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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 Tripod.com 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

Apple Beats Bud, Nike and GE to Win the 2014 Emmy for Best Commercial 'Misunderstood' takes coveted prize

Apple has had its ups and downs in advertising lately. But one recent unqualified creative success—last year's much-loved "Misunderstood" holiday spot—waltzed off with the 2014 Emmy Award for best commercial at the Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday.

The spot, created by TBWA\Media Arts Lab and directed by Lance Acord of Park Pictures, shows a teen at Christmas who seems anti-socially glued to his iPhone, though it turns out it's for heartwarming reasons. It beat out four other nominees for the prize. Two of them were Super Bowl ads by Anomaly for Budweiser—"Hero's Welcome" and "Puppy Love." The other two were BBDO's "Childlike Imagination" for GE and Wieden + Kennedy's "Possibilities" for Nike.

See all five spots below.

The results are a reversal from the Cannes Lions festival where "Possibilities" won gold in Film while "Misunderstood" took silver. The Emmys, though, are known for rewarding big crowd pleasers. The GE spot was shortlisted in Film Craft at Cannes but didn't win. Neither Bud ad was shortlisted in any category.

Last year's Emmy winner was Grey's "Inspired" spot for Canon. Before that, W+K won four Emmys in a row—for Procter & Gamble's "Best Job" (2012), Chrysler's "Born of Fire" (2011), Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" (2010) and Coca-Cola's "Heist" (2009).

 
2014 Emmy Awards - Outstanding Commercial

Winner: Apple, "Misunderstood"
Ad Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab
Production Company: Park Pictures

Click to Read More →

August 17, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT

This Little-Known Robin Williams Ad Will Break Your Heart All Over Again A fitting reminder of the joy he brought

Earlier this week, we recapped some of the best moments from Robin Williams' contributions to advertising, but a reader pointed out that we omitted one of his last—and most touching—commercials.

In the 2012 spot below for Sky Italia satellite TV, Williams plays a life-size robot that a boy finds waiting for him under the Christmas tree. The two are soon inseparable, playing games throughout the house and sharing a few magical moments. 

As news of Williams' death spread this week, the Internet was flooded with stories from fans who grew up in broken or even abusive homes. Williams' comedies showed them that there really were great fathers out there, and the films offered them a chance to escape to a world created around a man who was as creative and fun as he was loving and genuine.

The family in this ad seems just fine, but it's still a wonderful encapsulation of the personal joy Williams brought to children around the world.

August 15, 2014, 6:06 PM EDT

Kevin Hart Will Destroy Your Car and Haunt Your Dreams Until You Play Him at Madden Or maybe he just hates Dave Franco

It's Madden season, which apparently is a good time not to be friends with Kevin Hart. 

In EA's new three-and-a-half-minute promo for Madden NFL 15, we witness the extreme lengths to which Hart is willing to go in his quest to defeat Dave "the Lesser" Franco at video game sports.

As baffling as it is bafflingly long, the ad from agency Heat, San Francisco, rolls out quite a few celebrity cameos, including (for some reason) NBA star Damian Lillard and (because why not?) Harley Morenstein from Epic Meal Time.

If you like watching zany, over-the-top celebrity antics—or just like seeing James Franco's brother get slapped—this might be the ad for you. If not, well, you probably stopped reading when you saw the phrase "three-and-a-half-minute promo."

Credits after the jump.

Click to Read More →

August 15, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT

The Bacardi Story Is Now a Graphic Novel, Created by Two of the Industry's Top Talents They even used rum in the ink

What goes great with rum, besides Coke? A graphic novel, maybe?

Bacardi tapped famed comic writer Warren Ellis and artist Mike Allred to create a graphic novel celebrating the history of the Bacardi family and the brand's Cuban roots. It's a continuation of its "Bacardi: Untameable Since 1862" campaign, and a quirky video about the project shows some of the thinking behind this new installment. (The best bit is that rum was even added to Allred's ink for the graphic novel.) 

The Ellis-Allred collaboration is sure to generate some interest among graphic novel fans, but how about rum drinkers (not that those two are mutually exclusive)? At the very least, it's an interesting twist on telling your company's story without relying on the traditional cinematic, intricately costumed 60-second ad.

You can download the graphic novel at the Spirit of Bacardi website.

August 15, 2014, 9:41 AM EDT

U.K. Food Truck Goes Full Phallic With Its Logo That is, indeed, one Dirty Bird

If U.K. food truck Dirty Bird was hoping for shock value, mission accomplished. The eatery's logo is a rooster, and it's shaped like a penis.

"It's based on lowercase 'db' linked to form the rooster," tweets logo creator Mark James.

"Yeah, right," says the rest of the world. (And also, they have a print piece that says "Eat cock!" in a tasteful serif font.) Some complaints have rolled in from patrons with young children. "It is not the sort of thing that should be on display around children," complained one mother.

But for the most part, it's become so well received that you can buy a Dirty Bird T-shirt for 18 pounds if, you know, if you were looking for something to wear the next time you visit your mom.
 

August 14, 2014, 3:39 PM EDT

Reebok Offers 1-Year CrossFit Sponsorship to Whoever Gets the Biggest Reebok Tattoo 1-day contest in Sweden has $5,800 prize

Reebok is offering fitness junkies a chance to earn a yearlong sponsorship deal worth about $5,800, with a major catch: the prize will only go to the fanatic who gets the largest tattoo of the brand's logo in a one-day pop-up studio.

With an assist from Stockholm-based tattoo parlor Salong Betong, the brand will set up shop at Sweden's Tough Viking obstacle race event on Aug. 30. Whoever ends up volunteering for the biggest tattoo of the Reebok logo will walk away with a package worth 40,0000 Swedish krona (almost $6,000) that can be redeemed at an online or brick-and-mortar Reebok store. 

Runners-up—defined in this case as anyone bold enough to get a logo etched onto his or her body—will get a consolation prize of a Reebok fitness kit worth 5,000 Swedish krona, or about $725.

It's not the global sportswear company's first time building a live event activation around giving consumers free ink. At South by Southwest in 2013, Reebok footed the bill for 45 people to get tattoos of their choosing, if they would agree to appear in the brand's marketing. And while Reebok is definitely more stable than, say, an Internet startup or a local realtor, it's also safe to say that sometimes branded tattoos don't really work out that well.

In fairness to Reebok, the new campaign, created with The Viral Company, is aimed in part at notoriously hardcore CrossFit practitioners, which the brand has put at the center of its marketing strategy in recent years. Reebok's crown-jewel CrossFit business served as the springboard for the new logo it launched this past spring, symbolic of its shift from focusing on pro athletes to intense amateurs.

The tagline sums up the philosophy pretty well: "Pain is temporary. Reebok is forever." Maybe so. Then again, looking in the mirror 30 years down the line and seeing a giant logo—or paying an arm and a leg to get it removed—might sting a bit.

August 14, 2014, 9:33 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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