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As any celebrity will admit, if you've been out of the public spotlight for a few years, it can be pretty tough to get back on your feet.

Especially if you have four of them.

Just ask Morris-Morris the Cat, for those of you too young to remember the plump, orange tabby who pitched 9Lives cat food on TV. With his sardonic wit and sour puss, Morris starred in some 60 commercials for the brand between 1969 and 1978. An immediate hit with audiences, Morris was the original celebricat. He co-starred in a film with Burt Reynolds, appeared on Oprah and even ran for president (twice). And while Morris never really retired, he did take quite a few naps in recent years.

But all that changed two weeks ago when 9Lives asked Morris to pad back into the spotlight and star in "Cat's Eye View," an interactive online video shot from the cat's perspective, letting viewers romp around the house to do "Morris-approved" cat things (including-surprise!-chowing down on 9Lives).

No doubt, the inexplicable popularity of those nouveau spokescats had something to do with Morris' "reboot," to use the company term. But one thing's sure: Morris is back, and these days he's a very busy cat. Fortunately, Morris (presumably with the help of a human underling at 9Lives) agreed to take some time out of his single daily waking hour to speak with us about his fame, his career and tender slices of beef in gravy.

You've starred in so many TV commercials, Morris, but it's been quite a few years since your last one. What was it like being back in front of the camera?
I love it. It's been so much fun to expand my work as an artist and thought leader. To stay creative, I really try to think outside of the box. Then inside of the box. Then outside again. Cats do love boxes.

Is being a celebrity cat different today than it was in the 1980s?

What is very different these days is how many ways there are to engage with my fans. I'm all about Twitter. I'm really enjoying Tumblr. Have you been wondering why more cat foodies don't post cat food photos online? Check out my Instagram for a delicious PB&J+9 or a tasty kitty sundae.

You look so young and spry in this spot, Morris. Nobody would ever guess that you've been a TV star since the 1970s. Other than eating 9Lives brand cat food, how do you keep your youthful profile?

I think staying young is all about living well and focusing on what's truly important-prioritizing things like napping, eating and playing. Life isn't a zero-sum game: You can both nap AND play. Just the other day on Twitter, I live-demoed a Fitbit. Not only did my Fitbit tell me that I took 36 steps in two hours, but I also realized that because cats have four legs and humans have two, I could double my stats. Seventy-two steps! I had no idea I was such a 'cathlete.' I think it's important to mix things up. For instance, sometimes I eat, nap, eat, nap, nap. Other times, I nap, eat, nap, eat, nap. Variety is the spice of life. Remember, you only live 9-nce (YOL9 for short).

The "Cat's Eye View" interactive video experience lets people see what it's like to be you on a romp around the house. Is your average day really that busy? I read that cats sleep 20 hours a day.

You can't believe everything you read, Robert. I sleep 16, 17, 18, maybe 19 hours a day. But definitely not 20 hours. That would be excessive. I do think that the amazing thing about "Cat's Eye View" is that through the wonders of wearable technology, the American public finally gets an insider's look at the life of a celebrity cat. Sure, I'm a big-time star, but I still step into my litter box one leg at a time.

That's so reassuring.

Really, Robert, I'm just like you, only furrier. In "Cat's Eye View," you'll see the world through my eyes: You'll stare down a suspicious looking goldfish. You'll unspool a fresh roll of Charmin. You'll even help redecorate the living room by knocking over some unsightly tabletop clutter. When I watch it myself, it's so moving that I get all choked up-oh wait, that was just a hair ball.

Did the fact that cats are so popular on the Internet play any role in your-how shall I put this-publicity makeover? No disrespect.

I think it's a chicken and egg question-or at least a 9Lives-Real-Flaked-Tuna-&-Egg-Bits-In-Sauce dilemma. Are cats popular because of the Internet, or is the Internet popular because of cats? Think about that one for awhile. Seriously, it will blow your mind.

It sort of has already.

I wouldn't call my recent spokescat duties a makeover exactly (cats don't particularly like to wear mascara), but I do think the folks at 9Lives would tell you that it's more of a franchise "reboot"-just like they did for Batman or James Bond. I don't know what "reboot" means exactly (fancy marketing jargon), but I do know that I always enjoy cramming myself into my human's UGG boots.

