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Canadians Can ‘Get Skittles Rich’ With New Video-Sharing Campaign

skittlesrich-hed-2013We don’t know about you, but we’ve always found most Skittles commercials to be exceedingly creepy. Remember the one with the bunny? What the hell was that?

That said, if you’ve ever had the desire to reenact one of the colorful, crazy ads in your own home (or lounge in a pool filled with rainbow candy) but lacked the ubiquitous amount of Skittles required to actually accomplish such a feat, now might be your chance — assuming you’re Canadian.

The ‘Get Skittles Rich’ campaign, out of BBDO Toronto, is based around video-sharing; participants must sign up to the microsite and share a video, which features a fictional spokesman named Danny Falcon. For every share that gets watched, participants collect virtual Skittles; the person at the top of the leaderboard on December 10 will be crowned the Skittles Millionaire. Read more

Starbucks Is Now on the Rails… In Switzerland

StarbuckswagenEuropean train travel has always conjured images of adventure or romance in classic movies. But in America, trips by rail seem to be more about getting from point A to point B. Now Starbucks has set out to capture the cachet of Continental railway voyages by branding a café car on the InterCity train from Geneva’s airport to St. Gallen in Switzerland.

Starbucks is also continuing its expansion plan to serve customers worldwide in community gathering spots using local designs. In 2001 the brand established a Swiss retail presence, and now they have 53 stores in the country. They partnered with Swiss Federal Railways, aka SBB, on this venture. Here the SBB initials don’t signify “Starbucks brand building”; they’re the Swiss-German translation of the national railway’s name. Switzerland was Starbucks’ first outpost in Continental Europe, and now this is the first train in the world with a Starbucks café.

SBB said their objectives are to enhance the on-board experience for their passengers by offering new food and beverage selections on Swiss trains.”Starbucks’ popularity in Switzerland spoke for our cooperation”, said Jeannine Pilloud, director of SBB’s passenger transportation. “We want our customers to enjoy a pleasant journey and to feel at home while traveling with us”, she added. Pilloud spoke during a recent preview in Zurich, as reported by Swiss media outlets.

The train cafe combines key branding elements and colors from both organizations, and the design process took two years. The design challenges were notable, including the “constant movement of the train, space limitations and stringent safety regulations”, according to Liz Muller, Starbucks’ creative director of global design. “This is one of the smallest espresso bars and stores we have ever designed”, she said.

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Are You Guilty of ‘Phubbing’? Ad Agency Creates New Word to Sell Dictionaries

phubbing-hed-2013Here are some words recently added to the dictionary: jeggings, guyliner, bromance, chillax, crunk and bling.

Thanks to our ever-changing vernacular and the speed at which new “non-words” are spread via social media and other outlets, dictionary-makers have a lot to keep up with these days.

To highlight this point, ad agency McCann Melbourne, with the help of some great word-oriented minds, recently created its own timely word: Phubbing. Phubbing is defined as the act of snubbing the people in one’s presence in favor of one’s smartphone. The agency then spread the word like wildfire via social media, a dedicated anti-phubbing website and other channels in order to prove the point that it’s important for people to own an updated dictionary, lest they find themselves in a modern situation without a modern enough word with which to describe it.

As a lover of words, the below case study truly is a thing of beauty and wonder to behold — the birth of a word! That said, I do have to wonder whether the agency’s pitch to the viewer, “Language is always changing; update your dictionary,” doesn’t, in a way, defeat its own argument. The dictionary in question is a hard-copy of the new edition of Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary. So, if language is changing at an unprecedented rate, then won’t that hard-copy dictionary soon be as obsolete as last year’s smartphone? Read more

‘Assassin’s Creed’ Painting Featuring Fans’ Faces now Complete and on Display

Back in July, we told you that Ubisoft, maker of the historical action-adventure video game franchise Assassin’s Creed, had created a decidedly artistic and original campaign, titled “Defy History“, to promote the next installment of its popular series — Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag.

