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If you watched that new Apple ad with dozens of stickers adorning a MacBook Air and felt compelled to track down all 74 in real life, I have bad news and good news.

The bad news is, uh, that's a strange and unnatural compulsion you've got there. The good news? Someone already did it for you!

Mike Wehner at The Unofficial Apple Weblog sussed out all 74 stickers featured in the ad, and while several weren't actually available for purchase, he came up with some pretty good alternatives.

You'd think that a brand that built a commercial around customizing its product would have planned to offer all of its examples for easy purchase, but apparently not. Maybe Apple was hoping to target people who already own cool decals and convince them to buy a nice $1,000 computer or two to go with them.

Wes Anderson's Rushmore was a clear inspiration for Best Buy's back-to-school spot, which, like the 1998 film, focuses on a student juggling an excess of extracurricular interests.

Created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the ad's clearest connection to the film is The Creation's rowdy 1967 track "Making Time," which also plays over the movie's opening montage. (You can revisit Anderson's excellent Rushmore intro below).

Let's hope the student in the spot has a less tumultuous school year than Rushmore anti-hero Max Fischer, who deals with everything from Olivia Williams' unrequited love to a no-holds-barred feud with Bill Murray.

Anyway, it appears that Anderson's oeuvre, which straddles the line between art house and mainstream, has seeped into the collective consciousness and inspired a new generation of commercial creativity. (Wes' chest must be swelling with pride now that his quirky coming-of-age tale is providing a template to help lure customers to the retail floor.)

Asked if the spot was indeed a literal homage to "Rushmore," a coy Best Buy rep told AdFreak: "Any time you're compared to an Academy Award-nominated director, that's a good thing. And to be honest, better to channel Wes Anderson than Wes Craven."

Via Technology Tell.

To promote its new line of Star Wars-themed character cars and die-cast ships, Hot Wheels showed up at San Diego Comic-Con this week with a life-size Darth Vader car.

The car, a modified Chevrolet Corvette C5, incorporates a lot of Vader's helmet details into its design, along with a 526-horsepower LS3 engine and custom red line tires. It's always the details that make things like this so fun.

The ad promoting it mixes driving footage with a custom Emperor Palpatine monologue, otherwise presenting itself almost like a typical car ad. But I think the atypical car on display here more than makes up for it.

It's a big week for that neighbor of yours who can do a hundred pull-ups and toss tractor tires 20 yards. The CrossFit Games kicks off this week, and to celebrate, Reebok is releasing a new product: Reebok Bacon.

CrossFitters as a whole are notorious for also abiding by a Paleo diet, which allows and praises the consumption of smoky, savory strips of tasty bacon.

The sneaker brand, once thought of as a go-to for mall walkers, has revamped its image to cater to a hipper, younger crowd, and there's no doubt that bacon has taken on a cult-like status in recent years.

Reebok Bacon was created by agency Venables Bell & Partners, which notes: "In sticking with Paleo recommendations, Reebok Bacon is uncured and contains no nitrates, preservatives, MSG or sweeteners. Packaging in dry ice will keep the bacon refrigerated until recipients throw it in the skillet."

Beyond sending packages directly to athletes and others in the community, Reebok will have a physical presence at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games with its very own Reebok Bacon Box-a food truck handing out bacon-based menu items to CrossFit Games attendees. While it's tapping into what I feel is a little bit of an overdone trend (I'm over the bacon thing, the mustache thing, the bacon-as-a-mustache thing), Reebok Bacon will likely be a hit for CrossFit diehards.

Client: Reebok
Brand: Crossfit Community Activation
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
Executive Creative Directors: Paul Venables, Will McGinness
Creative Director: Erich Pfeifer
Associate Creative Director: Eric Boyd
Design Director: Cris Logan
Lead Designer: Michael Sison
Art Director: Byron Del Rosario
Copywriter: Meredith Karr
Designer: Jarrett Carr
Interactive Designer: Jarrett Carr
Head of Strategy: Michael Davidson
Communications Strategy Director: Beatrice Liang
Brand Strategist: Jake Bayham
Technical Director: Lucas Shuman
Production House: Freestyle MKTG, MKTG
Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen
Director of Interactive Production: Manjula Nadkarni
Experiential Producer: Natalie Stone
Production Coordinator: Megan Wasserman
Digital Producer: Ashley Smith
Account Manager: Ashton Atlas
Project Managers: Daniela Contreras, Shannon Duncan

Amid anemic sales, employee pay issues, and an increasingly bad dietary reputation, McDonald's has announced it will devote the next 18 months to rebranding itself as not only a cheap food destination but an appealing and high-quality one, as well. Call it a McSoulSearch.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the company "told investors this week it is taking the next year and a half to regroup" and that the change "won't necessarily involve the typical hallmarks of a rebrand, such as a new logo or total design overhaul." Instead, the chain will focus on improving customer service, adjusting its menu, and retooling marketing efforts, particularly online and in social media. (According to the social media analysis firm Infegy, 38 percent of online conversation about the Golden Arches last year were negative.)

Following, perhaps, in the footsteps of Chipotle-which, according to MediaBistro's AgencySpy, has surpassed the fast food chain in sales growth-McDonald promises to add "sustainable beef" and more fruit and vegetables to its menu. In addition, it will be remodeling its restaurants, adding more locations, and offering WiFi.

Chief executive Don Thompson said during an earnings call on Tuesday that the goal is to make McDonald's a "more trusted and respected brand" and to create an experience that "customers will feel good about."

Fans of the chain don't need to worry about menu staples getting lost in the revamp. According to Thompson, the Big Mac, fries, and Egg McMuffin-which together represent some 40 percent of all sales-will remain at the forefront of the restaurant's improved menu.

Paris Hilton has almost come full circle, returning to the hypersexualized Carl's Jr. ad campaign that began when she sudsed up a Bentley in 2005.

The fast-food chain's strategy of selling hamburgers by wrapping them in scantily clad swimsuit models and busty pop culture icons has become a cornerstone of its advertising, thanks largely to Hilton's car washing, uh, skills.

Now she makes a cameo in the brand's newest commercial from 72andsunny, and this time she's serving as a sort of elder stateswoman advising Sports Illustrated model Hannah Ferguson on how to best clean a vehicle while also fellating a sandwich. (It's worth noting that at age 33, Hilton is not the campaign's most seasoned participant. That honor probably goes to Heidi Klum, who was just short of her 40th birthday when she played a meat-loving Mrs. Robinson.)

Supposedly the new ad has something to do with Texas, from which Ferguson hails and around which a new burger is themed. But really that's all whatever, who cares, because bikinis, suds, writhing, meat, etc.

Hilton's abrupt appearance in the ad does have a sort of strange logic, and not just because the soundtrack is a Texas-themed redux of Cole Porter's "I Love Paris." Hilton, who seemed to have faded from the public eye for a while, has, according to people who pay attention to these things, been making a comeback of sorts over the past year.

If that's the case, she at least picked a more respectable way of raising her visibility again than simply releasing another sex tape.

The original:


Agency: 72andSunny
Chief Creative Officer, Partner: Glenn Cole
Chief Strategic Officer, Partner: Matt Jarvis
Group Creative Directors: Mick DiMaria, Justin Hooper
Creative Director: Mark Maziarz
Lead Designer: Anthony Alvaraz
Copywriter: Teddy Miller
Chief Production Officer: Tom Dunlap
Director of Film Production: Sam Baerwald
Executive Film Producer: Molly McFarland
Film Producer: Brooke Horne
Film Production Coordinator: Taylor Stockwell
Group Strategy Director: Matt Johnson
Strategist: Josh Hughes
Director of Business Affairs: Michelle McKinney
Group Business Affairs Director: Amy Jacobsen
Business Affairs Manager: Maggie Pijanowski
Business Affairs Coordinator: Calli Howard
Managing Director: James Townsend
Brand Director: Alexis Varian
Brand Manager: Michal David
Brand Coordinator: Ali Arnold
Communications Manager: Kayla Lostica

Client: CKE-Carl Karcher Enterprises
Chief Executive Officer: Andy Puzder
Chief Marketing Officer: Brad Haley
Senior Vice President, Product Marketing: Bruce Frazer
Director of Advertising: Brandon LaChance
Vice President, Field Marketing, Media, Merchandising: Steve Lemley
Director, Green Burrito Marketing, Development: Kathy Johnson
Director, Product Marketing, Merchandising: Christie Cooney
Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Public Affairs: Melissa Robinson
Director, Public Relations: Kathleen Bush

Production Company: HIS Productions
Director: Chris Applebaum
President: Stavros Merjos
Executive Producer, Managing Director: Rebecca Skinner
Executive Producer: Roger Zorovich
Head of Production: Doron Kauper
Producer: John Hardin
Editorial: Freditor
Producer: Yole Barrera
Editor: Fred Fouquet
Post Effects: Brickyard
Visual Effects Artists: Patrick Poulatian, Mandy Sorenson, George Fitz
Producer: Diana Young
Telecine: CO3
Colorist: Mike Pethel
Senior Producer: Matt Moran
Sound Design, Mix: ON Music & Sound
Mixer: Chris Winston
Music: Squeak E. Clean Productions
Composers: Justin Hori, Charles Rojas
Vocals: Daisy Hamel-Buffa
Senior Music Producer: Chris Shaw

This week, four of our five best ads pay tribute to a person or activity.

