Top Five Big Game Ads, Live from London

February 03, 2015

The big game kicked off at 11:30 pm here in London, and we didn't see the double-cliffhanger ending until almost 3:30 am Monday morning. Even so I wouldn't have missed it, instant classic.

However, in contrast to the prime-time eyeball magnet that is the US broadcast, here it's a late-night showing of a game no one much cares much about, so naturally the quality of the ads they showed was a bit different. Nevertheless, there were some standouts.

Here are my Top 5 ads from the UK broadcast:

1. Prof. Alistair Collingsworth-Whitehead's School of Fisticuffsmanship for Lads
"I Dare Say Sir, How Rude!"
Well art-directed Victorian setting, great dialogue. I guess everyone eats mutton? Weird.

2. Mr. & Mrs. Squidgy Oven and Countertop Cleaning-Up Liquid
"Might we disinfect your kitchen if it's no trouble?"
Who would have thought a kitchen cleanser would inspire such an extravagant musical number? My kids will be doing this dance for the rest of the year, thanks Mr. & Mrs. Squidgy, sheesh! :(

3. Miss Rose Marblehead-Winterbottom's Hand-Crafted Lavender Shoe Trees (:90 anthem)
"Shore is summin innit, wooncha say missus, I'm well chuffed"
I could barely understand a word through the thick accents and heavy rain, but the claymation chicken & leek pies made it fun.

4. City of Westminster Ministry of Unfortunately Unavoidable Billings
"No One Likes A Rate Increase But We Are Terribly Sorry To Announce Tariffs Will Increase From March 1"
CGI world made entirely of clotted cream, so inspiring. I will forever see Victoria sponge cake as a villain now.

5. Lady Agnes' Undergarments For Polite Ladies Who Place Decorum Above All Else
"Help! I've had a poo"
A difficult topic well handled, I say. Not sure it was necessary to have the diaper voiced by an Italian man, but I am new to the UK so what do I know?

Posted By: Brian Williams

Full Frontal Nudity: What Brands Can Learn from Lena Dunham

January 26, 2015

Full Frontal Nudity: What Brands Can Learn from Lena Dunham
Three Ways Brands Can Find and Use their True Voice

By Anne Marie Hite

I recently read an article in which HBO's "Girls" creator Lena Dunham talked about what it was like growing up in New York's most exclusive schools. "I didn't feel chic. I didn't feel special…I was bad at sports. I wasn't the girl that boys liked. But (writing about it) made me feel like I had something."

Something indeed. By baring her soul, and a few other things too, Ms. Dunham found her true voice, which she was then able to amplify across a wide range of mediums -- from a TV show to a book -- and connect deeply with millions of young women. And quite a few of us slightly older women, too.

It occurred to me that brands can learn a lot from Ms. Dunham. And don't worry; it doesn't involve taking off your clothes in front of a national audience. Well, perhaps in the metaphorical sense.

1. Be honest about who you are not.

We don't like people who go around talking about how great they are. And yet, brands do this all the time. I'm not saying you need to dis your brand. Just spend a bit more time exploring its struggles and flaws. Chances are, you can turn them into something positive and in the process, lead your brand into much more interesting, authentic territory.

This reminds me of an old Dudley Moore movie about advertising, where he presented an ad for Volvo that said, "They're boxy but they're good." He was immediately committed to a mental hospital but I actually think he was onto something.

Dove was a pioneer in this honest approach by admitting their products won't make you look like the women in magazines. Their brilliant spin was that no product can do this because even the women in magazines don't really look like that.
Another great example is Toyota's "Swagger Wagon." By openly stating what they knew we were all thinking -- that minivans are the ultimate sign that you're no longer cool -- Toyota's Sienna made driving its minivan actually seem kind of cool.

More recently, Newcastle Ale's series of online "Super Bowl" ads -- which they openly admitted they couldn't actually afford to run on the Super Bowl -- became the most talked-about ads of the Super Bowl.

2. Use "who you are not" to find your authentic voice.

Brands have come a long way in trying to define themselves, but there is still work to be done. Some of today's more common positioning statements include the tech-savvy "innovative," the health-conscious "pure," and the No. 1 choice of female brands everywhere -- "empowering!"

There's nothing wrong with these statements, but there's nothing ownable or differentiating about them either. However, combine them with a perceived flaw or even an attribute that's authentic to the brand, and suddenly things get interesting.

One of my favorite commercials is Nike's "Find your Greatness," which ran during the Super Bowl a few years back. In it, we see a chubby kid panting his way down the road --albeit quite determinedly -- while a voiceover talks about all the things greatness is "not." For the millions of us sitting on our sofas drinking beer and eating cheese dip, this was much more relatable and even more motivating than seeing a star athlete sprinting down the street, talking about all the things greatness "is."

