COVID Production Problems Drag Deepfakes into Ads

An Allstate ad that aired with “The Last Dance”, a documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, featured a 90s-era clip of SportsCenter newscaster Kenny Mayne making startlingly accurate predictions about our current world.

Though it looks real, the ad is doctored. Old footage was combined with the mouth and voice of the current Kenny Mayne to create a realistic portrayal.

While this is not the first time the ad industry has used deepfake technology to create ads, this may be part of a larger trend as advertisers explore ways to create content as they face limited production possibilities during the COVID-19 lock-down, the New York Times reports.

A young Kenny Mayne, left, merged with an older Kenny Mayne, right, in a recent State Farm commercial.

Why it’s hot: 

Like many COVID trends, deepfake ads may outlast the pandemic if they prove successful because they can be produced quickly and inexpensively.

A new voice injects some action into the democratic party persona

Apparently this ad came out in September, but I was just served it on Instagram a couple of days ago, and it’s just plain fun.

Most political ads are easy to ignore, but not this one. It plays like a trailer for an action movie, and only at the end do we discover that Valerie Plame is a democrat running for Congress. It piques the viewers interest first, eschewing the common tendencies of both tuning out political ads and of ignoring messages from outside one’s political cohort.

Why it’s hot:

1. Democrats have a huge messaging problem. They’ve long been criticized for being kind of lame and generally unable to inspire voter turnout, which is the main thing they need to do in order to win elections. Valerie Plame is bringing a new edginess to the party.

2. Congressional races have entered the national stage. As Democrats are looking to turn Congress more blue to combat a nearly inevitable Trump win, democratic candidates are hoping to appeal not just to their future constituents, but to the country as a whole, to fund their campaigns. To do so, this ad focuses on key national political issues (“national security, health care, and women’s rights”) and takes direct aim at Trump.

Indie performing artists embracing Twitch amidst widespread tour cancellations

Due to COVID-19, Twitch, the streaming site popular with gamers is beginning to have a new constituency: Musicians. “50% of millennial males in America use Twitch. If you want to reach millennial males (which odds are, you do) Twitch is a good place to do it.” But now that musicians are using the platform more, Twitch may draw in more than just the male/18-34 demo.

From The Verge:

Mark Rebillet is part of a fast-growing community of musicians who are migrating to digital platforms to perform “quaranstreams” during the pandemic. Many larger artists, like Charli XCX, John Legend, and Diplo are choosing Instagram, but indie artists are overwhelmingly flocking to Twitch.

There’s one likely reason: while Instagram is an easy option to reach lots of people en masse, Twitch offers an abundance of ways to make money. “It’s more financially focused,” says musician and longtime Twitch streamer Ducky. “It supports different tiers of subscriptions and donations. People can subscribe to a channel for free with their Amazon Prime account. Fans can tip in micro amounts with things like Cheers. Other platforms usually just pay out on ad revenue or number of plays.”

Will the interactivity of live-streamed performances be enough to draw a crowd comparable to what an artist might draw on tour? It might not matter, because musicians have multiple revenue streams that are compatible with the Twitch platform. The vibe of a live show will never be captured via Twitch, but live-streaming shows may be a bigger part of the future of music due to covid.

Why it’s hot:

Artists might end up making more money

1) Because they can now reach a worldwide audience all at once, and eschew the high costs of touring, including the cuts venues and ticket vendors take on ticket sales.

2) Because of the ease of “tipping” on Twitch, audiences may end up paying their favorite artists more than they would for a ticket to a concert.

Musicians streaming on Twitch may offer brands a new way-in to the platform.

Aside from going the gamer route, brands may want to get in front of viewers watching a concert in real time. What kind of interesting interactive activation could brands do that would not undermine the musicians credibility?

Source: The Verge

Red Bull’s solar-powered billboard lights-up nighttime sports

Lighting for nighttime sports is scarce in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, making it hard for people to enjoy outdoor activities, like football and skateboarding, at night. The desire to play sports at night is especially strong in Vietnam because of the intense daytime heat and humidity. Red Bull, being all about energy and action, used this as an opportunity to create a social benefit while aligning the brand with a different kind of energy than caffeine: solar.

To do this, they painted a grid of used Red Bull cans black, in order to soak up the sun’s energy during the day, then stored that energy in batteries, which were used to power flood lights, making nighttime games and sports possible.

Why it’s hot:

Instead of just throwing up some standard billboards in outdoor recreation areas, Red Bull decided to be user-centered, looking to solve a real problem first, and found a clever way for the brand to participate in a more meaningful way within the culture it wants to attract.

1. Alignment: Red Bull sells an image of passion — a desire to go “all out” for one’s dreams, and this project fits perfectly with that image.

2. Social benefit: This hits on all cylinders for Red Bull. It positions the brand as essential to the sports it’s supporting, while repurposing resources, reducing energy use, and showing off its innovation chops. Helping people in this small way with things they are passionate about extends good will toward the brand far beyond the initial investment.

