Web series goes behind the scenes of commercials; Coke’s gay ads draw fire in Hungary

Commercials provides a behind-the-scene look at ad-making

A new web series is drawing comparisons to the hit sitcom The Office for its humorous—and frequently awkward—take on the behind-the-scenes world of commercial filmmaking.

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Developed by Community Films’ directorial collective JEAN and director Pam Thomas, Commercials (main picture) highlights the “humorous, ego crushing [and] overanalyzed silliness” that is part of the commercial making process.

The six episodes follow a commercial production company called Bird Films as its employees deal with insecure directors, needy clients and disgruntled agency personnel.

From its Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque theme music to its cringe-inducing interactions, the show is built around on-the-nose humour that elicits the type of cringe-laughter popularized by The Office.

The storylines in the six episodes include a client who worries that the actress in its soda commercial is not “ethnically ambiguous” enough (introducing viewers to the term “bronze face”); a director named Axel Roundhouse who throws a “mantrum” after a creative director requests “more irony” from an actress playing a ballerina; and agency representatives who feel the production company employees aren’t doing an adequate job of checking in with them on set because they’re not fully turning their body towards them.

“As commercial directors and former advertising creatives, we’ve experienced hundreds of completely ridiculous moments during productions where we looked at each other and said, ‘This needs to be a show,’” says JEAN’s Natalie Prisco of the show’s origins. With glowing write-ups from the likes of Shots and Fast Company, Commercials looks like it might be bigger than expected (that’s what she said).

Coca-Cola draws fire in Hungary for ads featuring gay couples

Coca-Cola is facing backlash from political leaders and right wing media outlets in Hungary after running billboards and social media ads featuring same sex couples. The ads are timed to coincide with the annual Sziget Festival, a music festival that this year features the theme “Love Revolution.”

The ads show gay couples accompanied by messages like “zero sugar, zero prejudice.” All of the ads use the hashtag #loveislove.

According to a report from Reuters, Istvan Boldog, the deputy speaker for Viktor Orban’s nationalist Fidesz party (which wants to prohibit same-sex marriage), called for a boycott of Coca-Cola during the “provocative” campaign, while Bloomberg reports that an anti-abortion group gathered 25,000 signatures for an online petition to remove the billboards.

The Bloomberg report also quoted an e-mailed statement from Coca-Cola: “Our belief that everyone has a right to love and that the feeling of love is the same for all.”

$8 billion Gillette writedown unlikely to change marketing focus   

Gillette’s progressive stand on gender and masculinity was back in the news last week after parent company P&G announced an $8 billion writedown on the brand. Critics latched onto the writedown, as well as some curiously timed comments by Gillette’s CEO, to suggest that the “We believe” and “First shave” ads turned men off the brand.

In an interview published by Marketing Week on Monday, the day before the writedown was announced, Gillette CEO Gary Coombs talked about how the ad angered some customers, but described it as a “price worth paying” to connect with newer, younger consumers.  However the writedown has been expected for sometime—an overdue adjustment to massive structural change in the category over the last decade, both with new DTC players and men just shaving less.

Reuters reported that Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj described the writedown as “just an accounting expression of what we knew was happening to the business.”And the Financial Times pointed out that P&G’s quarterly organic sales in its grooming division rose 4% in the quarter. It may be that P&G’s new found purpose for Gillette hasn’t helped the brand, but the writedown isn’t proof of that. —D.B

TikTok taps PHD for global media

The fast-rising social app TikTok has selected Omnicom’s PHD network as its global media planning and buying agency of record for markets outside of China.

Despite being dogged by troubling reports around brand safety and privacy concerns, TikTok has become one of the darlings of the social space, and quietly launched an ad sales unit earlier this year.

Alex Malafeev, co-founder of the app analytics company Sensor Tower, expects TikTok to grow by around 40 to 50 million first-time users each month for the remainder of 2019 according to The Drum. The app hit one billion downloads earlier this year and is growing quickly in western markets.

Facebook branding added to Instagram and WhatsApp 

Facebook plans to make its ownership of Instagram and WhatsApp more explicit by adding the words “From Facebook” to their names. “We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook,” said a spokesperson for the social media giant in a statement to AdWeek.

According to a report by Alex Heath of The Information, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been “frustrated” by the fact that Facebook hasn’t received credit for growing the two apps (it acquired Instagram for US$1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp for US$22 billion two years later). Both apps now have more than 1 billion users worldwide, with a 2018 report from Bloomberg stating that Instagram would be worth US$100 billion if it were a standalone service.

At the same time, however, keeping their distance has enabled the two platforms to largely steer clear of the data privacy scandals that have plagued Facebook in recent months.

According to Heath’s report, the “From Facebook” branding will be visible inside the apps as well as in app stores. Zuckerberg has been calling on his lieutenants to “unify” the messaging systems behind the apps, therefore enabling cross-platform communication, reported Heath. Facebook has also been exerting “more influence” over the two platforms in the past year, wrote Heath, who noted that the co-founders of both platforms left the company in the past year.

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Canadian Jordan Doucette (centre in picture) has been named chief creative officer at Leo Burnett Chicago, leading creative for the agency’s “marquee clients,” including The Kellogg Company and Miller-Coors, while also overseeing its creative and production departments.

Doucette joined Leo’s Chicago office last year as executive vice-president/executive creative director. Prior to that she was chief creative officer at Taxi’s Toronto office, where she led award-winning work for clients including Pfizer Canada, Canadian Tire, Mark’s and Fido.

“In naming a new CCO, our priority was to make sure we are igniting the creative culture that is alive and well at Leo Burnett. No one is better positioned for this than Jordan,” said Leo Burnett Chicago president and chief strategy officer Emma Montgomery in a release.







Chris Powell