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Bad Idea: Baby Brand Hands Out Candy in Realistic Pill Bottles at BlogHer The response is about what you'd expect

Photo: Morgan Shanahan

Coming up with promotional freebies that will stand out in the sea of swag at BlogHer is always a challenge. But one brand may have taken its creativity a bit too far this year.

Bright Starts, a major producer of toys and toddler gear, was apparently on hand at the massive mom-blogger conference this weekend—and giving out realistic-looking pill bottles promoting its Baby Laugh Index microsite. Inside were Red Hots, packaged as some sort of giggle pills that "may cause serious laughter."

These were promotional items created for adults attending the conference, and not something you can expect to see on store shelves. Still, as blogger Morgan Shanahan points out, it's a bad idea to put candy in medicine containers, especially when you know they're likely to end up back in homes with children.

"Pills are not funny. They’re not toys. They’re not even swag," Shanahan writes. "They’re deadly when placed in the wrong hands. So what were you thinking, Bright Starts?"

We reached out to representatives of Bright Starts parent company Kids II and will update if we hear back.

Hat tip to Heather Spohr on Facebook.

July 28, 2014, 3:48 PM EDT

ESPN Uses Golden Girls Theme Song to Salute the SEC's Animal Mascots Let's thank each one for being a friend

Do you enjoy looking at adorable animals and singing along to "Thank You for Being a Friend," the Andrew Gold song whose cover by Cynthia Fee rightfully belongs to Blanche, Rose, Sophia and Dorothy from The Golden Girls?

Then ESPN's new spot by McKinney is for you.

Well, you and the mascots for Mississippi State ("Bully"), Arkansas ("Tusk"), Texas A&M ("Reveille"), Auburn ("War Eagle"), Louisiana State ("Mike"), Georgia ("Uga"), South Carolina ("Sir Big Spur") and Tennessee ("Smokey").

The ad, "Animals," features the mascots for the Southeastern Conference schools to help launch the SEC Network, a new national sports network from ESPN that debuts Aug. 14.

Credits below.

Client: ESPN
Spot: "Animals"
Agency: McKinney
Chief Creative Officer: Jonathan Cude
Associate Creative Director: Matt Trego
Art Director: Jordan Eakin
Copywriter: Roger Fish/David Sloan
Agency Producer: Naomi Newman
Production Company: McKinney
Director: Michael Lawrence

July 28, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

Dunkin's Shark Week Donut Is Not for Use as a Flotation Device In fact, it may actually shorten your life, but in a good way

Dunkin' Donuts has partnered with Discovery Channel's beloved Shark Week of aquatic predator-related programming to bring you the above confection, the Shark Bite donut, a yeast donut iced with a red-and-white pattern causing it to resemble a life preserver.

The partnership extends to the Dunkin' logo, too—it's mostly the same, except it's had a bite taken out of it, and the slogan at the bottom reads, "Shark Week runs on Dunkin'" (rather than "America runs on Dunkin'").

The donut is going out to 7,000 stores around the country, says Harold Morgenstern, svp of national ad sales for Discovery. "Very rarely does Dunkin' Donuts change its logo," he pointed out. The deal is part of a larger Discovery partnership for the restaurant: "They'll be in all of our higher-rated premiere shows across the network," said Morgenstern. "For Shark Week, [Dunkin' is] new. They've been on and off the network for quite some time." Morgenstern says the partnership will also include a billboard in Times Square and ways for fans to interact.

"We're going to have 'Take a Bite, Take a Pic,' encouraging fans to take a bite and take a picture of it [for social media]. During Shark After Dark, we'll show some of those and have some prizing involved."

Accordingly, we felt like we should offer some suggestions for future donut/show integrations.

Nude Donut (Naked & Afraid) — It's free, but you don't get a napkin.

Crab Surprise (Deadliest Catch) — A box with 11 mousetraps and one donut inside.

Lucky Donut (Gold Rush) — Available to groups of 10 or more. One customer gets a delicious donut of his or her choice, and everyone else gets cold french fries.

Hide-A-Donut (Moonshiners) — Actually a flask.

Experimental Donut (Mythbusters) — Explodes.

We expect to hear back from Discovery about these suggestions any moment now. Shark Week comes back Aug. 10; you can get your life preserver donut at Dunkin' from Aug. 4.

July 28, 2014, 2:42 PM EDT

Here Are the Best (and Worst) Personalized Coke Bottle Hacks So Far Open happiness? More like jealousy and rage

When we were kids, we were told that we are all special snowflakes—unique individuals with our own distinct characteristics. Coca-Cola thinks so, too. Sort of.

The company has flooded retailers with bottles of its flagship soda adorned with people's names as part of its #ShareaCoke promotion (this idea was first introduced in Australia in 2011). It's one of the smarter brand activations in recent memory. But of course, every brand's pop-culture success is met with throngs of people hacking the idea with Photoshop, sharpies or just clever juxtapositions and posting them all over the Internet.

Sure, there are people earnestly posing with their name-cans, but that would be the most boring AdFreak post ever. And I, for one, empathize with those who were left out—those who don't have a can named for them, who are not special snowflakes, and who will have to resort to duct tape to make it right. (Yes, I am bitter.)

Below, check out some of the best (and worst) hacks of the campaign we found in social.

Click to Read More →

July 28, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT

Those Bizarre Ads on Brooklyn Buildings Are Actually Marketing for Colossal Media Fun fakery from a shop that hand-paints its projects

Faced with the task of marketing itself, Colossal Media has gone big and deliciously cheesy with giant fake ads popping up on the sides of buildings in Brooklyn. 

It's a familiar canvas for the outdoor ad painter, which is based in Brooklyn and works for the likes of Stella Artois, Comedy Central, Vans and Red Bull. Each house ad—created with help from another Brooklyn shop, Doubleday & Cartwright—includes a phone number (1-844-CAL-OSAL), which connects to a gravelly voiced and, at times, profane message about Colossal.

Perhaps the most absurd (and effective?) ad resembles a missed-connection poster and aims to reunite a bespectacled nerd in a plaid sweater with a woman he saw "sipping Kombucha by the L train." Why? Because they share the same hairstyle, they wear the same cut of Levi's, and he wants to paint her. Sounds like a perfectly good justification for a 40-foot-wide ad on a brick building in Williamsburg.

Below are some other executions provided by the agency:

Click to Read More →

July 28, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT

Stare at This Ford Print Ad for 30 Seconds, and It Will Suddenly Make Sense Optical illusion promotes park assist

BBR Saatchi & Saatchi created this print ad for Ford Israel that also happens to be an optical illusion. It promotes the Ford Explorer's Park Assist feature in a way similar to those email forwards from your aunt that ask you to stare at an image until you see the face of Jesus or the outline of Elvis.

"Stare at the black dot for 30 seconds. Move your eyes to the empty parking space. See how easy it is to park," says the copy.

Thirty seconds may be a long time to look at an ad, and my eyes kept ramming the SUV into the parked cars. But it's still a fun way to highlight a feature without using jargon that just feels like a lot of empty words ("aerodynamic space material for precision control!").

What do you think? Are you into it?

Via Digital Synopsis.

July 28, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT

You'll Nether Believe How Mr. Sketch Scented Markers Get So Stinky Flatulent fruit infusion

And you thought beans were the musical fruit.

This memorable ad from BBH New York humorously suggests that Mr. Sketch scented markers get their smell from actual fruit farts—as we see a blueberry cutting a squeaker inside a fantastical Roald Dahl-esque odor-extraction lab.

The flavorful flatulence infuses one of the venerable Newell Rubbermaid brand's blue marker pens, and we're led to believe this same method applies to apple, raspberry, cherry, lemon and other scents in the Mr. Sketch line.

"We wanted a simple, entertaining concept that people would get right away," BBH group creative director Gerard Caputo tells Mashable. "And since the name of the product isn't intuitive to the benefit, we wanted to do a little education."

Smells like a gold Lion to me! At any rate, the ad should amuse kids of all ages, even if the pungent manufacturing process on display doesn't pass the smell test.

July 28, 2014, 10:17 AM EDT

Ad Creatives Launch 'ManServants,' Offering Hunks for Hire Who Aren't Just Strippers For the woman who wants more than junk in her face

Ladies, if your idea of a good time doesn't involve a male stripper waving his junk in your face, you might want to consider instead getting a dapper hunk to cater to your every need from a respectful distance.

A new company, aptly called ManServants—conceived by a group of San Francisco-area ad creatives who've worked at AKQA—is out with a video inviting women to pay men in tuxedos to hold parasols and refill their champagne glasses, even if it means wading through a pool while still dressed in black-tie attire. Customers interested in a more casual experience might pay a guy in a cool white jeans jacket or beanie to hang around snapping photos of a client and her girlfriend, or to hold her tablet for her while she takes a bubble bath. Men are also welcome to hire manservants, the ad suggests, perhaps to put on a push-up show and not talk.

The service itself isn't set to launch until fall. But even the commercial struggles against the incredulity of the idea, reassuring viewers at the end: "This is a real service." In other words, the spot is pretty well put together, if also fairly silly. It wraps its product in a thin critique of gender politics, as if the product it's hawking is somehow more progressive than a naked faux-fireman, rather than just an alternate, more-reserved fantasy for sale, itself rooted in traditions of power and privilege. Regardless, to each her own.

Mostly, it's surprising there isn't already more competition in the space—not counting, you know, gigolos, minus the sex.

Note: While not explicit, the video is probably NSFW.

July 28, 2014, 9:09 AM EDT

Return to Rushmore: Best Buy's Back-to-School Ad Channels a Wes Anderson Classic Sadly, no Bill Murray

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.

July 25, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

Hot Wheels Rolls a Life-Size Darth Vader Car Into Comic-Con Sure to inspire some heavy breathing

Photo: @StarWars on Twitter

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.


July 25, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT


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AdFreak is your daily blog of the best and worst of creativity in advertising, media, marketing and design. Follow us as we celebrate (and skewer) the latest, greatest, quirkiest and freakiest commercials, promos, trailers, posters, billboards, logos and package designs around. Edited by Adweek's Tim Nudd. Updated every weekday, with a weekly recap on Saturdays.

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