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Join a Conversation Headed for Catastrophe in Honda's Anti-Texting Ad A cautionary tale, told through emoji

On the heels of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's sobering scenario announcing National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Honda and agency RPA bring us the latest campaign in the effort to curb texting and driving. 

This spot (and accompanying print ad, below) pull the viewer into a text conversation happening on a mobile device, presumably on a road somewhere in America. 

The dialogue is an authentic glimpse into the life of a young adult, replete with the usual shorthand and emojis common in casual banter. Without spoiling exactly what happens next, the ad succeeds in creating a unique message that is graphically smart, simple and powerful. 

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April 15, 2014, 12:49 PM EDT

Klondike Bar Plays Doctor With a Hot Candy Nurse, and a New Product Is Born Sex sells, even with ice cream

Best ice-cream bar ever conceived? That would be the Klondike Kandy Bar, born an indeterminate number of months after an illicit tryst between a regular Klondike Bar and a tall, striking, chocolatey candy-bar nurse—according to a male shopper's adult-movie-addled brain in this sweet spot from The VIA Agency.

It's a fun idea, brought to life quite nicely. In particular, the visual look is pleasantly unique, blending real-world footage and animation. "A ton of ads use animated characters. So we made the decision to shoot as much as we could in camera," says Greg Smith, chief creative officer at VIA. "The awkwardness of putting 'real' characters on 'real' sets and then animating their eyes, arms and legs made it different and it helped us stay true to the lo-fi vibe we wanted to portray."

Turns out the Klondike-candy relationship extends beyond the '70s candy-porn set, too. Klondike is partnering with CollegeHumor to produce a comedy series about the couple. That should be interesting—particularly the inevitable reality-show squabbles over why she's the one who's way more phallic looking.

April 15, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

Southwest Shines With Flight Attendant's Viral Video as Social Media Sours for Other Airlines No arrests, no porn. Just laughs

Photo: Getty Images

It's been a weird week for airlines in social media, and it's only Tuesday. On Monday a Dutch teen was arrested for tweeting a threat to American Airlines, and US Airways accidentally tweeted a photo of a woman using a model airplane as a sex toy. 

But here's one airline that's actually getting some positive attention this week: Southwest.

Known for being the goofy uncle at the airline family reunion, Southwest (or at least one of its employees) is the star of a video that's quickly gone viral, tallying more than 1.2 million views in two days. The clip is totally safe for work, and no lives were threatened, so they're already winning by a couple of points.

In the video, a flight attendant delivers one of Southwest's famously reinterpreted safety instruction speeches prior to flying. But even frequent Southwest passengers will be impressed by the quantity and quality of zingers she manages to fit into a mere three minutes. 

Some excerpts:

"Flight attendants are coming by, hoping you'll tell them how good looking they are."

"As you know, it's a no-smoking, no-whining, no-complaining flight. It's a 'please' and 'thank you' and 'you are such a good-looking flight attendant' flight."

"If you're traveling with small children ... we're sorry. If you're traveling with more than one child, pick out the one that you think might have the most earning potential down the road."

"Sit back and relax—or you can sit up and be tense, either way."

April 15, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT

As Singer's Last Wish, 'I Touch Myself' Is Beautifully Reborn in a Breast Cancer PSA Stirring homage to the Divinyls' Chrissy Amphlett

Here's something I never thought I'd say: I just got weepy listening to "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls. 

In an incredibly touching tribute to the group's frontwoman, Chrissy Amphlett, some of Australia's top singers have recorded a largely a capella version for a video encouraging women to self-examine their breasts for lumps. 

Amphlett, one of the most shockingly sexual pop artists of the 1990s, died from breast cancer on April 21, 2013. According to Billboard, an ultrasound and mammogram initially missed the cancer, which Amphlett ended up finding on her own through self-examination. 

Friends say her dying wish was that her 1990 hit song could become a reminder for all women to check themselves regularly for lumps and other signs of breast cancer. So Australian advocacy group Cancer Council NSW (New South Wales) worked with Amphlett's widower and supporters to create the beautiful rendition below.

