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Burger King Gives Dead People a Taste of Its New Ghost Whopper for Halloween

Agencies that work with Burger King are lucky enough to have a full sandbox to play in. Over the years, the brand’s chief marketer, Fernando Machado, has been abundantly clear about how it all works: The best ideas win.

This is what helped FCB get to the finish line (after a year of development) with Whopper Detour. The same can be said for the scads of fun ideas from Burger King’s longtime agency David and the scores of other local agencies in markets around the world. The campaigns that have made an impact haven’t conformed to any one style, and are usually hard to ignore.

Which brings us to Halloween, a holiday ripe for all sorts of tomfoolery. Last year, Burger King wanted to see if eating a Whopper with a green bun could give people nightmares (according to the study, yes). A couple of years ago, in one of the brand’s better trolling campaigns against rival McDonald’s, Burger King gave away free Whoppers to people who came into its restaurants dressed as clowns.

This year, the brand is branching into a new market: dead people. Burger King is channeling the deceased to taste its latest offering, the Ghost Whopper, a burger with a white bun (created using white cheddar). The star of “The Spirit Taste Test” is Riz Mirza, a real-life medium who leads a seance, bringing the souls of dead people into his own body to try the limited edition sandwich.

Amping up the creepy factor, the experiment created by David Miami takes place in Los Angeles’ Alexandria Hotel, which closed a wing in the 1950s because of alleged paranormal activity. Using the space, unsuspecting participants are in for a wild ride as Mirza inhabits several personas. The spirits try the burger through him, and the feedback ranges from strange to downright uncomfortable.

“We immediately liked this idea because it’s one that makes you go, ‘WTF?’” Machado said. “Can you imagine being in a room with your creative partners and being presented an idea that starts with, ‘We want to do a taste test with dead people’? That happened. And the idea immediately grabbed our attention and made us laugh.”

Can you imagine being in a room with your creative partners and being presented an idea that starts with, ‘We want to do a taste test with dead people’?

Fernando Machado, CMO, Burger King

Mirza, who is considered as trans-channel medium (think Whoopi Goldberg in the film Ghost), seems like an actor but, like all Burger King stunts, is the real deal.

“This is his full-time job,” said Veronica Beach, David’s global head of production. “We found a lot of different mediums, but we were looking for one who would take the spirit into them. We found [Mirza] two days before shooting.”

Though the idea is out on the fringes, David executive producer Carlos Torres noted that the entire endeavor needed to be taken seriously.

“[Mirza] was concerned about his reputation going into this,” Torres said. “He didn’t look silly, and it is truly who he is, which was great because it was authentic.”

As one would expect, shooting something like this had the creative team on the edge of their seats.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Torres said. “But Mirza was making personal connections with people participating, and it was very emotional. When the camera is rolling, you look at the monitor and want magic to happen, and it did.”

The Ghost Whopper is available for a limited time in select markets through Halloween.

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Here Are the Creative Winners From Europe’s Golden Drum Festival

For the uninitiated, the Golden Drum Festival is an awards program that celebrates creativity in advertising across Europe. In its 26th year, the Slovenian festival recently named its 2019 winners.

You’ll likely recognize some from this year’s awards circuit, like Ikea’s “Thisables” out of McCann Tel Aviv and “The Last Ever Issue” stunt from VMLY&R Warsaw that impressed judges at this year’s Cannes Lions. But others shine a light on some innovative campaigns that made a big impact in their respective countries.

At this year’s festival, McCann WorldGroup was named most successful agency network for the fourth year in a row. Publicis Italy’s Milan office took home the Golden Rose, which awards the best advertising agency of the year, while SOK Media in Helsinki was named best independent agency.

Take a look below at this year’s Grand Prix winners from the Golden Drum Festival.

