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Lovely Ad for Pinterest Shows How It Can Inspire Collaborative Brilliance (or at Least Dinner) Messaging opens up new possibilities

Pinterest touts its newly unveiled messaging feature in this handsomely shot two-and-a-half minute video from production house Strike Anywhere.

The clip is Apple-esque, as are so many personal-tech ads these days, celebrating Pinterest's heightened functionality as a means of enhancing everyday life. Using the new messaging system, people engage in pithy yet productive text conversations about pins showing canoes, casseroles and spaceships. This demonstrates Pinterest's ability to help folks collaboratively plan outings, dinners and work projects. (Of course, it could also create fresh opportunities for advertisers.)

The music track, Kishi Bashi's "Philosophize in It! Chemicalize With It!" is a fine choice. It's uplifting and accessible, but doesn't overpower the spot. It works here, and would work equally well in any number of recent ads for Apple, Samsung or Microsoft. In fact, this spot, while true to Pinterest's vibe, is a good sign of how tech services and their ads are increasingly blurring together.

But for Pinterest, building on earlier long-form ads, it represents a noticeable step toward being a major marketer in the social tech arena. Take a look below and see what you think.

August 19, 2014, 3:39 PM EDT

Creator of That Godawful Viral Shopping Mall Ad Isn't Surprised You Love It So Chris Fleck's plan works like a charm

A laughably bad commercial for the East Hills Mall in St. Jospeh, Mo.—which we wrote about yesterday—has gained a rather large following this week. A piece of ironic Internet treasure, it's already well on its way to a million YouTube views. 

Given the amount of Internet hoaxes, though, and the ad's perfectly executed terrible-on-purpose quality, we wondered if it was real—and who was responsible for such a jewel.

Well, according to the report below by a local Fox affiliate, the spot is indeed authentic. In fact, it's the work of local producer Chris Fleck. In the interview, he tells Fox he isn't really surprised at the enormous popularity of his masterpiece.

"The whole time we pitched this idea, we said, 'Maybe it would go viral.' Boy, it did," he says with a laugh.

This isn't Fleck's first time at the rodeo, either. He's amassed a few thousand clicks on some other spots, including one with a rapping Mitsubishi dealer and another for a liquor store featuring a jockey riding a cooler.

His advertising philosophy is simple: "If you can entertain, and then slide the message in, you’ve accomplished your goal. I just love that it's getting this much response. That's what commercials do, you get response."

Check out the mall ad, and a few of Fleck's previous works, here:

August 19, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

Meet the Hero Designer Who Publicly Shamed Showtime for Asking Him to Work for Free How Dan Cassaro's tweet became a rallying cry

When Showtime invited Dan Cassaro to join a design "contest" he felt amounted to milking professionals for free work, he let the network—and the world—know how he felt about it.

The offer, made to a number of designers, involved promoting the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana boxing match on Sept. 13. Those who submitted designs for Showtime's use "could be eligible for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas and have your artwork displayed in the MGM Grand during fight week!," the network told Cassaro in an email.

After sending an email response slathered in sarcasm ("I know that boxing matches in Las Vegas are extremely low-budget affairs"), Cassaro then posted the exchange to Twitter.

Here's the screenshot of the conversation (click to expand):

In the week since, Cassaro's tweet has become a viral rallying cry for creatives who feel besieged by expectations of free work. It has more than 5,000 retweets and 5,600 favorites, and has become one of the topic's most electrifying moments since Mike Monteiro's "Fuck You Pay Me" speech in 2011. 

Showtime issued a response to BuzzFeed, saying the network is "a strong supporter of artists around the world. This contest, like many others, is entirely optional."

We caught up with Cassaro to ask what it's been like seeing his frustration go global.