Source: Contagious

Twitter Expands Custom Ad Emojis

Twitter introduced custom emojis during the VMAs this year, and they seem to be expanding the efforts with a new Share a Coke ad.

Share a Coke on Twitter

They also launched custom Star Wars emojis previously.

Users would need to use the ascribed hashtags in their tweets to generate the custom emojis.

Why It’s Hot: Twitter seems to have developed a paid product that provides a very clear value exchange for the consumers and brands. By customizing a product (something of a collectible) that’s attuned and relevant to present mobile behaviors, it’s likely that ad purchases and usage will increase on Twitter.

Flash banners banned from Google Chrome

Google has instituted a new policy of preventing Adobe flash banners from auto-loading, auto playing and inducing the wheel of death that’s notorious on so many of the sites we innocently visit.  Now when you want to view an Adobe flash banner through Chrome, you’ll need to click on it.

The decision is hardly a novel one. Mozilla just instituted a similar policy on its browser and Amazon will no longer allow flash ads on its ad network. And according to an article on Yahoo:Tech, “People have been increasingly turning to browser add-ons that block advertising (and the creepy tracking and security vulnerabilities that come along with many of the ads). By preventing people from seeing ads, blocking software will cut off $22 billion in advertising revenue this year, up 41% from last year, according to a recent estimate from PageFair and Adobe.”

Image result for Chrome blocks flash ads

Why It’s Hot

This move could have a big impact on advertisers, who will be forced to reconsider their ad strategies. Reduced load times and fewer invasive practices (such as auto loading) may be a few such outcomes, but for the consumer, the browsing experience should get better as they don’t have to suffer through ads they have no interest in.

Facebook Ads to Add GIFs

After years and years of limiting animated content on the newsfeed, Facebook has announced that it will now allow GIFs in business ads.

Wendy’s and Kuat, a Brazilian brand, are the first companies to test this.


While GIFs are still in the testing phase, the logic is that since Facebook has acclimated users to video plays on the newsfeed now, they will more likely interact with them.

Why It’s Hot: GIFs allow so many more creative possibilities, like non-linear storytelling, and this new platform addition will help companies be more expressive online.

Diesel’s “The A-Z of Dance” Video has the Right Rhythm

fashion14_150Diesel’s “The A-Z of Dance” Video has the Right Rhythm //

Lifestyle content rooted in creativity and culture continues to be a main focal point for brand marketers. It all about mastering the emotional connection with consumers and sparking the meaningful engagement that follows. Diesel seems to have had success only one year after a similar execution by PUMA that fell flat on its face.
Diesel joined forces with i-D Fashion Magazine to create a video in April 2014, “The A-Z of Dance,” featuring Diesel’s #joggjeans. The video features the top talent making waves in pop culture today. Then Diesel makes it your turn to be The Star of their Next Video.


Now slip into your Jogg Jeans and show us your moves…We are now inviting fans across the globe to dance their way into a one-of-a-kind follow up film – upload your moves to Instagram, Vine etc using the hashtags #joggjeans and #iDdance.

Diesel drives fans to their Jogg Jeans site where they connect the video, the CTA and all social engagement with the hashtag, #joggjeans seamlessly in one place sealing the deal by featuring fans.

While the Diesel video has recently resurfaced thanks to Fast Company, it is difficult to forget that PUMA released the PUMA Dance Dictionary a year earlier in 2013. The concept was “Encrypt your messages into dance moves.” The video was created to celebrate the launch of the new PUMA “Sync” fragrances, the PUMA Dance Dictionary is a digital application that encrypts messages into dance moves. Don’t say it, move it. However, the effort was an epic failure and their site,, has become nothing more than inoperable code.

Why It’s HOTThis shows that hitting the mark by understanding the social media landscape and understanding your audience in a manner that allows a team to create something that not only resonates but generates authentic engagement is a skill set only the few can master.


Diesel’s “The A-Z of Dance” // WARNING: Video Contains Twerking. Content Potentially Not Suitable for Children Under Age 13.

PUMA’s Dance Dictionary // WARNING: You will never get the next 2 minutes and 44 seconds of your life back after watching the video below in its entirety. 

Adweek summed it up best:

The Puma Dance Dictionary, created by Grey London to push the brand’s new Sync fragrances (yes, Puma makes fragrances), allows users to select words and phrases which are then translated into dance moves by freestyle performers. These “moving” messages can be shared via social media or emailed to friends. You start with various templates and then shift a few words in and out to create sentences. The pre-set “I love women with heart,” for example, can be changed to “I love women with popcorn.” Or “I love guys with muscles.” Or even “I love women with nuts,” if you’re into that. Manipulating other templates yields sentiments like “Money makes me want to get naked,” “Hey bro, your face is crazy” and “Will you stroke my girlfriend?” This can be amusing, but not very, as the vocabulary is too limited. I understand the dancers could interpret only so many words, and Puma naturally wants to avoid potential hate speech or outright vulgarity. But the enterprise seems hamstrung by a lack of true interaction.