Cheerios continues its trend of heartwarming family spots with a cheerful and exciting Canadian ad about how dads rule. Samsung salutes the sport of surfing. Dick's Sporting Goods honors the athletes who struggle for their moments of triumph on the field. And Apple offers a tribute to its users and their unique tastes and personalities.

Plus, FXX gives us a peek at the armageddon sure to accompany its 25-season marathon of The Simpsons.

Take a look at our picks below and help us decide which spot was the best this week. And if your favorite isn't here, tell us in the comments.

text Oculus Rift Takes Center Stage at Comic-Con
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:22:55 PDT

While you can read about how your favorite characters solved a crisis or watch a movie about a doomsday scenario, there's still something to be said about going through the heart-stopping action for yourself. Thanks to virtual reality technology Oculus Rift, some San Diego Comic-Con attendees were able to do just that.

Oculus Rift made headlines when Facebook bought the parent company Oculus VR for $2 billion in March, to the dismay of several fans and developers. Not only does the technology submerse the user into the story through audio cues and vibrant visuals, its motion sensors allow for a 360-degree peek into the fictitious world. Despite usually being reserved for video games, several brands used the headset to give fans an experiential tour of their product.

X-Men Days of Future Past turned Oculus Rift into Cerebro, the famed device Professor X uses (along with his telepathic powers) to locate mutants. Attendees sat in Charles Xavier's wheelchair and used their mind power to navigate the convention floor to find shape-shifting mutant Mystique. The participants ran into other iconic X-Men characters along the way, including Wolverine and Nightcrawler.

Fox brought Oculus Rift to the Petco Interactive Zone right outside the main convention center, and allowed people to meet Ichabod Crane as a promotion for its series Sleepy Hollow. If all went well, the user's head was chopped off during the experience, and they were sent home in real life with a nice CGI photo of their head lying on the ground.

Warner Brothers used Oculus Rift to promote its upcoming movie, Into the Storm. In its scenario, the wearer was stuck in a storm drain during severe weather as debris flew at them and vehicles exploded nearby. Fans and vibrating seats helped make the experience even more convincing.

Pacific Rim's Oculus Rift experience let people pilot a jaeger, a 250-story fighting robot that has to be powered using the neural powers of two human pilots. (Don't ask: It makes sense in the Guillermo del Toro movie.) Brave users then had to fight a kaiju, a destructive reptilian creature that emerges from the center of the earth. (Again, don't ask.)

text Nerd Love Is Worth Millions at Comic-Con
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:44:29 PDT

Brands are opening their checkbooks to reach fans at Comic-Con in San Diego.

The going rate to put an image on the facade of the Marriott Marquis, which sits next to the convention center hosting the event, is $500,000, according to a source.

What exactly is the limit on what marketers will invest to rise above the noise at SDCC, arguably the world's single largest gathering of self-selected superfans-and to brands, rabid, pop-culture evangelists? "I think it's endless," says John Keefer of Crave Online, which is putting together Friday night's shindig in support of TNT's Michael Bay-produced contagion drama The Last Ship aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier Midway. "Clients aren't per se giving us a budget. If they're putting something out there that gets massive coverage, I'm not sure it really will be capped," he added.

The important thing, according to Keefer, is to get your clients noticed in the space of just a few days. "It's hard to spend people's money in a short amount of time," he said. "These conversations start a year in advance, and sometimes more." Some brands will invest as little as $50,000, while others may spend up to $1 million, he added.

Hilary Daly, senior brand manager on Schick's Hydro, explained her brand's strategy. "I think you're obviously trying to break through and get attention-there's so much going on-but to do it in a way that makes sense for the brand," she said. Schick has plenty of geek-guy activations at this year's event, but one really stands out: a partnership with Ubisoft that has taken up a huge chunk of the green space between the convention center and the trendy Gaslight district, where most attendees and exhibitors wander in search of food around midday.

Its main component is an American Gladiators-style obstacle course staffed by 19th century gendarmes in honor of swashbuckling video game Assassin's Creed. Even as Daly talks branding, a boxy, brief man in a letter-perfect red, white and blue Captain America uniform leaps up and over a wall behind us. Cap is still a little too cornfed and nerdy to be a super-popular costume among the attendees (there are plenty of pin-uppy gender-bent variations), but this guy has it down cold. "That's awesome!" Daly says. "I wonder if we can get him to come get a shave?"

Meantime, the men's grooming brand has found the perfect prop in a French Revolution-themed video game: the National Razor herself, looming in the background behind period-attired barbers who shave the beards and heads of volunteers. It's a prime opportunity for the brand: SDCC is probably ground zero for facial scruff.