Print, Mastercard and BNP Paribas: “The Last Ever Issue” by VMLY&R Warsaw

In partnership with the country’s leading newspaper, Mastercard and BNP Paribas teamed up with VMLY&R Warsaw to purchase Twój Weekend, a popular porn magazine in Poland, with the sole purpose of shutting it down. But before saying goodbye, they published one last issue that was unlike any other—instead of objectifying women, it celebrated them and promoted gender equality.

Design and Innovation

Ikea: “Thisables” by McCann Tel Aviv

Ikea’s “Thisables,” a range of products that makes it easier for disabled people to use the retailer’s furniture, was popular at this year’s Golden Drum Festival. The add-ons were created with help from a copywriter in McCann’s Tel Aviv office who has cerebral palsy, and can be purchased in-store or via 3D printing. In addition to taking home the top honor in both the design and innovation categories, “Thisables” also won the festival’s “best of Good” award, which honors work in the social good space. Additionally, it came out as the winner of the show’s “best of Why” category, which awards work based on the following question: Why does this work exist?

Digital and Mobile

Diesel: “Hate Couture” by Publicis Italy

Diesel turned haute couture into “hate couture” by taking hateful comments about the brand from online trolls and slapping them on its clothing and stores. The brand enlisted the help of celebrities including Nicki Minaj and Bella Thorne to promote the effort by asking them to find real insults hurled at them on social media and prominently feature them on their clothes. According to Publicis Italy, the effort managed to reach 800 million people—despite the fact that the campaign was not sponsored on social media. “Hate Couture” was also named the winner of the “best of What” category, which rewards work that is “moving frontiers” in traditional mediums.

Functional Efficiency and Engagement

HOK-Elanto: “Block Wish” by SOK Media

“Block Wish,” a digital initiative created for Finnish grocery chain Alepa, won the Grand Prix in both the functional efficiency and engagement categories. With dozens of locations, Alepa wanted to create something that would let customers access their favorite products at their local brick-and-mortar store. With help from a chatbot, “Block Wish” lets shoppers request items they’d like to see in-store at their nearby Alepa. According to the chain, it is used by every fifth Alepa customer, and helps each store better “reflect the lifestyles and flavor palates” of its customers.


Turkcell: “Unreachables” by TBWAInstanbul

Telecom company Turkcell recently found a way to make the voicemail greeting function on phones more useful. In partnership with The Families of Missing Persons Association, Turkcell made it possible for relatives of missing people to spread the word about their loved ones whenever they missed a call. Instead of just hearing a standard recording before leaving a voicemail, those who called a family member of a missing person would learn more about the individual who’d gone missing and be encouraged to visit the “Unreachables” website to find out more information.


Coca-Cola: “Half Full” by McCann Romania

To try and inject some positivity into the Romanian news cycle, Coca Cola created “half full” versions of its bottles, each complete with a snippet of good news about the country. For instance, one bottle read: “In 2018, the number of tourists visiting Romania grew by 6.3%.” According to McCann Romania, the stats were chosen by a team of journalists and PR people. On Facebook, users could create their own messaging for the bottles, which were displayed in Romania’s capital on out-of-home ads.


Reckitt Benckiser: “Turkey’s Water” by Havas Instanbul

To encourage people to save water (and to stop pre-rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher), detergent brand Finish recently went to Turkey’s biggest economic forum and displayed drinking glasses that illustrated how much water is left in the country’s drying lakes. From there, the brand launched a campaign around the issue, and encouraged viewers to visit a website where they could determine their water footprint and receive tips on saving water. According to Finish, the effort resulted in increased market share for the brand.

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One of the Best Diss Tracks About New York Is Courtesy of … a Cincinnati Agency?

Agencies and, by extension, markets outside of the biggies work tirelessly to explain how talent can have a more balanced life. Don’t want to spend $4,000 a month on a 200-square-foot studio in San Francisco? Come to Portland. Dropping a bunch of cash to huddle with seven of your closest friends in Los Angeles? Why not consider Knoxville?

Then there’s New York, the poster child of stressful—and expensive—living. While getting to experience one of the world’s great cities is undeniably amazing, there are plenty of people who might prefer to be in second gear (with a little more money in their pockets) a bit more frequently.

