With the new season of AMC’s Mad Men's less than a month away, it's time for the most famous TV show about advertising to advertise itself. A new poster promoting the show's return to the air first appeared in an article from The New York Times today, and it looks radically different from what we came to be used to with the past seasons. Created by iconic British illustrator Brian Sanders, the ad shows Don Draper on the corner of Madison Avenue, holding the hand of a mysterious woman that could very well be his latest conquest, slightly looking back at what appears to be no less than himself, holding a briefcase. Designed in a way that makes it look like “it has time-traveled from the pages of an old copy of Reader’s Digest”, the ad does a brilliant job at conveying the show’s mysterious and vintage ambience. Show creator Matthew Weiner says that the idea of hiring Sanders came after he remembered about the illustrations in a T.W.A. flight menu from his childhood.
Season 6 of Mad Men will premiere on April 7 at 9PM EST on AMC with an exclusive all-new 2-hour episode.
If you too got tired of people’s obsession for Psy’s Gangnam Style after you watched so many YouTube covers and parodies last year that you could swear you knew Korean, you will be happy to know that, despite Psy’s cameo in Wonderful Pistachios’ Super Bowl commercial, Gangnam Style is no longer a thing. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it has been replaced with an equally weird and annoying meme called “The Harlem Shake” that went viral earlier this month after a bunch of Australian guys known as “The Sunny Coast Skate” posted the above video on YouTube, which has now received over 9.5 million views.
The concept for “The Harlem Shake” is simple: have one guy wear some kind of headgear and dance by himself to the first 15 seconds of the song Harlem Shake by electronic musician Baauer while everyone else in the room pretends to be completely oblivious to what is going on, then when the beat drops, have everyone else go crazy to the last 15 seconds. Easy, right? No need to say that everyone on the Internet has wanted to make their own video and a quick search on YouTube now returns more than 4 million results. Tech companies like Google and Facebook made their own and a good number of TV shows did too, including Jimmy Fallon’s. Adland was also quick to jump on the bandwagon: according to Ad Age, over 60 ad agencies (and counting) have now created their own, and Pepsi posted their version this week (see below). I can’t decide whether their dancing cans and bottles are hilarious or pathetic but I might have to go with the second option.
I very much hope that The Atlantic Wireis right about this new fad being over already because I’m not going to be able to handle any more of these videos. Good God!
Your tweets aren’t really worth much. That is unless you synced your American Express credit card with your Twitter account, in which case you are now eligible to buy from a selection of discounted products such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, Sony’s Action Cam and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, using special hashtags rolling out today. The concept is rather simple: once you have opted in, all you have to do is tweet using one of the special hashtags provided on Amex’s website, in return of which you will receive a confirmation code that you have to tweet in order to place an order.
The new program is the latest of a series of partnerships between American Express and social platforms like Facebook, Foursquare and Xbox Live leveraging Amex’s Card Sync technology, allowing card members to benefit from special deals. Twitter Offers, which launched last year, also allowed users to receive discounts from certain merchants, except you couldn’t buy the products directly from the platform.
I have to say I am sort of skeptical about this new program, even though I admire Amex’s commitment to innovation. First of all, I’m not sure how many Amex customers will be willing to sync their credit card with their Twitter account, especially because it’s not that clear how secure the whole process is, even though enrollment is handled by Amex. And even provided that Amex deals with those security concerns, will their customers really tweet publicly about their purchases? I’m not saying that it can’t take off but unless Amex extends the program to other platforms like Facebook, social commerce is going to remain a niche.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled the official poster of the 85th Oscars ceremony and it looks awesome. The poster commemorates the Academy’s 85th anniversary by featuring 85 personalized Oscar statuettes, each of which inspired by one of the Best Picture winners from the past 85 years. For example, last year’s winner The Artist is shown via a black-and-white statue, while 1993 winner The Schindler’s List is represented by one of the movie’s most recognizable character, the little girl in red. A section of the Oscars website actually references all the statuettes and lets you test your knowledge.
The poster was designed by British artist, graphic designer and illustrator Olly Moss, who already worked with big movie studios such as Lucasfilm and Warner Bros to design printed posters for the Star Wars trilogy, The Lord of the Rings and The Dark Knight Rises. A printed copy of the poster will be on display this week as part of Gallery 1988’s Academy Awards exhibition in Los Angeles. The 85th Academy Awards ceremony will take place on February 24 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles and will be broadcasted live on ABC starting at 7PM EST. Comedian and Family Guy voice actor Seth MacFarlane will host the ceremony.