The activations around the ring of the convention center are incredibly elaborate, including a giant funhouse with Adult Swim branding and free t-shirts, the Assassin's Creed obstacle course (also with a t-shirt at the end, and possibly a copy of the game for the person who runs the course the quickest), and a massive pavilion for the DC Comics-based horror series Constantine, where fans-to-be go can drop by to get scared (as well as a branded tote bag). Behind the center, patient fans stand in line near an impressive re-creation of the Gotham City skyline through which they plummet one by one on a zipline, Dark Knight-style.

"The most exciting thing for me is to see people play the game and getting their reactions. There's a camera inside so you can see people," said Al Hope, creative director for an atmospheric video game called Alien: Isolation. Based on the movie, the game is designed to give the player the same feeling of terror enjoyed by Sigourney Weaver's character, and so players are shut inside a lightproof, sound-muffling egg modeled on the late H. R. Giger's prop for the film. Inside the egg is a vibrating game chair, a hi-res monitor, several speakers and a PS4 controller.

There's also a video camera that broadcasts players' reactions to fans who are armchair quarterbacking their reflexes while waiting in line behind the booth-and to Hope's team. "Events like this are really cool because it does give us a chance to get some feedback," he said. "It's really valuable to see how people play and react."

Also at Comic-Con fans can enjoy an installation for History's sleeper hit Vikings, featuring a "visit-the-set" extravaganza equipped with multiple greenscreens putting the fan himself on a poster. (Plenty of marketers hand out fliers and show preview trailers; Vikings is the only one so far that manages to make its promotional materials a keepsake starring the fans themselves.)

As it happens, the industry that spawned the convention and many of its most popular attractions (just try to walk a few feet without coming across a gun-wielding raccoon) has seen its share of struggles. While stalwarts DC and Marvel press ahead, venerable publisher Fantagraphics (home to R. Crumb, Los Bros Hernandez and many others) initiated a Kickstarter campaign to get back on its feet. When asked what was next for his company, the publisher of a different but also large indie house said it would be "going dark for a little bit while we pay printers." But will the company be OK? "None of us are ever really OK," he said.

And yet, the fall TV slate is wall-to-wall superheroes, as awestruck fans here in San Diego line up to get their League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics signed and artists hold forth on their craft alongisde props from the Batman movies. These fans mean business-especially to the many content creators and marketers flooding this town.

Here's a lovely little packaging idea from Nike, and we do mean little.

The Nike Free 5.0 is one of the most flexible sneakers ever made. And that's clear right from looking at the box, which was designed to be one-third the size of a regular shoebox.

As you can see from the video below, the sneakers easily fold up and fit inside. It's a cool idea for a few reasons-it uses less cardboard, it cuts down on shipping space, and of course, it communicates a product benefit right in the packaging. A great example of thinking outside the box-about the box.

Unfortunately, it was only promotional packaging for the launch, and wasn't used on a mass scale. Still, it earned Publicis Impetu a silver Lion in Design at Cannes last month.

Credits below. Via The Dieline.

Client: Nike
Agency: Publicis Impetu
Executive Creative Directors: Esteban Barreiro, Mario Taglioretti
Art Director: Diego Besenzoni
Copywriter: Federico Cibils
Account Director: María José Caponi
Account Manager: Mauricio Minchilli
Producer: Metrópolis Films

text DDB Adds Another Mars Brand
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:18:04 PDT

Gum, candy and now pet food.

DDB, which became a Mars roster shop in 2008 when the company acquired Wrigley and three years later added candy brands like Skittles and Starburst, is now taking on a key brand in Mars' pet food portfolio: Royal Canin, confirmed Keith Levy, president of Royal Canin U.S.A.

Future media spending on the brand, which caters to both dogs and cats, is expected to rise, though a figure was not available. (Last year, spending totaled less than $1 million, according to Kantar Media.) The New York office of DDB will handle the business.

DDB is inheriting the account from McKinney in Durham, N.C., which had Royal Canin for about a year. The new agency's first work is expected in late 2014: a spot market campaign that will go national next year.

DDB landed the assignment without a pitch and now handles more than a dozen Mars brands, under the leadership of Heather Stuckey, a global business director in New York. Not bad for six years' work.

Expedia and 180LA have done a nice job lately of thinking more broadly about the concept of travel, going beyond physical journeys into emotional, even spiritual ones. (Among its more memorable ads was the 2012 spot about the father's difficult journey to accepting his lesbian daughter.)

Now, the travel site is getting even more ambitious-and more social-as it travels back in time with a fun project around people's Throwback Thursday photos.

Between now and the end of August, Expedia is asking Instagram and Twitter users to tag their #tbt photo with @Expedia and #ThrowMeBack. Each week the company will pick one lucky winner and give them a travel voucher so they can indulge their nostagia and return to the place where the photo was taken-and recreate it.

