Scandal Alert: $20k Bag of Brooklyn Air Posted to Ebay

Scandal Alert: $20k Bag of Brooklyn Air Posted to Ebay

Now here’s a true scandal. A bag of air from Brooklyn, NY post to Ebay for $20,000. I’m completely undone. Is this a scandal or sheer brilliance?

Leave it to Williamsburg to cull yet another use for Mason Jars: air. Bidding for “Air from Williamsburg, Brooklyn! HIP COOL BROOKLYN LENA DUNHAM 11211” originally started on July 6th at $39.99 and as of Thursday, July 9, the air was going for $20,100.00.

Excuse me, but the bid is more than some people pay annually to actually live in North Brooklyn.

“What you are bidding on here is a sample of air from the COOLEST neighborhood in the world: Williamsburg, Brooklyn!” the seller, theedgedweller, who has apparently never sold on the online auction site before, writes. “This might be your last chance to afford air from this much coveted zip code (11211),” reads another part of the description. This special, but also incredibly mundane air, can be shipped anywhere in the United States “either in a Ziploc bag or in a mason jar from one of our many, many mason jar specialty shops.” “$20,000 may sound expensive now, but at the rate prices go up in Williamsburg, this bag of air will be one million dollars by the end of the year,” wrote a satirist at Brokelyn.

While I get the joke, eBay put on their party pooper pants and made sure someone wasn’t stupid enough to buy a ziplock bag full of oxygen for a small down payment. They removed the listing since the post didn’t include “physical items or actual services.” While the idea is creative, the execution is what ended up falling short. This winter a Boston man, Kyle Waring, set up a website that sold batches of the record breaking snow for $89 a pop. Maybe “theedgedweller” should’ve gotten into the entrepreneurial spirit and taken matters into his own hands.

As it turns out, thanks to live feeds, maybe the joke is on me (and everyone else) The mysterious man is actually Dan Ozzi, Vice music editor. Maybe he knows of a bridge that he can sell us.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Pizza Hut’s New Box Doubles as Movie Projector

Pizza Hut’s clever new pizza box is also a film projector for smartphones.

Ordering a delivery pizza and watching a movie is pretty much the quintessential American “family night.” Pizza Hut is capitalizing on this synergistic relationship with a brilliantly conceived marketing ploy called the Blockbuster Box.

The brand’s new pizza box comes with a lens, which fits into a perforated hole at the front of the box. All consumers have to do is scan the codes on the box to ‘unlock’ their movie choices, then attach a smartphone to the lens. Moments later, you’re watching a movie projected from the box your pizza came in.

Pizza Hut spokesman Doug Terfehr said that “pizza is a social food, and movies are a social event. Perfect match.” I have to agree with Terfehr. While the Blockbuster Box is clearly just a novelty – and not something you’re going to use more than once – I can see little kids going wild over the idea.

For now, the only movies available are short films produced by Pizza Hut, but I would be shocked if they don’t expand on that at least a bit. I’m not sure anyone wants to sit down and watch a two-hour movie projected out of a pizza box with sound from a smartphone speaker, but including a couple episodes of popular TV sitcoms sounds like a great move.

Sure, it’s just a silly novelty, but sometimes silly novelties sell. I think this is one of those cases. Clever stuff from Pizza Hut.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Australian PSA Shows Kids Picking Up Parents’ Bad Driving Habits

A minimalist Australian PSA depicts children as puppets, mimicking parents’ bad driving habits.

“What kind of driver are you raising?” That question is at the heart of “Strings,” a one-minute public service announcement video from Clemenger BBDO Melbourne. The spot – created for Australia’s Transport Accident Commission – reminds parents that their children learn how to drive from watching them.

Filmed on a dark soundstage, the spot shows a young boy sitting in the back seat. With wires attached to his arms and legs, the boy mimics actions of a distracted driver. He checks his text messages, shouts at other drivers, takes a phone call, etc.

Eventually, the camera pans to reveal that the boy is connected to his father by puppet strings. Each of dad’s bad habits as a driver is instantly transferred to his son. It’s a rather chilling reminder of how parents must be aware of how they act around their children at all times.

A Clemenger BBDO Melbourne representative says that “parents can’t deny that their kids copy them. We just want to get into their psyches a little bit, to have them question how they act behind the wheel.” I’d say they succeeded in doing just that.

The next time you strap your kids into their car seats, remember that behaviors are learned everywhere – not just in the controlled environment of your home.

-Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Netflix Changes Lives While Streaming

Netflix is now changing lives while streaming. The company is changing the ways the streaming service can – and can’t – improve people’s lives.

The latest spot for Netflix Europe starts out like one of those anti-cable TV spots – you know, the ones popular with satellite providers. A deadly serious voiceover details the many different ways that Netflix’s streaming service changes your life (along with a few ways that it can’t).

