A virtual library for press freedom; Fanta celebrates ‘idiots’; VW’s celebrity accountant

Minecraft is now a haven for freedom of the press

Reporters Without Borders has created a virtual library within the online world of Minecraft that allows citizens in countries with repressive governments to access information that is otherwise blocked or controlled.

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“The Uncensored Library” will open its virtual doors on March 12, the World Day Against Cyber Censorship. It houses articles from journalists in five countries (Egypt, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam) that were all originally censored by those governments. They are presented as books in both English and their language of origin.

While media in those countries is frequently muzzled, games like Minecraft—which boasts more than 145 million monthly active users—remain readily accessible and free of government scrutiny.

Developed by DDB Germany and MediaMonks, the campaign is a follow-up to 2018’s “The Uncensored Playlist,” which saw articles from journalists turned into songs that could be accessed on streaming music services like Spotify.

The library was built in collaboration with international design studio and consultancy BlockWorks. It took 24 builders from 16 different countries more than 250 hours to design and create.

Fanta celebrates ‘idiots” in new campaign

The pursuit of online fame has led people to perform some pretty crazy stunts over the years. Rather than call them out, however, Fanta is celebrating these “idiots” in a new campaign from 72andSunny Amsterdam.

The campaign, “In the the name of play,” treats the people behind popular internet stunts—including a “snow swimmer,” a man who performs gymnastics tricks dressed as a giraffe, and a man sliding down an icy street clad in a housecoat, complete with a book and cup of coffee—as if they are actual athletes.

A 90-second anchor spot entitled “Idiots are amazing” is basically a training montage of these people preparing for their moment in the sun (or snow), complete with a dramatic voiceover and inspirational music.

“There is greatness inside all of us, so isn’t it time you set yours free, and show the world how amazing an idiot can be,” the voiceover concludes, before the spot cuts to actual online videos showing people performing their stunt.

VW introduces ‘The Accountant,’ starring Paul Giamatti and Kieren Culkin

Volkswagen has enlisted stars from two prestige cable TV dramas for a new campaign promoting its all-new Atlas Cross Sport. Developed by Johannes Leonardo, the “Excessive where it matters” campaign features Billions star Paul Giamatti as an accountant to a celebrity played by Kieran Culkin, who stars as Roman Roy in the HBO series Succession.

In the first of three short films that aired during Monday’s finale of The Bachelor, Giamatti is trying to come to terms with his client’s impulsive financial decisions, which include buying a solid gold jet ski, a private plane and asking if he can claim a tiger as a tax write-off.

The spot concludes with Culkin informing his accountant that he’s purchased the new VW model, leading Giamatti to breathe a sigh of relief and suggest they may have finally achieved a breakthrough of sorts. The spot then cuts to Culkin exiting the vehicle at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. “What are you doing back there?” asks an obviously anxious Giamatti.

The story will continue with two more spots set to air across TV, digital and social during March Madness.

Hershey, Coors Light pulls campaigns amid coronavirus scare

While COVID-19 is disrupting workplaces and leading to event cancellations, its impact is also being felt across the broader marketing world—with reports this week that both Hershey and Coors Light are pulling campaigns that reference close personal contact and telecommuting respectively amid concerns around consumer sensitivity.

With several companies including Google telling their employees to work from home in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Coors has reportedly pulled a March Madness-themed campaign identifying it as the “Official beer of working remotely.” According to an AdAge report, the campaign will be replaced by “product focused” advertising.

Hershey, meanwhile, made the decision last week to pull ads featuring a man handing out its chocolate bars to strangers, usually accompanied by hugs and handshakes. The coronavirus can be transmitted by person-to-person contact.

The “Heartwarming the world” ads from agency Mcgarrybowen focus on an Iowa man named Bob Williams, who has been giving Hershey bars to people in his hometown for more than a decade.




Chris Powell