Or, says Expedia, you can travel somewhere different and make a new memory-which seems to suggest this campaign is less about actually recreating the old snapshots and more about just piggybacking on the #tbt trend in general. However, the brand is asking the winners to send in the recreated photos with the goal at the end of the campaign of telling a photo story with all the side-by-sides.

"We all have great memories of summer vacations," says Dave Horton, creative director at 180LA. "So to promote the nostalgia of summer travel, we wanted to tap into the most nostalgic trend out there, #tbt."

To promote the contest, Expedia has posted the video below, "Back to Ocean Beach," showing one family's journey from Washington State to their old beach spot in San Diego to recreate a cute photo from the '80s.

Read more about the campaign at instagram.piqora.com/expediathrowmeback.

The first time you hold a surfboard, the first time you ride a wave, the first time you get barreled, the first time you win a world title-it doesn't matter where you are from or how good you are. Every day is day one."

That's how Samsung summarizes its newest long-form ad in the clip's YouTube description, but the words hardly do justice to the visuals assembled by agency partner 72andSunny in Amsterdam. In "Every Day Is Day One," we dive right in alongside surfers facing the dauntingly powerful forces that make the sport both exhilarating and terrifying.

Created as part of Samsung's global sponsorship of the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour, the ad includes a mix of beginners and seasoned pros like Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Gabriel Medina, Johanne Defay and Mitch Crews. Shots were filmed in Iceland, Fiji, India and even the suburbs of New York.

Helping to maintain the ominous and ambitious tone is the excellent soundtrack, a cover of David Bowie's "Absolute Beginners" by singer Angela McCluskey, whom you might remember from her work with Telepopmusik, and pianist Paul Cantelon.

The message of perpetual discovery is one often noted by the world's greatest surfers.

"Every single time you paddle into a wave, it's a new wave," Gilmore told the ad's creators. "It's never broken before, and you'll never see it again."

Client: Samsung
Agency: 72andSunny Amsterdam
Executive Creative Director: Carlo Cavallone
Creative Director: Paulo Martins
Writer: Lee Hempstock
Writer: Damian Isaak
Lead Designer: Robert Teague
Designer: Renee Lam
Group Brand Director: Caroline Britt
Senior Brand Manager: Rebeccah Lowe
Brand Co-ordinator: Nicholas Rowland
Director of film Production: Stephanie Oakley
Film producer: Eline Bakker
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Madelon Pol
Business Affairs Co-ordinator: Sabina Gorini
Strategy Director: Stephanie Newman
Strategist: Nathan Manou
Director of Communications Strategy: Simon Summerscales
Junior Strategist: Daniel Asplund
Client: Samsung Electronics Co Ltd
Director, Global Partnership Marketing, IM Division: Hoon Kang
Senior Manager, Global Partnership Marketing, IM Division: Daniel Kim
Manager, Global Partnership Marketing, IM Division: Kim Hyunmin

Sound design:
Audio Post Facility: Wave Studios Amsterdam
Sound Supervisor: Alex Nicholls-Lee
Sound Design and Mix: Ed Downham
Audio Post Producer: Ben Tomlin

Exit Films Melbourne
Smuggler London
Director: Mark Molloy
Exec Producer, Exit Films: Corey Esse
Exec Producer: Emma Laurence
Exec Produdcer, Smuggler: Chris Barrett
Exec Producer, Smuggler: Fergus Brown
Producer: Martin Box
Director of Photography: Greig Fraser
2nd Unit Director of Photography/Underwater: Chris Bryan

Marshall Street Editors London
Editor: Patric Ryan
Assistant Editor: Elena De Palma
Edit Producer: S.J. O'Mara

Glassworks Amsterdam
Lead Flame: Urs Furrer
Flame Artist: Bob Roijen
Colorist: Scott Harris
Executive Producer: Armand Weeresinghe

Title: "Absolute Beginners"
Written by David Bowie
Published by Jones Music America (ASCAP) administered by ARZO
Publishing for North America and Jones Music America (ASCAP)
Administered for the World ex North America by RZO Music Ltd.
Master Recording:
The Rumor Mill
Produced by J.Ralph
Co-Produced By Arthur Pingrey
Performed by: Angela McCluskey and Paul Cantelon

At first glance, this Dulcolax ad draws you in with its warm sepia tones and lovely vignetted glow. Then you look closer, and ... oh my God. Are those turds in prison?

Indeed, orange is the new brown in this extremely odd laxative ad, showing what appear to be the stinky love children of the Michelin Man and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Turdles?) awaiting sweet release from bowel purgatory. And they're huddled around ... is that ... ? No, it's not the Sarlacc Pit that almost eats Han Solo and Lando Calrissian.

"Only you can set them free," explains the tagline. If the point is to make the viewer as uncomfortable as a constipation sufferer, mission accomplished.

