Out to Launch

Don't die; Amp'd Mobile is launching a phone worth waiting for. Put on your yarmulke, it's time to celebrate Chrismahanukwanzakah. Let's launch!

Mountain Dew has launched MDX, a combination energy drink and soda. MDX debuted Nov. 1 in stores nationwide, but its ad campaign launched during the World Series. If the Mets were playing, perhaps I would have seen the ad sooner. The thirty-second spot, seen through night-vision goggles, shows nocturnal animals--owls, raccoons and bats--lip-synching to Lionel Richie's '80s classic "All Night Long." A print, online and radio campaign also play into the nocturnal theme, offering games and wisdom for those who want to "own the night." The MDX Web site (more on this later in the newsletter) launched October 17. BBDO created the TV spot.



Amp'd Mobile is launching a phone at the end of the year with so many capabilities (it plays MP3s, video games and video clips) that your life depends on waiting out the launch. The company tag line, targeting young consumers is: "Try not to die--Amp'd Mobile is coming." Pre-launch print ads are running in publications such as Blender, Rolling Stone, Cargo, FHM, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly, along with surfer and snowboarder enthusiast magazines. TV spots are running on cable networks including Spike TV, Comedy Central, Logo, Cartoon Network, BET, Fox Sports, ESPN, Speed and MTV. "Rockstar" shows an unconscious rocker in a hotel room whom a chambermaid is trying to revive. "Senator" shows a politician in a hotel room being straddled by a young, scantily clad woman slapping the man's face and telling him that he "can't leave" because a new phone is launching that shows "really cool graphics." The campaign also includes a heavy online ad buy on youth-oriented music, sports, entertainment, gaming and shopping Web sites. One online ad is for a fake online store called Re-Climb that's supposedly selling secondhand rock-climbing gear. Instead of bring you to a store, the banner takes users to a page that states, "You are at risk. Try Not to Die. Amp'd Mobile is coming." Print ads walk the line by using pictures of cremation urns next to copy about the dead folks' regrets at having missed out on Amp'd Mobile. TAXI New York created the bold campaign.

Virgin Mobile's ever-popular Chrismahanukwanzakah ads are back, and still as un-politically correct as ever. A series of TV, online, and radio ads launched last week along with a microsite and a Toll-Free Help Line (1-888-ELF-POOP). The number is real. I called, and the Help Line gave me the option of speaking to one of four customer service representatives: a Jew; a Hindu Santa; a gay elf, or a Kwanzaa guy. Users can also opt to hear Paula Abdul reading Virgin Mobile's rendition of "Twas the Night Before Chrismahanukwanzakah." The campaign bowed with three TV spots featuring characters singing Chrismahanukwanzakah carols: The Jewish Twins sing the "Dreidel Song" and Hindu Santa sings "Silent Chrismahanukwanzakah Night." (Who knew the word chutney would fit like a glove in this rendition?) "Carols" launched on MTV and mtvU, and "The Help Line" spots will run on national cable stations, including: MTV, mtvU, Comedy Central, Spike, The N, BET, Cartoon Network (Adult Swim) and FX. Fallon created the campaign.

XM Satellite Radio has launched "Listen Large," a holiday campaign consisting of TV, print, radio, online and outdoor ads. The company enlisted Ellen DeGeneres, Snoop Dogg, Derek Jeter, David Bowie and Martina McBride to showcase the company's eclectic program offerings. "Listen Large" launched Monday during prime time on broadcast network television and cable TV. The spot follows Snoop Dogg on a quest to find his bling bling--a missing necklace. DeGeneres hasn't seen it; neither has Jeter or McBride. Bowie, on the other hand, feigns innocence, but viewers of the ad know the truth. The spot also coincides with the November 17 episode of "The Apprentice," where XM is the featured company of the week. Mullen created the campaign.