I'm old enough to remember your commercials from the 1980s, and you seemed a lot more cynical back then, Morris. Have you mellowed out in recent years?

The 1980s were a different time. Back in the go-go '80s, everyone was in shoulder pads with big hair. These days, I'm all about living well. I want to help cats and humans make the most of their daily lives. I'm not a fan of everything, but if it helps enhance the human-feline connection, then I just might decide to make it #morrisapproved.

Your bio says that you ran for president in 1988. Would you ever consider doing that again?

Did someone tell you that I was running for president again? I can't comment on that right now. It sounds like either the Democats or the Kittypublicans let the cat out of the bag. No seriously, I was in a bag this morning. I'm Morris the Cat, and I approve this message.

Does it bother you that that so-called Grumpy Cat gets so much attention for being grumpy when it was really you who pioneered cat grumpiness?

I'm charmingly choosy, not grumpy. How could I possibly be grumpy when my spokescat duties afford me a lifetime supply of the world's most delicious food, 9Lives? In general, I'm so proud of all of the other cats making a name for themselves. Grumpy Cat is the Michelangelo of grumpiness. Lil BUB is the Michael Jordan of the kitty tongue wag. Have you seen Maru? That cat can stuff himself into a box like nobody's business. What I love is that I'm no longer the only cat in the celebrity game. It used to be a little lonely at the top. Besides, imitation is the sincerest form of cattery.

Do you have any advice for other cats who dream of attaining your level of stardom?

Always chase your dreams. They are easier to catch than that red laser dot.

Here are a couple more classic TV spots from the Morris vault.

Asics and ad agency Vitro always do something special around the New York City Marathon, whether it's having people race against a virtual Ryan Hall in the subways or daring you to remain upright on the treadmill from hell.

But this year, they've outdone themselves with an awesome campaign that's both physically and virtually magical.

The running shoe brand always honors runners, and this year it's doing so in classic style-by making little statues of them. It asked everyone who entered the marathon to send in 2-D front and side head shots. Then it hired a team of artists to turn the 2-D images into printable 3-D files, creating small yet life-like statues for each runner. (It was capped at 500 statues, first come first served.)

That's cool enough. But on race day this Sunday, it gets cooler.

Vitro photographed each statue in three different landmark locations along the course. Then its digital team linked the photos with each runner's Facebook account and his or her RFID race timing and tracking chip. So, when the runner passes each landmark in real life, a photo of the mini-marathoner statue passing that same landmark will auto-post to the runner's Facebook account in real time-providing mid-race updates to family and friends.

But that's still not all. The 500 statues were booked in less than eight hours, and lots of runners were left out. So, Vitro is also holding a Twitter marathon. Any runner in the real race can enter, and for every tweet on their behalf, Vitro will advance them along a digital marathon course. The first 50 runners to finish will get their statues made as well. You can visit minimarathoner.com to sign up.

It's great stuff all around from a brand that keeps improving its time every year.

More images, plus credits, below.

Mile 8

Mile 15

Mile 24

Client: Asics
Agency: Vitro
Creative Group Head: KT Thayer
Digital Creative Director: Oliver Duncan
Art Director: Jeremy Stabile
Art Director: Will Roth
Art Director: Ryan Smith
Copywriter: Bill Wanek
Copywriter: Doug Hyland
Production Director: Michael Berberick
Production Manager: Cristi Perkins
Digital Production Manager: Allison Mellon
Digital Designer: Andres Herrera

text Patrón Picks A New Lead Agency
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:16:25 PDT

Patrón has found a new lead shop.

The Los Angeles office of Mullen landed the assignment after a review in which Goodby, Silverstein & Partners was the other finalist, according to sources. Mullen pitched the business along with media unit Mediahub.

Media spending on the brand and two others that were in play-Pyrat rum and Ultimat vodka-totaled nearly $42 million last year, according to Kantar Media.

As lead shop, Mullen succeeds Cramer-Krasselt, which did not defend. The new agency will also plan and buy media for TV and outdoor ads, as C-K had.

