Skechers is going against the grain with a quirkier approach that has sales booming and stock rising. This approach has even pushed the brand into the top five largest athletic brands in the U.S.

Wait. Are we talking about the same brand that used to sell platform sneakers in the 90s?

Yep. Having only entered the performance market in 2011, Sketchers’ athletic line of products has gained serious traction with some peculiar marketing. While most brands are shelling out millions in order to book the biggest celebrities and athletes, Skechers’ off-the-beaten path approach is not only cost effective, but is proving to have a major return on investment. 

Skechers looks for unusual deals that many big brands might toss aside. The company seeks out up-and-coming competitors as well as unsigned retired athletes. That includes athletes with four legs, like California Chrome. No, they aren’t making horseshoes quite yet. Skechers signed on to sponsor the thoroughbred, using the speedy stallion as a galloping billboard worth oodles in exposure at a significantly lower cost. Even though California Chrome failed to nail the Triple Crown, all eyes were on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner – and many of those eyes saw his blanket emblazoned with the Skechers logo.

To me, it kind of seems like “the hipster approach”.  

Step one: Find the thing before it becomes cool or go retro. The costs are down, and you’ve got something you like.

Step two: Do what’s weird and outside of the box. Act like what you’ve got is the coolest thing out there.  

Step three: Watch as the world takes note and envies what you have.

The latest Skechers technique proves that it’s worth checking out what your competitors aren’t looking at. Quirky moves can have even top brands peering over with jealous eyes. I definitely have Skechers on my radar, as it will be interesting to see where they take things next. In the mean time, I’ve got to see a man about a horse.

~ Kristin Drabik, Summer Associate, The S3 Agency

HelloFlo Nails It Again!

While I had never heard of the service Hello Flo or a “first moon party” before, I will forever remember both due to the hilarious video that has just been released. HelloFlo, a tampon subscription service, had a major advertising hit last summer with “Camp Gyno,” a long-form spot about a know-it-all girl who is the first to get her period and who the other girls at camp turn to for advice when they get theirs. Well, the sequel “First Moon Party” has just been released and this video (possibly funnier than the last) focuses on a girl who has the opposite problem. All her friends are getting their period and she is not. So…she decides to fake it.

Before you watch this video I feel a warning is necessary: If you are at all squeamish or uncomfortable with the word vagina and anything related, you may want to refrain.


I love the brilliance behind this idea. It so magnificently tries to make this topic less taboo and bring humor to what can be an uncomfortable situation for a young girl, as well as sell a few products along the way. And with over 1,700,000 views on Youtube and 19.5k shares on Mashable in just a day, I’m definitely not the only one who’s impressed.

Well done, HelloFlo. I approve.  And in case you missed last years hit, here you go.

!~ Tracey Jeffas, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency

Does Your Brand Make People Dance?

This is a tale of brands and viral videos and dancing…


Do you know Matt Harding? If you do, it probably wasn’t until after he started dancing in famous places across the world, as captured by YouTube videos. Videos that you can’t help but smile at because they focus on the joyful act of dancing, with an unusual twist. I recently had the privilege to meet Matt and hear his story – and it’s a story all brands who tout their need for a “viral video” should heed.

Matt was traveling with a friend in 2005, when digital video had just become mainstream available via handheld recorders and phones. When he was standing in front of a famous monument, his friend said “Why don’t you do that silly dance you do in front of that?” Matt did, the friend recorded it, and together they proceeded to do this at every major stop. Matt then put the video on his own website. A little while later, Matt got a call from his friend saying “Your video is on YouTube.” Matt replied, “What’s YouTube?” (Imagine saying that today?) He proceeded to go to YouTube, find his video, and see that he had 600,000 views. That’s a lot today — let alone back then — and the next thing he knew, he got a call from Cadbury Schweppes’ brand, Stride Gum.

"They told me they wanted me to do what I did on the video," Matt recalls. "I said, ‘You want to pay me to travel around the world and dance? Ok!" According to Matt, he went to their corporate office with a carefully thought out plan of where he wanted to travel and why — expecting scrutiny, lots of rules, and more. Basically, he was told to do what he wants as long is it was done in time. BRAND POINT #1: The brand recognized that Matt’s original video had something that appealed to people, naturally. Rather than try to shoehorn that “Mattness” into something more “Stride Gum-like,” they let him be authentic. Lots of brands talk about authenticity, but how many actually execute that way?

In addition to be pleasantly surprised by the client’s lack of overt control, Matt was shocked that he wasn’t asked to bring the product into the experience. Watch the video. He’s not wearing Stride Gum swag; there are no Stride Gum signs; he’s not even chewing any gum! At the end of the video, text informs you that the video exists courtesy of Stride Gum. Knowledge you gain a time when you are already smiling. And that may just telegraph that happy emotion onto the Stride Gum brand. BRAND POINT #2: The brand did not force unnatural product references down the viewers’ collective throat. Many times, that “integration” interferes with the experience. Here, viewers didn’t even know it was a brand-sponsored video until the modest end-of-video reveal. That feels pretty nice to a consumer. Take a look, sound on, and feet on the floor (just in case…).

This virtually unbranded, brand-sponsored video has almost 19 million views and counting. It continues to live on long after the launch, because it is relevant: it makes people feel good. (Brand Point #3: Be relevant beyond the short term.) But Matt’s brand-sponsored career doesn’t end here.