Click to Read More →

August 19, 2014, 12:39 PM EDT

Newcastle Asks for Fan Photos, Which It Promises to Photoshop Poorly Into Terrible Ads Brewer proudly does its own 'lazy branded content'

On Monday, we posted Miller Lite's new national TV spot, featuring a handful of fan photos selected from some 180,000 gathered through the immensely successful #ItsMillerTime hashtag campaign.

Now, with impeccable timing, Newcastle is here to call bollocks on the whole idea.

The British brewer, known for its anti-marketing marketing, just launched its own hashtag campaign, #NewcastleAdAid, in which it's also asking for fan snapshots—and promises to use the wonders of Photoshop to turn them into really shoddy-looking ads.

Why the sudden embrace of low-cost user-generated content? Because it blew its marketing budget on celebs for the Super Bowl and the Fourth of July.

"Newcastle recognized it needed more 'engaging social content' to keep all of its new followers interested, but this lazy branded content wasn't going to make itself," the brand tells AdFreak. "Newcastle definitely is not the first brand to ask fans to post photos on social media to 'build a stronger community' and whatnot, but Newcastle definitely is the best at turning those photos into into obvious, exaggerated, poorly executed ads."

Here's the pitch video from Droga5, running on Twitter and Facebook:

August 19, 2014, 10:54 AM EDT

Are Highway Billboards Becoming the New Home of High Art? Advocacy groups turn interstates into galleries

Advertisers may dominate the lion's share of America's billboards, but roadside signs seem to be an increasingly popular medium for artists as well.

A number of billboard installations have been popping up around the country, reports The New York Times. In Missouri, there's the "I-70 Sign Show," which seeks to spark political debate with images like a Mickalene Thomas piece on female sexuality.

In Cincinnati, the "Big Pictures" show aims to break up the daily routines of passersby with images like a toucan surrounded by Post-it notes, created by artist Sarah Cwynar. And along cross-country Interstate 10, "The Manifest Destiny Billboard Trip" has since last fall sought to call attention to issues concerning the history of westward expansion, with some 100 signs featuring the work of 10 artists.

Each example offers a bit more art theory and cultural critique than your average billboard. They're also more modest in scope than the massive "Art Everywhere" initiative launched this summer, which has seen an advertising trade organization team up with a group of major museums to bring more than 50 crowd-curated paintings, including classics like Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, to more than 50,000 outdoor ad spaces.

While the smaller works might not be as inventive as turning billboards into houses for the homeless, they are a nice change of pace from, say, Ashley Madison.

August 19, 2014, 10:06 AM EDT

Miller Lite Got 180,000 Summer Photos From Fans, and Picked 7 for This National TV Ad Foray into UGC

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola rolled out its first TV spot made completely with user-generated content. Now, it's Miller Lite's turn to shine the spotlight on its fans.

In May, the beer brand launched an #ItsMillerTime campaign, in which it used packaging, promoted tweets and its social channels to ask people for their best summer photos—with cameos by the retro-cool Miller Lite cans, of course.

The brand says nearly 180,000 photos were submitted. (It further claims that #ItsMillerTime has been the No. 2 branded hashtag on Twitter since May 7, trailing only Adidas's #allin).

The brand liked seven of the fan photos in particular and featured them prominently in the new national TV spot below, which breaks early this week. (A few dozen shots more are compiled in a collage at the end of the ad, but only the seven get full-screen treatment.)

They're all fun snapshots—not particularly compelling, but "relatable," as they say. And as for the wedding couple—more power to you.

August 18, 2014, 3:18 PM EDT

Did a Missouri Shopping Mall Just Make the Worst Local Commercial Ever? Well, you'll know where to get your backpack

Advertising is easy. You can sell anything you want nowadays if you just pick up a camera, press record and then upload the results to the Internet. Music? No problem! Just get your friend to beatbox over the video. So simple.

What is not easy is getting people to go to malls. East Hills Mall in St. Joseph, Mo., needed some summer traffic in its glorious shopping paradise, so it made its own spot. 

The commercial really has everything you need: actors, props, a soundtrack! I can't think of anything else that would make it better. Take a look below.

Sure, some might call it the worst local commercial ever made. I call it perfect.

August 18, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT

Why Tim Hortons Totally Blacked Out This Location in a Small Quebec Town Customers were in for a fright

Who turned out the lights?

Tim Hortons and JWT Toronto plunged customers at one of the coffee and donut chain's Quebec locations into inky darkness for a prank introducing a new dark roast coffee blend.

When unwitting patrons arrived, they found the L'Île-Perrot store completely covered in black-out material, even the windows. Dark vehicles were parked out front to heighten the mystery. Those who ventured inside bumped into a dude wearing night-vision goggles, who led them to a counter where dark roast was served and the gag revealed.

Goggles Guy looks pretty creepy, and unlike the hammy, self-aware fright reactions we've seen in some "scary" ad pranks, the squeals of shock and surprise at Tim Hortons seem genuine. This is the client's second large-scale, Twilight Zone-ish effort of late. In May, it meticulously recreated its first shop from 1964, interior and exterior, in minute detail (see below)—even bringing back the original employees as servers.

Both the time machine and darkness stunts have generated lots of attention (the latter is approaching 700,000 YouTube views in four days). Still, such shenanigans seem like an awful lot to digest before you've had your morning joe.

August 18, 2014, 1:49 PM EDT

Thai Life Insurance, Master of the Tearjerker Ad, Sets Its Latest Love Story to Music Salute to the healing power of song

Life in Thailand is pretty meaningful, judging by the heartrending commercials the country produces. Companies like TrueMove and Thai Life Insurance have been rolling out masterful long-form spots about the deeper meaning of existence for several years. And now, the latter returns with a lovely little story about the power of music.

The spot is about a boy who's bullied, at first, for his clumsy attempts at playing guitar. As usual with these things, it's best not to reveal too much about the plot beforehand. So, watch below—and shield your watery eyes from co-workers. Agency: Ogilvy & Mather.

August 18, 2014, 10:28 AM EDT

Inventor of the Pop-Up Ad Apologizes for Helping to Ruin the Internet Ethan Zuckerman calls for revenue reform

Image: Shutterstock

If you were looking for someone to blame every time a pop-up ad mars your Web-browsing experience, here's a guy who'd like to nominate himself—and offer his apologies.

Ethan Zuckerman, Internet pioneer and director of MIT's Center for Civic Media, takes to the pages of The Atlantic in a lengthy essay titled The Internet's Original Sin. In it, he delves into the myriad issues around something we all might generally take for granted: a free, ad-supported Web. He also owns up to having invented that odious pop-up format, which assaults your eyeballs when you least want it (i.e., anytime), while he was working at the early Web-hosting service in the 1990s. (Though, in a moment agency people might find empathetic, he also sort of pawns off the blame on an auto client, who didn't want its ad appearing on the same page as explicit content.)

It's worth reading the whole article if you're up for reflecting on the current, sorry state of Web affairs. Zuckerman includes a lot of smart perspective on topics like meager digital revenues, the stupefying allure of click bait and blasé consumer attitudes about behavioral tracking, along with how all that ties in with broader financial systems—and why it came to be so in the first place. He also notes that the ad-supported Web was borne of good intentions, though as Fast Company points out, that's a tricky line to walk, given that it was, on some level, always at least in part about making money.

Toward the end of his treatise, Zuckerman even begins delving into other possible revenue models, like subscriptions, micro-payments and crowdfunding—acknowledging the difficulty of finding solutions and allowing that regardless "there are bound to be unintended consequences."

And at risk of being fatalistic, it's hard to imagine alternatives gaining traction when the vast majority of consumers expect free content and don't seem to mind becoming the product to get it. But you also have to credit Zuckerman for falling on his sword to help draw attention to the debate.

We're still not sure we forgive him for pop-up ads, though.

August 18, 2014, 9:03 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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