Playing off the game’s historical setting and furthering the concept of video games as art, the promo urged fans to “become part of a masterpiece” by digitally placing their own faces in an Age of Piracy-themed painting crafted by artists from L’Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Hundreds of gamers contributed their likenesses to the project, and after an online vote, the winning faces were added to the swashbuckling masterpiece, which is now complete and on digital display. The painting is set to be hung in Le Musee de la Marine this November, just after the game’s October PS3 release, and just in time for its release on other systems, also scheduled for November.

In the meantime, visitors to the video game’s website are encouraged to explore the painting, look for hidden videos, and check out the list of winners who will be immortalized forever in video game (and Parisian art) history.

Facebook Freaks Out Over Boobies

Most people know that posting pictures of boobies on Facebook is a surefire way to get banned. But what if the “Boobies” in question aren’t breasts, but birds?

Christmas Island Tourism, the small Australian island’s tourism board, says its Facebook ad inviting eco-tourists to its annual Bird ‘n’ Nature Week has been unfairly banned. Along with images of the Red-footed Booby, Brown Booby and critically endangered Abbott’s Booby, the ad featured the text: “Some gorgeous shots here of some juvenile boobies.”

The potentially sexual (pedophilic?) dual meaning didn’t sit well with Facebook, which banned the ad for “addressing the age, gender or sexual orientation of users on Facebook”.

But considering the birds aren’t exactly “Facebook users”, the manager of the tourism board, Linda Cash, assumed the ban was a mistake. “We presumed our original advert was blocked automatically,” she said, “so we appealed to Facebook directly who re-affirmed the campaign was banned due to the sexual language—particularly the use of the word ‘boobies.’”

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NBC Says Brands Are Still OK With the Sochi Games, Prays They Stay That Way

Russia’s new anti-gay propaganda law has prompted global backlash for the awful bias and homophobia it demonstrates, and the harassment and unfair treatment of the LGBT community it will cause. The law bans “discussion” of “non-traditional sexual relationships” with minors. Those found to have broken the law will be subject to fines and even prison.

With the world descending on Sochi in about six months for the Winter Olympic Games, calls for a boycott are getting louder. Just today, an American runner Nick Symmonds, who won a silver medal at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow criticized the law, saying that he would like to wear a rainbow pin, but it’s “very clear that will land you in jail.” The International Olympic Committee has asked how this will be enforced. Rep. Nancy Pelosi was far stronger in her condemnation of the law, calling it “outrageous” that Russia would “criminalize equality.” President Obama said he was “offended” by the law.

Also today, FIFA asked for “clarification” ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which will take place in Russia. And Andy Cohen says he won’t be going to Moscow to co-host the Miss Universe pageant because it’s “unsafe” for gays and he “doesn’t feel right as a gay man stepping foot in Russia.” Because of your horrible law, you miss out on the awesomeness of Andy Cohen. Sucks for you.

All of this controversy is surely causing some sleepless nights for the folks at NBC, which will be broadcasting the Games. The network is expecting to pull in $800 million in advertising, which Buzzfeed says would be the most ever for a Winter Olympic Games.

“So far, brands that have bought advertising time on NBC remain committed, but with six months left to go before the opening ceremonies and the potential for a boycott rising, a lot can happen that could change their minds,” the site says.

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The IOC, Stoli Vodka and NBC Respond to Boycotts/Petitions Stemming from Russian Anti-Gay Laws

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that bans ”propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” and threatens openly gay or “pro-gay” citizens and foreigners with fines, arrests and possible jail time. Another new law restricts adoptions of Russian children by people in countries that allow same-sex marriage.

With the 2014 Winter Olympics set to take place in Sochi, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it has received assurances ”from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.” It pledged to ensure there would be no discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators or the media during the games.

Many equal-rights activists are unimpressed with the IOC’s response, and feel that whether or not the laws directly affect the games is far from the point. ”They should be advocating for the safety of all LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people in Russia, not simply those visiting for the Olympics,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. ”Rescinding this heinous law must be our collective goal.”

In order to make their voices heard, activists have been writing petitions and staging boycotts.

The “Dump Russian Vodka” campaign, started by internationally syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage, has prompted bars across the US, UK, Canada and Australia to stop serving Russian brands like Stolichnaya. In response, Stolichnaya’s CEO Val Mendeleev wrote an open letter last week condemning the recent laws and reaffirming the brand’s commitment to the LGBT community. The brand’s website has also undergone an overhaul, and now features a rainbow block of text boasting that the brand “stands strong and proud with the global LGBT community against the attitude and actions of the Russian government.” (We’d call this a winning damage control response) Read more

The Pope’s Progressive PR Moment: ‘Who am I to Judge’ Gay Priests?

The Catholic Church is usually one of the last institutions we would associate with words like “progressive” and “tolerant” in reference to homosexuality, but comments made by Pope Francis on Monday may signify the beginning of a major shift in attitude.

During a press conference aboard the pope’s overnight flight home from a week-long trip to Brazil, His Holiness was asked how he would respond to learning that a cleric in his ranks was gay, though not sexually active. Pope Francis answered by saying, “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?…You can’t marginalize these people.”

Considering that the Vatican has long regarded homosexuality as a disorder, and previous popes like Benedict XVI formally barred gay men from entering the priesthood, the weight of these remarks — though brief and simple as they may seem — cannot be overstated. Read more

The TSA Pulls Its Guns Out (On Instagram)

Let’s play the hypothetical game: Say you’re a government agency that many see as a necessary evil, but you still get singled out as an example of everything wrong with our system. It’s tough to be popular when your job involves insisting that everyone remove their shoes, belts, wallets, ice picks, meat cleavers, spear guns, brass knuckles, gasoline canisters, and any other vaguely metallic objects before entering a full-body scanner with an NC-17 rating.

What do you do to improve your public profile? Start an Instagram account to show the world what you’re doing right—because who reads things anymore?

Our point: here are some fun weapons that the Transportation Security Administration confiscated and featured on its brand new picture page. Oh hey, it’s a loaded pistol small enough to fit in your toiletry bag!

Next comes another tiny, poorly hidden handgun:

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Monte Carlo Marks a Major Milestone

“Gambling makes life more intense” — and it also made life a lot more prosperous for Monaco. The quote was from a docudrama about the petite principality and the building of a casino in Monte Carlo 150 years ago. The medieval town and surrounding area was impoverished before Prince Charles III of Monaco decided gambling was their best economic bet. The name Monte Carlo, or Mount Charles, reflects the elevated terrain and the proximity to Italy.

Monaco launched a year-long celebration for its monumental anniversary, with events at home and abroad. “Monte Carlo is the epitome of luxury. It’s known for style, sophistication and architecture, and many architects have left their footprints on Monte Carlo”, said Maguy Maccario Doyle, consul general and director of the Monaco Government Tourist Office. She spoke at a Wednesday event at the French Institute/Alliance Francaise (FIAF) in New York.

The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (NMNM) commissioned documentary photographer Gabriele Basilico to convey Monte Carlo in a series of black and white photographs. Those are on display at FIAF through August 23 alongside a wall of colorful Monaco postcards. “The exhibit shows an interesting approach to the principality and the neighborhoods”, noted FIAF’s director of visual arts, Antoine Guerrero.

As an international capital of “sport and spectacle”, Monaco has long attracted high-rollers. Its commemorative programs this year are especially alluring. Last month they turned Casino Square into a tennis court for an exhibition match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. In July they’re hosting a concert featuring rock stars like Rihanna and Elton John. An August exhibit at NYC’s Forbes Gallery will feature photos of celebrities who frequent Monte Carlo.

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