Microsoft debuted a new commercial for the Surface Pro tablet during the Grammys last night and it looks a lot like part two of the ad that’s been on the air since the launch of the original Surface tablet in October. The commercial is the latest installment in Microsoft’s continuing effort to promote the new Windows 8 operating system, the Windows Phone platform and the Surface tablets. Also filmed by Step Up director Jon Chu, it features a group of young professionals sitting at a conference table that suddenly have an urge to breakdance around the room with their tablets in hand. The music is very similar to the one that was used in the first ad and you can hear the tablet’s signature “click” sound repeatedly. I find it somewhat surprising that Microsoft chose to go after professionals with the same concept that they used in the first ad, even though it gives a certain consistency to the company’s communications. One thing that’s different though is the ad’s focus on the device’s compatibility with styluses, a direct attack on a feature that Samsung has been featuring in its commercials prominently. The new tablet went on sale on Saturday and was already sold out at most retail locations by the end of the day, which Microsoft seemed to be very happy about, while some critics pointed out that it was most likely due to limited supply rather than overwhelming demand.
As it turns out, sexual wellness still is an awkward topic in 2013. So much so that when agency Grey New York was tasked with creating the launch campaign for the new “Fresh + Sexy” intimate wipe product from Playtex, it had to resort to cheeky wordplay and clever innuendos. According to the product’s press release, “Fresh + Sexy” is “a brand new before-and-after intimate wipe specially designed to help couples feel confidently clean every time they engage in sexual activity”, the insight being that “sex isn’t always a planned event that can be prepared for”. In short, sex is messy and Playtex can help you to always be ready for it, whenever, wherever. And that’s exactly what the ads communicate. Some have found them to be “sexist”, even though the ads target both men and women, and online reviews pointed out to the fact that vaginas are self-cleansing and that soap is more than enough for women’s hygiene, thus eliminating the need for such a product. Those may very well be valid criticisms but there is nothing wrong with the ads, which do nothing more than put forward the product attributes in a bold and playful way. I am even tempted to say, elegant. Here, I said it.
American television has a thing for zombies, weird creatures and horror characters that give us nightmares. One of the most successful is AMC’s The Walking Dead, which was renewed for a fourth season in December. The third season will start airing this Sunday in Canada so agency Leo Burnett created a giant installation to build up the excitement by placing two zombie hands in Toronto’s Union Station, one finger being chopped off every day during the last 10 days leading to the show’s return to the air. The concept is pure genius and the execution is fun and gory, just like the show. A message is actually prompting passersby to “tweet a picture of [themselves] in front of the hands using #TWDFeb10 for a chance to win a finger”. I’m sure it will look great next to some lucky winner’s big flat screen TV, or atop their fireplace.
David Beckham sure loves showing off his hot, tattooed body. In a new commercial filmed by Sherlock Holmes director Guy Ritchie, the English soccer superstar, who signed a five-month contract with Paris Saint-Germain last week, is sprinting around in his underpants in the pursuit of his bathrobe. Becks literally does it all, running and jumping and swimming, eventually emerging from a pool, dripping wet. Apparently, he did most of the stunts himself and yes, those two close-up shots are of his own butt. Set to the catchy tunes of “Don’t Stop” by indie pop band Foster The People, the spot is both energetic and sexy, and the ending is actually kind of funny. It’s a lot better than commercial that aired last year during Super Bowl, which was basically a filmed print ad. That might be because H&M made the effort of hiring a talented director this time. Guy Ritchie is indeed all but a newbie to the world of advertising: two years ago, he filmed a commercial for Dior starring Jude Law that got very good press. No doubt that this one will do just as well.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) announced last week at a press conference in New York City that it is launching a brand new operating system called BlackBerry 10, along with two new smartphones, the BlackBerry Q10 and BlackBerry Z10. The former sports a 4.2-inch touchscreen display, in a minimalistic design that makes it look very much like a cheaper iPhone 5, while the latter retains the same physical keyboard that made the success of the original BlackBerry handsets. Both the OS and the devices have received good reviews so far but BlackBerry is very late in the game and superior products might not be enough to turn the tables on competitors like Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft.
Perception of the BlackBerry brand has been continuously deteriorating over the past couple of years, including among professionals, the company’s primary target and most profitable segment. And with most Fortune 500 companies now allowing their employees to pick a phone of their choosing, as opposed to previously providing them all with the same device, BlackBerry is exposed to the competition of the likes of the iPhone and Android phones on its home turf. Not to mention that BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is going big. That means that the future of the new BlackBerry devices will depend not only on the company’s ability to turn the tide in terms of brand perception but also on whether or not it is able to build a competitive advantage in terms of distribution.
On the bright side, the company can count on a base of loyal users that might be willing to trade their old handsets for the new, more powerful Q10 and Z10. However, a significant part of that user base is still very much opposed to giving up on their physical keyboards so the touch-based Q10 might not do too well with these loyal users. Another hope for BlackBerry is its wide popularity among certain emerging Asian markets such as Indonesia.
RIM really is trying hard to make its reboot successful, so much so that some have pointed out that it might make it look a little desperate. The company actually decided to rebrand itself as BlackBerry, a bold move that might pay off if the company succeeds in reigniting the brand. It also hired Alicia Keys as a spokesperson and creative director, in an attempt to refresh its image. However, the singer, known to be a loyal iPhone user, might repeat the debacle that followed Jessica Alba’s endorsement of Windows Phone and Oprah Winfrey’s support of the Microsoft Surface tablet, both of whom tweeted about the products… using an iPhone and an iPad, respectively. The company also aired its first national Super Bowl spot (see above), along with a social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook. Created by London-based agency AMV BBDO, the commercial doesn’t really show the reinvented BlackBerry and fails to build a story around the brand. A commercial created for the Canadian market (see below) achieves those two goals a lot better, and one can only hope that BlackBerry will run it in America as well.
Time will tell if the company’s strategy was right. The products are definitely winners but it might be too late for the brand to win back customers’ hearts.
I have a confession to make: I’m not a big football fan. And truth be told, the main reason I watched the entire Super Bowl last year was because I bought a New York Giants sweatshirt that I thought looked really cool and I wanted to get my money’s worth. So I was a lot lazier this year and I watched all the commercials and Beyoncé’s halftime show on YouTube, just like every other normal French person (other people do that, right?). Anyway, here are my top 5 favorite commercials from Super Bowl XLVII:
1. RAM: “Farmer” (The Richards Group)
There was a consensus about this one in the advertising community. Some pointed out that it is similar to a Farms.com video but Farms.com is a partner of the campaign and the execution of the Richards Group spot is a lot better anyway. The photos are beautiful and the voiceover, Paul Harvey’s “God Made a Farmer” recording, is powerful and inspiring. Hands down to RAM for actually delivering a message with this ad, something most car brands failed to do.
Oreo definitely had one of the most entertaining commercials of this year’s Super Bowl. The insight behind the spot is simple but effective (people fight to decide whether the Oreo’s best part is the cream or the cookie) and the commercial is well-written. It is absurdly funny, Wieden + Kennedy style, and it prompts the viewers to pick a side by posting pictures on Instagram. The brand was actually very active on social media during the game and got a lot of traction. This one tweet, posted during the stadium blackout, got well over 15,000 retweets:
3. Old Spice: “Irresistible” (Wieden + Kennedy, Portland)
Old Spice departed from the style of previous communications while using the same kind of absurd writing with this oddly glamorous spot that proves that the brand can be cool even when it’s not showing off Isaaiah Mustafa’s chiseled abs. It basically looks and feels the same, except the guy wears a tux and looks like James Bond. The spot actually only aired in Alaska while a different commercial aired nationally (and it was just as weird and awesome).
4. Audi: “Prom” (Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco)
Very few car commercials stand out on Game Day, mostly because there are so many of them and because the cars basically all look the same. This one definitely did though. It tells a story that every American can relate to and it’s executed the right way. I’m not sure I buy the tagline (“Bravery. It’s what defines us.”) but it’s still a great commercial and it refreshes the brand.
5. Taco Bell: “Viva Young” (Deutsch, New York)
This spot for Taco Bell was one of the few WTFs of Super Bowl XLVII. Agency Deutsch went all the way with the commercial, filming old people partying to a faux Spanish version of Fun’s “We Are Young”. It’s definitely silly but it works and it’s a good execution around the chain’s new tagline, “Live Más”.