Here's Harvey Nichols' Follow-up to One of the World's Most-Awarded Ad Campaigns Has the retailer finally found the Christmas spirit?

Luxury retailer Harvey Nichols practically swept the 2014 Cannes Lions with its last holiday campaign, which won a staggering four Grand Prix. Now the brand has returned with its highly anticipated follow-up.

Last year's effort, "Sorry, I Spent It on Myself," celebrated Christmas as a time to focus on the most important person in your life—yourself—while giving your loved ones some absolute rubbish gifts like gravel or office supplies. The campaign definitely had its critics, including the audience at the Cannes awards show, where it was the only ad booed by attendees.

So in the year since, has the retailer, like Ebenezer Scrooge before it, learned the true lessons of Christmas?

The new spot "Could I Be Any Clearer?", again from agency adam&eveDDB, features a doting niece signing a Christmas card for her dear Auntie Val, a woman who obviously loves her but unfortunately misses the mark when it comes to gift giving. (The camera pans to a puppy throw pillow, an iron and a djembe.)

She delivers the card to Auntie Val, who is thrilled by the visit and the gesture. But, of course, there's more to it than that.

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December 2, 2014, 9:41 AM EST

Skeletor Is Waging a Twitter Takeover of @Honda. Here Are the Best Moments So Far Master of the Twitterverse

One of the universe's greatest villians has conquered the Twitter feed of one the world's most recognized automotive brands.

Yes, it appears that Skeletor, the nemesis of He-Man (both of '80s Saturday morning cartoon fame), has manned the controls of Honda's Twitter account, coinciding with the brand's newest campaign featuring famous toys promoting the Happy Honda Days sales event. 

The exchanges are actually pretty hilarious and range from trolling He-Man to sharing his #ManCrushMonday. Take a look:

Here's where it all went down:

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December 1, 2014, 3:35 PM EST

'Hurry Down the Chimney' Gets a Whole New Meaning With Kmart's Pregnant Dance Squad Moms-to-be show their moves in latest Joe Boxer ad

Last holiday season, Kmart clearly had a ball (or two) with its advertising. This year, it's all about bellies.

In a nice upgrade from the retailer's spot featuring guys playing their beer guts like kettle drums, we now have a dance squad made up of belly-proud moms-to-be. It's the latest in agency FCB's #ShowYourJoe campaign for Joe Boxer, and this time we find five ladies rockin' some comfy pajamas and shakin' it for two to the tune of holiday classic "Santa Baby." 

Directed by Wondros’ Christian Weber, it's a surprisingly perfect juxtaposition of female empowerment and one of Christmas' sexier songs. The track is faster than the famously slinky Eartha Kitt version, which keeps the spot from going to truly weird places.

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December 1, 2014, 1:39 PM EST

A Bank Hired an Actor to Tell You He's an Actor Hired by a Bank. And It's Awesome Nordnet takes transparency very seriously

Commercials about financial institutions are notoriously snooze-worthy, but Nordnet has changed it up with a fun new campaign rich in meta-humor.

The Scandinavian financial institution, operating in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, released a series of short videos poking fun at typical characteristics of banking ads.

(UPDATE: The agency behind the campaign is a small shop called Fortune from Stockholm, Sweden. See credits below.)

The spot getting the most traction on YouTube features lines like, "I'm an actor, and I've been paid $8,000 to tell you how great Nordnet is compared to other banks," and, "I now walk in this modern office, where I have a cup of coffee with another actor whom I've never met before."

The videos have been getting great feedback on YouTube, which is surprising simply because it's YouTube.

I especially like the spot that seems to reference Cadillac's much-debated "Poolside" spot. In Nordnet's musings on the importance of hard work, the narrator closes with, "I just get paid to tell you that Nordnet is the greatest place to save and invest in the world," and we hear the director off screen yelling, "No, you can't say that! You have to say ONE ... OF ... THE ... BEST." 

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December 1, 2014, 1:16 PM EST

This Japanese Cellphone Company's Shrimp Gun Will Make Your Day Ready, aim, fry

Mom has a funny way of making tempura.

We came here from the Internet as fast as we could to tell you of a brand-new development in seafood technology: the fried shrimp gun. With flour, egg yolk, tempura flakes and a soupçon of billowing fire, you can blast your shellfish craving into oblivion, apparently. 

The minute-long video appears to be an ad for Japanese cellphone company NTT DoCoMo, the biggest cell provider in the country. It has a few other shorts on its YouTube channel that are difficult for non-Japanese speakers to appreciate, but hooray for the shrimp gun.

This is a mother-daughter team of shrimp-projectile experts, I guess? What's great about it is that the mom stops the daughter mid-fry to tell her there's obviously a better way to make shrimp tempura. And so begins the daughter's nightmare journey into invertebrate firearm cookery, complete with an excellent shot of the younger woman flinching as her mother calmly launches the shrimp toward a target across the room.

Shrimp guns may be specific, but the experience is universal.

December 1, 2014, 12:35 PM EST

The Meaning of 35 Brand Names, From Etsy to Reddit What's really in a name, anyway?

Inspirations for company names can be as varied as the founders themselves. The infographic below, by 7Brands, collects the stories behind 35 of them—including Cadillac, Reebox, Lego, Pez, Toyota and many more.

Ad agencies, of course, are notorious for going the law-firm route and being named for the partners. But there are many exceptions, of course. For a refresher, have a look back at our fun feature on the 40 strangest agency names.

Click the infographic to enlarge.