The 60-second spot, produced by Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, focuses mostly on Netflix’s original programming. For example, one man develops a love for scuba-diving after watching the documentary “Mission Blue.” An angsty teenager trades in her frown for a smile while watching “Arrested Development.”

An awkward partygoer makes a new friend, thanks to their shared love of “Orange is the New Black.” Two couples having an awkward dinner break the ice by discussing “House of Cards.” Not quite everything is possible in Netflix-land, however – the ad makes sure to let everyone know that the service cannot turn you into the leader of an alien race.

Let’s toss aside for a moment the notion that Netflix is probably responsible for more nights home alone with the cat, than it is a social matchmaker. I love this ad for two reasons. First, it’s a funny, effective spot in a vacuum. However, it’s even better when you realize that it’s also a thinly veiled jab at two of Netflix’s greatest enemies – cable and satellite providers.

Can Netflix really change your life? In a minor way, sure. Just keep in mind that subscribing isn’t likely to lead to a scuba-diving excursion with whales.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Gatorade Celebrates 50 Years of Highlights

Gatorade is celebrating its 50th anniversary classic sports highlights.

There is perhaps no brand more synonymous with sports than Gatorade. For the last half-century, Gatorade has been a staple of baseball dugouts and football sidelines around the world. It’s rather fitting that the brand chose to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a highlight reel of timeless moments in sports history.

The 60-second video ad counts up from one to 50, tying each number to a moment from the last five decades in sports history. From Derek Jeter’s No. 2 jersey to the San Francisco 49ers dumping Gatorade on Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Walsh, each moment resonates well with its chosen number.

The spot accomplishes something that Gatorade has always excelled at – emphasizing the beverage’s close relationship to athletic competition. Gatorade was invented in 1965, with the specific purpose of better hydrating athletes. The brand is smart to keep that narrative front and center.

I always appreciate when a campaign has a logical through-line from product to pitch. Superstar athletes promote all sorts of products, but it’s more impactful when the product is something they legitimately use on a daily basis.

My one gripe with this spot is that – from start to finish – Florida Gators football players count along with the series of highlights. By the time they got to 15, I was more than ready for that audio to fade out. By the time they reached 50, I was practically screaming, “Enough already!”

That one complaint aside, Gatorade’s 50th anniversary ad is unquestionably a success. I still won’t likely be drinking one anytime soon (I don’t need as much sugar as football players do…), but how many people really read the labels anyway? Not to mention that Gatorade has never passed my lips.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Struck by a Rainbow: A Man Made of Skittles

Skittles examines the life of a man whose skin turned to candy when he was struck by a rainbow.

Skittles has an oddly proud history of creating TV spots in which the candy is involved in anatomical wackiness. For example, who could forget the guy who feeds himself Skittles with his beard? How about the human pinata confronting his co-workers in the break room, begging them to stop hitting him with bats and just buy their own Skittles?

Now, the brand has taken this gimmick to its limit, creating a new mockumentary video spot about a man made of Skittles. The 3 minute, 30 second spot tells the story of a man who was struck by a rainbow, and now finds himself trapped in a body comprised entirely of Skittles.

The man discusses the struggles of living with his affliction, such as leaving behind a trail of candy wherever he goes, or the weird looks from strangers on the street. Finally, he learns that life goes on: “I am a man made out of Skittles, and there is nothing wrong with that.”

Skittles and BBDO Toronto went all-out with the spot, enlisting Cannes Film Festival award-winning director Conor Byrne to direct it. Byrne finds the perfect tone for the video, nailing the popular Hollywood mockumentary style.

This entire campaign has been a home run for Skittles. The spots are pretty darn ridiculous, but this is a candy company we’re talking about here. Their entire business is based on appealing to children – and also the childlike aspect of adults that makes us occasionally ignore the nutrition facts and buy a bag of Skittles.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Nike Embraces the Cold with ‘Choose Your Winter’ Campaign

Nike is encouraging consumers to embrace the cold, launching their ‘Choose Your Winter’ campaign to push a new line of winter activewear.

Nike’s not afraid of winter, and you shouldn’t be either. The brand’s new campaign – created by Wieden + Kennedy – juxtaposes a faux-meterorologist’s gloom-and-doom forecast with athletes casually going about their business in the frigid outdoor air.

Nike clearly spared no expense on this ad, hiring Hollywood character actor Chris O’Dowd to play the weatherman. The spot is also loaded with cameos from famous athletes, including Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Clint Dempsey.

While the dichotomy between the deadly weather report and the comfortable, Hyperwarm-clad athletes is worth a chuckle, the joke has run its course by the time 60 seconds are up. The most effective part of the ad for me was the seemingly tacked-on final 15 seconds.

