Willem Dafoe’s “Bold” Jim Beam TV Commercial Garners Top Industry Awards

NEW YORK, June 8, 2011 — Willem Dafoe’s first ever TV commercial – a “short film” by Jim Beam that celebrates his “Bold Choice” to turn actor – received three prestigious awards last night at the American Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) awards.  As the advertising industry awaits the world-renowned Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity Awards later this month, Jim Beam’s groundbreaking commercial is grabbing attention for Willem Dafoe and the world’s number one bourbon brand as well as for StrawberryFrog, the agency behind the work and MJZ the production company. AICP recognized Jim Beam’s “Parallels” advertisement with awards for Direction, Visual Style and Cinematography. The anthem for Jim Beam’s new “Bold Choice” global campaign, created by “Cultural Movement” agency StrawberryFrog New York and filmed by celebrated Director Dante Ariola, features iconic American actor Willem Dafoe and sparks a movement for bold choices.

In the commercial, which has aired on numerous U.S. cable networks since February, a young Dafoe is shown at a crossroads, faced with a choice: to boldly leave his hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin and head for the bright lights (and long odds) of an acting career in New York City – or stay put, and let fate decide his future.  

As Dafoe reflects on his decision, the commercial explores the many futures that could have been: factory foreman, chess champion, aging punk, even sumo wrestler. But, as Dafoe notes in the ad, there is really only one choice. “All choices lead you somewhere,” he states. “Bold choices take you where you’re supposed to be.”

Jim Beam’s Bold Choice commercial received seven total finalist nominations by the AICP including Best Advertising Commercial of The Year, Best Direction, Best Visual Style, Production, Production Design, Cinematography, and Best Editorial.

“As a brand that’s been rooted in making bold choices for over 200 years, our Jim Beam campaign communicates that the bold choices you make, make you. We are thrilled that this campaign has contributed to Jim Beam’s continued growth, solidifying its position as the number one Bourbon in the world,” said Kevin George, senior vice-president and global chief marketing officer, Beam Global. “We are honored to be recognized by the AICP and thank StrawberryFrog for their excellent creative work on our iconic brand.”

“Here’s to our bold Beam clients who stand behind what their advertising says. They made a bold choice with this campaign, and they have remained bold throughout the process,” said Kevin McKeon, Chief Creative Officer and partner of StrawberryFrog New York. “We are genuinely thrilled about our performance at this year’s AICP awards. We have proven many times over that if you can uncover a powerful idea on the rise in culture – such as the need to make bold choices particularly in the world today – you can tap into that to create a sustainable movement on behalf of a brand like Jim Beam.”

Jason Koxvold, StrawberryFrog Creative Director on the Jim Beam business, says: “Working with Willem Dafoe and Jim Beam was a truly remarkable experience for the team at StrawberryFrog. The production team at MJZ brought together a team at the top of their game such as Dante Ariola and Emmanuel Lubezky to really show what great production brings to a powerful idea. It was a pleasure to make - and I think it shows in the results.”

StrawberryFrog is an innovative global agency that develops strategic vision and creative solutions that create growth for client partners.  The firm is known for creating “cultural movements” and was founded in 1999 in Amsterdam.  It currently employs over 200 creative spirits in four offices in four countries and partners with companies such as Jim Beam, P&G, Pepsico, Sabra Hummus, Pirelli, Kraft and Emirates Airline.

The Maturity Report: iPad’s Forgotten Opportunity

By Ilana Bryant, Partner, Chief Strategy Officer


In a review in Adweek one year ago when the iPad launched, I forecasted the huge potential of the tablet for an unusual audience – Boomers and beyond. One year later, as the iPad 2 prepares to launch with its even more exciting camera/video features I believe iPad usage among this target will really start to take off.

The thought hit home for me as I travelled to/from Florida this week and had the following experience. On the outbound flight I was in the security line and overheard a gentleman in his late 80s with a cane and fedora turn to his wife in the line and say ‘Pearl, where did you pack the iPad?’ On the return flight I was behind a 70something couple in the security line where the wife was flummoxed by the security procedure for her iPad. ‘Harold, is an iPad a laptop computer?’ she asked. Her husband wasn’t sure how to classify it either.

