This Content Marketing Agency Wants to Win A Pulitzer

An agency is in stealth mode! Or at least they were. But wait. An agency in stealth mode? We thought only tech startups had a stealth mode. Anyway, what do we know? We're just a journalist. Speaking of journalists -- or rather, stealth mode agencies (or both) -- Ready State, a just-out-of-stealth mode ad agency has hired Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Worthen to join the agency's team of "trained reporters who are fusing journalism and content marketing." Fusing journalism and content? WTF. Only an ad agency could coin a phrase like that. And only an agency could actually say, "We want to be the first marketing agency to help a brand win a Pulitzer." Well, hell, can a journalist win a Lion? Because we'd sure as hell love to go Cannes and pick one up!

Why is no one comparing that GoDaddy ad, which featured Jean-Claude Van Damme doing splits in a bakery, to that Cannes Lions-winning Epic Split ad for Volvo? Yeah, sure -- Van Damme's bakery split is far less epic but it's a hell of a lot more real. And why isn't GoDaddy screaming copycat? Maybe it's all moot. Maybe GoDaddy was too busy selecting a new ad agency to notice. Yeah, the brand has hired Barton F. Graf 9000 as its new agency. Which is probably a good thing. Barton F. Graf 9000 and the craziness it's displayed in its work for Little Caesars appears to be the perfect match for GoDaddy's apparent penchant for kookiness. New work will debut in September. And in a quote from an ad agency exec that is less about platitudes and more about stuff that matters, Barton F. Graf 9000 CEO Gerry Graf said: “GoDaddy is an iconic brand, which makes this an exciting challenge, and really, our team is much like a GoDaddy customer because we are a small agency with big ideas. GoDaddy has some innovative tools to help people who own their own business. I know this because I own my own business and I use GoDaddy’s tools. We're going to let everybody else in the world in on this.” Hmm. Is he also a member of Hair Club For Men?

Aiming to bolster its digital offerings, Publicis Groupe has acquired e-business consulting firm Crown Partners. No one is saying for how much, but the acquisition will become part of Publicis Groupe's Razorfish unit -- which it seems needs all the help it can get these days. Of the acquisition, Razorfish CEO Pete Stein said: “One of the biggest trends we’ve seen over the last five years is technology platforms are playing a bigger and bigger role in this transformation. It can be a huge enabler in helping clients go to market differently but also transform the way they deliver products and services.” That's about as clear as Razorfish co-founders explaining what they did back in the dot-com era -- but hey, what do you actually expect from an agency CEO? Everything's all roses all the time.

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  • MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER Solves Oxford Comma Conundrum With Browser Bookmark-Let

    In an ingenious, holiday-themed effort designed to call attention to the importance of the Oxford comma in certain situations, San Francisco-based MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER has launched a browser bookmark-let that will automagically add missing Oxford commas.

    A video accompanies the effort with clear examples as to why you really should employ the Oxford comma at times. The video says "Missing Oxford commas ruins Christmas." It then cites some unintended results such as "I was shopping for your Christmas presents, toilet paper and prunes," "We went caroling with our dogs, grandma and grandpa" and "Merry Christmas from your parents, Santa and Rudolph." Images accompany the statements to illustrate just how wrong those sentences are without the Oxford comma.

    So if you're ever confused as to whether or not the Oxford comma is necessary, you can recall the awkward examples given in the video.
  • Deep Focus Pays Homage to Classic Console Games With Holiday Charity Effort

    Like the holidays? Like games? Then Deep Focus has something you might like. The agency has developed an old school interactive game called #DeepSnow. The agency developed it from scratch using Google Maps, HTML5, WebSockets, SASS, OpenLayers, and custom animations.

    The aim of the game is to steer a snow plow through the streets of New York City and rescue Deep Focus employees and toys spilt by Santa from the grasps of a winter snowpocalypse. In tandem with the web experience, players use their mobile device as a game controller. Data from the phone’s gyroscope is used to power the steering wheel for the snowplow as it maneuvers around angry Yetis and actual NYC landmarks on the computer screen.

    And, of course, there's a charity element to the game. Because, after all, agencies need to somehow make up for their self-centered, egotistical outlook on life they vamp the rest of the year. Virtual points earned during game play will be turned into physical toys donated to Toy For Tots.

  • Digitas Health Turns Mundane Holiday Card Into Charity Extravaganza

    Oh the agency holiday card. Yawn. Oh wait, not yawn! Some agencies actually put some thought into the mundane annual event. One such agency is Digitas Health LifeBrands which has come up with something a little more meaningful. The agency has launched HUG, a social media campaign which aims to generate awareness of charities and provide a monetary donation from the agency to charities which are nominated by employees.

    In its fifth year, the program involves employees from the New York, Philadelphia, London, and San Francisco offices who have nominated 24 charities to compete to win money. Each week visitors to the Group HUG Facebook page will vote for their favorite charity  by “liking” and “sharing” the logos from the charities. At the end of the campaign, which runs through the end of December, there will be four winning charities.

    Check out the Group HUG video trailer here and be sure to visit the Group HUG Facebook page to vote for your favorite charity. After all, what better way to celebrate the season of giving than with a nice big Group HUG?
  • Ogilvy Pitches Christmas to Focus Group Which Interprets Santa As Pedophilic Rapist

    What if you had to pitch Christmas to a focus group? As we all know, focus groups are a disastrous means of coming to consensus on anything. And that's pretty much what happens in this video created by Ogilvy & Mather Paris.

