Brand agency plays “social safety net” for SXSW service industry workers whose incomes were canceled by COVID-19

From Fast Company: “A branding agency in Austin, Texas, has launched a GoFundMe page to tip the local service workers impacted by the cancellation of this month’s South by Southwest festival. “Thousands of Austin service workers and musicians will be hit significantly from canceled events, lost wages and tips. We’ll take the funds to Austin music venues, restaurants, bars and hotels and distribute them to individuals from March 13-22,” write the fund’s creators, from the agency T3.

Nearly half a million festival-goers were expected to arrive in Austin beginning this week. The giant culture festival that mingles artists, musicians, and startups was canceled on Friday by the city of Austin over COVID-19 concerns, following the pullout of companies such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as an online petition with over 55,000 signees calling for a cancellation. Festival organizers said they are “devastated,” and local hotels and venues that depend on attendees’ spending say they may be put out of business.”

Amid talks of a $15 minimum wage and Medicare For All in the US, the coronavirus is making it even more painfully clear how many people are living just on the edge of ruin.

Why it’s hot:

Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on the economy, and since no one wants to gather in the places where these people work, service workers are going to be hit particularly hard. A hyper-aware public seems receptive to brands that “protect their people”, so it’ll be interesting to see how brands attempt to spin that in their favor.

“We’re not doing this for publicity, but to help our city.” They say they aren’t doing it for publicity, but they sure are getting a lot of publicity for it. This is a do-gooder publicity stunt that everyone can get behind, coming not from a consumer brand, but from an agency. Unfortunately, they’re unable to innovate on actually helping service workers, and this stunt continues to perpetuate the system that keeps service workers in such a vulnerable position.

It’s a nice story that brands can do good in the world, but everyone should remember that sometimes brands just can’t solve certain social problems.

Source: Fast Company

“We Are Good on Supplies” #SaidNoSchoolEver

Trash bag company Hefty and Havas Worldwide Chicago tackle a big issue—one that’s more powerful than smelly garbage or nondurable bags—for the brand’s new #SaidNoSchoolEver campaign.


The new work, which includes two 30-second online spots and a handful of playful memes, aims to raise awareness of the serious lack of funding many public schools and teachers face—but does so in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
The writing in the 30-second spots is both sarcastic and sharp, with teachers delivering lines like “We do not need any more art supplies,” and “This map—from 1913. Almost all of the states are there.”
“At no point was this supposed to be polarizing for the brand,” Havas group creative director Ecole Weinstein told Adweek. “We wanted to touch the surface of the issue and still do it with a bit of a smile and make [the campaign] culturally relevant and sharable.”

Havas also wanted to bring Hefty’s involvement with the Box Tops for Education program to light. Hefty, the only trash-bag brand currently supporting the initiative, has donated over $3.5 million to Box Tops over the years. The subject matter also hit close to home for some members of Havas’ creative team.
“Myself, as well as a couple members of the creative team, have deep ties to the education system,” Weinstein said. Weinstein, whose mother was an inner-city school teacher in Florida for 29 years, said she grew up knowing all about the challenges teachers and public schools face. She added that the dry, sarcastic humor would share well on social channels, especially among the teacher crowd searching for a little bit of humor.

Check out some of the memes from the campaign below.

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Google Builds AI Image Network That Could Benefit Search

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Improvements in image recognition for Google mean building an artificial neural network where the software is capable of recognizing, learning, and eventually, generating its own network in the likeness of the original. It’s one way that the future of search could improve on serving results, and perhaps another way to give creative advertising agencies an alternative perspective.

Artificial Neural Networks, a Google research project, relies on software based on the structure of how biological brains learn when being shown millions of images. It is trained by seeing millions of examples. The researchers gradually adjust the network parameters until it gives the desired results, such as recognizing the image.

If an image is incorrect, researchers adjust the neurons as images change to help the network reach the correct conclusion. There are between 10 and 30 layers of “artificial neurons,” and each talks to the next until it learns to redraw the correct image and recognized when the last layer is reached.

One remaining challenge is an understanding of what exactly goes on at each layer. “We know that after training, each layer progressively extracts higher and higher-level features of the image, until the final layer essentially makes a decision on what the image shows,” wrote a team of Google software researchers in a blog post. “For example, the first layer maybe looks for edges or corners. Intermediate layers interpret the basic features to look for overall shapes or components, like a door or a leaf. The final few layers assemble those into complete interpretations — these neurons activate in response to very complex things such as entire buildings or trees.”

The researchers were surprised to find neural networks that were trained to discriminate between different kinds of images have quite a bit of the information needed to generate images too,” according to researchers, who learned that the technology doesn’t look for the signals once thought to recreate the image.

The researchers used an image of dumbbells to provide an example. In this case, the network failed to completely identify the dumbbells because it lacked a muscular weightlifter in the picture that most would associate with the exercise equipment.

Researchers said the techniques help to better understand and visualize how neural networks are able to carry out difficult classification tasks, improve network architecture, and check what the network has learned during training. They also suggest it might make a tool for artists, or perhaps creative advertising agencies, presenting a way to remix visual concepts or even shed a little light on the roots of the creative advertising process in general.

 

Read the full story here

Surviving in an Ad Agency

Ad agencies are often faced with surprise situations in the work place, like a client asking for several major changes just hours before the project deadline or the power suddenly going out right when people are busy working on their computers.

Canadian creative studio Phoenix has created The Survival Kit, which is designed to arm agency folks who are facing deadlines, major presentations, and other stressful events at work with the basic tools to help them survive those situations.

The Survival Kit is available in three packages: The Overtime, The Presentation, and The Power Outage. Each kit comes complete with different items that make each situation that much easier.

Read more here: Full Article

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Why it’s HOT: At an ad agency, sometimes the best culture lures the best talent. And every seasoned advertiser knows about Murphy’s Law (Anything that can go wrong, will) when it comes to doing their job. So I think it’s really neat to see an agency show that they are compassionate and aware of some of the worst situations its employees are likely to face in their careers. Every agency needs a Survival Kit!