The agency, McCann Health in Shanghai, says the ad ran in Singapore newspapers and bus shelters. "Instead of approaching the dramatization from the patient's [point of view], we approached it from the excrement's," the agency says. True enough.

Brand awareness is up "from almost zero to 21 percent" among the target, McCann claims, and the purchase intention rate increased 57 percent. The agency adds that it expects similar success from the next round of "media bursts" this year.

Below is the full ad in all its glory. Click to expand, if you dare.

Via Ads of the World.

Client: Dulcolax
Agency: McCann Healthcare Worldwide, Shanghai
Executive Creative Director: Kevin Lee
Creative Directors: Danny Li, Band Bai
Art Directors: Danny Li, Band Bai, QinQian
Copywriters: Kevin Lee, Bati Wu
General Manager: Joanne Wang
Business Director: Yama Chen
Account Manager: Celine Lv
Production Company: Visionary Group

Imagine, if you will, "What Does the Fox Say." Now, picture Psy's "Gangnam Style" mating with it. Oh, and now throw in the Cadbury gorilla. Think adver-dance-ment. Got it? Good. Now press play.

I can only imagine that was Dentsu Aegis's pitch to Toyota before the producing the ad below, which will surely be the oddest 1:46 of your day. Double that, actually, as you'll probably watch it twice.

The plot is simple: A group of Japanese businessmen are driving through the jungle in their Toyota truck, as Japanese businessmen so often do. But one of them has to pee, so they pull over. We won't spoil the rest, but it's definitely weird and actually pretty awesome.

It's part of a rather clever campaign called "Do the Wakudoki," in which consumers are encouraged to submit clips of themselves dancing to win a trip to Tokyo (or also some Beats headphones). If you think you have the moves, Do the Wakudoki all the way to Tokyo.

Via Ads of the World.

Interpublic Group now has a new major shareholder in Elliott Management, which disclosed today that it had amassed nearly a 7 percent stake in the No. 4 holding company.

After months of speculation stemming from high-volume trading, Elliott revealed its 6.7 percent stake in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, making it one of Interpublic's largest institutional investors. The filing indicated that Elliott and two subsidiaries, Ellliott Associates and Elliott International, now own 28.3 million shares of common stock.

The immediate impact of the new big stakeholder is negligible. But prepare for a wave of conjecture about the future of IPG. Will the company sell, merge or stand pat, and how will Elliott, a hedge fund led by Paul Singer, an activist investor, influence the direction?

In its filing, Elliott said it purchased the shares because they are "undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity," adding that it would "seek to engage in a constructive dialogue" with IPG's board about maximizing shareholder value.

Interpublic and its CEO, Michael Roth, had no immediate comment. Same goes for Elliott.

Singer's move comes two months after IPG rivals Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe scrapped plans to merge, just 10 months after unveiling what would have been the largest deal in the history of advertising. And while that merger failed to materialize, it left open the possibility of other mega-mergers.

Indeed, The New York Times is already reporting that Singer will push for IPG to sell to a rival. Why? Because Elliott sees Interpublic as underperforming on its own-both in terms of share price and operating margin-and there's still an appetite for consolidation in the sector, according to a source. In that context, Elliott fund managers want to begin a "constructive dialogue" with IPG management, the source added.

The price of any such deal, however, will be substantially higher than it would have been a few years ago, let alone in the summer of 2006, when, amid restatements related to a major accounting imbalance, IPG's stock slumped below $8 a share for the first time in 15 years.

The company's stock is now trading near its 52-week high of $20.35 a share. The stock opened today at $20.32 and closed at $20.15 in unsually high-volume trading. IPG ended 2013 with $7.12 billion in revenue and currently has a market capitization of $8.54 billion, according to Yahoo Finance.

Potential acquirers could include Dentsu and Publicis Groupe. Pivotal Research Group's Brian Wieser puts Dentsu at the top of the list, given its desire to increase share outside of its home base of Japan and its access to capital. Dentsu also has been an active buyer in recent years, acquiring mcgarrybowen in 2008 and Aegis Group in 2013. The Japanese holding company declined to comment.

Still, Wieser wouldn't rule out interest from Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Lévy, who has made approaches in the past. The French holding company also shares major clients with its American counterpart, including General Motors and L'Oréal.

"I don't think [Lévy's] interest or appetite to get bigger has changed," said Wieser, a senior research analyst at Pivotal. "It's just a question of the math." Lévy had no comment.

And while IPG remained mum publicly, internally Roth urged his troops to remain focused on their work and not get distracted by speculation surrounding Elliott's stake.

"While some third parties may have opinions concerning the best path forward for our company, news reports that play to their agenda are not necessarily aligned with what is best for us," Roth noted, in an email to company staffers.