And that’s the point. I don’t think it matters to these older couples what an iPad is or whether it’s technically a computer. Whatever it is, it’s just useful.  I’d argue that many of this audience have never and will never buy a laptop. 

In fact, one of my colleague’s parents has only ever owned an iPad and he caught his father recently trying to ‘expand’ his Mac laptop screen with his fingers because he assumes all screens are touchscreens like an iPad.  The far away future of information swishing at your fingertips featured in Minority Report has already become pretty natural behavior for the generation that grew up before TV let alone PCs.

Thinking about it, it’s easy to see why the iPad, and particularly the iPad 2, is well suited to a senior user. It’s intuitive and easy use – you just need to turn it on (for an example, see 100 year old woman start on her iPad).  It’s light to carry and much more comfortable to use than hunching over a laptop or PC – you can take it with you around the house, out in the garden and while you’re travelling. The expanding ‘zoom out’ feature and the video capabilities are great for an audience where too much copy can strain the eyes. And the iPad is the perfect tool to impart medical information - it has visually interactive tools, videos instead of endless copy-laden articles AND you can take it into the doctor’s office with you to show the doctor.

Also, for an audience that is theoretically enjoying leisure time instead of work, the iPad is great for consuming most entertainment formats, from movies to books.  According to blogs, popular apps among the 65+ audience include Netflix, Pandora, Solitaire, Scrabble, Grow it (I knew it about gardening) and of course the cultural phenomenon Angry Birds.

Lastly, the new iPad2 with Facetime and Skype capabilities to video-connect with their children and grandchildren is, in itself, a pretty good incentive for Boomers to invest in the tablet. They now don’t have to miss out on another birthday or milestone.

What I’m surprised by is the fact that no one seems to be chronicling or marketing to the older iPad users?  Searching the web for this blog post I was shocked I could find almost no data on 65+ iPad usership and initiatives against the audience.  (If anyone out there has any stats or data on iPad usage among seniors please share.)

I did find a great blog, Eldergadget.com, that seeks to be the ‘seal of approval’ on gadgets that suit seniors in terms of how easy they are to see, use and hear…and ‘are also cool’ (which made me like this guy as he’s not patronizing his audience).

Given the fact that the Boomer target is the largest and richest generation in America I would have expected more interest and coverage.

In my view, this is an unexplored opportunity for businesses and consumers and I hope, for my parents’ sake, there are app developers out there who have their eye on the millions of ways this tablet can serve the 65+ audience.

PPS Designers take note: As I noted from my trip there is clearly a market for iPad bags and accessories for the 65+ market, particularly something small they can sling over their shoulder.  These retirees don’t carry briefcases or laptop bags, and particularly the men (the kind who clip their cell phones to their belts) could use something useful to tote the iPad or tablet around in.

If a tree falls, and no one uploads a photo of it..

By Allison Kennedy, Social Media Strategist

I was reading a NY Times article recently about the digital lives of America children, in which author Lee Siegel talks about the shame he felt for not having his camera ready at his daughter’s birth.

As a former freelance photographer and Photojournalism student, I can empathize, since it’s been ingrained in me to capture every detail of a story to tell it accurately.  It seems as though that notion is catching on.  Just take a look at your facebook newsfeed and count the number of photos taken to document that truly epic sandwich, or last weekend’s party (from start to finish… and brunch the next day).

In a world where 6 billion photos are uploaded to facebook every month, and 92% of American children have an online presence before the age of 2, it begs the question – does the absence of a photo imply an experience never happened?

And do the moments that aren’t scrupulously documented lack in value compared to the ones that are?

I spoke with one of my former professors and fellow photographer, Andrew Mendelson about this trend, which he touches on in A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Networking Sites:

If photos are taken for the purpose of being displayed and tagged, does this render the experiences and the social relationships presented more real?

[…] These moments and the relationships become sanctified through their documentation.  They are deemed worthy of recording and preserving. 