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December 1, 2014, 7:00 AM EST

The New Star Wars Trailer Has Arrived, and the Year-Long Wait Has Begun Episode VII: The Force Awakens brightens your Black Friday

What will the next Star Wars film look like, feel like and sound like? We've had no idea ... until now.

The trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has finally arrived, and it's packed with enough old-school vehicles and sound effects to show that director J.J. Abrams isn't going to try reinventing the whole look of the saga.

So take a brief break from shopping, napping and leftover sandwich making to gather the family and watch this titillating teaser:

November 28, 2014, 10:40 AM EST

Emmitt Smith Printed and Signed 400 Fan Tweets, Including a Marriage Proposal Part of Xfinity's pledge to make live sports 'more live'

Most tweets have a shelf life shorter than a fourth down on the goal line, but a few hundred Emmitt Smith fans will be keeping their tweets around for a good long time.

To help promote Comcast Xfinity's live sports coverage by "re-imagining the sports autograph experience," Goodby, Silverstein & Partners arranged a Twitter event Monday night, when the legendary running back signed printed banners made from real tweets.

The #SignMyTweet hashtag was used more than 3,100 times, according to Goodby reps, and about 400 were signed. The printouts will be mailed to the fans. 

The highlight was definitely Smith's signing of a marriage proposal, which (thankfully for all involved) ended in a yes:

(Sure, we could skeptically note that her account is brand new and therefore the whole thing could be fake, but it's not unreasonable to think she would have created a Twitter account after Emmitt signed his name across a tweet about her.)

A few other highlights:

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November 26, 2014, 1:19 PM EST

The 'Camp Gyno' Girl Is Back in a Remarkable Trailer for Her Father's New Book Macy McGrail and her future selves

You remember "Camp Gyno," the 2013 viral video for tampon subscription service Hello Flo in which the first girl to get her period at summer camp becomes a tyrant, dispensing products and advice like she's dealing drugs.

The star of the ad, Macy McGrail, was a big part of its success. (It has almost 10 million YouTube views to date.) She had just the right mix of adorableness and menace, and made the character hilarious and memorable.

Well, now McGrail is back in another interesting ad—an almost three-minute, impressively cinematic trailer for a book called Surviving Middle School, which her father, Dave McGrail, has published as a kind of entertaining guide book for 4th to 7th grade girls.

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November 26, 2014, 11:28 AM EST

How the Music Company on Old Spice's 'Dadsong' Got the Ad's Twisted Genius Just Right Scoring the sequel to 'Momsong'

Old Spice this week unveiled "Dadsong," its second lunatic 60-second musical via Wieden + Kennedy—the sequel to the award-winning "Momsong" from a year ago. Clearly, the music on a commercial like this isn't just an important component—it's the main component, around which everything revolves.

AdFreak caught up with Sara Matarazzo, owner of music company Walker, which coordinated the scoring and recording of the music, to ask how it all came together.

AdFreak: What was the brief for "Dadsong"?
Sara Matarazzo: We worked on the "Momsong" campaign, so the idea for this one was to create the second single off the "album." The challenge was to create a track as good as the first while keeping the campaign consistent and cohesive.

Sara Matarazzo

How is "Dadsong" different from "Momsong," creatively?
The key difference with "Dadsong" is that we introduced a new perspective to the story. We needed to juxtapose the moms' feelings with the dads' through the music. The main melody of "Momsong" was written in an unusually low female vocal range, which contributed to our purposefully homely performances. However, "Dadsong" utilizes a more traditional female range in order to allow the full male register to shine through. The new arrangement of voices helped accentuate that back and forth and allowed us to build the song up to a bigger climactic moment with voices hitting notes all over the pitch spectrum.

Walk us through the creative process.
We worked with Bret McKenzie and Mickey Petralia from Flight of the Conchords on board to compose the music. We have worked with Bret and Mickey on several ads over the years, so this was a nice reunion. We actually wanted to work with him on the first Old Spice spot but he was busy writing music for Muppets Most Wanted [following his Oscar-winning work on 2011's The Muppets]. I told him, "We have the perfect campaign for you," and he was available. Of course, he nailed it.

The process started with Bret and I going back and forth with the creatives at the agency to refine the music, melody, chords and arc. When we got to a place where the team was happy, Old Spice gave us the green light and production on the spot began in Prague with director Andreas Nilsson. Once we had rough picture, our music producer Abbey Hickman worked on [voice] casting with the agency to match our actors. Walker engineer Graeme Gibson oversaw working with our casting and creating demos to show all the possibilities and different directions our vocals could be, which helped to choose our favorite takes and piece together the elements. After the singers and musicians were selected, we went to Vancouver to direct and final record with them.

Musically, the spot feels a bit like the end of a big musical, when the entire cast does the last song. Is that something that was mentioned?
Yes, that was a reference. Mainstream musical theater nowadays is largely based off the past century of popular music (except for Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown musicals). Take Spring Awakening or Mama Mia, for instance. Both infuse contemporary rock and pop styles with dramatic content to be more relevant to the modern musical watcher … and sell more tickets. Furthermore, the most passionate songs in a musical are the numbers that bookend the acts and those songs usually utilize the entire cast. "Dadsong" is like the end of one of these musical numbers because it's passionate, dramatic, musically modern and features a large ensemble.

Which particular musical styles or genres is the spot based on?
Classic rock ballads and operatic recitative.

How is working on a project like this different from other ads you do?
These spots are special because we are involved not just in post but from the beginning of the job and throughout the process. You collaborate on ideas that end up in the campaign. Music can be subjective and go through many mutations, but with this campaign, the song and the spot are one and the same.

November 26, 2014, 10:12 AM EST


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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 and David Griner.

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