Yup, Sex Still Sells

Describing this video for [client name redacted] would completely ruin the experience. Just take a look for yourself.

Why I’m Curious

This piece is dripping in millennial appeal. The sexy dancing of a Britney Spears video, the twist ending of an R.L. Stine book – it’s pure perfection for an audience that’s grown up with a sex and adrenaline-fueled taste for pop culture.

So here’s what we can learn: when trying to reposition anything for a younger audience, look to what they’re actually engaging with in mass. Pairing new school with old school can offer unexpected contrast that helps a communication to generate buzz.


OKCupid Boycotts Firefox – PR Play or Socially Responsible?

World famous brands like Coca-Cola have made social good a major component of messaging, and now OKCupid is taking social responsibility a step further. Recently the dating site took a bold stance against the new Firefox CEO’s past donations supporting California’s Proposition 8, which effectively reversed the legality of gay marriage in the state. 

When visitors accessed OKCupid via Firefox, a letter openly criticizing the new Firefox CEO was displayed.


Why I’m Curious

People have been highly divided in terms of wether OKCupid made the right move. Some argue that the issue seemed very targeted when nearly every major corporation certainly has some leadership that’s supported anti-gay organizations. Yet others make the case that Firefox has a large philanthropic arm, and a leader with a track record of homophobic moves could create a bias against LGBT organizations. In the end, CEO Brendan Eich stepped down from his role, making OKCupid’s efforts a major success from the company’s point of view.

But what do you think – with plenty of companies housing homophobic leadership, was OKCupid in it for the PR or genuine social good?


Wake Up to the Scent of Bacon…Without Bacon

Why wake up to a boring alarm clock when the sound and aroma of sizzling bacon can act as a substitute? Fans of Oscar Mayer bacon can now enter to win an iPhone attachment that does just that.

In an attention-grabbing move, the brand launched a feisty microsite (wakeupandsmellthebacon.com) where bacon enthusiasts can learn about the device, watch a video – and of course – flip through a glossy, parallax-based stream of product benefits. Let’s not forget that fans can enter to win the device, too.

Oscar Mayer Bacon Alarm

Source: PSFK

Why I’m Curious

In some advertising circles, “stunts” are considered a dirty word. Yet in our people-are-now-publishers world, they’re becoming the new go-to way to drive social conversations at scale. Just look back on the past few months of what’s been shared to Curious Fridays – almost all of the celebrated work is bold, highly creative and often “stunty.”

Sure, publishing a TV spot to social will drive some engagement – put anything out there and someone will “like” it – but this new model of content is much more ambitious, creatively inspired and attention grabbing enough to function at social scale.

The point? Everything we create is inherently “social” – whether it’s a microsite, branded video or product development. The trick to harnessing the power of social is ensuring that creative is novel enough to warrant sharing. Call it a stunt, campaign or whatever you wish, bigger, more wild ideas will always get more people talking. And that, my friends, is not just a crispy, pan-seared trend.

Lisbon Repositions Tram Wires as Functional Art

For some, wires draped across urban environments are purely unattractive clutter. For others, they’re art. Veering in the more optimistic direction, the city of Lisbon recently turned its web of tram wires into a tastefully interactive experience. Here’s how it worked.

Why I’m Curious

The success of this campaign is heavily grounded in a less-than-obvious insight: the cross-sections of tram wires appear to spell out letters. And when one pieces those letters together, a typeface is created that inspires adventures around the city.

Such an insight would seem to have been bred out of time spent exploring unique traits of Lisbon. Not just listing off obvious attractions, but really looking at aspects of the city that span the entire environment in order to create a tourism-inducing experience outside of cliche destinations.

For us, the takeaway reminds me of a saying creatives often coin: “first idea.” First ideas are those that materialize in an initial brainstorm. At first they seem amazing – brilliant even – but 24 hours later they’re not quite as shiny as initially perceived.

In the case of this work, the agency clearly avoided the dreaded “first idea” creative approach. Now it’s our turn to always do the same.


The New “It” Strategy: ExFEARiential

There’s a new formula emerging for the creation of viral, branded videos: scare the crap out of consumers, record it, and then share it with the world. In their new self promotion piece, Toronto-based agency john st. introduces us to their new strategic model for capitalizing on this latest trend: ExFEARiential.

Why I’m Curious

Emerging trends often inspire “me too” strategies where gobs of brands start putting their own spin on the latest “it” tactic. (Facebook commerce tabs ring a bell?)