Mendelson explains that the desire to document the everyday and banal has existed since the invention of the first Kodak in the late 1800s, and has only been amplified with the omnipresence of digital cameras and cameraphones.  We are now “freer to take pictures of every silly thing in ways we never would have documented” them before.  However, there are still “certain rituals that have always been required” to photograph, such as first birthdays and weddings; “you [are] somehow less human if you don’t take pictures of these things.”

On the surface, taking a photo of an event appears to put a wall between you and what’s happening.  In reality, Mendelson argues, it has become so second nature to hold your camera up that it is now part of the ritual.

Susan Sontag used her 1977 essay, On Photography to explain her theories on the traveler, and the compulsive need to take photos as a “friendly imitation of work” to feel less guilt about having fun:

A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it – by limiting experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir.

[…]  It would not be wrong to speak of people having a compulsion to photograph: to turn experience into a way of seeing.  Ultimately, having an experience becomes identical with taking a photograph of it.

If Mendelson and Sontag are correct and having an experience is synonymous with taking a photo of it, I have to wonder what portion of actual experiences are missed out on because we’re too concerned with adjusting camera settings in an effort to prove it happened.

FORBES: Why smart (the car) wants Americans to be “against dumb”

"Against Dumb"

Against Dumb
By ELAINE WONG, Forbes Magazine, November 5, 2010

Let’s face it. Americans are guilty of overconsumption. We buy everything from SUVs to homes we cannot afford to even that extra pillow or blanket when one would’ve been enough. Smart, that ultra tiny, fuel efficient car brand, today kicked off an initiative (it hopes) will staunch some of that overzealous buying. Its Facebook page now has a full length “against dumb” manifestation which lists the principles of, well, exactly that. (StrawberryFrog is the agency.) Some excerpts: “Dumb is Venti when Tall is plenty.” And another: “Dumb is eating anything bigger than your head.” Yikes!

Kim McGill, smart’s vp-marketing, advertising, said the effort is really a “movement” aimed at reinforcing the brand’s relevance in a post fuel-prices-are-skyrocketing economy. While driving a smart—or fuel efficient vehicle—may have been a “smart” (no pun intended) move for most Americans in tough times, now many consumers are going back to their normal buying habits. Call it whatever you want, but initiatives like these are essentially a marketing plug for its brand—and McGill acknowledges that—but this might just be what the nation needs to keep its voracious appetite in check.

McGill spoke with Forbes this morning about how smart is tapping viral videos and word of mouth influencers to get this initiative sweeping across the country.

Forbes: What’s this new “smart” initiative you’re kicking off? And what prompted it?

We are not calling it a campaign. We’re calling it a social media initiative. Smart still remains the epitome of efficiency—whether it’s fuel, materials or space—but as we looked at a number of things about the brand, [consumers’ perceptions of it had changed.] When the brand first launched in the U.S. and fuel prices were $4 a gallon, everyone got it. But now that fuel prices have gone down, America is back to what we like to do, which is “bigger and better” [when it comes to buying] and all that. And people are saying, “I don’t know if I really need a car like this anymore.” And so, we wanted to [address that] in the context of a humorous [movement.]

Forbes: Why rally against overconsumption?

We all have junk drawers. We’ve got attics that are full of stuff. And it’s really around this idea of how much stuff we surround ourselves with that bogs us down and keeps us from being free to do what we need to do. Should we have two SUVs in the garage? Or should our other car be something more nimble and small that we can use 95 percent of the time?

Forbes: Okay.  So moderation is key, essentially. Why do you think this message is especially relevant now?

We see all these ads now as we get into the holiday season. People are overextending their credit cards, they’re losing their homes. It’s like, why did we buy all of this stuff? Did it really make us happy? How happy am I that I have all this junk? It’s like [one consumer telling us] she wasn’t sure if it was worth it to pay $2,000 to put her stuff in Public Storage.

Forbes: Not to stretch it, but industry groups have launched campaigns rallying against the dangers of over-consuming junk food or paper. How original is this message?

I don’t know that it’s so original. The idea is the conversation is going on, so we thought we would stoke it a bit more. Let’s talk about it, let’s put our brand relevance around it. It’s not so much against overconsumption, but the mindless things we do.

Forbes: We’re all guilty of overconsumption.

Yes. Here’s an example. I’m a very passionate, high-end, amateur photographer. Every time I’m standing on the sidelines of a sports event and see professionals with their huge lens, I say, “I want one.” Two years ago, I might have actually bought a $7,500 lens. But today, I may be a little more conscious of what I buy. I’ve gotten more creative and realize that I don’t need to buy one. I can rent one. You’ll see us emphasize that, too, with “against dumb.” It’s “Buy what you need most of the time and rent what you need occasionally.”

Forbes: It’s not just the hoarders or shopaholics you’re targeting, is it?

It spans all demographics. There are some people who naturally say, “I don’t need to have everything. Buying more and more material goods is not going to make me happy. In fact, it’s a burden because I can’t be free to move as I want to.” And that [last bit] might relate more to the younger generation, who is always thinking about, “I’ve got to be free to move across the country. If a job opens up, I have to be free to go.” For the older generation, you work really hard at accumulating things and there comes a point in time when you say, “I am not really happy with all this stuff.”

Forbes: How are you getting the word out?

We have two street teams we are running full time in the marketplace right now. We might stoke something around the LA Auto Show. That show is right in the middle of November, right before Black Friday. We also have viral videos and we’re looking at some Web sites and blogs where this conversation is already happening.

Forbes: Why humor? Does it fit the brand? And don’t you think the message, even if it’s delivered in a funny way, is still a bit, er, harsh?

Smart was a serious solution for the problem of urban congestion, but the brand is very lighthearted. Look at it. It doesn’t look serious…You can’t get this in a brand that is about challenging the norm. We’re not something you’d necessarily see on the road, and so we wanted to do this in a fun kind of way, whether you’re smiling with us or at us.

[Plus,] we’re not trying to preach to people to downsize to the max. We all do it. We all have drawers and attics full of junk.

Forbes: The “movement’s”  effectiveness ultimately hinges on getting more people to consider smart. So how are you measuring success?

If it makes people just think about it, that will be a success. Because right now, we get so caught up in our habits and thinking about that “what if” time where we’ll need something big. We need to get people thinking of buying not for that one time, but buying for what we need most of the time. If we can get more people talking in that direction, it will be nothing but positive for this brand.

Creating Cultural Movements — The Accelerated Impact

The colossal agency networks have been operating on the same business model for the last 40 years — aggregation and consolidation into bureaucratic systems.  That’s why we refer to them as ‘dinosaurs’ and think of ourselves as the smarter, more nimble ‘frog’.  

Unfortunately their communications models are equally out-of-date.  A large-scale mass effort using traditional media, then some direct marketing and ‘new media’ if there’s any money left over.  And there’s a threshold spending level that clients have to make if they have any hopes of being heard amongst the noise.

At StrawberryFrog, we think there’s a better way.  A smarter, faster more efficient and more effective way.  We call this the Cultural Movement.  It combines the populist power of grass-roots movements with the science and discipline of consumer branding.

At the outset of any campaign, our first task is to identify the idea on the rise in culture.

Then we find those people who present the greatest opportunity to belong.  For them, Cultural Movement works three ways:  1) they’re interested in the offering, 2) their values and the brand’s values are the same, shared values, 3) they are activist about brands that matter to them, spreading the message to others like them.

Brilliant creative ideas connect with people on an intimate, personal level. Then they prompt them to relay that idea to others.  This is turn accelerated the brand’s uptake into the cultural conversation, creating a Cultural Movement.  Once your Cultural Movement begins, great creative ideas leads to the next great ideas, consumer engagement leads to new consumer engagement, and the brand goes from static to kinetic.  Every marketing dollar under a Cultural Movement works harder, faster, and lasts longer.

It’s been said that even one man can move mountains.  With Cultural Movement, even one brand can move the world.

StrawberryFrog breaks new Cultural Movement for Sabra

THE economy has remade the Madison Avenue landscape in myriad ways, among them changing the types of products that are advertised frequently now compared with during the boom years.

Accounts, People and Miscellany (June 7, 2010)
In other words, Hummer, no; hummus, yes.

Shorthand, to be sure, but it encapsulates a major trend: Ads for glossy, big-ticket purchases like behemoth sport utilities have been supplanted in many instances by ads for prosaic, less expensive products like packaged foods.

Several food marketers increased ad spending markedly in the first quarter compared with the period a year ago, according to the Kantar Media research division of WPP. Among them were ConAgra Foods, up 22.9 percent; H. J. Heinz, up 45.2 percent; Hershey, up 81.2 percent; General Mills, up 15.5 percent; Kraft Foods, up 17.8 percent; and J. M. Smucker, up 12.4 percent.

Among the brands planning to spend more throughout 2010 is the Sabra line of refrigerated dips and spreads that includes more than a dozen varieties of, yes, hummus. Sabra is sold by the Sabra Dipping Company, a joint venture of the Strauss Group and the Frito-Lay North America division of PepsiCo.

Although the name of a soft drink predominates in the corporate brand, PepsiCo estimates that $10 billion of its annual revenue of $43.2 billion last year came from what it calls its “good-for-you portfolio” of products like Aquafina water, Near East couscous, Quaker Oats and Tropicana juices.

Among those products are smaller brands like Sabra, Naked juices, Smartfood snacks, Stacy’s pita chips and True North nuts.

PepsiCo intends to “rapidly expand” its lineup of healthier fare, according to the company’s 2009 annual report, by taking steps like “investing to accelerate the growth of these platforms” — in other words, more advertising.

A campaign for Sabra that was tested in five regional markets last year “performed well, better than our expectations,” said Mina Penna, Sabra brand manager at Sabra Dipping in Astoria, Queens, so it is being expanded, beginning on Monday, into a national initiative.

The campaign will include television commercials, two Web sites, digital ads, a presence in social media like Facebook and Twitter, ads in stores, promotions and events like a chefs’ tour of 19 cities and house parties where guests can sample Sabra products.

The campaign is being created by the New York office of StrawberryFrog, which also creates ads for Stacy’s and True North. The premise of the humorous campaign, which carries the theme “Adventure awaits,” is that Sabra is just what a pallid palate craves.

People who enjoy what they eat and like to try new tastes “sometimes fall into a ‘food rut’ and lose their way a bit on their epicurean journey,” Ms. Penna said, as symbolized in the ads by a rote reliance on Chinese takeout, lettuce-only salads or even — gasp! — spray cheese.

The campaign proposes saving all the unfortunates who are “in need of a taste intervention,” as an announcer declares, by switching them to Sabra.

Visitors to sabraintervention.com will be able to nominate family members and friends for comestible makeovers.

(Coincidentally, Kraft last month introduced a humorous campaign for its Sandwich Shop Mayo line of flavored mayonnaise that carries the theme “Give your sandwich a makeover” and features cast members of the HGTV reality series “Design Star” intervening in the lives of bored eaters.)

“We use the term ‘epicurious’ ” to describe the target audience, said Chip Walker, partner and head of planning at StrawberryFrog New York. (The Condé Nast Digital unit of Advance Publications likes the term, too, judging by its epicurious.com Web site.)

Some potential buyers of Sabra are “adventurous eaters who we haven’t quite connected with yet,” Mr. Walker said, and some are “people who don’t know what hummus is or what it tastes like.”

To help out the latter, commercials from the test last year, which describe Sabra as a delicious way to “taste the Mediterranean without leaving home,” will promote the hummus and perhaps introduce some people to it.

In addition to StrawberryFrog New York, others working on the campaign include OMD in New York, a media agency that is part of the Omnicom Group, and Seymour Public Relations in Bergenfield, N.J.

Sabra Dipping will spend “significantly” more on advertising this year than the estimated $3.3 million it spent last year, Ms. Penna said. She declined to be more specific.

The first of 19 cities on the chefs’ tour, called the Sabra Taste Adventure, is Richmond, Va., near a new, $61 million manufacturing plant that Sabra Dipping opened last month. Sabra Dipping executives have said they plan to move the company’s headquarters to the Richmond area from Astoria.

That would make it a rough year for New Yorkers who like their local food companies. First, the bakery Stella D’oro closed its plant in the Bronx, and now Sabra is going to leave Queens.

From the New York Times