Regarding Elliott's desire to talk to IPG management, Roth said simply, "We meet with shareholders regularly. As such, we will be open to engaging in dialogue with Elliott Management to assess their perspectives."

The joke that an overprotective parent might make a child walk around in a cumbersome padded suit might not be a new one, but it certainly still has legs.

U.K. health charity St. John Ambulance is encouraging moms and dads to learn first aid rather than saddling their children with full-body airbags (and a lifetime of emotional damage, to boot).

Created with agency Architect, it's a welcome change of pace from the organization's habit of producing heart-rending PSAs. Gen-Y types might find the spot evoking Bubble Boy. Older viewers might think of that movie's forebear, The Boy in The Plastic Bubble.

But the St. John ad's playground theme manages to keep its focus limited to mild, perhaps character-building threats like scrapes and bruises. And while some parents might bristle at being the punchline, most will probably watch the ad and laugh at their own occasional overprotective inclinations.

Then again, it's better to be safe then sorry-you could always learn first aid, and still make your kid wear bubble wrap.

Via Laughing Squid.

Breaking Bad fans, this time you'd better call James!

Those dying for a taste of AMC's Breaking Bad spinoff series, Better Call Saul, got a nice little present this week, as this billboard popped up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The sign is actually a prop being used in the filming of the prequel series, set to debut next year.

It seems Saul Goodman, in the days before he met meth king Walter White, went by the name of James M. McGill, attorney at law.

The exclamatory "Better Call Saul!" billboards seen in episodes of Breaking Bad showed Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, pointing at the viewer, Uncle Sam-style, against a hot orange/yellow background. On the deep-blue McGill board, the actor rocks a bad toupee and gangster-style pinstripe suit. (Your honor, I object!)

Best of all, the phone number on the board, 505-842-5662, actually works.

Saul Goodman was ethically challenged in the extreme. James McGill, however, seems ethnically challenged, as Odenkirk's recorded message, promising "a lawyer you can trust," is delivered in an Irish accent so self-consciously awful, it makes Lucky the Leprechaun's whiny brogue sound authentic.

Photo: varago01 on Instagram.

text Agencies Dissect Foursquare's Makeover
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 03:00:18 PDT

Foursquare yesterday unveiled a fresh "F-pin" logo and ultimately a new brand strategy, as it plans to release a starkly different version of its app in three weeks. Adweek asked marketing players who have used the app what they made of the pivots.

Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO of Vivaldi Partners Group, a brand strategy consulting firm that works with Ford, Coca-Cola, ConAgra Foods and Frito-Lay, said the moves were a sign of the times.

"In the old days, one would say: 'We screwed up. We are dead,'" he explained. "But today, the consumer is in control, and consumers' preferences change frequently-often by the month or even hour. So, a pivot is not necessarily saying something bad about a company. But it still does communicate that its strategy has not been working. The question to ask now: Will the new strategy work and why? In my opinion, Foursquare will face some significant headwinds to get the new Foursquare to become used ubiquitously."

Roy DeYoung, svp of creative services at search marketing agency PM Digital, also wondered if the tech company's makeover would take with consumers.

"Foursquare definitely thinks it's better than the old logo, but their brand opinion won't necessarily influence user reactions," DeYoung said. "Following in the footsteps of Airbnb's recent rebrand and new logo controversy, the biggest takeaway for brands now when it comes to logo redesign should be focus-group testing."

To DeYoung's point, the Airbnb hubbub from last week showed that rebrands can entail unusual twists and turns. But Foursquare's new look and feel appear to be driven by an app-known for its check-ins, mayorships and search discovery-that's aiming to provide more utilities.

"If you look at mocks of the new app experience, they're also signaling this authority with a more serious, staid blue color palette and an all caps wordmark," said Sam Becker, creative director at Brand Union. "And the F-pin will be particularly useful for them as a proprietary map marker used throughout their [user experience]."

The rebrand also seems to vaguely point to how Foursquare will work with its two-month-old sister app, Swarm. Starting today, Foursquare will move all Foursquare check-ins worldwide to Swarm, as "roughly two-thirds of our users are already on the new app worldwide," a rep for the tech company said. Past check-ins, friends and photos will be automatically ported over to Swarm, according to the rep.

Though when it comes to having two products instead of just one, Becker said, "It's still unclear to me why this was necessary."

He added that "rebranding is something you always want to do from a position of strength, i.e., 'We're changing from something good to something great, and we want the world to know about it. We're not a startup anymore. And we've outgrown our baby clothes.' Sometimes you simply want to convey that you now do something different. In Foursquare's case, it seems to be a blend of the strategic: We're doubling down on personalized search results that focus on you and the functional. [And] we're splitting our product into two apps, Foursquare and Swarm."