Staples is launching a holiday commercial on Nov. 20 to illustrate how a tightly-run ship such as Santa's Workshop can use the Staples Easy Button to purchase digital cameras in a hassle-free manner. "Assembly Line" features Santa's elves trying to build digital cameras from scratch using oak shavings (which are deemed "megapixel dust"). The elves are working hard, but have yet to snap an actual picture using the oak cameras. The business-shirt-and-khaki-pants-clad Santa is not happy, and upon speaking to the head elf, is introduced to Staples' Easy Button. One press of the button transports Santa's elves to a Staples store, where they purchase their digital cameras. The ad will debut during Sunday's NFL game on ESPN and will air throughout the holiday season on national network and cable television. McCann Erickson created the spot.

The agency Wexley School for Girls launched an online contest to promote the MSN/Sprite"The Wall." The Sprite "Refreshing Wall" is a branded entertainment site encouraging teens to create a graffiti design using pre-designed stencils and backgrounds. Once a design is created, kids can save their art as a downloadable screensaver and send it to friends. The agency officially launched the site on Nov. 4 at Coca-Cola's Atlanta headquarters. Local graffiti artists entered a contest, and the winner's work was projected fifty feet tall on famous Atlanta buildings and landmarks.

To celebrate the premiere of SpongeBob SquarePants' "Where's Gary" television event on Nov. 11, Nickelodeon hosted live snail races in five major markets: New York, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Jose and Orlando. On the weekend of Nov. 5, both kids and adults had the opportunity to participate in Nickelodeon's Trail of the Snail races, featuring a custom-built Bikini Bottom racetrack to race snails. Participants had a shot to win SpongeBob SquarePants and Nickelodeon-themed prizes, and exclusive, limited-edition "Where's Gary?" posters. The events were produced by the michael alan group.

Cartoon Network and Hasbro are offering kids the chance to win a truckload of Hasbro toys and games as part of their eighth annual holiday toy giveaway. The Grand Prize winner will receive 500 Hasbro toys and games, and 500 second-place winners will get their choice of one of four featured Hasbro toys. Now it's time to advertise to the children, using Tommy and Tara, hosts of the FRIDAYS kids programming block on Cartoon Network, and Long Haul the dog. Four 60-second spots running on the Cartoon Network show Tommy and Tara plotting to keep the toys for themselves. Looking to thwart Tommy and Tara is Long Haul the dog, encouraging kids to visit and enter by Dec. 3 for a chance to win. The ads were created in-house.

I have seen these ads everywhere--coincidentally, on advertising-centric blogs with names that all begin with "A": AdAge, AdFreak, Adverblog and AdRants. I really need to get out more. Sharpe Partners is behind PointRoll's latest campaign touting PaperBoy Local Delivery, which has the ability to offer deals and prices to specific geographic areas online, similar to how Sunday circulars work. One ad compares the price of toothpaste in Salt Lake City, Utah and Brooklyn, N.Y.--where it is thirty cents more. The campaign also includes an e-mail promotion and a microsite that educates retailers and advertisers about the online platform.

The Advertising Council and CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation have launched radio and online PSAs to help children with cancer and their families receive the information, resources and support they need. The PSAs direct viewers to the CureSearch Web site, which provides clinical information that is customized to patients, families and friends based on a child's age, diagnosis and treatment. The radio spots feature problems facing children and their parents when dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Y & R created the campaign.

This week's Web site launches curb my need for speed and the nightlife.

Subaru of America launched an online game competition to showcase the redesigned 2006 Subaru Impreza. The site features interviews, driving footage and advice from Subaru Motorsports drivers. Visitors can also download wallpapers, music and video. To play the game, players must pick a Subaru Impreza model and a Subaru Motorsports driver they want to race. Times to beat are posted online, along with a countdown to the end of the stage's round. Needless to say, my time of two minutes and seven seconds was atrocious compared to the 41-second time to beat. The top 30 racers will compete in a championship round, and three finalists will compete for grand prizes including a free trip to the O'Neil Rally School. R/GA created the site.

Be Noctural, the Mountain Dew MDXWeb site, has launched. features quirky characters that get in a cab and ask the driver for advice on how to get to a bevy of late-night spots. After selecting a driver -- either "Van the Bat, "Pete the Possum," or "Trey the Owl" -- the player then has to steer the cab to that destination before time runs out. Players have to drive the taxi while listening to the random banter coming from the back seat. No big shock here, but I failed miserably. Tribal DDB Dallas created the campaign.

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