Ad of the Day – September 30 (Auckland)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Location: Auckland
  • Client: Tui (beer)
  • Name: Always something brewing
  • Category: Ambient, web film
  • Why I like it: Just plain fun. Over 2 million views in a few days. Considering that the population of New Zealand is a little over 4 million…I’d say that’s a job well done as far as reach:) Everyone loves a good hidden camera prank. However, what makes this one a little different is that it doesn’t rely exclusively on the “victim” and his reaction…most of the joy here actually comes from seeing the childish, barely restrained glee among the friends that set up the prank! It’s like that feeling in a surprise party (the guest is about to come in…the lights are off…keep it silent…almost here…) you can’t help but to feel a thrill of youthful excitement and joy, and this is what comes through in the video – very contagious! It’s got replayability, and it’s definitely shareable. I think they stumbled a bit on the branding (it should have been much more prominent), but nevertheless I’m a fan. Today is Monday, but it’s the eve of a week-long holiday in China…so a lighthearted beer video is quite fitting!
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Ad of the Day – September 27 (Toronto)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ariad Communications
  • Location: Toronto
  • Client: Degree (deodorant)
  • Name: Do:More
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: Solid, even inspiring – which is rare for a deodorant ad. It might seem daunting to compete in this category, where such a big splash has been made by Old Spice and Axe. The only way around this wall is to go right through it: Degree stakes a claim as the anti-Axe (teen males wanting to get laid), and the anti Old Spice (tongue-in-cheek hipster cleverness).What do they stand for? Real life, where real men and women sweat and suffer and strive to overcome. It’s no-nonsense, very gritty, and it piggy-backs on a very current US cultural trend of “extreme group exercise” (muddy buddy races, Crossfit, etc.) Executionally, it takes a slightly non-conventional route…you think this is going to be about how these war veterans are doing the best they can within the limits of their injuries…but soon enough you realize there are no limits, and they will run right over you if you get in their way. Most good deodorant ads make me smile, and don’t ever bring up images of sweating…this one made me want to go running. If breaking through the category clutter is the first step, then: mission accomplished.

Ad of the Day – September 26 (Stuttgart)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Jung von Matt/Neckar
  • Location: Stuttgart
  • Client: Mercedes Benz
  • Name: Magic Body Control
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: Bravo to Jung von Matt and Mercedes, for breaking one of the laws of automotive advertising! (Law 14.c.iii which states “When showcasing stability control, one must show the car in one of three situations: 1. Traversing impossibly rocky terrain, so that all four wheels are a different heights at the same time, 2. Driving around rough roads while humorously not disturbing something inside the car, like a sleeping baby or a cup of boiling coffee, or 3. Inside a modern, robotic “auto lab”, showing the car elevated, with each wheel attached to a hydraulic piston that violently shakes the axle in different directions at once.” There was nothing mentioned about chickens! Or not even showing a car! But were you instantly hooked? Did you get and understand the functional message? Were you entertained, even delighted? Did you remember who it was for? Did it leave you singing the song inside your head? Does it make you feel good towards the brand? Yeah, me too. And this is exactly why in advertising one must strive break the rules, if you’re striving for a great ad.

Thank you Guillaume Pagnoux (Ogilvy Kuala Lumpur) for the reco!

Correction: The original post incorrectly featured Hamburg as the location, an alert reader below let me know that it was Jung Von Matt/Neckar, which is in Stuttgart. Thanks!

Ad of the Day – September 25 (London)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: AMV BBDO
  • Location: London
  • Client: Guinness
  • Name: Surge
  • Category: Print
  • Why I like it: It almost seems unfair, really, when you have a series of print ads that are so simple – yet so filled with raw power, meaning, and brand linkage. It feels as if it should be a little more complex, a little harder to get things so right. Ah, but it is so hard. Simple is the hardest of things to pull off! A brand needs to earn the right to go for simple, and this can take years or decades of consistently laying the groundwork. And then of course, an agency and client team have to have the talent, the vision, and the courage to let the message speak for itself, without the heavy burden of add-ons that act as insurance policies. There’s nothing simple about making something look simple. And that’s why this series of print ads is the type of work that should be celebrated.

Bonus content: There is also a tvc, which oddly enough doesn’t have the same impact on me. Click here to see it.

Ad of the Day – September 23 (London)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Mother
  • Location: London
  • Client: Smirnoff
  • Name: The Apple Bite
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: A sensual, slightly surreal visual feast…also eerily spooky as well…so many sensations packed into one minute! This thinly veiled homage to Stanley Kubrik and David Lynch goes all-out in conveying a fun, titillating, memorable image for this new variant of Smirnoff. It has a place in my “wish I had done that” book, as an example of trusting the talent and trusting the process: there must have been many big leaps of faith along this journey…for example, how do you even present this to the client…a storyboard wouldn’t do it justice, right? Or…surely this wasn’t submitted to the creativity-crusher that is consumer research, right? More likely, a client had trust in the talent and the process, and asked the creatives to really go for it and make something special. The creatives in turn likely also had to surrender trust to the director and production crew, who would be freed to shoot and edit such a distinctive piece. Far from a comfortable “smooth process”, this was likely risky and mildly nerve-wracking for all involved. But only through the courage of assuming risk, can you end up with films as distinctive and interesting as this one. 

Ad of the Day – September 18 (Los Angeles)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Deutsch
  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Client: VW
  • Name: Feeling Carefree
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: Oh, I love this one so much. If you grew up in the West during the 80s, watch it right now. How blessedly different these VW ads are from the usual car advertising fare: winding roads, shifting into 5th gear, autumn leaves blowing in the asphalt, salt-lake drifting, and all the other generic nonsense! Breakthrough is the first step – without it you’re not even in the game! In this one they had me from the first second (the opening chord/illustration), and it kept me hooked with a great track, amazing animation, and fantastic little details (eg. the “80s dance” they are doing on second 26 – epic!) The brand/benefit feels a little more tacked on than in most VW ads of late, but it hardly matters – there is such a wellspring of positive vibe created by the preceding 30 seconds, that it would have worked just as well as a brand ad. Another strong effort from VW and Deutsch. It’s becoming a trend…I’ll have what they’re having, please!

Bonus content: I feel like some context is owed to my Chinese colleagues: in the West, the 80s were the peak time for music videos and semi-cheesy one hit wonder bands like the Norwegian “A-ha”. The song in the video was a huge international hit, in large part due to an extremely breakthrough music video, that everybody saw and remembers to this day. You can see it here or go to this link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914)

Ad of the Day – September 17 (New York)

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To access, click here, or go here: http://www.youtube.com/user/virginmobileusa/blinkwashing

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Mother
  • Location: New York
  • Client: Virgin Mobile
  • Name: Blink washing
  • Category: web video/stunt/experiential
  • Why I like it: How can you get me to interact for 2 minutes with a video that shares all the boring details of a US mobile phone service plan which I definitely don’t need? Tough challenge…but maybe this is the way we should approach all of our projects in today’s fragmented media market, where consumer attention is so hard to get and retain. In this particular case, Virgin Mobile succeeds by sharing the information in a way I’ve never seen before. I don’t even know what category to put this in, it’s basically a long-form video that you control by blinking (it’s tracked through your webcam – and it really works!) Very, very cool, completely immersive and engaging, and enough to overcome the huge hurdle of zero relevance (imagine if you were actually in the hunt for a phone plan?). Just a gentle reminder that, wherever we think the bar is set at in terms of storytelling and execution, there are teams of people somewhere already hard at work to raise it even higher.

Ad of the Day – September 16 (Chicago)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Energy BBDO
  • Location: Chicago
  • Client: Extra Gum
  • Name: Origami
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: Wow, this one really sneaks up and delivers! You think it’s going to be a standard, semi-cheesy ad, a cliché picture of family bliss…and yet, the end reveal is surprisingly powerful. It forces an emotional response from even the most cynical. If you’re a parent, I’m betting this one will “get” you. And yet, as an advertising guy, what I marvel at the most on this one is the flawless integration of the brand/product into the story. One of the holy grails that we seek is an emotional, story-and-character driven ad that also credibly weaves the brand/product into the story (ideally as a catalyst of the action.) It’s so damn hard to do, because quite often the two are in direct conflict – the brand/product breaks the spell of the emotional narrative…and the emotional story gets in the way of us remembering the brand/product. So it’s a joy to watch on this one, from a technical point of view, how the gum is a credible, even integral part of the story. The multiple (!) product shots feel unforced, and even the wrapper is the object around which the entire emotional construct revolves around! Even the wonderful tagline “Give Extra, get Extra” manages to pull off the “emotional and branded” trick. This is all extremely hard and quite rare, so my hat is off to Dan and the team at EnergyBBDO Chicago for this mini-masterclass in emotional advertising. 

Ad of the Day – September 12 (Gothenburg)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors
  • Location: Gothenburg
  • Client: Volvo trucks
  • Name: The Hook
  • Category: web film
  • Why I like it: When others zig, zag. In today’s world of relentless advancement and innovation in the technique of advertising…there’s something delightfully retro about this web film. It reminds me of ads they might have done in the 60s or 70s. The “torture test” demo, the CEO-as-spokesman, the little details like him wearing a suit and tie, or his Swedish accent, or the interesting single-take shot, or even his charming assurance that “you don’t need to worry.” It’s all so crisp, single minded…and reminiscent of a simpler time in advertising, perhaps?

Bonus content: Another one in this series, called “The Technician”, is also pretty good:

Ad of the Day – September 11 (San Francisco)

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Today’s pick:

  • Why I like it: I love this one so much. It’s a like a 1 minute mini-movie that puts a ton of ingredients in the pressure cooker (humor, drama, cinematics, design, suspense, brand, casting, product benefit, sound design, etc.) closes the lid, raises the heat…and out comes this little gem, perfectly balanced for impact, memorability and enjoyment. So chock-full of detail that it bears repeated viewing (what is your favorite shot? mine is the one of the kids in the back seat of the station wagon, sucking on a popsicle – so spooky-random and so awesome! Oh, and I still don’t get where the guy comes from at the end…) Imagine this one in a commercial break full of car ads showing winding roads and blowing leaves. It stands out, doesn’t it? Fantastic work out of San Francisco yet again (check out their previous effort almost exactly one year ago), showing the importance of craft, attention to detail, and creativity all working to amplify a simple strategy and benefit.