comprising haute couture, premium ready-to-wear and active wear. Each designer debuted a signature collection based on the landmark locale.

“Fashion is the international language and there are no more boundaries now”, said participating designer Diego Cortizas of Chula. Indeed, the show reflected a veritable World Cup of fashion. Here’s a selection of brands and images in the WTC spotlight.

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Kim Jong Un Officially Condemns Seth Rogen and James Franco’s New Film

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We can’t say we’re surprised that North Korea’s Supreme Leader is unamused by a film about his own assassination (we’re pretty sure even the US wouldn’t terribly appreciate a foreign country making a comedy about our president’s demise), but we do think Kim Jong Un‘s official condemnation of “The Interview” might be the best advertising the movie could ask for. What that says about the state of politics in our sick, sad world or what it says about our society’s need to “laugh so we don’t cry” is a post for a different sort of blog.

The plot of the new comedy follows Seth Rogen and James Franco as the less-than-dynamic duo attempts to take out North Korea’s infamous leader. In an interview with The Telegraph, Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Centre for North Korea-US Peace and an unofficial spokesman for the country’s political regime, makes it quite clear that North Korea is not laughing.

“There is a special irony in this storyline as it shows the desperation of the US government and American society…A film about the assassination of a foreign leader mirrors what the US has done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine…And let us not forget who killed [President John F.] Kennedy – Americans.

Ouch. Read more

Brazil’s Image Shifts As Protests Surge During World Cup’s First Day

brazil world cup street artRight now on Univision, Brazil and Croatia are on the pitch, kicking off the first day of action for the World Cup 2014. Out in the streets near the stadium, the scene was much less jovial with protesters expressing their anger. According to The New York Timespolice were on the scene using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. Protesters, who numbered in the hundreds, seemed “stunned” by the force used to quiet the crowd. “Several protesters and journalists were injured in the tumult, including a producer for CNN,” the NYT says. Last year, a crowd that was reported to be in the millions came out to push for better public services. Images of the swarms of people traveled around the globe.

Protests and worker strikes have been taking place in Brazil over the fact that the country has spent $11 billion over seven years on a sporting event while people struggle.

At this point, much like in the lead up to the Sochi Olympics, we’ve also heard stories about the last-minute preparations for the games, with a scramble to finish public transportation channels and stadiums.

If that isn’t enough, you have Brazilians who would like to see a match but say the sky-high prices make it cost-prohibitive.

This is much different from the usual pictures of care-free, samba-dancing, beautiful people on beautiful beaches that we’re all accustomed to seeing out Brazil.

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PRCA Wins Big Legal Victory Over Newspaper Distributors in Europe

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BREAKING: PR has triumphed over media in the UK. Well, sort of.

The not-quite-shocking conclusion reached by The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg holds that web surfers can Google and click to their hearts’ content without the permission of whoever holds the copyrights for the content they see.

Does this make sense to you?

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PSA Turns Passed-Out Drunks into Human Billboards

If you thought the ritual of writing shaming, embarrassing things on passed-out drunk people was relegated to college parties, you’d be mistaken. Now two major ad agencies in Japan are doing virtually the same thing, but for a good cause.

In partnership with Yaocho, one of the biggest bar chains in Tokyo, Ogilvy & Mather and Geometry Global have created a campaign aimed at discouraging Japanese citizens from getting so blitzed that they pass out and sleep in the streets. And what better way to dissuade such behavior than creating a shaming, public spectacle out of those who fail to excercise better judgement?

Such unfortunate, inhibriated individuals are marked with the hashtag #NOMISUGI, which translates to “too drunk,” and surrounded by a square of white tape. All over Japan, passersby have been Instagram-ing images of these human billboards, creating a viral PSA of sorts. While we agree with AdWeek that it’s difficult to tell whether these individuals truly draped themselves so horrendously on subway staircases and on sidewalks or whether the scenes have been staged, the campaign still sends a clear message: Behave, or risk becoming our next literal poster child for poor decision making.

Just some food for thought to get your weekend off to a somewhat-honorable start…

Lunar Advertising: Japanese Company to Launch Can of Soda to the Moon

LUNAR DREAM CAPSULE PROJECT | キミの夢を、月に届けよう。

Japanese soda company Otsuka is about to take “one giant leap” for advertising.

The moon’s surface, once described by Neil Armstrong as “magnificent desolation,” is about to become a bit less desolate thanks to a 2.2-pound titanium capsule filled with “powdered sports drink and children’s dreams,” which the beverage maker, in partnership with Pittsburgh-based aerospace company Astrobiotic Technology, plans to bestow upon our lunar neighbor.

Astrobiotic is currently in competition for the $20-million Google Lunar X prize, which will be awarded to the first company to land a payload on the moon’s surface that can travel at least 1,640 feet and transmit high-definition images back to Earth. To fund such a project and to purchase a spot on a launch vehicle (which, in this case, is the Falcon 9 rocket designed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX), the company needs sponsors, and Otsuka has offered Astrobiotic a hefty half-million in exchange for a can of its Pocari Sweat sports drink acting as a stowaway. Read more

Nintendo Responds to Petition Asking for Reinstatement of Same-Sex Relationships in ‘Tomodachi Life’ Game

Nintendo Strikes Down Gay Marriage Requests for Tomodachi Life - IGNJust weeks before Nintendo plans to release its life-simulation game Tomodachi Life in western markets, it has patched out a “bug” that allowed — as the company put it — “strange relationships,” AKA same-sex romances between characters. The decision has sparked an increasingly-popular online petition called Miiquality, which is asking Nintendo to reverse its actions.

Tye Marini, the 23-year-old Nintendo fan from Mesa, Arizona, who launched the campaign last month, said of his hopes for the 3DS game, “I want to be able to marry my real-life fiancé’s Mii, but I can’t do that…My only options are to marry some female Mii, to change the gender of either my Mii or my fiancé’s Mii, or to completely avoid marriage altogether and miss out on the exclusive content that comes with it.”

In response to the petition and growing controversy, Nintendo released a statement, saying:

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