But what’s often overlooked in trend analyses is the ability of brands to boldly fly in the face of strategic cliches. To be more specific, openly mocking advertising trends that are out of touch with the common man, thus painting the brand as more in touch with typical consumers. Going a step further, the positive reaction of snark-vertising helps make the case that negativity may not be as bad as typically perceived.

Take the sentiment of online comments,  for example. Millions of comments make it crystal clear that a massive population has a snarky, negative side. Knowing this, perhaps the true route to “humanizing” a brand should involve a healthy injection of snark and sarcasm. After all, real life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Props to winter for that reminder.

The Treadmill from Hell

Ever wonder what it’s like to run a 4:46 mile…26 times in a row? Asics recently allowed New Yorkers to  get a feel for the insane pace of top marathon runners with what Adweek calls “The Treadmill from Hell.”

Why I’m Curious

This isn’t the first time Asics has pulled a similar stunt. Back in 2011 we shared this interactive outdoor piece where passersby were challenged to race a digital version of marathoner Ryan Hall.

One of the lessons to be learned here is that when you have a hit on your hands, it’s not a bad idea to create a sequel. The trick, however, is making it better than the first, which I would argue Asics has done with their latest re-imagining of the “put yourself in their shoes”-style concept.

Shrink Your Wallet’s Waistline with Coin

Coin is a new product that allows people to combine all their credit and rewards cards into one physical card that still works with traditional card readers. Watch the demo to see how simple it is.

Why I’m Curious

There have been quite a few technological developments lately that move toward all-digital forms of payment. While this is practical for cardholders, it’s often inconvenient and expensive for retailers – especially small businesses – that have already invested in traditional card reading technology. Coin offers the best of both worlds by consolidating cards in a digital manner while still providing a physical card that works at most retailers. What’s especially interesting to me is how this technology balances the old and new school of payment options – a practice that’s certainly relevant for creative agencies that have now become product developers in addition to marketers.

Crest Terrifies Kids with Healthy Halloween Candy

For some kids, ghosts, goblins and monsters are taking a backseat as this year’s biggest horrors. The new villains? Healthy Halloween candy. Watch as Crest toothpaste terrifies children into brushing their teeth. (All while giving us a good laugh at their expense.)

Why I’m Curious

Hidden camera pranks are nothing new, but focusing them on children is slightly less common. Given AT&T’s successful use of kids commentary, there seems to be a new advertising trend on the horizon: gather a handful of spunky kids and let it rip. Perhaps Jimmy Kimmel’s epic “I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy” prank has inspired this new generation of creative.

Benjamin Moore’s Scariest Job in the World

Benjamin Moore’s Ultra Spec 500 paint is scarily effective. So how better to promote it than with a haunted hotel, hidden cameras, a creepy butler and a bunch of innocent contractors?

Via AdvertisingAge

Why I’m Curious

It’s no secret: Stunts allow brands to cut through media clutter, and Benjamin Moore’s latest effort is no exception. One day after posting the above video, it already has over 10,000 views, which will likely increase given the content’s ability to be entertaining and seasonally relevant.

However, what I’m really curious about is if seasonality increases the virality of such stunts, knowing many brands have created popular content that is more evergreen in nature, allowing it to remain relevant for longer. Only time shall tell in the case of Benjamin Moore’s “scariest job in the world.”

Virtual Penguins Lead Visitors to Tokyo Aquarium

Using augmented reality, an app for the Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo guides visitors from the closest public transit station to the aquarium. But forget the arrows and “turn left, now turn right” directions – waddling penguins guide the way.

Watch the video to see how this fun experience helped solve one of the aquarium’s unique business challenges.

Source: PSFK

Why I’m Curious

The aquarium could have easily leveraged traditional GPS navigation, yet by opting for a more creative and rich experience that still offers basic utility, the elements of surprise and delight were harnessed to convert something quite functional into a conversation piece.

But the biggest takeaway: Injecting a functional, tech-driven idea with creative charm can make everyday technology worthy of press and viral reach.

“The Hardest Game on the Internet” Pays Off for ITAKA Foundation


A foundation dedicated to finding missing people, ITAKA, recently created an online game aimed at making players feel empathetic toward the cause. Players are tasked with finding one character in a world of millions – a nearly impossible feat – but a few minutes into the experience, a layover points out how difficult it is to find missing people in real life. Paired with this messaging is a call to action for donations.

Watch to learn more.