In the ad’s epilogue, the only sound is the occasional honking of car horns, as a jogger speeds past a traffic jam on a snowy day. The tranquility of the silence – and the beautiful imagery of the cityscape looking over a river – makes the jogger’s situation more inviting than those stuck in traffic.

Sure, they may be warm and comfortable in their cars, but so is the jogger as he glides by in his Nike Hyperwarm gear. Winter’s not slowing him down. That’s pretty much the idea behind this entire campaign, yes? I’d like to see this coda released as a stand-alone ad, but maybe that’s just me.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Hemingway Foundation Condenses Novels Into Instagram Videos

The Ernest Hemingway Foundation has released a series of 15-second Instagram videos based on the writer’s works.

Ernest Hemingway likely isn’t at the front of most Instagram users’ minds, unless they’ve been assigned one of his books in English class. In an effort to drum up interest in Hemingway’s novels among the social network’s youthful user base, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation has condensed several of his books into 15-second videos.

Now this is some clever stuff. Whether or not this all leads to millenials embracing Hemingway is anyone’s guess, but these brief videos are highly entertaining. The animation looks great, and the stripped-down stories are quite funny.

My favorite is “A Farewell to Arms,” in which the tragic romance between Frederic and Catherine is boiled down to three brief exchanges of dialogue. (Catherine’s deadpan “I’m going into labor and dying” had me in stitches.)

For Whom the Bell Tolls” likely does the best job of creating interest in the source material, selling Hemingway’s Spanish Civil War tale as an intriguing adventure story. “The Old Man and the Sea” is the least-successful of the three adaptations. It still elicits a chuckle, but I’m not sure who would ever want to read the book after watching the Instagram video.

This campaign is an exceptionally clever move on the part of the Hemingway Foundation. I can’t think of a much better way to make books from nearly a century ago relevant in 2014. As for me personally, I don’t think these videos will drive me back to the bookshelf to catch up on my Hemingway. However, I did just read his entire Wikipedia page, so that’s got to count for something.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Wix Spending Millions for Cheap Web Design

Israeli web-design company Wix is spending millions of dollars on a Super Bowl ad, in an effort to heighten visibility for its dime-store service.

The irony here just slaps you in the face. Wix, the hilariously inept web-design company, will spend about $4.5 million on a Super Bowl spot to advertise their cheapskate, no-frills service. This news feels roughly equivalent to a Syfy Original movie receiving the advertising push of “Avatar.” Imagine if your local grocery chain suddenly started spending millions to advertise their knockoff store-brand Triscuits. (There’s the analogy I was looking for!)

Wix is essentially SquareSpace for people who can’t afford SquareSpace. It’s Geocities for the 21st century. It’s Blogspot for people too dumb to realize other sites offer the same tools for free. It’s “Web Design for Dummies” for people who don’t read books. Yet, here they are, buying a freaking Super Bowl ad, like it’s time to sit at the big kids’ table or something.

Well, I’ve got news for you, Wix. You can’t just buy your way into a spot at the big kids’ table and expect people to suddenly take you seriously. Furthermore, Wix says this is the start of a “far more aggressive campaign.” How do you get more aggressive than advertising during the Super Bowl?

Are they going to start paying people to tattoo “WIX” on their foreheads? Buy up the naming rights for people’s children? (I have to admit that Wix Davidson does have a certain ring to it, if the price is right.)

Do not get me started about a powered by Wix logo.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Bud Light Plans New ‘Mixx Tail’ Flavored Beers

Anheuser Busch InBev is planning a new Bud Light line extension – flavored beers called ‘Mixx Tail.’”

A-B InBev is continuing their quest to make flavored beers socially acceptable. Not satisfied with just one Bud Light-branded line of wine coolers, the company is rolling out Mixx Tail. The new line will feature nondescript flavors like Hurricane and Firewalker, along with a traditional Long Island Ice Tea flavor. Because the world needs yet another “hard iced tea.”

The goal here must be to join forces with the existing Bud Light Ritas line, thus cornering the market on not-beers. Clearly, A-B InBev is hoping to lure those darned indecisive millennials, who can never choose whether they want a beer or a cocktail.

Enter Mixx Tail, a product that allows them to have both a beer and a cocktail simultaneously, eliminating the need for decisiveness. (Which, when you think about it, is the exact same marketing strategy behind Bud Light Ritas.)

I’ve always referred to these types of beverages as wine coolers. The rebranding to “flavored beer” is definitely a smart move, because there is absolutely nothing cool about drinking a wine cooler. Therein lies the rub with all these products – at heart, these are still wine coolers we’re talking about.

The bottom line, in my opinion, still comes down to the same problem as Bud Light Ritas. A-B InBev is going to have to do a whole lot of convincing to get any millennial to view a Mixx Tail Hurricane as anything different from the bottle of Bartles & Jaymes their great-aunt drank at the family reunion.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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