Mullen and Goodby, which had emerged from a broader field of about a half-dozen, declined to comment, referring questions to the marketer, who could not immediately be reached. Select Resources International in Santa Monica managed the search.

In August, when the review began, Lee Applbaum, global chief marketing officer for the company, said he sought a "highly strategic and creative agency partner. Our selected partner will possess a track record of success in marketing luxury brands."

Applbaum joined Patrón as CMO in November 2013, after serving in the same position at Target for eight months and Radio Shack before that.

Print buying, digital creative responsibilities and public relations efforts were not part of the review and remain at 3 Plus Media, Razorfish and M Booth, respectively.

Ever feel like real-time marketing is all about being first, and not about being good?

You're not alone.

John St., the Toronto agency that regularly produces scathing parody videos about the ad business, just released the hilarious video below about the breakneck pace of marketing today-and how every brand feels the need to react to real-time events within minutes.

As it did with Catvertising™, John St. is now pretending to be running a whole new dedicated unit called Reactvertising™, where it goes to absurd lengths to make sure its clients are clued into current events 24/7 and can react within seconds-indeed, knee-jerk-like-to breaking news.

"Does your agency take hours to respond to the latest trending hashtag or celebrity death?" John St. asks. "Is your brand missing out on being part of the conversation because you're reacting too slow?"

Watch below and see how to get quicker, quality be damned.

A few more videos from the campaign:

Paris and New York. As two of the world's cultural epicenters-and, among a certain set, the cultural epicenters-the cities are constantly being compared in terms of everything from fashion and food to art and attitude.

Those differences have been the inspiration behind so many books, movies, TV shows and plays, they've become clichéd. And yet "Paris/New York," a two-minute spot for Open Skies (a British Airways subsidiary that flies exclusively between Paris and New York), manages to be completely mesmerizing by drawing a series of visual comparisons between the two.

To create the ad, Paris-based filmmaker Franck Matellini shot time-lapse video of dozens of quotidian scenes in New York and Paris, then connected similar shots on a split screen. We see a bridge on the Seine matched to a bridge on the Hudson; the bustle surrounding the Arc de Triomphe next to the Washington Square Arch; the Métro running parallel to the subway. The video progresses from sunrise to sunset, ending with a final sunrise over the wing of an Open Skies plane.

Some of the pairings are a bit stereotypical (the Eiffel Tower next to the Statue of Liberty; a plate of escargots alongside a pepperoni pizza) but other seemingly mundane shots (Vélib' vs. Citibike; a man selling crêpes on the sidewalk paired with a street meat vendor; graffiti on the sides of two buildings) provide delightful little snippets of everyday life. And, of course, there are the requisite gorgeous wide shots of skylines and riverfronts that could make any New Yorker want to hop a plane to Paris, and vice versa.

With a tagline like "Change clothes in public without ever getting naked," The Undress has a pretty clear sales proposition, and people are lining up in droves to hand the apparel startup their money.

The "mobile changing room" had a Kickstarter goal of $22,000, but when the campaign ends tomorrow, the final tally will be closer to half a million dollars.

The problem The Undress is designed to solve-working out and attempting to change into normal clothes without treating your car or gas station restroom as a fitting room. The solution-a dress that you wear that allows you to change without having to do that weird "how many seconds do I have to put my underwear on before someone walks in on me" dance. You'll have to watch the video for the demonstration, but it's an ingenious idea.

At first glance, I wonder how big the market is for people who want to change into clothes without showering after a workout, but $468,000 raised probably answers that question for me.

Ask what makes a great creative creative director, and you'll probably get as many different answers as there are creative directors.

The 3% Conference recently went around asking a bunch of cds about their role, and compiled answers from 10 of them in the video below. Hopefully it's useful.

The video was produced by the Pitch Agency in Los Angeles, and promotes the 3% Conference CD Bootcamp on Nov. 4.

Directors: Rob Schwartz, Pitch CCO Xanthe Wells
Producer: Esther Gonzalez
Editor: Nathan Connella
Production Company: Bicep

Infiniti lived up to its name. Seven weeks after final pitches and 10 months after laying the groundwork for its global creative review, the luxury automaker finally selected a new lead agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The brand is now shifting from search to production mode, as Crispin begins to develop a campaign for the Q3 that will launch next summer.