Via Ads of the World

Why I’m Curious

The ITAKA game flips traditional cause-based marketing upside down, focusing on getting players to relate to volunteers more so than victims. This seems quite smart, as getting people to think more like volunteers shifts their mindset in a direction that is focused on driving productive actions. For example, donating to the cause, or maybe even also becoming a volunteer.

Why Everyone Must See This Epic Mercedes-Benz Commercial

Combine chickens, funk music and obscure choreography, and what do you get? The latest viral hit from Mercedes-Benz. To quote one of the top comments on YouTube, which has 178 thumbs up at time of publication, “This is the best advertisement I’ve seen in all 21 years of life on this planet.”


Why I’m Curious

As of yesterday when I first watched this video, it had a little over 1 million views. Today the video has surpassed 2 million, and I would be willing to bet on my own child that the video will blow up even more in the coming weeks (side note: I don’t actually have a child, so don’t be too concerned by that last statement).

But what perhaps intrigues me the most about this video is that the viewer never once sees a Mercedes-Benz car, which would have surely dampened the video’s legs for virality. Yet at the same time, the entire concept is brilliantly tied to a product benefit, ensuring that all these millions of views provide some value for the brand. Just another great example of edutainment-style content delivering big results for brands.

Vogue Holds Fashion Shoot on Instagram

Scrapping the SLR in place of an iPhone, Vogue recently commissioned photographer Michael O’Neal to document the stories and outfits of three models on Instagram, linking together each story with a hashtag.

Source: DesignTAXI



Instagram Vogue Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 3.18.04 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 3.18.17 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 3.18.28 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 3.18.40 PM

Why I’m Curious

With the epic success of Facebook pages like Humans of New York and the explosion of Instagram as an artist platform for everyone, understated and honest visuals have come to drive as much (if not more) engagement and intrigue as flashy, high-end photo shoots. While some might say this represents a shift in what people find engaging, I would argue that we now have evidence to support what humans have found interesting all along – creative rooted in humanity. After all, isn’t it an advertising 101 principle that the best creative work places the acknowledgement of human-based insights front and center?

But the key takeaway isn’t necessarily that brands need to coat all ads with an Instagram layer or two, rather, that speaking to “consumers” with a humanized voice truly equates to greater public interest. And when we’re in the game of attracting eyeballs, isn’t that a win for everyone?

Manning Brothers Rap for DIRECTV

“Your phone ain’t for calling, it’s for football,” tout the Manning brothers in DIRECTV’s latest ad, which has turned into a viral hit on YouTube. Forewarning: This tune’s like a permanent marker on your mind.

Why I’m Curious

Toyota previously saw gobs of success when suburban parents rapped in favor of the brand’s new mini van, and now we’re seeing the same scenario with DIRECTV. The takeaway? People love it when a brand doesn’t take itself too seriously. That, or it’s the clash of cultures we simply can’t stop watching and sharing. A lesson to be learned when aiming to create successful videos for the social web.

Print Your Next Pair of Shoes

Why head to Nordstrom for heels when a 3D printer can pump out shoe after shoe from home? That’s the idea behind Finnish designer Janne Kyttanen’s new (and semi-free) collection of footwear that’s brought to life through 3D printing.


DesignTAXI reports: 

Kyttanen has created four styles of wedges—namely the “Leaf”, “Macedonia”, “Facet” and “Classic”—of which, their design files can be downloaded for free by anyone, who can then produce it with a 3D-printer.

Made for Cubify, an online platform that turns your 3D-printing ideas into reality, users will ideally be able to 3D-print this line of wedges in their homes when these high-tech machines become common household appliances.

For now, even if you do not own a personal 3D-printing machine, you can still have your pair of wedges printed by Cubify—download the free design files here.

ImageImageImageWhy I’m Curious

As brands look to produce more innovative forms of content with the goal of remaining more present in the lives of consumers, the expansion of 3D printing could create a new and welcome opportunity to surprise and delight customers. Imagine Procter & Gamble letting customers print plastic bins that are custom-tailored to house their cleaning products. Or Kraft issuing a series of attractive printable dishware to accompany their foods. The branded possibilities could be endless – but the key to it all? Will 3D printing really catch on with a mass audience? Only time will tell.

Yawn-Activated Coffee Machines Surprise Travelers

Based on research, Douwe Egberts coffee discovered that consumers tended to switch to their brand after sampling a cup of their joe. To drive contextually relevant sampling, the brand placed a yawn-activated coffee dispenser in an airport, a place where tired travelers were sure to be found. Watch to see what happened next.


From Adverblog & Mashable

Why I’m Curious

With so much advertising being fueled by the latest industry trends rather than research, it’s refreshing to see a tactic that’s rooted in a solid strategic insight. However, based on the fairly low sampling number (210 individuals participated), it seems the brand wanted consumers to be surprised when they yawned and received a coffee rather than overtly communicating the process. Though directly stating “yawn to get a free coffee” would have removed some of the surprise and delight, it seems that travelers would have still been ecstatic, and far more samples would have been distributed, laddering up to the ultimate strategic goal: get people to try the coffee and they’ll switch to it. Moral of the story to all strategists – don’t miss the creative reviews!

Beer Fridge Brings People Together

As Canadian advertising agency Rethink puts it, “Sometimes you’re most proud of where you’re from, when you’re somewhere else.” That’s why Molson Canadian recently planted beer fridges around Europe with one little catch – to share the wealth, the fridge had to be opened with a Canadian passport. Watch the video to learn how it worked.

Source: Ads of the World


Why I’m Curious

It’s so easy to forget that “social media” doesn’t have to be rooted in a social network like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Traditional-esque ideas (guerrilla ads, for example) can bring people together in truly authentic social circumstances, leading to content that is then sharable within the big social networks. The key takeaway? Sometimes a great social idea comes from bringing people together outside of social media.

Become Friends with a Toast (Facebook Friends That Is)

Budweiser recently embedded microchips into beer glasses, with each glass synching to the drinker’s Facebook account. When two people toasted their glasses, they became Facebook friends. To learn more, watch the video.


Source: Ads of the World

Why I’m Curious

As the advertising industry moves toward a more integrated ecosystem that’s less digital versus traditional, this campaign showcases the potential to produce creative content that seamlessly blends multiple disciplines. Social media is also so often approached on a post-by-post basis, but taking the time to brainstorm and think creatively can clearly produce communications that break through the typical advertising clutter.

Little Caesars Takes Credit for 4th of July Fireworks

It’s no secret that brands often ask fans and followers to share photos. “Show us your baby photos, your home, your left hand’s pinky finger…” (You know the list could go on.) But Little Caesars set forth with a rather lofty request on July 3rd and 4th, asking fans to set off fireworks in celebration of their deep deep dish pizza. “Now who’s really going to do that,” you may be asking yourself. That, my friends, was exactly the point. 

In a tongue-in-cheek twist, Little Caesars began to take credit for epic 4th of July fireworks displays. The result? Well, you’ll have to see for yourself.






Why I’m Curious

With massive amounts of content competing for eyeballs, it’s becoming imperative for brands to think big picture and buzz-worthy when it comes to breaking through social media clutter. This Little Caesars campaign, while small and fairly low budget, is a fantastic example of how brands can be more creative without a massive ad buy, leading to earned media via press. Now who’s going to complain about that? Probably not Little Caesars.

Rumor: Facebook to Roll Out Google Reader Replacement

Facebook RSS

Image from TechCrunch

Last week AllFacebook reported the prospect of Facebook rolling out a Google Reader replacement on the heels of Google’s much-loved product saying adios at the end of June.

Developer Tom Waddington who accurately predicted the arrival of Facebook hashtags recently discovered pieces of code in Facebook that not-so-secretly hint at the introduction of a future RSS feature.

With Facebook serving as the quintessential content hub of the social web, such news only makes it more likely that consumers will continue to discover more and more content through social channels rather than search. The ramifications for brands? Now is undoubtedly the time to regularly produce content that consumers will want to read and then share with friends.

Why I’m Curious

Though all signs point to content, content, content, so many brands have yet to step into the future of advertising.

But for brands that aren’t already in the content game, it’s time to jump in. The brands who have invested in articles, slideshows, video, content platforms – anything that can be quickly (and realistically) digested in Facebook’s content-based platform – these are the brands that will prevail in capturing the coveted attention of consumers in a social-based era. 

Because let’s be honest, creating a viral hit or banking on an Oreo “You Can Dunk in the Dark” moment to drive mass reach, while fantastically ambitious, is not a sustainable content/social model. Sure, big ideas must still come to life, creating those big bursts of buzz we in the ad biz all crave, but it’s incredibly important that a brand’s momentum in the content space consistently drive mass impressions and engagement. By playing publisher, brands have the opportunity to own instead of rent, to be integrated into real life instead of disrupting real life.

Content is the future, so who’s ready to hop on board?