Out to Launch

Say hello to Kin, Microsoft's soon-to-be-launched line of smartphones. Kin's campaign begins online, with two documentary-style videos launching weekly until May 3. Rosa, a "socialologist," travels cross-country to meet her Facebook friends and Twitter followers face-to-face. All 824 of them, who range from an ex-boyfriend, an unwanted Internet flirt and celeb Andy Samberg. Since most people use social networks to keep in touch with acquaintances they don't necessarily want to interact with in person, this should be fun to watch. "Some of these friends are awesome, some of them really hate my guts and some of them I don't even know," says Rosa in an introductory video, seen here. Well-said. In another video, we meet "Matty Goldberg," a quirky, flirty guy who's friends with Rosa on Facebook. He's aggressive online, but will he act the same way in person? Doubtful. See it here. TV and cinema ads will launch in May. agencytwofifteen, the agency formerly known as T.A.G. San Francisco, created the campaign. Universal McCann handled the media buy.



MINI launched a trio of ads in Canada that bring audiences into the realm of MINI. Looks like a fun place. A guy takes his friend for a drive through a parking garage, showing him how well the MINI maneuvers. The friend loved it, as did his "Man-Boobs" that wouldn't stop shaking. See it here. A woman riding a Vespa receives an unexpected surprise: a moustache and thick eyebrows, ripped from a man riding in a MINi with his head out the window. Watch "Moustache" here. A grown child, strapped into a "Car Seat," gets snarky with his father, who's stopped at a traffic light. See it here. Taxi 2 Toronto, created the campaign, directed by Woods + Low from OPC, Toronto.

ESPN launched two great TV spots promoting "Sunday Night Baseball": "Everybody Watches on Sunday Night." Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz and actor Adam Scott sing "Sweet Caroline" while watching "ESPN Sunday Night Baseball." Guess who won't sing along? Nick Swisher from the Yankees. See it here. In "Fantasy Trade," Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler talk about making a fantasy trade. Adam Scott chimes in, telling the men he wouldn't trade them for anything. Awkwardness ensues. Watch it here. Wieden+Kennedy New York created the ads.

"Grapevinia" is the latest faux holiday concocted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to encourage travelers to spend a long weekend in Vegas. A woman blows off another grueling session with her trainer, using the legend of "Grapevinia" as her excuse. After a King nearly chokes to death on a grape, he orders all grapes be destroyed. Once the King tastes the grape juices, he has a change of heart, resulting in an annual celebration of wine. See the ad here, launched in time for the Vegas Uncork'd culinary festival, taking place in May. R&R Partners created the ad.

Activision launched a great campaign called "Mapathy," promoting the Modern Warfare 2 stimulus package, downloadable on Xbox live. Once a video game is released, new levels, or "maps" are unlocked. Hardcore gamers, however, grow tired of playing the same maps while waiting for new ones to be distributed. A fake medical condition, mapathy, was created to describe how gamers felt. A Web site was launched, offering gamers a 20-question, self-diagnosis quiz to determine their level of mapathy. A viral was created starring a doctor who treats mapathetics. He shows gamers before and after their condition was treated. I personally love the shot of the woman talking to her goldfish, telling it that she "feels trapped, too." See the viral here, created by TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles.

Gamers are a passionate target audience. Xbox debuted a trailer for its Gears of War 3 video game, launching in April 2011. That's right, next year. The trailer begins with ash flying through the air, and human remains trapped in ash, reminiscent of those found following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Warriors run through these ashen bodies, destroying them on impact. A heavy gun battle ensues, leaving soldiers surrounded by fire and ash. "Brothers to the end," closes the ad, seen here. agencytwofifteen created the trailer and Digital Domain handled the CG effects.

Here's another Xbox ad, running in England, Ireland and France, hyping its ability to stream HD movies from Xbox 360 to TV. Footage is so crisp, you almost feel like you're fighting, submerged underwater and kissing passionately as a speeding subway passes by. The opening scene looks like it was plucked from the 2004 movie "House of Flying Daggers." Watch it here. McCann Erickson London created the ad, edited by Cut + Run.

We almost got through an entire edition of "Out to Launch" without discussing the 800-pound advertisement in the room. Almost. Nike Golf ran "Earl and Tiger" for one day, right before the Masters began. We have Tiger looking stoic while the voice of his deceased father asks questions, like "did you learn anything?" That's putting it mildly. This ad serves a purpose for no one. Nike was never going to drop Tiger as a spokesman; this ad only brings Nike into the fray Woods is dealing with in his personal life. Fans that stood by him will love him no more and those rallying against him will like him no less. Now that we've addressed it, will it just go away? See the ad here, created by Wieden+Kennedy Portland.

Random iPhone App of the week: Dogs take part in social networking, too. Well, at least their owners do on their behalf. Dogbook launched a free iPhone app that's similar to Facebook, but for dogs! Users can upload pictures, locate nearby dog parks and see status updates of dog friends. Anyone who's lost her dog can use the app's "Arf Alert" to send a message to all Dogbook users within a 15-kilometer radius with a photo and owner contact information. Poolhouse developed app in conjunction with Five Mobile. Download it here.

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