3. Use your authentic voice to build a community of like-minded souls.

I imagine Lena Dunham gets invited to a lot of dinner parties. And it isn't because she was the most popular girl in school. It's because she wasn't. I also imagine that at these dinner parties, there are quite a few people sneaking into the dining room switching their place cards for a chance to sit next to her. Our brands should be so lucky. Again, it comes down to having something to say that people connect with, which is especially important when trying to build a presence on social media.

As the mother of a 12-year-old boy who leaves for school every morning smelling like Old Spice Swagger, I can say with authority that moms don't care too much for Old Spice. Rather than ignoring this fact, Old Spice took it head-on with "Mom Song" and instantly connected with the millions of moms out there lamenting their boys becoming men -- this from the brand that's basically aiding in this abomination. I still don't like that my son is wearing Old Spice, but I love that Old Spice gets that. And judging by the responses from moms in the comments section of YouTube, I'm not alone.

The secret to success

I think back to that episode of "Girls" last season where Lena Dunham spent the entire episode walking around the Hamptons in a green string bikini. She wasn't flaunting her perfect body. She was flaunting a body that 99% of women can relate to. And it was glorious.

Yes, it takes bravery. And no, it's not always comfortable. But a little bit of vulnerability never hurt anyone. In fact, it could be the secret to your brand's success.

Link to story.

Posted By: Anne Marie Hite

New Stoli Work Featured on Campaign US

January 09, 2015

Campaign US features the latest work for Stoli.

Link to full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Helsinki Holiday

December 12, 2014

First of all, if you're ever in a karaoke bar in Helsinki at 2 am in the depths of December, Duran Duran's "Rio" is a huge crowd-pleaser. Second, if you're slated to sing gentle Oreo songs in front of 250 people at 2 pm the next day, belting out 80's tracks at the top of your lungs the night before is hugely stupid. Fortunately for me, a good portion of the audience at my Eurobest session seemed to have been in that karaoke bar with me, so when my voice cracked like a boy in the throes of puberty, it was met with sympathy. Maybe even approval. If there's one thing the Finns admire, it's the ability to drink whatever's put in front of you.

But if there's another thing they admire, it's creativity. Finland—and really, the whole Nordic / Scandinavian region that includes Norway, Sweden, and Denmark too—is, at the moment, probably the most design-savvy, teched-up, dialed-in place in the universe, which made Helsinki an ideal place for a conference dedicated to showcasing the coolest work coming out of Europe. Held in the Aalto-designed Finlandia Hall, Eurobest was four solid days of meeting people with names that had no vowels (i.e., "Pyry") and seeing work that I wish I'd done. Simple, elegant, brilliantly executed stuff that reminded me of why we do what we do.

There was the "direct mail" campaign for Audi that sent mysterious cubes to prospects. Push a button, and a timer starts counting down from 90 minutes. When it hits zero, an Audi A8 arrives in your driveway and it's yours for 24 hours (18% of prospects bought the $100,000+ car).

There was the Google stadium wrap for Manchester United that used webcams to broadcast the cheers of fans in distant lands directly to players on the pitch.

There was the branded content series out of Spain in which a fictional ad agency makes ads for real brands, who essentially bankroll the production—ads that are far more creative and edgy than the brands would normally be able to do.

And then, there were a couple old-school TV spots that were simply stunning. A spot called "The Leap" for Lacoste, out of Paris, brilliantly dramatized the inner struggle of a guy as he decides to tell a woman he loves her; it was simultaneously ultra-stylish and emotionally moving. Yep, a heartwarming fashion ad. That can happen.

Of course, since I was showing work, Eurobest was also a chance for me and Dean to see how the rest of the world reacts to the work we make here at Martin. I wish everyone could have seen the smiles on people's faces when they saw the Oreo work animated down at Hue & Cry, or the new Walmart holiday spot that Deb Hagan CD'd (although, Finland being the birthplace of the Santa Claus legend, a good Christmas spot was bound to go over big). It's always been a strength of Martin to make work that speaks to a broad audience, but you realize just how broad that audience really is when you're making Estonians giggle.

Sadly, I didn't make it to an authentic Finnish sauna. I didn't eat reindeer meat, although we saw it on a menu or two. And while I did catch a glimpse of Santa—he was hanging out near a big H&M store—I can't say with certainly that he wasn't an imposter.

But I can say that inspiring, surprising, brave, innovative and delightful ideas are alive and well in the frozen north. And thankfully, back here at home too.

Posted By: David Muhlenfeld

Martin Wins Tic Tac Business

December 12, 2014

The Martin Agency announced it has been chosen by Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. as the new agency of record for the Tic Tac brand.

Link to Full Story.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin Wins Sabra Account

December 04, 2014

The Martin Agency is now lead creative agency for the Sabra Dipping Co.

In selecting Martin, Sabra director of marketing Eric Greifenberger cited the shop's "keen understanding of our consumer, the fresh dips category, and Sabra's brand potential," adding that it provides a "depth and breadth of talent uniquely suited for supporting our needs going forward." Martin CEO Matt Williams, in turn, described Sabra as an "amazing brand."

Link to full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency