In Prison, It Pays to Have Insurance


We suppose the reason we like commercials from other countries so much is because we'd never see them here in the States. Whether it be differing politics, culture, humor or sexual openness, they're always different. Always fun to watch. That's the case with this Dutch commercial for insurance company Centraal Beheer which takes place inside a prison and shows the interplay between a seasoned guard and a rookie.

The thing ends in perfect hilarity but the whole premise is one we'd likely never see in the States simply because, shocker, it would be wrong, dammit, wrong to taunt the "residents" of a prison. The PC police would be all over this one.

by Steve Hall    Apr- 7-07    
Topic: Commercials, Good

Ford Pairs Fetuses and Fuel for Enviro-Friendly Campaign

Green is hot, with everybody from Lexus to New Belgium promoting environmental initiatives. To keep apace, Ford of Europe launches an interesting campaign to promote vehicles powered by Flexifuel, a fun little term for bio-ethanol.

Sentimentally pinned "For the Next Generation," the effort features images of "ecologically sensitive animals all on the verge of birth," using a motherly touch to remain anatomically correct and imagine the insides of mothers without actually invading animals to create them.

The work is lovely but there's something completely bizarre about using fetuses to sell fuel. Well, stranger pairings have happened. wryly notes it'll definitely win the hearts of Pro-Lifers.

The campaign kicks off in Sweden.

by Angela Natividad    Apr- 7-07    
Topic: Campaigns, Good

Xerox Promotes Cheap Colour Copies with Off-Colour Mania


We dig this new effort by Xerox to get relevant again. Leaping headfirst into Web 2.0, they launch Frugal Color, which encourages "[putting] the fun back into fundamental fiscal responsibility!" It also lends some wise advice -- you don't need to spend money to make money, you just need to look like you do.

To somehow illustrate that, Frugal Color includes a virtual goat, a diversion maker and an acronymator. Weird viral would-be's a la Office Space and The Office are also located at Extreme Offices. The video is so damn funny we watched it three times to get the full effect. (It is one of those nights.)

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by Angela Natividad    Apr- 7-07    
Topic: Good, Online

Macy's Deploys 'Brand Ambassadors' on College Conversion Mission


Macy's just launched a campaign designed to harness the power of WOM on eight campuses nationwide. The pilot brand is American Rag, and students are the vehicle.

American Rag enthusiasts were chosen as brand ambassadors to promote a contest at their respective schools. As they walk around all ragged-out, they encourage peers to design a print for the brand. The goal is to create foot traffic at Macy's stores located nearby.

If American Rag wants to succeed it would do well to change its name. There's already an American Eagle and an American Apparel, both of which pretty much own the niche Macy's is shooting for.

Plus, something about it makes us think along the lines of Jordache, Mossimo and other hopeful big-brands now confined to big boxes.

But hey, in the end the co-eds will decide.

by Angela Natividad    Apr- 7-07    
Topic: Brands, Campaigns, Good, Word of Mouth

CitiBank Courts Co-Eds with Character Credit Cards


We were lollygagging on MySpace because apparently we never have anything better to do (this is our second mention this evening) when a funny Citibank ad caught our eye.

To promote its student-targeted credit cards Citi's got this weird campaign with haphazardly drawn college students. In the one we saw, the head of an oft-complimented girl expands until she floats away like a balloon.

The co-ed courting credit cards include Citi Bronze (for Jet Setters), Citi Dividend Platinum (for the Cash Fan) and the Citi MTVU card (for the Rewards Junkie).

We love little characterizations like that. What better way to sniggle us into a frightening APR than to give each one a personality? If we weren't debating Jet Setters or Rewards Junkies we'd probably still be on Rachel or Monica.

by Angela Natividad    Apr- 6-07    
Topic: Campaigns, Good, Online

MingleNow Launches Beer-Focused Social Networking Effort


Nothing brings people together like the promise of intoxication. Leveraging its ongoing love affair with Anheuser-Busch, MingleNow launches Clink, an "innovative new social networking promotion" where trend-setting adults can upload pictures of themselves enjoying beer.

"Supporting this niche social media outlet where people actively engage in sharing stories and images reinforces the honesty and authenticity of socializing over a beer," says EVP Bob Lachky for the global industry development sector of Anheuser-Busch.

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by Angela Natividad    Apr- 6-07    
Topic: Campaigns, Good, Online

Initiative Urges Industry to be Environmentally Friendly


Vancouver agency smashLAB has launched Design Can Change, an initiative that urges designers to become aware of the affect they have on the environment. On his blog, Eric Karjaluoto offers some stunning numbers, writing, "...if you are a member of the AIGA, you take part in purchasing or specifying over $9 billion of printing and paper per year. At the risk of sounding obtuse, I have to say, 'That's a lot.' Let me give you another number: 81 million tons. That's the amount of paper waste you and I helped generate over the past year. How about this one? More than a million. That's how many species are expected to be at risk of extinction by 2,050 as a result of global warming. Another? $11 billion. That's the average cost of climate-related disasters in Europe during the 80s and 90s."

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by Steve Hall    Apr- 6-07    
Topic: Good, Online, Policy, Trends and Culture

Hookers, Surgeons, Cooks Discuss Top Ten Requests


Yesterday, MTV Latin America launched a new campaign to promote the network's evening series "The Ten Most Requested". The campaign was created by Miami-based creative agency la comunidad, and directed by Jorge Colon of production company Letca Films.

The spots, which were shot in Miami, focus on the top 10 requests a variety of professionals receive while on the job. For instance, in "Surgeon," a plastic surgeon in the midst of operating on a patient recites a litany of his most popular improvement requests - including breast implants, male enhancement, and nose jobs.

There's only so many ways you can talk about a top ten anything and, for us, this is one of the more inventive ones but, as always, we're sure you'll tell us we're full of shit if, in fact, we actually are. And unlike Bob Garfield, we don't claim to have got it wrong only a few times. Check out the three spots here.

by Steve Hall    Apr- 6-07    
Topic: Cable, Campaigns, Commercials, Good

Low Profile Contests Stick Out for 'The Economist'


The Economist was a 2006 Print Ad winner at the London International Awards for this sparing scratcher. The agency responsible is Ogilvy & Mather, Singapore which, judging by the Levi's Copper programming-throwback microsite they did, has a flair for the basics.

We dig a sparing and direct message and thought of tossing in an insinuation of nostalgia-laced laziness just for kicks, but decided we'd hate to be buzzkills for this method. Advertising could use more of it. Plus, the bold red block is growing increasingly synonymous with The Economist, which can't hurt them any.

Though if we were an ad firm working for The Communist, we'd be kind of pissed.

by Angela Natividad    Apr- 5-07    
Topic: Good, Magazine

Abe Books Draws Readers with Knife Throwing for Kids


For client Abe Books, the March Hares of Rethink, Vancouver literally rethink the notion of the stodgy rare-bookery. Tagline: "If you can't find it here, it doesn't exist." Imagery: highly unlikely works of fiction and non-fiction, including Everything You Wanted to Know About North Korea, But Were Afraid to Ask.

We dig Abe Books because we recently used the service to land first-eds of Don Marquis' impossible-to-find Archy and Mehitabel, a series of poems written by a sensitive cockroach who types at night (in low caps because he can't hit Shift and reach for another button at the same time!) and his moody feline friend Mehitabel, who believes she was once Cleopatra. Can you think of better lit? We didn't think so.

The fine Balendu has more images from the same campaign.

by Angela Natividad    Apr- 5-07    
Topic: Good, Magazine