Sensing an opportunity to highlight its own city, agency Empower in Cincinnati created a video that serves both as a recruiting tool … and a diss track (albeit a good-natured one) about New York.

The film, which has a Lonely Planet vibe, clocks in just over 2 minutes and covers the typical things that markets outside of New York tout like affordable housing, easier commutes, leaving the office at 5 o’clock and the ability to raise a family in a more low-key environment.

But the kicker in this upbeat song and video is its position in the hook: It’s the city that sleeps, playing off New York’s long-standing nickname, The City That Never Sleeps.

According to Tinus Strydom, Empower’s CCO, it’s not just about attracting talent to the Queen City, but also a chance for the agency to stretch its wings a little more.

“Empower was started as a media company,” Strydom said. “More recently, there’s been a push to put creative and media together. We needed a bit more clarity on the creative side of the business.”

While the video is an obvious showcase, it also works to debunk the myths around where great creativity can come from—and the perception that brands have to look to the Big Apple for reliable work.

“[I was] working at ad agencies in Cincinnati on some project work for national brands, and when it came to shopping for an AOR I’d hear the phrase, ‘We’re looking for a New York agency,’” said Terry Dillon, a creative director at Empower who spent time at agencies in Los Angeles earlier in his career. “It wasn’t a fantastic world-class agency … fill in the adjective … they would look to New York. Without any qualification, they would dismiss Cincinnati.”

Strydom, who grew up in South Africa and has lived and worked in Singapore and New York, pointed out that despite a concentration of clients in specific markets around the world—and Procter & Gamble, the world’s second-largest advertiser is in Cincinnati—there is a roadmap pointing to more nontraditional markets making an impact.

“Wieden Kennedy started in Portland and put the best creative people into a place where they do the best possible work, and CPB went to Boulder,” he said. “It’s down to who’s inside the walls [of an agency] at the time and how well they’re jamming together.”

Dillon, who wrote the lyrics and is a Cincinnati native, wanted to ensure that the video, with animation from 4Humans in Argentina and music from Fuse in Singapore, made its point in a more fun way without seeming too mean-spirited.

“We kept it deliberately self-deprecating because we’re not knocking New York. It’s a fantastic place with tons going on, but we have things to offer here,” he said. “This is a diss track, but I think everyone can get in on the joke, even New Yorkers.”

Out of the 90,000-plus views, a relatively large proportion of views have come from New York, according to Strydom. And perhaps the non-rested residents of the big city see something they might like.

“The truth is the thing that communicates best,” he said. “The way we always joked about this idea is that if New York is the city that never sleeps, Cincinnati is the city that goes to bed at a reasonable hour.”

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Facebook Provides Its Latest Update on Efforts to Safeguard the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a press call Monday updating the social network’s efforts to protect the 2020 U.S. presidential election from interference via its platform that some 35,000 people are now working on security, with an overall budget in the billions of dollars.

“We have a long way to go before Election Day,” he said during the call. “We have a big responsibility to secure our platforms. Personally, this is one of my top priorities for the company. Elections have changed. Facebook has, too. After 2016, there’s just much broader awareness that this is an issue.”

Zuckerberg, vice president of integrity Guy Rosen, head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher, director of product management Rob Leathern and public policy director for global elections Katie Harbath detailed several product and policy updates during the call and in a Newsroom post.

The social network rolled out Facebook Protect as a way to further secure the accounts of elected officials, candidates, their staff and other people who may be frequent targets of hacking or other attacks by foreign adversaries.

Administrators of pages fitting that description can enroll here and invite other members of their organizations to do so, as well.

Participants in Facebook Protect must enable two-factor authentication, and their accounts will be monitored for suspicious activity that could indicate hacking attempts, such as login attempts from unusual locations or unverified devices.

Facebook said that if an attack is discovered against one account, all other accounts affiliated with that organization will be reviewed and protected, as well.

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