This Discreet, Lifesaving QR Code Might Make Brands Think Differently About Design

QR codes were one of the biggest comeback stories of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Engine Insights, 76% of people have used them in the last two years, and 58% have grown more comfortable with using them since March 2020. The humble piece of tech has popped up everywhere from Super Bowl ads to restaurant…

Irish Betting Site Spoofs Bridgerton to Promote Bingo Platform

Modern period dramas aren’t all about tight bodices and gentle tea parties, as Irish betting site Paddy Power shows in its latest campaign, a spoof on the Netflix series Bridgerton. To promote its free daily bingo offering, the mischievous brand is presenting a 30-second TV campaign called “Bingoton: Drama With Balls.” The film transports viewers…

Unilever CEO Alan Jope Announces Intention to Retire at end of 2023

Unilever’s chief executive Alan Jope has announced his intention to retire from the company at the end of next year after five years in the role. The former marketing executive at cosmetics firm Helene Curtis has been working within the multination conglomerate since 1985–and succeeded Paul Polman in running the business in 2019. During that…

These Billboards Are So Fresh You Can Harvest Fruit and Veg Through Them

From Nike’s high-tech 3D billboard to Corona’s solar-powered posters, brands have been getting increasingly creative with their out-of-home (OOH) budgets. Now, British retailer Sainsbury’s has unveiled its own experiment: billboards you can harvest food from. To highlight the autumn specials in its own luxury Taste the Difference range, the grocer has planted a series of…

What Ukraine Needs From Agencies and Brands at Cannes

The all-out war unleashed by russia (yes, lowercase) has devastated Ukraine in so many ways. By mid-May, more than 6 million Ukrainians–including me–had fled their homeland, with even more getting displaced within the country. The war has taken a heavy toll on people’s lives and homes as well as national infrastructure and businesses–including the creative…

One Minute Briefs Founder Nick Entwistle Accused of Assault by Former Contract Employee

[Sensitive content: This article includes description of an alleged physical assault.] A former contract employee of U.K.-based company One Minute Briefs says the organization’s founder and creative director, Nick Entwistle, physically assaulted her during a trip to Portugal in 2021. The woman said she worked with Entwistle for approximately nine months and managed the company’s…

O2’s Love Island Sponsorship Is an Experiment in Agile Marketing

U.K telecom O2 has just been announced as the official sponsor of ITV’s Love Island, Britain’s buzziest reality TV show. For its top marketer Simon Groves, the deal presents an opportunity to experiment with more “agile and reactive” marketing. Each year, Love Island plants single people in a luxury villa for two months and asks…

As Starbucks Retreats From Russia, Pressure Mounts on Brands to Do More

This week Starbucks joined McDonald’s in retreating from the Russian market entirely. However, people still don’t feel like brands are doing enough to help Ukraine, as the Kremlin continues to wage its brutal war. What’s more, they’re placing greater accountability on advertisers than their own governments. Data from Forrester, gleaned from 1500 consumers in the…

Havas Düsseldorf CEO Vanessa Kerkhoff to Join Wunderman Thompson

Wunderman Thompson (WT) has named Vanessa Kerkhoff as its new chief executive in Germany, replacing Larissa Pohl who will remain within the WPP network after stepping down. Kerkhoff has served as the chief executive and managing director of Havas’ operations in D?sseldorf for the last three years, where she led the 200-strong agency in Germany….

How to Improve Client-Agency Communication During Market Expansion

In recent years, the globalized nature of digital marketplaces has sparked reasonable fears of social, creative and cultural homogeneity–a sort of mass standardization of what we purchase and how we do so. In large part due to the reach of social networks, trends rapidly expand from a single post to a global audience, and anyone…

Faroe Islands, Population 50,000, Lured in 700,000 Virtual Visitors With Gamified Tours

The remote Faroe Islands continue to show the rest of the world how it’s done on the marketing front, attracting 700,000 visitors from 197 countries with its recent gamified, live virtual tours. For context, the sparsely populated Nordic nation–where its 80,000 sheep far outnumber its 50,000 human inhabitants–had about 130,000 real-life visitors in 2019. During…

These Brilliant U.K. Posters Ask Pokemon Go Players to Help Find Missing Persons

British nonprofit Missing People wants some of the millions of Pokemon Go players traipsing the country to be on the look out for something other than cartoon creatures: actual humans.

An outdoor campaign from the organization, which helps search for missing persons and provides support to them and their loved ones, repurposes iconography from the popular augmented reality game, which requires users to rove their cities for digital creatures in real-world locations.

The campaign, launched during a Pokemon Go event in Trafalgar Square, drew a crowd some 4,000 strong. Working with BBH Barn, the Publicis agency’s internship program, Missing People created posters featuring the faces and names of those “missing near here,” wrapped inside Pokeballs, the imaginary tools used to trap Pokemon.

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We Brought an 'America Box' to Cannes, Introducing the World to Simple Pleasures of U.S. Life

America doesn’t always have the best image among our friends overseas, and at this year’s Cannes Lions, AdFreak set out on a humble quest to fix everything. 

Our tool for global reputation improvement? The America Box.

Through a thoroughly researched and exhaustively planned 1-hour trip to a Publix grocery store, I loaded up on a few of the items that make America truly great. More importantly, these are the simple pleasures that you simply won’t find in the aisles of your Parisian supermarché.

I lugged this clunky cornucopia of consumer delights across the Atlantic, then cajoled non-Americans into digging in and seeing what they could find.

Here are the myriad joys of discovery that awaited them:

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This Clever Amnesty Campaign Imprisons Your Cursor Within a Banner Ad

Sometimes an ad idea just doesn’t get the reach it deserves, and this is certainly one of those times.

Polish agency The Digitals created a little-seen banner/pop-up ad last year that asked site visitors, “Do you want to dissolve the government?” Hovering over the response button would then lock the user’s cursor into the ad, which displays the message, “In Belarus, you would go to prison for that.”

The ad then released the cursor and asked the viewer to sign a petition to similarly release human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski, who eventually walked free last summer. 

Amnesty from The Digitals Sp. z o.o. on Vimeo.

(For the technically minded among you, Amnesty’s case study explains, “We used two formats: double billboard [750 px by 200 px] and a transparent top layer, which runs it when you hover over the banner, hiding the cursor when outside.)

Despite the limited scope of the ad, its click-through rate was impressive.

“It was kind of an experiment,” Micha? Kobierzewski, creative director for The Digitals, told the Epica Awards. “We only got about 450 impressions, but out of those, 50 people signed a petition.” 

Kobierzewski will be a juror in the international award show, which is currently accepting entries.


Alfa Romeo Responded to This Forlorn Fan With One of the Best Personalized Tweets Ever

A lot of brands try for a personalized, poignant touch with their social media fans, but few have ever pulled it off this well.

When Daniel Hancox of England’s Burton upon Trent tried to buy an Alfa Romeo Giulietta, he arrived at the dealership to find someone else had snatched up the car he had his eye on. Clearly heartbroken, he wrote a poem about the missed connection and sent it to Alfa Romeo UK on Twitter:

The brand’s response did not disappoint. Check out the follow-up poem:

From there, things seemed to be progressing nicely:

I followed up with Hancox, who says he’s still hopeful that a long-term relationship is in the cards:

Hat tip to Aneta Hall at Wells Fargo, via LinkedIn.

Burger King Surprised Apartment Hunters With One Whopper of a Kitchen Upgrade

If you’re apartment hunting for a three bedroom/two bath/one Burger King, this might be the spot for you.

Spanish agency La Despensa equipped a tasty pad in downtown Madrid with a BK kitchen and menu counter for a stunt touting the arrival of the chain’s home delivery service. You’ve got familiar brand signage, colorful meal displays and even some guy named Michael, dressed in a BK uniform, ready to take your order.

Because the agency listed the unit on local real-estate websites for roughly half its market value, “we had around 800 calls in five days asking to see the place,” La Despensa creative director Luis Monroy tells AdFreak. Hidden cameras recorded the reactions of prospective tenants, who seem amused and pretty psyched about the experience.

“It took around three days to assemble the restaurant after weeks of searching for the perfect place,” Monroy says. “Can you imagine what it’s like to carry up all the kitchen tools, digital screens for the menu-board … and the bar of 300 kilos to the third floor with no elevator?” Members of the marketing team, production company and agency all pitched in to help with the heavy lifting.

Of course, authentic BK cuisine was served. “It is a much more complete experience with a Whopper in your hands,” Monroy says. Soon after it finished the video, La Despensa (which translates to “The Pantry”—perfect, right?), the apartment, which really had been on the market, was snapped up, “unfortunately without the restaurant, and at a higher price.”

This well done prank manages to stay on-point and satisfy without seeming overcooked. And that’s kind of rare in this category.

These Forgotten Toys Want to Know What Love Is. They Want You to Show Them

If your once-loved, coldly discarded belongings could share their feelings of loss and exile, what would it sound like? Like Foreigner, that’s what.

In this Leo Burnett spot for British TV service Freeview, a bunch of “left behinds”—mainly unsold toys and figurines—spring to life after a parish rummage sale and sing along with Foreigner’s 30-year-old power ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

The church’s janitor looks appropriately amazed, and kind of horrified, at this unexpected display of free entertainment. A voiceover attempts to explain the brand proposition: “Ninety-five percent of the nation’s top TV, no monthly cost. Entertainment—it’s even better when it’s free.”

The memorably offbeat clip was directed by Sam Brown through Rogue Films. It’s both charming and slightly unsettling, much like Freeview’s singing cat and budgie a while back. This vague creepiness, noted by several YouTube commenters, is actually a big plus. It makes the spot more compelling than if it had been only cute or sentimental.

The #SingingToys, as they’re known, really are a rag-tag lot. You’ve got, among others, a tattered teddy bear (cousin to this scruffy scamp, perhaps?), a worse-for-wear baby-doll, some menacing pro-wrestling action figures, a weird ceramic schnauzer (or maybe it’s a Scottie; here, it’s green) and what appears to be a wounded G.I. Joe.

Frankly, it’s not hard to see why they’d get left behind. Thankfully, at this magical time of year, there’s always hope that misfit toys can find a home.

Here's Harvey Nichols' Follow-Up to One of the World's Most-Awarded Ad Campaigns

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.

If for some reason you can’t watch the clip above and don’t mind some spoilers, here’s how it goes down: She opens the envelope to discover a Harvey Nichols greeting card, letting her know in no uncertain terms what her niece wants for Christmas (Charlotte Olympia silver Octavia sandals with a 6-inch heel, size 4 1/2—or 5, if that’s all they’ve got).

As with last year’s “Sorry, I Spent It on Myself” cheap gift collection, the brand’s self-centered holiday cards are real and available in store or customizable online. You can browse the site to find an item you want, design your card, and share it.

It’s the absolutely perfect way of letting your loved ones know just how horrible you are. But chances are, they probably already know.

A Bank Hired an Actor to Tell You He's an Actor Hired by a Bank. And It's Awesome

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.

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.” 

Waitrose Skips the Whimsical but Still Warms Hearts in Its Christmas Ad

Christmas storytelling is an annual rite of advertising one-upsmanship in Britain. But how can you weave a heart-warming tale while still keeping your product front and center?

U.K. grocery chain Waitrose has found one solution by focusing on something that differentiates its staff. Employee shared ownership in the company, which would normally be the driest of dry topics, takes a charming turn in the store’s new holiday spot from BBH London. A real employee, Adejumoke Sanusi of Ilford, was even cast to play herself.

The ad follows the story of an introverted young woman tackling a holiday baking challenge for school. Unlike the fantastical whimsy of advertisers like John Lewis, this ad is far more grounded in the reality of why you’d actually need to turn (time and again) to a helpful grocery clerk. 

It likely won’t leave you wiping tears from your eyes, but on the other hand, you’ll probably at least remember what was being advertised.

By the way, the soundtrack comes from an interesting source: Members of the public joined a “Donate Your Voice” effort to create the track, a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Try.” The song is available for purchase on iTunes, with proceeds going to three U.K. charities.

Client: Waitrose
Marketing Director: Rupert Thomas
Head of Marketing: Rupert Ellwood
Manager, Advertising: Jo Massey
Marketing Manager, Advertising: Libby Langridge

Agency: BBH London
Creative Team: Fred Rodwell and Andy Parsons
Creative Director: Ken Hoggins & Martha Riley
Strategist: Melanie Arrow
Strategy Director: Tom Roach
Business Lead: Sian Cook
Team Manager: Emma Johnston-Donne
Team Director: Kayleigh Chapman
Producer: Glenn Paton
Assistant Producer: Sarah Cooper

Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Tom Tagholm
Executive Producer: Stephen Brierley
Producer: Fran Thompson
Director of Photography: Rob Hardy

Postproduction: MPC
Visual Effects Producer: Amy Richardson
Visual Effects Supervisor: Jonathan Box
Colorist: Jean-Clément Soret

Editor/Editing House: Tim Hardy at Stitch
Sound: Sam Ashwell at 750mph
Music Supervisor: The Most Radicalist Black Sheep Music
Music Producer: David Kosten
Music Publisher: Carlin Music
Music Label: BMG Chrysalis