    After explaining some of the elements of Christmas such as a fat old man with a big beard, a little girl asks, "Why do I have to sit on his lap?" Just let that one sink in for a minute. Ick. Another woman offers up, "You know who else sneaks into your house through the chimney? Rapists." Ouch! This isn't going well.

    The confusion continues with focus group members wondering why Christmas is proposed to be in December instead of the much warmer August. And why the fat guy gets all the credit when he doesn't even buy all the gifts. One panelist even claimed proposed Christmas carols make him feel horny. No, not going well at all. And let's not even get into New Year's Eve.

  • Dick Rich, Co-Founder of Wells Rich Green Dead At 84

    Copywriting legend Dick Rich passed away from a heart attack on November 1. He was 84. His daughter, Karen Rich, made his death known last week. Rich, along with Mary Wells and Rich Greene, was one of the founders of the storied Wells Rich Green ad agency and creator of classic 60's work for Alka-Seltzer and Benson & Hedges. 

    He was known for his confident approach to his work telling The New York Times in 1983: “Clients don’t come to me for O.K. advertising. They come to me for great, great advertising.”

    A real man’s man who will be missed.

  • Starcom Just Screamed 'Oh Sh*t!'

    Looking to consolidate its global media planning business with one agency, Mars has handed its $1,7 billion account to MediaCom after a review. In a review that included WPP, MediaCom ousted incumbent Starcom, which was one of 8 agencies handling a (substantial) slice of that $1.7 billion. 

    Of the account shift, a Mars statement read: "With the constant change in the media landscape, this model will allow us to better collaborate across our global business to drive efficiency, effectiveness, and coordination in our media planning. This change brings our planning model in line with our existing global creative agency structure, and will allow us to further focus media as a growth driver."

    The account has been with Starcom since 2010. Just a couple of months ago, Starcom lost the planning portion of the $575 million Anheuser-Busch InBev. It's a sad week for sure for the media-buying shop.
  • This Agency's Sizzle Reel Takes Food Porn to New Heights

    The Sizzle Reel. We've all got one, right? That two minute thrill ride highlighting your best work designed to make it undeniably clear your shop is the only shop worth considering when pitching a client. It's usually filled with bombastic statements no one outside marketing can understand backed by music only 22-year-old ravers might enjoy and edited in a way that would give a corpse an epileptic seizure. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

    But...not all sizzle reels are created equal. No siree. Taking food porn to an entirely new level, Brooklyn-based Brickhouse Projects is out with the aptly titled Our Sizzle Reel. Oh and what a sizzler it is! 

    For two full minutes you will be regaled with Barry White-like intonations as if the situation where the juiciest foreplay the biggest grill-themed food orgasm you may ever have had. Or will ever have. Ribeye. Bacon. Stir Fry. Parmesan-encrusted Tilapia. Tender, juicy teriyaki kabobs. A gas station burrito. Lots of Ferris Bueller closing credit "Oh yeahs." A cute dog. And a house fire. Wait, what? Oops.
  • This Agency's 'Post Holiday Party Apology Maker' Will Help You Save Face After Your Epic Party Fail

    So you've probably been to or are planning to go to a spate of holiday parties this month. Some of you will enjoy. Some of you will hate. And others, still, you will wish you never went and made a fool of yourself in front of your boss, co-workers, friends or, yes, the stranger you woke up next to the next morning.

    But Cleveland-based agency Brokaw has you covered. It has created the very ingenious Post Holiday Party Apology Maker. It's the internet's answer to the walk of shame. And all you have to do is click.

    When you visit the site, you choose who you want to address your letter to. You are then presented with the phrase, "I'm sorry I..." which is followed by a list of transgressions you wished to have avoided. You can string together as many apologies as you like. Your hand is held the entire time and your letter is auto-magically created Mad Libs-style. 

    You can then share your apology directly via email or more broadly (because, hell, you just might have no idea just how many people you offended) to Facebook and Twitter. Now isn't that a thoughtful and helpful tool we can all use right around this time of year? Yeah, it is. Give it a try. You know you need to.
  • Cossette Seals Deal With BlueFocus Communications

    Last month, we reported Canadian Agency, Cossette, was in talks with Chinese agency, BlueFocus Communications Group, to be acquired. That deal has been sealed for $210 million. 

    The sale involved the acquisition of a majority stake in Cossette's parent company, Quebec City-based Vision7 International, whose assets also include PR firm Citizen Relations. Of the acquisition, BlueFocus CEO Oscar Zhao said, “Having Vision7 join the BlueFocus family will help us gain better access to the North American market and emphasizes our ‘To Be Global’ strategy."

    In its apparent quest for global domination BlueFocus last year acquired London-based social agency We Are Social as well as a 20 percent stake in PR firm Huntsworth.

  • UK Agency Creates Designer Holiday Cards And Gift 'Rap'

    U.K agency Joint London understands that Christmas is all about giving. And this year they’ve decided to give in two rather special ways. And the agency created two Web sites to help them put that notion in motion.

    One site, Designer Santa, lets you download a set of fashion-themed Christmas cards. In creating the site, the agency imagined what would happen if, in an attempt to help them reboot their look, the top fashion designers of our time tailored their current collections to fit the "strong bones" of Father Christmas. There are some pretty cool-looking cards you can download once you pay with a Tweet.

    The second site, appropriately called Gift Rap, gives people the opportunity to win one of several gifts from a fluffy penguin to an iPhone 6. The agency invited 17-year-old LA-based rapper A-F-R-O to their offices to create some "off-the-head freestyle based on a selection of gifts that we gave him totally at random.” Check all that out here.
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