Two big spenders in retail and casual dining, meanwhile, are reviewing their media planning and buying accounts. JCPenney has just begun, with an request for proposals expected in the next three weeks, while Bloomin' Brands, parent company of Outback Steakhouse, is close to picking finalists.

Betabrand satirizes Christmas creep in its first video game, Santa Sleighs Halloween, as you play as Mr. Claus armed with a blunderbuss and a candy cane shiv. Your mission? To make sure no fall holiday is safe from the encroaching consumerism of the season. Clothing retailer Betabrand created the game "to lampoon the early onset of holiday sales-a retail trend that will surely morph Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas into a three-headed shopping Cerberus."

Which it is indeed. All my local stores started putting out their Christmas crud weeks ago. It does seem that no matter how many times consumers complain about holiday creep, stores just can't help themselves.

At least Betabrand knows what's up. They hired digital agency Bradley and Montgomery to create the game, in which Kris Kringle kills mummies, werewolves, witches, zombies, vampires and Frankenstein in an unholy quest to become the one true holiday.

And it's more than just a game. When you play, you can unlock deal codes and humorous specials. So, if you want some sweet swag from Betabrand, be prepared to plunge your candy cane stake right into Dracula's heart.

It's that time of year again, when we can escape our average selves, don clever costumes and get all hopped up on Fireball shots-I mean, gummy worms. And it's always pretty fun to see what brands do to celebrate, because when they're good, they can be really good.

Social media aggregation site Hootsuite has done itself proud with a great series of horror-movie parody posters, produced in-house. Take a look below and see what happens when scary movies are monster-mashed with social-media themes. (And keep a sharp eye, because two of these are actually sneaky GIFs.)

Via Ads of the World.

Instagram/The Blair Witch Project

Twitter/The Birds


Facebook/The Shining

YouTube/The Ring

LinkedIn/American Psycho

Creative Director: Briony Crane
Designer: Jason Esteban
Copywriter: Evan LePage
Photographer: Alastair Bird
Digital Retoucher: Steve Pinter
Hair, Makeup: Jessica Langedyk, Marie-Helene Babin
Art Director: Briony Crane
Social Strategy: Evan LePage, Jamie Stein, Andy Au

Happy Halloween! Unfortunately, we could only scare up one spooky spot for this week's collection of best spots. But don't worry, the other four ads are a treat.

Check them out below, and vote for your favorite.

text WPP Reports Q3 Revenue Growth of 3%
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:33:38 PDT

London-based WPP Group, battling strong foreign exchange headwinds, reported revenue growth of 3.1 percent in the third quarter. Meanwhile, like-for-like growth, which removes the impact of currency swings, jumped 7.6 percent.

WPP said net sales growth dropped 1 percent, with like-for-like growth up 3 percent.

Overall revenue rose to $4.4 billion in the period. Revenue was hit by a 7.5 percent decrease because of currency, while net sales saw a 7.3 percent decline.

WPP said the U.K. was the region showing the strongest revenue growth, with a like-for-like increase of 10.2 percent. Media operations there grew "particularly strongly," according to the company.

Among operating segments, advertising and media led results, showing an increase of 11.7 percent in reported income and a 17.1 percent hike in like-for-like results. The holding company cited strong growth at operating units Ogilvy & Mather and Grey in the quarter and performance in geographic areas like Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa. WPP said global like-for-like media revenues were up "very strong double-digits and net sales up double-digits" in the quarter. Net sales in North America, the U.K. and Africa showed strong growth.

The industry's largest holding company was the last to report earnings, with WPP's organic growth topping competitors like Omnicom which reported a 6.5 percent increase; Interpublic, showing a 6.3 percent rise; and Publicis, posting just 1 percent.

We've already seen how Joan Harris (aka, Christina Hendricks) might adjust to life at a modern ad agency. Well, this guy is way more of a train wreck.

Canadian ad agency Zulu Alpha Kilo put together this crazy video for Wednesday's Agency of the Year event in Toronto. It's hilarious, if you don't mind a little nudity, profanity and off-color humor.