When the latest Foursquare version emerges next month, the result will likely inspire more curiousity among industry observers than its logo has this week. After all, product makes a tech company. Or, as in music, the band name is only as good as the band.

Because designers never get tired of minimalist poster projects and Pantone-themed stuff, let us present to you the ultimate mashup: Y&R Shanghai's minimalist Pantone posters.

Each one features the eyes of a famous children's character (Kermit the Frog, Garfield and Cookie Monster) set against a unique Pantone swatch with the Highlander-esque tagline, "There can only be one."

The idea here is to introduce Pantone to a younger generation of artists, which will probably work if they're talking about little kids. Anyone older than 14 with ideas about studying design will hear all about Pantone, don't you worry.

Via Fubiz.

VidAngel doesn't like foul language, but clearly has less of a problem with violence.

The company, which cleans up streaming content online by filtering out obscene language and other objectionable material, just released the crazy ad below-in which a family sitting on a couch gets shot by 3,192 paintballs in five seconds. The point? Curse words are really bad for you!

Or as the tagline puts it: "Every word has impact."

The video was produced by Ackermania Creative, MysteryBox and Harmon Brothers. Joel Ackerman also worked with Harmon Brothers to create the superviral "Girls Don't Poop" ad for Poo-Pourri (which is closing in on 30 million YouTube views). That was a comic video; this one is more of a spectacle.

"Comedy is only one of seven elements of virality we've identified," says Joel Ackerman, the self-described "chief creative genius" at Ackermania Creative. "Visuality, or visual spectacle, is another and maybe more universal element of virality because it can cross cultures more easily."

As stunts go, it's a decent effort-though perhaps not quite in line with VidAngel's broader mission. Along with bad language, VidAngel also claims to strip out violence from the content it cleans up. And this ad, whatever else it may be, isn't anti-violence.

(VidAngel also cleans up sex scenes, by the way, which is also a bit strange, as the company's name practically screams porn studio.)

See some behind-the-scenes footage below.

Well, it was inevitable.

Perhaps it's Brooklyn's final surrender to consumerism or to complete gentrification, but Williamsburg now has a Starbucks. It remains to be seen what impact its presence will have on the local economy and (sub)culture, but we wanted to get a sampling of opinions on the matter.

We posted up in front of the store (just off the Lorimer subway stop) a few days after its opening and asked passersby to weigh in. Check out their reactions above.

We can't wait to see what happens when there's a J Crew.

text Interbrand Names a New CEO for North America
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:13:35 PDT

Josh Feldmeth is the new North American CEO of Interbrand, succeeding Lee Carpenter, who is leaving the brand consultancy after 12 years.

Feldmeth has served as chief of Interbrand's New York, San Francisco and Toronto offices since last year, working on accounts like UPS, AT&T and General Electric. In his new role, he adds responsibility for offices in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio and the shop's BrandWizard division.

The former PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant joined Interbrand in 2002 as a vp of strategy in Dayton. He transferred to the Zürich office in 2007 to oversee analytics services across Europe and two years later became managing director of Amsterdam. In October 2010, he returned to the U.S. to become CEO of New York.

In his new role, Feldmeth remains in New York and reports to global CEO Jez Frampton.

text Jamie Gallo Returns to Agency Fold After NBA
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:01:02 PDT

Jamie Gallo has reentered the agency world after two years with the NBA.

Gallo, who was evp of global marketing at the NBA from 2012 until March 2014, is now president of the New York office of Wunderman, the direct marketing unit of WPP Group's Young & Rubicam Group.

As leader of the 225-person office, Gallo succeeds Chris Loll, who left for IPG Mediabrands at the end of May. At Wunderman, Loll was managing director. The agency's last president was David Shulman, who exited in 2012 to become CEO of Organic.

Before the NBA, Gallo was an agency veteran, having worked at Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, Merkley + Partners, Brand Architecture International and, finally, the New York office of TBWA\Chiat\Day, where he was president for more than three years.

At Wunderman, Gallo will report to North American president Kass Sells. Top accounts in New York include Best Buy, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Land Rover and Marriott.

Selfie aficionado Samsung recently offered free phones to people loony enough to jump into Lake Zurich in Switzerland (which was a balmy 46 degrees) and snap an underwater selfie. Why? To show that the Galaxy S5 can withstand being submerged.

That's right. The phone works under water. Samsung had a diver in the water who swam over to potential underwater selfie-ers, surprising them with an already wet but still working phone. On the other end of the line, a hidden challenger requested the shot. If they cooperated, a new, dry phone was theirs.

As someone who has dropped my phone into the toilet and the ocean and been caught more than one torrential downpour umbrella-less, the prospect of having my phone get wet and not have to hope for the best with rice-well, that's certainly appealing.

I'm not sure I'd jump into a lake for it, though.