Can Agencies In Blue States Relate To Shoppers In Trump’s America?

Do the coastal elites who work in Manhattan and L.A. ad agencies truly understand what motivates the people in the middle of the nation to buy hamburgers, life insurance policies, and pickup trucks? Clearly, the best of them do. Carl’s Jr., for instance, runs sexist ads made by award-winning creatives from 72andsunny in Southern California. […]

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No One Reads Long Copy

Folkoperan, an opera house in Stockholm, is currently presenting God Disguised (Förklädd gud), a lyrical suite composed in 1940 by Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson to lyrics by Hjalmar Gullberg. The production features EU citizens who helped promote the show by holding signs about their performance and offering free tickets to passers-by. This is what happened: […]

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Strong Brew Needed In the Time of Trump

We live in a nation divided. Today, no company is safe from a presidential reprimand or widespread outrage and backlash, including damaging boycotts (well deserved, or not). In my estimation, brands must stand for something now more than ever. What’s always been true about differentiating on product attributes is now also true about the community […]

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Budweiser Taps the Perfect Theme for This Time

What could be more American than an immigrant’s story of arriving in America? One immigrant, Adolphus Busch, found his way from Germany to St. Louis in 1857. This is his arrival story in 60 seconds. “When Budweiser told us they wanted to celebrate those who embody the American spirit, we realized the ultimate story lived […]

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Consciousness Comes To Carvertising

European luxury wagons are not just personal transporters to efficiently and safely get you to and from work—they’re $45,000 sleds that you can ride to freedom. Volvo’s agency, Forsman & Bodenfors, went deep into the archive for this Alan Watts speech: There is no use planning for a future which when you get to it […]

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84 Lumber Opens The Door To Opportunity

84 Lumber is a company with a heart. The Pennsylvania-based is also a company with their finger on the pulse. The story was initially rejected by Fox for being “too controversial for T.V.,” forcing the company to edit it and cut it down. Let’s see the piece in full frame now: Rob Schapiro, chief creative […]

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Urban Violence Epidemic Spreads Fear, Sadness and Rage

Wieden+Kennedy has something to say about the rampant violence in our society, and they’re saying it with a homepage takeover on I like it when a company takes a strong stand about things that matter in the world. Things beyond the bottom line. Therefore, I see this as a good thing. Thankfully, timid is […]

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Descendants of South African Slaves Honored In Museum’s Slave Calendar

What role did slavery play in the shaping of modern nations, and how is its legacy impacting contemporary thought and policy? These are important questions for Americans, but also for South Africans, and people from scores of nations who have committed crimes against humanity. They’re the kind of questions that might be answered in a […]

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New Brew from Soweto Pays Homage To The City’s Brave Freedom Fighters

The June 16, 1976 Uprising that began in Soweto and spread countrywide profoundly changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa. Forty years later, Soweto’s first craft brewery is paying tribute to the student rebels of ’76 with Soweto Gold ’76, a limited-edition lager that was matured in Jameson Irish Whiskey casks for 76 days, achieving […]

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Syrian Refugees Are Drowning

The Syrian Civil War and its aftermath is one of the great humanitarian disasters of our time. Since the beginning of the war, millions of Syrian people have fled their homeland. Their escape route has been as tragic as the war itself. More than 4000 Syrian refugees have died while trying to cross the Mediterranean. […]

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Much More Than Political Careers at Stake in Israel’s Election

The citizens of Israel are due to vote tomorrow. Will they vote for peacekeepers or hawks? Millions of people around the world are hoping it’s a vote* for peace. In the run up to the election, The Parents Circle Families Forum—an organization of Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost a family member to the […]

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Power To The Female People

Women like NFL football. A lot! Millions will be watching later today when the Seahawks and Patriots battle for the crown. The Washington Post claims that women are the league’s most important demographic. Women make up an estimated 45 percent of the NFL’s more than 150 million American fans and have become perhaps pro football’s […]

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Three Words Kids Should Never Hear: “Lockdown Drill Complete”

When I grew up, gun violence had yet to rear its ugly head in our schools. Frankly, I can not imagine how scared American kids are to go to school today, to say nothing of the fears of their parents. As the two-year anniversary of the Newtown tragedy on December 14th approaches, Moms Demand Action […]

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Powerful Anti-Violence Film Wants You to Unload Gun Companies From Your 401(k)

Unload Your 401(k), a powerful three-minute film from Grey New York, takes aim at a new target in the debate over guns in America: the pocketbooks of firearms companies.

The video supports, a site where consumers can find out if their retirement portfolios include gun manufacturers. A coalition of 20 organizations, led by Campaign to Unload and States United to Prevent Gun Violence, is behind the initiative.

The film doesn't waste time trying to persuade gun rights advocates. Instead it makes its appeal to those already passionately opposed to gun violence, and perhaps those on the fence, imploring them to take action. The case for divestment, a tactic that played a role in ending South African Apartheid and changing U.S. tobacco policy, is mainly made by the parents, relatives and teachers of young people killed and maimed at by gun violence.

"They're making money off the backs of dead people," says Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot at Virginia Tech. "I just can't tolerate it. And I won't let my money support it."

"This industry is not going to respond to moral sentiments, that's clear," says Eric Milgram, the father of two Sandy Hook survivors. "They will respond to economic pain."

A simple, low-tech wall of remembrance with a timeline, photos and clips (starting at Columbine, 15 years ago) is a visual focal point in a presentation uncluttered by news footage or reenactments. 

The most stirring testimony comes from trauma surgeon Dr. Sheldon Teperman: "I'm covered in blood. We've done everything we can do and someone has to go tell the family. So they are sitting in a waiting room, and I know how this works, so I steel myself for this, because I know that when I walk into the room … I'm going to snatch all of the light and all of the hope and all of the air from that parent's life.

"There is a lot of profit to be made for all of this sorrow, all of this death and all of this destruction. Ultimately, it is all about the money."

Would You Recognize a Loved One Dressed Like the Homeless? These People Didn’t

Most city dwellers tend to avoid eye contact with the homeless, a fact that made one advocacy group wonder: Would you recognize your own relatives if they were living on the street?

New York City Rescue Mission partnered with agency Silver + Partner for a hidden-camera stunt that filmed people as they walked past loved ones dressed to look homeless. Later, the passersby were shown video footage of themselves walking past their relatives without a second glance. 

As you'd probably expect, no one recognized their family members. One woman even walked right past her mom, uncle and aunt.

The stunt doesn't lead to any emotional breakdowns or similar histrionics, which is somewhat refreshing at a time when "gotcha" videos focus so hard on over-the-top reactions and immediate life-changing self-reflection. But the unwitting participants clearly feel ashamed of their oversight. 

Director Jun Diaz from production house Smuggler tells Fast Company that one person who was filmed asked not to be included in the final video "because they couldn’t handle the fact that they walked by their family."

On a related website,, the rescue mission further humanizes the needy by sharing photographs of real homeless New Yorkers, smiling while sharing their personal passions and hobbies.

How Do You Break Through Apathy? One Agency Tries for Rage

Pleas to help the poor are usually ignored. So what if you turned things around and started advocating against the poor? Would anyone come to their defense?

Publicis London put that question to the test with an experiment for The Pilion Trust. The agency stuck a guy with a "FUCK THE POOR" sandwich board on a busy London street and filmed people telling him off.

After plenty of heated reactions, including a police officer telling him "that's offensive" and a near fight with a homeless man, the organizers flipped the sign around to say "HELP THE POOR" in the same font, same presentation, and filmed everyone ignoring him. The resulting film has already gone viral, with over 1.2 million views in three days.

It's an interesting experiment, but does it really prove that people care about the poor? It seems more like it proves that people enjoy being self-righteous on topics where they know most people agree with them. The truth is, it doesn't cost anything to be offended.

I'd like to see if those people who got upset really did care enough to give. Publicis should design another experiment with two guys, one with a "help the poor" just down the street from the "fuck the poor" guy. Then we'll see how many people who yelled at one actually donated to the other.


Client: The Pilion Trust
Advertising Agency: Publicis, London
Director: Jonathan Pearson
Creative Director: Andy Bird
Art Director: Jolyon Finch
Copywriter: Steve Moss
Producer: Adam Dolman
Director of Photography: Peter Bathurst
Agency Producers: Sam Holmes, Colin Hickson
Editor: Toby Conway Hughes at Marshall Street
Postproduction: Absolute
Sound Design: Wave
Typographer: Andy Breese

New Attention-Grabbing Mannequins Are Modeled After Disabled Public Figures

It was Junot Diaz who said, "If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves." So Pro Infirmis, a European advocacy organization for the disabled, has created a series of mannequins to provide those reflections in the image-obsessed world of retail.

The project's call to action is: "Because who is perfect? Get closer." And indeed, who is? The redesigned mannequins depict people with scoliosis, brittle bone disease and missing limbs. The models are radio host and film critic Alex Oberholzer, Miss Handicap 2010 Jasmine Rechsteiner, athlete Urs Kolly, actor Erwin Aljuki? and blogger Nadja Schmid.

The short film below, which documents the process, is deeply moving, particularly when the models encounter their mannequins for the first time. The works were displayed for the International Day of Persons With Disabilities in Swiss shop windows on Zurich's main street, Bahnhofstrasse. And once they had been polished to the perfected shine of a mannequin and posed in the windows, the disabilities almost disappear. Rechsteiner’s curved spine, in particular, creates a stunning silhouette that would be envied by high-end fashion models, and a young girl is shown trying to achieve the same pose after seeing the mannequin.

It's an important lesson, not only that people come in all shapes and sizes, but that all those shapes and sizes can be beautiful. If only more businesses had the bravery to show them.


Artificial Scarcity Leads One McRib Fan To Help Others

People are passionate about McDonald’s McRib sandwich.

The fact that the sandwich is not available at all McDonald’s locations nationwide simply feeds this hunger for the chain’s pork sandwich, which comes with pickles, onions and barbecue sauce and is shaped in an unusual patty, made to look as though there are bones inside.

According to Entrepreneur., one big fan of the sandwich, Alan Klein, turned his passion for McRib into an interesting side-project.

McRib Locator, a website and Android app that tracks where the sandwich is available has already charted around 1,500 sightings, with 300 confirmations this year (confirmed by users emailing Klein a photo of their receipt).

This is the kind of naturally occurring consumer advocacy and consumer generated media that CMOs dream about at night.

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Chinese Ad Campaign Urges People to Stop Eating Dogs and Cats

"Say no to dog or cat meat." That's the message in 279 new ads being plastered across Chinese train stations, bus stations and elevators by a pet advocacy group called Animals Asia.

Steering consumers away from eating dogs and cats would be a pretty easy sell in America, but apparently the problem is quite massive in Asia, with millions of dogs slaughtered each year for food, according to the group.

Each ad shows someone putting chopsticks over a malnourished stray or beloved family pet. Some warn that dog meat is made from stolen pets, while others highlight health and safety issues.

"Cat and dog meat sold in restaurants is often sourced from stolen domestic animals and strays snatched from the street," one ad variation says. "Don’t pay for this cruel and dirty industry with your own health. Be healthy, say no to dog and cat meat.”

Check out several of the ads after the jump. Via One Green Planet.


‘Skip’ Button Shows How Easily Job Interviewers Can Ignore Ex-Cons

If job interviews had a skip button, would anyone be willing to hear out an ex-con? That's the question Leo Burnett and a U.K. nonprofit try to make you answer in the innovative interactive clip below.

As the video opens, a young man recently released from prison speaks directly to the camera, as if the viewer is the hiring manager. As he awkwardly tries to tell his story, a "Skip Ad" button appears on screen. Each time the button is pressed and the video restarts, the applicant grows increasingly apprehensive and downbeat, until he's almost begging to be heard. Finally, he becomes resigned to his fate.

"I'm sorry that you don't want to listen," he says to those who've skipped their way to the end. "I hope you can find time in the future to give an ex-offender like me a second chance."

If viewers don't press the button, his pitch, though tentative, gets increasingly upbeat and ends on a hopeful note: "A lot of people just write me off pretty much straightaway as soon as they hear I've been inside. Today's been different. Thanks for that. Yeah. Thanks for listening."

The video by Leo Burnett Change, an activism division of the agency's London office, is part of the "Ban the Box" campaign from the nonprofit Business in the Community, which is pushing for the removal of mandatory check-off boxes on U.K. job applications that ask about criminal convictions. "With the subject of ex-offenders being such a contentious issue, we wanted to create a thought-provoking idea. Something that would make people reassess how they feel toward ex-offenders," agency cd Hugh Todd says in a statement on Leo Burnett London's Facebook page. "Using and subverting the 'Skip Ad' button gave us the perfect opportunity to do this."

That unusual approach underscores the broader message that denying this guy a chance to be heard is like locking him up all over again and throwing away the key.

Try out the video for yourself here.