It took some balls to make this. Well, one nasty, hairy, protruding ball.

Credits below.

Video is NSFW for various reasons, but watch it anyway.

UPDATE: Also, it seems Dick collected Zulu Alpha Kilo's silver hardware for Digital Agency of the Year on stage at last night's event:

Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo
Creative Director: Zak Mroueh
Writer: Sean Atkinson
Art Director: Shawn James
Agency Producer: Tara Handley
Editor: Michael Headford
Accounts: Devina Hardatt
Director: Bruce McDonald
Production Company: Revolver Films
Producers: Luc Frappier, Rob Allan
Director of Photography: Johnny Cliff
Casting: Shasta Lutz, Jigsaw Casting
Transfer, Online: Alter Ego
Audio, Music: Pirate Toronto
Audio Director: Chris Tait

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But when it comes to parodies of Matthew McConaughey's earnestly enigmatic Lincoln campaign, something tells me people are just making fun of the guy. At least, he's drawn the attention of several satirists who've turned in their own entertaining versions.

The most notable have been the hilarious send-ups from Jim Carrey and Ellen DeGeneres, but there are several great spoofs that perfectly capture the Oscar winner's cerebral musings. Some of the lesser-known parodies feature the main character as a golf cart operator and an Uber driver, and South Park did a version featuring a Zipcar renter.

We've chopped them all up and stitched them all together into a supercut for your enjoyment. Check it out above.

Video edit by John Tejada.

Victoria's Secret is under fire for its newest bra campaign featuring the tagline "The Perfect 'Body'," suggesting on first glance that these women have it, and you probably don't.

More than 10,000 people have signed a U.K. petition calling for Victoria's Secret to "apologise for and amend the irresponsible marketing of your new bra range 'Body'."

"Victoria's Secret's new advertisements play on women's insecurities and send out a damaging message by positioning the words 'The Perfect Body' across models who have exactly the same, very slim body type," the petition notes. "This marketing campaign is harmful. It fails to celebrate the amazing diversity of women's bodies by choosing to call only one body type 'perfect'."

Of course, the brand isn't literally saying its models have the perfect body. It's a play on words with the popular "Body" line of bras, and the ad copy clarifies: "Perfect fit. Perfect comfort. Perfectly soft."

But at a time when unrealistic body images are such a controversial topic, this tagline has understandably sparked some fires in social media:

This year we've seen quite a few female-focused brands toss aside the whole idea of perfection. Aerie refused to Photoshop models, ModCloth pledged to be transparent about retouching, Dear Kate focused its underwear campaigns on "real women"), so one has to wonder if Victoria's Secret just made a tone-deaf misstep or actively decided to troll the competition.

McCann Erickson continued its new-business streak with the agency's New York office appointment as the new creative lead for State Street Global Advisors.

The Interpublic shop won the business after a review, managed by Pile and Co., that also included finalists Lowe Campbell Ewald and Doremus, sources said.

In 2013, the Boston-based investment management marketer spent $45.1 million in measured media, according to Kantar Media.

The incumbent agency, of more than eight years, on the business was The Gate Worldwide, which defended the account.

This year McCann has played a role in Worldgroup global wins like Microsoft, Cigna, Reckitt Benckiser and Cisco and Worldgroup U.S. assignments like Choice Hotels, Office Depot and GlaxoSmithKline.

Reps at State Street could not be reached.

text The Top 10 Halloween Candy Brands on Twitter
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:31:03 PDT

The time is upon us for trick-or-treating, as Halloween looms tomorrow. So Crimson Hexagon mined Twitter for all mentions of candies this month on the social platform.

And a quick note to marketers in this category: the Boston-based social media vendor reports that few brands are including the #Halloween hashtag in their tweets, which seems like a mistake. Of all tweets mentioning "Halloween" and "candy," the only brand-themed hashtags of note were from Listerine and Welch's Fruit Snacks.

Below are the top 10 brands in terms of the number of tweets mentioning them in October, according to Crimson Hexagon.

  1. KitKat - 204,086
  2. Snickers - 145,836
  3. Skittles - 138,867
  4. Starburst - 138,867
  5. M&Ms - 71,627
  6. Twix - 48,529
  7. Butterfinger - 36,685
  8. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups - 23,362
  9. Twizzlers - 20,502
  10. Almond Joy - 13,398

GIFs have left the nest!

The digital video files first made a jump to TV a while back, thanks to Fiat. And now they've ventured all the way outside in a fascinating Netflix campaign from Ogilvy Paris.

For the streaming service's launch in France, the agency created 100 different GIFs, some of which "reacted" to current events and even things like the weather (for example, a rainy scene from a film when it's actually raining at a bus stop).

People who hate GIFs will surely be appalled at this. And yes, it's a little jarring to see the hypnotic-looping videos running on large formats outside. But they're undeniably eye-catching in ways that other digital video just isn't.

Check out the case study below.

A funny thing happened on the way to final presentations in OppenheimerFunds' creative review: the pitches were called off, according to sources.

Why? Because three weeks ago Oppenheimer executives saw something they liked in one of the contenders, MRM, and wanted to hire the agency straight-away, sources said. Since then, the Interpublic Group shop has been in talks with Oppenheimer to handle the account, which is backed by annual media spending of about $20 million, according to sources.

The other contenders, meanwhile, have been cooling their heels. Sources identified the other finalists as Mullen and Wieden + Kennedy.

The winner will succeed Havas Worldwide in New York, which did not defend. Ark Advisors in New York is managing the search.

While unusual, the short-circuiting of a review just before finals saves other contenders the time and expense of pitching, though, of course, the agencies have already spent money on the process. Also, why put other shops through the paces if you've already found what you're looking for? In that context, such a move seems refreshingly honest.

MRM, a unit of McCann Worldgroup, referred calls to to the New York-based Oppenheimer, which declined to comment. But sources expect the process to be completed soon.

Not include in the review are media and public relations responsibilities, which remain at Havas Media and Prosek Partners, respectively.

LeBron James can go home again. And again. And again.

The NBA star's return to Cleveland from Miami was always going to be fodder for numerous ad campaigns. And indeed, we've already seen spots from Beats by Dre and Sprite this week. Now it's Nike's turn to get epic-timed to Thursday night's Cavaliers home-opener against the New York Knicks.

It's suitably goosebump inducing, as LeBron leads not just his teammates but all of Cleveland in a massive pre-game huddle-the ultimate come-to-Jesus moment for the city's once-and-again favorite son.

Nike Basketball partnered with Wieden + Kennedy for the spot, which was directed by the Malloy Brothers. LeBron's mom, Gloria Marie James, makes a cameo, as do Coach Dru Joyce and teammates Kyrie Irving, Dion Waters, Anderson Varejao, Shawn Marion, Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova and Joe Harris.

Nike is also introducing the LeBron 12 Hrt of a Lion shoe today, and is currently working on the nine-hour process of unveiling a 10-story, 25,000-square-foot banner on Ontario Street welcoming James back to Cleveland.

After poring over roughly 5,000 entries in the chain's third annual Halloween pet costume contest, Petco found a winner in a Yorkie named Jack. You see, Jack's owner June Harper created a Mork costume (of Mork & Mindy) in honor of the late Robin Williams.

"I'd like to think Robin Williams would laugh if he could see the photo of Jack in the iconic red suit," Harper said in a statement. "Winning the contest and knowing that so many people will see this photo makes me feel like I accomplished my goal of honoring the man behind so many endearing characters."

With this contest, Petco smartly plays into what pet owners do already: love and cherish their pets and dress them ridiculously for their own amusement. And Harper's snapshot earned her a cash prize of $25,000 and a one-year supply of Old Mother Hubbard treats.

Social Media Profile (as of 10/30/14)
Facebook Likes: 3 Million
Twitter Followers: 116,000
Instagram Followers: 60,733

As a brand on social media, Petco has a bit of an unfair advantage. Most humans with beating hearts love to look at photos of cats, dogs and animals in general-and Petco's got that in spades. If they happen to be advertising their latest deals and promotions, well, people see that, too.

Recent Advertising

Again, the brand plays to its strengths. Petco uses what looks to be YouTube videos compiled to show all of the different interactions you might have with your pup and tugs at your heartstrings just enough to make you want to feed him or her well.

Fast Facts

The mini-wave of brands casting gay couples in TV ads this year continues to rise, with the likes of Honey Maid, Cheerios and DirecTV all diving in. More power to them. But Ikea was the first marketer to feature a gay couple in a mainstream commercial. Twenty years ago.

The 1994 spot below, from Deutsch, ran after 10 p.m. in three markets where Ikea then had a significant presence: New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The late-night airing ensured that the ad wouldn't be seen during "family hour" programming. That concession, however, did little to quell the objections of the American Family Association and its leader, the Rev. Donald Wildmon.

Wildmon called for boycotts of Ikea stores, one of which, on Long Island, N.Y., was the target of a bomb threat, which turned out to be unfounded. The retailer, however, continued to air the ad, which was part of a lifestyle campaign featuring different types of consumers (a divorced mom, adopting parents, empty nesters, etc.) that began in 1993.

The creative team behind "Dining Room," including creative director Greg DiNoto, associate cd Kathy Delaney, copywriter Dallas Itzen and art director Patrick O'Neill, are no longer at Deutsch. But O'Neill, who later worked at TBWA\Chiat\Day and now is chief creative officer at blood testing company Theranos, shared his memories of helping to create something that didn't win awards but was truly groundbreaking.

AdFreak: Where did the idea for "Dining Room" come from?
Patrick O'Neill: We would base a lot of our stories on the real people we would see. We'd go to the New Jersey store-in Elizabeth-and because [the ads] were based on real people, we would watch, observe and see how people use the product, who they were, what kinds of things they were buying. And we'd figure which stores were the best ones. And there were a lot of gay couples there. We thought, Why don't we do one? Donny [Deutsch] thought it was a great idea and felt like it was a true representation of Ikea's values, which is they're always accepting of everyone.

So, that store was like your focus group or idea center?
It was. And we figured out where life intersected with furniture. ... You had to understand what was going on in the culture at that time, I thought, versus just doing [ads] in a sort of timeless manner. Divorcees still go there, that kid still gets adopted, and gay couples still go there, you know [laughs]. It just wasn't a typical depiction in media.

What was the shoot like?
A lot of the grips and all the people that were working on the set-you could feel that there was a lot of tension in the air because it was so unusual to see.

Did you shoot it at the store?

Who was the director?
Paul Goldman. He had just started directing. [At Deutsch] he worked on the original "It's a big country. Someone's got to furnish it" campaign that was the year before.

How nervous was Ikea going into this?
They believed in it from the beginning. They were never nervous about it.

Did you have to test it?

Did you think at the time that more people would follow in the footsteps of that ad?
I did.

Why didn't that happen?
It's interesting. I think the reason why people remember the ad was because it was done in a way where it was, "Wow, they really did it." We weren't mucking around. It was clear what was going on. And there were bomb threats. There was backlash. There were New York op-eds written about it. I mean, there were all kinds of things happening. In the years that followed-not too long after-Ellen [DeGeneres], she came out. Melissa Etheridge came out. A lot of women came out at the time. So, I think the culture started doing it without it being commercials. But as far as brands, I think they were nervous about it.

Does the groundswell we're seeing now reflect what's going on with state marriage laws?
Yeah. I think it's also that the millennials and younger are very accepting of [gay] marriage. When that is legitimized by a large core of consumers, you can have that in communications because the approval rating for that is much, much higher once you get to a certain age group.

Would a different creative team have done the same thing?
No. ... Look, the way we cast, and had them speak about their relationship, and the premise-it was all based on real stuff. I think the reason it turned out the way it did was all those people working together on it. We knew gay people, and I felt like the lone representative [laughs]. I felt a lot of responsibility making sure I didn't let my people down.

How proud are you of this, ultimately, and is it still up there in your top three ads?
Well, I'm proud of it because it was the first one. It was scary in some ways. Everyone was true to the period, but there was no precedent. And it wasn't a welcoming environment. So, that part of it makes me proud and happy to be part of.

text Could Alibaba Rescue Apple Pay?
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:23:23 PDT

Could an Apple-Alibaba alliance be in the works? The two formidable tech companies have started a well-choreographed dance around Apple's new mobile payment system, Apple Pay, which some big retail chains in the U.S. are snubbing.

Jack Ma, the billionaire who founded China's massive online store Alibaba, on Monday said he's open to bringing Apple Pay to the Chinese market, Reuters reported. "I hope we can do something together," he said at a Wall Street Journal digital conference in California.

Here's how the dance is going:

  • Ma is in the U.S. right now, meeting with Hollywood executives to purchase the rights to stream American TV shows and movies. He's also shopping for partners and acquisition opportunities with his $25 billion stock windfall.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook recently visited China to beat the drum for Apple's products, especially Apple Pay. The Cupertino, Calif. company is reportedly opening 25 retail stores in China in the next two years.
  • Cook and Ma attended the Journal's conference, where both men addressed speculation about Apple Pay working with Alibaba's Alipay-China's largest online payment service with a reported 300 million registered users and an additional 100 million mobile clients. "We're going to talk about getting married later this week," Cook said. "We love to partner with people that are wicked smart, that have flexible teams, that are product-based, that push us, and we like to push them."

Apple Pay has had some success since it's Oct. 20 launch. The mobile wallet system activated more than a million credit cards in the first 72 hours. And, the Journal reported, it signed up the six biggest U.S. credit card companies-including American Express, Visa and MasterCard.

But it's run into headwinds with retailers. CVS and Rite Aid discontinued Apple Pay because it is incompatible with their CurrentC mobile payment system. Cook called the move a "skirmish."

Bringing Apple Pay to China could pose more challenges, since many consumers prefer cash transactions and many banks are state-owned. But the Journal reported China's cabinet is leaving the door ajar for foreign credit card companies to set up electronic payments between those banks and consumers.

If you're one of the nearly 1.2 million people who follow Lena Dunham on Instagram, you might have noticed her posts flooding your feed this morning-shot after shot of her celebrity pals wearing a new T-shirt she designed for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Dunham partnered with Planned Parenthood as part of her book tour for Not That Kind of Girl earlier this month. Proceeds from the $25 shirt will go directly to funding the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the electoral and political arm of Planned Parenthood. Oh, and if you haven't put it together just yet, the shirt seems to be part of a push to remind fans to vote on Election Day.

Check out the posts below:

More bold brave models tomorrow... But dream of Ellen Page tonight:

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Oh lord it's Sara Bareilles... #womenarewatching #weheartplannedparenthood

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

And Rashida Jones!!! #womenarewatching #weheartplannedparenthood

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Oh excuse you Jenna Lyons!!! #womenarewatching #weheartplannedparenthood

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Is there anything fiercer than @gabunion ? #womenarewatching #weheartplannedparenthood

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Amy Schumer, you beautiful nut! #womenarewatching #weheartplannedparenthood

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Goddamn, America Ferrera, you slay me #womenarewatching #weheartplannedparenthood

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

The angel known as Knope #amypoehler #womenarewatching #weheartplannedparenthood

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Ladies and gentleman, it's @unforettable! #womenarewatching #weheartplannedparenthood

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

It's Sara Quin and... Sara Quin! @teganandsara #womenarewatching #weheartplannedparenthood #canadiansdoitwell

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Well, this might just blow your damn mind.

Honda and Wieden + Kennedy London have created a rather incredible "double-sided story" on YouTube to promote the Civic and its sportier sibling, the Civic Type R. While watching "The Other Side," you can press and hold the "R" button on your keyboard to switch between parallel storylines.

Watch it here: Honda's "The Other Side."

"We wanted people to feel Honda's other side as well as see it," W+K notes today on its blog, "so we dreamt up a technique that brings together both narratives through a simple interaction." (The technique is a bit reminiscent of Interlude's famous interactive music video for Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone.")

Without revealing too much, I'll just say the dual film directed by Daniel Wolfe follows the travels of a seemingly mild-mannered dad who leads a rather interesting double life.

You can watch a few teasers below, but you really need to see the full experience for yourself on YouTube.