Ouch. Sorry, PUMA.You were just out of “Sync” on this one. Better luck next time.

Tumblr’s New “Creatrs” Connects Artistic Users with Brands to Design Ads


Tumblr announced it’s new program today called Creatrs. Tumblr describes it as a art-meets-content collective essentially powering users by allowing them to utilize the Tumblr platform users to create advertising content for brands [to advertise on Tumblr].

[A wolf in sheep’s clothing] The Creatrs Network is a Tumblr advertising platform conversion driver for Tumblr by Tumblr.

Brands using the Creatrs Network are required to buy Tumblr advertisement. Traditionally, a brand will come in with content prepared by its own digital agency and simply buy the placement for its own copy. Tumblr is effectively offering the content itself to buy, and to use in expansive campaigns, as long as you buy a Tumblr ad spot first. In other words, brands can’t buy content from Tumblr’s Creatrs Network without also purchasing Tumblr native advertising spots.

Tumblr says that it already has 300 artists on the Tumblr Creatrs Network, and handles all the communication and exchange between brands and artists, from legal to payment to credit.

David Hayes, Head of Creative Strategy at Tumblr, says a quarter of a million dollars have been paid to Tumblr’s select artists over the past year while it has tested Creatrs and Creatr Networks.He did not mention the amount of native platform ad revenue generated through Creatrs and Creatrs Network.

The Creatrs Networks’ goal [according to Tumblr] is to ensure advertisers have the best native advertising experience possible on the network by tapping its power users to design messages instead of an agency’s traditional creative department. Now that is deep and may fall in the category, “Things I later regretted saying during a media interview.”

Why It’s More Saucy Than Hot: Social platforms are proving they want to up the ante in terms of value proposition in turn further solidifying their already critical role in the digital marketing mix; however, it is rather bold to claim your platform can “empower” users to create advertising AND an experience that can be equated to that of an agency.Essentially this is a conversion tactic to secure an increase in native platform advertisements.I do not foresee a long term successful run for this initiative. Although, I believe this is only the beginning of a trend that consists of social platforms going full speed ahead to engage in efforts to compete outside of their comfort zone It’s going to be exciting to see where these platforms go in 2015.


New Browser Extension Puts Advertisers Under the Microscope

Cue Rockwell, we’re talking tracking online media.

These days, consumers are increasingly more aware of the lengths that advertisers go to find, target and track them online. But because online advertising remains an area shrouded in mystery, the medium carries a high level of skepticism and negativity in consumers’ minds.

Here enters Floodwatch, a new browser extension created by Jer Thorpe and the Office of Creative Research. Billed as “a collective ad monitoring tool for social good,” Floodwatch actively watches and archives the ads served to users running the extension. The tool gives users an instant window into particular ads they’re served to understand who’s serving them and uncover patterns about why they may see certain ads.

By empowering consumers with this information, Floodwatch challenges advertisers to behave more honestly towards their targets and elevate the standards by which they target and track individuals online. And by pooling users’ information, Floodwatch is able to pressure advertisers towards broader change that treat consumers more fairly.

Why It’s Hot

Some in the advertising world will undoubtedly see Floodwatch as a threat, reducing their abilities to target and limiting some “questionable” tactics. But we are all consumers, and as such we should applaud Floodwatch as a protection. Ethics aren’t sexy but they sure matter, especially in areas like digital where there may not be “rules of the road” to govern and moderate behavior. By challenging advertisers, Floodwatch is helping to make the Internet a better place to be. And who knows, maybe online media may become more trusted if consumers are more empowered to understand themselves as targets.

Pinterest Seeks Buku Ad Bucks

Pinterest hasn’t brought its ads to market yet, but it’s swinging for the fences in terms of what it hopes to charge for them.

The social-bookmarking company is asking for hefty spending commitments between $1 million and $2 million from prospective advertisers, and it’s looking to price CPMs between $30 and $40, according to three executives briefed on Pinterest’s ad pitch.

The pricing makes it clear that Pinterest intends to have a premium ad offering, similar to Instagram — at least for now. Instagram tested its first ads last fall with brands like Burberry, Levi’s and Lexus and has emphasized high-quality imagery and been slow to bring new advertisers into the fold.

Pinterest currently doesn’t generate any revenue, though it once tested affiliate links. The company has raised $564 million from investors.

The spend commitments sought would be a barrier for many brands. Pinterest’s premium pricing model is reminiscent of how Apple brought iAd to market in 2010, according to one of the executives briefed. Prospective buyers balked at the high starting price of $1 million. The price came down substantially in the years that followed.


Why It’s Hot

This shows that Pinterest, after about three years of running for free, is trying to execute a revenue stream.  While the initial buy-in price could be high, eventually it may come down to a more realistic level and could be a great opportunity for brands with visually appealing offerings, to advertise.  IHOP, hint hint!

For more, read the full article here: