THE BIGGEST ACTIVATION AT SXSW BY GIANT SPOON

Here's how you get people to wait nine hours in the middle of a conference to see your marketing stunt: Build a ghost town, write hundreds of pages of script and pay a lot of money to bring every little detail to life.

HBO's "Westworld" activation at SXSW was beyond anything many conference goers had ever seen at the show. Tickets were gone each day in the snap of a finger, and those who opted to chance the standby line often had painfully long waits. Elon Musk himself paid a visit.

Those who could get in began their experience at Austin's EastSide Tavern, where they were assigned a black or white hat (after a "personality assessment"), then hit the road in a shuttle bus. Twenty miles outside town, Giant Spoon had found a ghost town to make the show's Sweetwater into a real place — complete with actors, immersive storylines involving the visitors and enough stiff drinks to forget that brisk wind kicking up dust everywhere.

WHY QUIRK CREATIVE STAFFS ALL-FEMALE PRODUCTION CREWS

BY MERYL DRAPER, AGENCYSPY

In advertising, we spend most of our time pitching women. We all know women make 85% of product purchases, and that brands spend millions researching their habits, beliefs and core values. And then, counter-intuitively, they hire mostly men to lead the advertising.

The gender disparity at ad agencies among commercial and creative directors is so wide—only 10-29 percent are women—that an industry-wide movement to correct it has taken off. From the 3% Movement to documentary filmmaker Alma Har’ell’s recent #FreeTheBid campaign, we’re reaching a moment of reckoning.

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THE CALL FOR BRANDS TO INNOVATE WITH AN ASSIST FROM STARTUPS

BY LINDSAY RITTENHOUSE, ADWEEK

You may wonder, how is it that innovative brands like Microsoft, Netflix, HBO and GE stay ahead of the competition?

A lot surely goes into answering that question, but search consultancy VentureFuel claims to be a small sliver in the pie. Launched four years ago, VentureFuel actively vets hundreds of global startups daily and then connects them with brands, like the aforementioned, to fuel partnerships that drive new ideas and creative marketing strategies.

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BIG SPACESHIP ON THE FUTURE OF CREATIVE

BY EMILY LUDOPLH, 99U

Fact: Creative careers are changing across the board, from the platforms we design on, to the age-old standards of working for one company for life, to focusing on a single speciality for 40 years. But don’t be worried. 99U recently guest-hosted an AIGA/NY conversation with Big Spaceship CEO Mike Lebowitz and illustrator Ping Zhu to dig into the pressing questions, like what skills need to be sharpened (and perhaps blended) to tackle the opportunities of tomorrow?

In a lively conversation on the future of work, Zhu and Lebowitz shared their projections (and some pure guesses) on bringing more transparency to work rates, educating giant companies on what exactly creative agencies do, and where designers will fit in amid new technologies like VR and robots. (Spoiler alert: Zhu says illustrators shouldn’t get bionic hands just yet.)

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GIANT SPOON TO TAKE OVER SXSW

BY KRISTINA MONLLOS, ADWEEK

South by Southwest attendees will get to experience what it’s like to be part of Westworld. Well, sort of.

HBO and Giant Spoon are building an immersive experience on two acres of land for SXSW to promote the show’s upcoming second season, which will premiere on April 22. From March 9-11, SXSW attendees will be able to see what it’s like to be part of the Westworld town, Sweetwater.

While HBO has already created Westworld experiences at New York Comic-Con and San Diego Comic-Con, the SXSW experience is happening on a much larger scale. According to a release, the company is planning to remake “iconic locations and elements” from the show, like The Coronado and the Mariposa Saloon, so that fans can feel like they are a part of the show.

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TOMBRAS GROUP AWARDED FAST COMPANY HONOR

BY FAST COMPANY

The 2018 edition of the World's Most Innovative Companies spans more than 350 enterprises across 36 categories, from the world's most valuable firm and its continuing transformation of consumer electronics to a small outfit selling natural gum to preserve rainforests. We hope you're as inspired learning from these businesses as we were in selecting them.

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GIANT SPOON NAMED TO AD AGE'S AGENCIES TO WATCH

BY ADAGE

Last year roared and howled for Giant Spoon, the four-year-old agency that won four Cannes Lions for a campaign about a wolf. The shop, with offices in Los Angeles and New York, attracted new clients including Paramount Pictures, MassMutual, Uber and Warner Bros., which helped grow annual revenue to $14.5 million, triple that of 2015. Meanwhile, campaigns with existing accounts, such as a digital series for HP starring a "Mr. Robot"-ready Christian Slater as a printer hacker named the Wolf, have garnered creative acclaim for the fast-growing agency.

THE SPOTS MOONPIE WOULD HAVE RUN

BY TIM NUDD, ADWEEK

MoonPie knows its way around Twitter. But judging from the scripts it whipped up this week—curiously timed to a certain major football game being played—we’d like to see the brand try a TV commercial pronto.

During Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast, in a very “If We Made It” style stunt, the marshmallow-cookie brand posted a handful of scripts on Twitter for “very good and important MoonPie spots” (they never called them Super Bowl ads, of course) that they might have aired if they weren’t busy making MoonPies—and presumably, if they had anything resembling a Big Game budget.

GIANT SPOON & UBER COMPLIMENT DRIVERS

BY TIM NUDD, ADWEEK

Uber is beginning 2018 by focusing more on celebrating its drivers, beginning with a pair of documentary-style spots—timed to National Compliment Day today—profiling two drivers who’ve gotten some of the most in-app compliments from passengers.

“A compliment can go further than you think,” says onscreen copy at the beginning of the spots, which were made by agency Giant Spoon, before delving into the drivers’ life stories. The theme is “Going Beyond 5 Stars,” a reference to the highest score a passenger can give a driver within the app’s rating system.

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BIG SPACESHIP IS NAMED AGENCY OF THE YEAR

BY JOE MANDESE, MEDIAPOST

When Bloomberg Media wanted to develop a new real-time news service aimed at Millennials and built on the backbone of Twitter, it turned to an ad agency steeped not just in social media, but in its ability to map culture in a way that influences consumers' media behaviors.

The assignment was more than just a branding or even a promotional effort. It was part of the earliest product development and experience design that ultimately led to the launch of TicToc by Bloomberg on Twitter late last year.

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HOW THE ENGINE IS RED STAYS AGILE

BY CHRIS DENNY, SMARTBRIEF

We ran our shop, The Engine is Red, on a standard waterfall model for six years, and felt all the aches and pains you’re all familiar with. We didn’t know any better at the time, and it wasn’t until frustration peaked that we changed.

Then we learned about agile -- a flexible and efficient project development method used widely by tech startups engineering teams, whose hallmark is breaking down big projects into small cycles focused on iterative progress over fixed deliverables or tasks. We were intrigued.

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MICHAEL LEBOWITZ AWARDED "CREATIVE ALL STAR"

BY JOE MANDESE, MEDIAPOST

When Michael Lebowitz founded Big Spaceship in 2000, he didn’t necessarily create it to be a “digital agency,” but some of the shop’s earliest and most creative executions happened to be in then-emerging digital platforms, especially the Web. That begat social, which begat mobile apps and other digital interfaces, but at its heart, Lebowitz just wanted to create an agency that created great advertising.

Fast-forward to 2018. Big Spaceship may still be best-known for its digital chops, but it has emerged as a best-in-breed full-service agency creating campaigns in conventional media like TV and print as well as pushing the envelope with the next generation of media technology.

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EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON FACEBOOK ALGORITHM CHANGES

BY TANYA DUA

Facebook is set to start playing up status updates from friends and family in the News Feed in a bid to promote more "meaningful interaction" on the platform, thereby effectively deprioritizing content from media publishers and brands.

But while publishers are bracing themselves for a massive hit and re-assessing their strategies, advertisers don't seem half as perturbed.

Advertisers, for one, are well-versed with Facebook’s algorithm changes from time-to-time. This is hardly the first time that the tech giant has tweaked its algorithm and cast doubts on the reach of branded posts, forcing them to put more ad dollars behind their posts.

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THE TOMBRAS GROUP WELCOMES FOUR NEW CLIENTS

BY ERIK OSTER, AGENCYSPY

Knoxville-based agency The Tombras Group has added four clients that add up to around $20 million in new business.

The new clients are Calypso Lemonade, Tennessee’s Yee-Haw Brewing Company, Ohio healthcare system Mercy Health and optical retailer For Eyes.

“Winning these four marquee brands further validates our philosophy, connecting data and creativity for business results,” The Tombras Group executive vice president Dooley Tombras said in a statement. “This is great momentum for us as we move into our new headquarters next month.”

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ORANGE THEORY FITNESS TURNS TO TOMBRAS TO SHAPE ITS GROWTH

BY KRISTINA MONLLOS, ADWEEK

By the end of 2018, Orangetheory Fitness plans to have 1,300 studios in 17 countries, and by midyear, it expects to hit $1 billion in revenue. To get there, the fitness brand has worked with Knoxville, Tenn.-based The Tombras Group over the past three years, building its membership with a hypertargeted approach—strategic programmatic, social and mobile media buys—for people within a certain distance of its studios.

Now, the company is launching its first national brand campaign to build upon that work.

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BOSCH CAMPAIGN FUELED BY BAILEY LAUERMAN

BY MEDIAPOST, THE DRUM

With the winter weather come the storms, and with the storms comes a need for quality windshield wipers. 

Taking advantage of the upcoming stormy season and a week filled with college football games, Bosch is hitting the airwaves to advertise its Icon windshield wipers. 

“The deep winter months of January and February, when drivers are dealing with lots of precipitation, are when [Bosch] sees the most sales conversions,” says Michael Johnson, creative director at Bailey Lauerman, the agency behind the campaign. “We also know that the folks who are going to be proactive about wiper replacement and maintenance also happen to index high for sports in general, and football specifically.”

NHTSA IS THE AD OF THE DAY ON THE DRUM

BY KYLE O'BRIEN, THE DRUM

According to the NHTSA, 37,461 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2016, and 28% (10,497) of those fatalities were in crashes during which a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit.

Knoxville-based agency, the Tombras Group developed this year’s ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign, its 13th year doing so, for the first time putting people directly into the immediate aftermath of a drunk driving crash scene. This is not something NHTSA has attempted before as the annual campaign has always focused on the moments prior to the drive or accident.

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OPINION: 2018 RETAIL HEALTH

BY PETER CLOUTIER, THE DRUM

For all the “death of retail” articles written over the last year, there’s a reason to believe 2018 will be different. Why? There’s a renaissance happening in brick and mortars, where over 90% of all sales still happen (source: US Census Bureau). And one of the major strategies retailers are leveraging is...mashups. No, I’m not kidding.

What’s a retail mashup? Take your current shopping experience and add impact, fun, and relevance by combining it with a complimentary offering, and poof! You’ve got new reasons to want to visit and buy, and deepen relationships with shoppers in the process. Starbucks cafes at Target. RedBox videos at Kroger. Sony store-within-a-store at Best Buy. And of course Amazon and Whole Foods. You get the idea.

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THE TOMBRAS GROUP IS BEHIND THE MOONPIE TWEETS YOU LOVE

BY FAST COMPANY, ADWEEK

The Knoxville, TN-based Tombras Group took over MoonPie’s social media last year and has made it the best follow on Brand Twitter.

It’s not often that one tweet can shut down an entire factory. But last August, when MoonPie trolled Hostess for claiming to be the “official snack cake of the eclipse,” demand for its chocolate cookie and marshmallow product skyrocketed to the point where its Chattanooga Bakery factory ran out of supplies and had to halt production.

It was the pinnacle of an already impressive run. MoonPie had been building up to the eclipse on social media for the month of August, which helped give the century-old brand its best sales month ever. And as more and more people discover its funny, engaging, zero-effs-giving Twitter voice, it looks like December will once again break that record.