The singers are Connie Mitchell, Deborah Conway, Kate Cerebrano, Katie Noonan, Little Pattie, Megan Washington, Olivia Newton-John, Sarah Blasko, Sarah McLeod and Suze DeMarchi. You can watch interviews with each of them on Amphlett's YouTube channel.

"It is a song that celebrates female sexuality like no other. Like Chrissy, it is bold, brave and brassy," the group says in its video summary. "It rocked our world. And when Chrissy developed breast cancer, it was a song she wanted to become an anthem for spreading awareness about the importance of touching ourselves for early detection of the disease."

Note: The video below ends on a scene that might be NSFW. But you really shouldn't let that stop you from watching it.

April 15, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT

Miller High Life Celebrates the Least Interesting Man in the World 'I Am Rich' ads go for everyman appeal

Miller High Life would like you to meet Rich, the least interesting man in the world.

The champagne of beers, absent on national TV since 2012, is returning to the airwaves Monday with a new campaign from Leo Burnett, themed "I Am Rich." The concept, on its face, is that you don't need lots of money, or fancy drinks, to be happy.

More subtly, it's also a dog-whistle shot at Dos Equis: You don't need to be an international man of mystery to have a rewarding life.

Instead of the aspirational charm of a high-flying, larger-than-life jet-setter, there's grainy footage of dive-bar billiards, shot on 35mm film, which somehow comes off as both artsy and mundane.

The core, populist idea is a nice one and makes you really want to like the ads. The opening of "Central Park," one of two spots, shows promise. It's endearing that the dude likes to think of the scraggly tree outside his window as a Fifth Avenue penthouse view. And what sane person doesn't consider his or her gregarious dog to be a butler?

Unfortunately, Rich is pretty obnoxious, thanks to purple prose masquerading as cleverness. "My helipad is being resurfaced, so tonight we travel by more humble means," says Rich. "At my country club, we play parlor games with members of the royal family."

Walking to the local dive, drinking Miller High Life, and shooting pool with the owners seems like fun. So does hanging out with Rich's dog. But listening to Rich while he's spewing anxious nonsense about how awesome his life is? Not so much.

In fact, Rich doesn't really seem that happy at all. Or maybe, the voiceover is just a little too real. The kind of deadpan inside jokes that might fly in a casual conversation among friends don't quite work as persuasive ad copy for the masses, especially when the grit and sincerity of the footage end up working against the try-hard irony of the voiceover.

The ad ends up feeling like it's mocking the demographic it's trying to court. At least Rich can rest assured that he isn't making any beer execs richer by spending what little money he has on High Life.

April 15, 2014, 9:41 AM EDT

Marionette Wives Feel Pretty Insecure in an Age of Wireless DirecTV Grey's odd new ads

If DirecTV is trying to position its Wireless Genie Mini device as a high-tech toy for doofy bros who view women as puppets—mission accomplished!

Perhaps that's a tad harsh or too literal. Still, there's something unnerving about these new ads from Grey New York, directed by Bryan Buckley, featuring a life-size blonde marionette. In one ad, she struggles with her wires while pouring lemonade for a pair of DirecTV-lovin' dudes. In a second spot, our heroine dangles from the bedroom ceiling in a sexy negligee, concerned her human beau is more attracted to DirecTV.

Self-conscious oddness is the obvious goal, and the campaign certainly works on that level. Even so, there's a touch of mean-spiritedness that doesn't sit right. The puppet is the most appealing part of these commercials, and it's easy to sympathize with her plight. This, in turn, kind of keeps me from feeling good about the Wireless Genie itself, which lets multiple TVs share HD-DVR programming over WiFi (so first-worlders won't trip over unsightly wires and fall flat on their Google Glass).

Cut those cords and free yourself, my wooden sister! Today, there are so many ways for a marionette to be fulfilled—like rapping for JCPenney or blogging for Target. Don't let some half-wit string you along!

 

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April 15, 2014, 8:34 AM EDT

Cops Aren't There to Check Your Balls for You, Cancer PSA Reminds Guys Nor will a mechanic find lumps on your lugnuts

In every sense, testicular care is a delicate matter. So while it can be a bit weird and uncomfortable to feel yourself up every so often, nonprofit Testicular Cancer Canada makes the point that it's each guy's job—and no one else's—to check his balls for lumps.

In addition to reminding us that this is no role for police and mechanics to play, the ad also makes a really good case for why we should be glad it isn't. Gentlemen, we've all had this moment, but very rarely with officers of the law (that said, I'm not here to judge). Watching this alternate reality, I find myself wondering, what do they feel as they do this? Emotionally, I mean.

Anyway, the two commercials in the series make a great pair. They're ballsy and a little bit nuts. The campaign rocks, is what I'm trying to say, and even though Canadian agency Grip Limited produced it pro bono, it's worth the family jewels. Testicles.

April 14, 2014, 7:06 PM EDT

24 People Who Applied for the World's Toughest Job Were In for Quite a Surprise A brand's great gotcha videos

Here's a pretty cool project from Mullen for a client we won't immediately reveal, lest we spoil the surprise. (Scroll down to the bottom of credits, or watch the video to find out.)

The Boston agency posted this job listing online for a "director of operations" position at a company called Rehtom Inc. The requirements sounded nothing short of brutal:

• Standing up almost all the time
• Constantly exerting yourself
• Working from 135 to unlimited hours per week
• Degrees in medicine, finance and culinary arts necessary
• No vacations
• The work load goes up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and other holidays
• No time to sleep
• Salary = $0

The job ad got 2.7 million impressions from paid ad placements. Only 24 people inquired. They interviewed via webcam, and their real-time reactions were captured on video.

Check out what happened below. It's worth watching to the end.

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April 14, 2014, 1:37 PM EDT

Who Will Save This Famous Billboard in Baltimore With Mr. Boh and the Utz Girl? Jeweler's ad getting kicked to the curb

After seven years overlooking Baltimore's Penn Station, the Smyth Jewelers billboard showing National Bohemian beer mascot Mr. Boh proposing to the Utz girl has to move.

Turns out the dorks who own the billboard itself want to switch it over to a digital video display in May, so Smyth is trying to find a new home for its now-classic ad, which was put together by Owings Mills, Md., agency MGH.

"Natty Boh and the Little Utz girl are Baltimore's version of the royal couple," Smyth president Tom Smyth tells the Baltimore Sun, "which is why it's imperative that their next home pay homage to the sense of pride they instill in our city."

I don't know that I'd go that far. Clearly John Waters and Divine are as close as we here in Baltimore are ever getting to royalty, but he's right that the city has a fondness for that image that won't extend to a video board. That kind of gaudy, touristy crap should be restricted to the Inner Harbor.

Luckily, the smaller version of the Boh-Utz ad in North Baltimore doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

April 14, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

Extreme Oatmeal? Not Real, but the Gamers at Pax East Didn't Know That Cards Against Humanity's latest trick

Pwnmeal Extreme Gaming Oatmeal goes way beyond steel cut. This hot, lumpy cereal is EXTREME!!!

Alas, the caffeinated glop won't be coming to breakfast aisles anytime soon. The "official porridge of e-sports," launched at last weekend's Pax East conference in Boston, is a satire of gamer marketing and culture cooked up by Digital Kitchen and the jokers at Cards Against Humanity, the party game for horrible people.

"The concept may sound ridiculous, but it's not far off from the realities at these conventions," the agency says. "Gamers are hit with marketing for everything from caffeinated gum to beef jerky."

From the faux brand's website: "It's a PWN or BE PWN'd world out there. Only a n00b would skip breakfast, the most important meal of the day. When you visit cyberspace to play your favorite shoot 'em ups or massively multiplayer online video games, ensure decisive victory."

Flavors include Strawberries and Carnage ("Prepped to fuel your next kill streak with a massive payload of phytonutrients") and No Scope Headshot Blueberry ("Line it up and pull the trigger with a sweet, warm BFG—the B is for blueberry").

The video shows buff guys and gals "dramatically" tearing open product packets, tossing around flakes and rubbing oatmeal on their ripped bodies. They roar, and goopy goodness gushes from their mealy mouths. I prefer to start my grueling day like a real hard-core gamer—by dragging my saggy ass out of bed, pounding a few Hershey's Kisses and cursing my wasted life.

April 14, 2014, 11:58 AM 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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