This video was seen as so special, both to people and to the brand that had sponsored it, that is caught the eye of Visa. The credit card giant picked Matt up to do a commercial that began running internationally in 2008…and six years later is still on air. Not too many commercials have that sort of staying power, but as Visa was quick to recognize, Matt has something special here. So while they did brand their spot more than the Stride Gum video (this is, after all, an actual commercial), they are reaching millions of people each year with Matt’s own brand of happiness.

It’s interesting to note how Matt’s videos have evolved…and how they have impacted his viewers. His initial video focused simply on Matt dancing in front of landmarks. As you watch the progression of videos, he starts bringing in other people, and the videos become less about the places he is visiting and more about the people residing in those places. He also trades out his signature dance at times in favor of the cultural dance going on around him. Matt says this happened organically — at one point he was dancing and a bunch of kids simply ran over to start dancing with him. Brand Point #5: recognize when divine providence is giving you an opportunity and jump on it. Matt immediately understood that adding other happy people from the places he was visiting humanized the experience…and increased the happiness factor.

The video in which Matt pushes his own personal brand the furthest is the video that is purely his vision, sans sponsors. Matt chose to finance his own video and visit places that sponsors had forbidden. Places like North Korea, Moscow, Syria. Why? He wanted to show that the world is full of great people everywhere who want to be happy — and dispel what he feels is a myth: that the world is a scary place to visit. And his bravery has been rewarded. (Brand Point #6: Be brave.) With millions of views (one video has over 47 million), the ads on those videos have more than compensated the dancing video star for his out-of-pocket expenses – and the videos have brought value to the viewers: by providing a different type of peek into foreign cultures, we are all connected a little bit more, via the universal language of dance.

I hope this blog post captures even a tiny amount of the joy I felt meeting Matt and hearing his story. And I hope your brand is able to help your customers feel more joy by being in their lives!

~ Denise Blasevick, @Advertgirl & CEO, The S3 Agency — seen here dancing with Matt Harding at MIT

Kiehl’s Puts Space on Your Face


In the industry of high-end cosmetics, how does a company reach out to male audiences? Put a little sci-fi into it.

That was the goal of Kiehl’s Since 1851 when they “launched” their campaign “How to: Put Space on Your Face.” The campaign features the new Kiehl’s product, the Oil Elimintaor 24-hour Anti-Shine Moisturizer for Men.

The 2-1/2-minute video shows a team of engineers building a small, simple spacecraft that has one purpose: to launch a bottle of Oil Eliminator Anti-Shine Moisturizer past the atmosphere and into space. (The behind-the-scenes video reveals that the engineers prepared months in advance for this.) The bottle-turned-astronaut makes it back to Earth after successfully completing its mission – a few minutes in space.

Why go through all this trouble just to send one bottle into space? Well, Kiehl’s wanted to showcase the moisturizer’s key ingredient: Aerolite, a substance engineered by NASA. Made from aerogel, it’s 99.98% air, making it the lightest man-made solid on Earth, so it’s really light on a user’s face. Apparently Aerolite can absorb four times its weight in oil and breaks up sweat from skin, making it a very effective ingredient in oil elimination.

Although the video doesn’t say all of this, it can still grab attention with the visual premise accompanied by Star Wars-type music. At the very least, it will capture the attention of sci-fi fans, which include quite a few men. This will also feed into the current advertising trend of infusing space and technology into social campaigns (e.g. Red Bull and “the Highest Free Fall”, Watch Dogs “Real World Hacks”, etc.). In fact, Kiehl’s is currently running a contest where winners will be able to have action figures of themselves sent to space on a similar spacecraft, and gifted a picture of them in action.

More than moisturizer? Affirmative.

~ Jay H. Kim, Summer Associate, The S3 Agency

Product Placement Madness!

The summer movie season is upon us, and that means big movies with big budgets. When I hear about how many squillions of dollars these movies take to make, I know a good deal of that is recouped from product placement. But does it have to be so obvious?

It’s very distracting from the movie watching experience. You’re engrossed in a story being told..the camera is following an actor’s movements. Perhaps he walks by a car, or pulls out a phone, and the camera focuses on that object for a beat. Or two. Or five…it becomes an awkward silence in the middle of a story being told.

Looking an egregious example? Marvel’s The Avengers follows two heroes around a car in the middle of a fight, only to stay on that car long after the characters have left the frame.

My favorite example? The most recent Superman! This Hollywood creation features no less then three different call outs to the IHOP franchise, including a long fight scene inside a restaurant. Because nothing says “Man of Steel” like a short stack.

I’d gladly sacrifice some special effects budget if it meant that I could enjoy an entire movie without interruption. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch Michael Bay blow stuff up.

~ Mike D’Ambrosio, Interactive Art Director, The S3 Agency

Volvo Uses Nostalgia to Market to Millennials

Twenty years ago, the Volvo station wagon was the minivan for moms who didn’t want to drive a minivan. It was a car that a lot of kids my age grew up riding in, fighting each other to sit in the third row that had seats facing the rear window of the car. As a kid, I thought Volvo was a cool car for parents to have – who wouldn’t want to stare out the back window and make faces at the car behind you at a red light?

Unlike the flashy ad for Volvo trucks released earlier this year and featured Jean Claude Van Damme doing a split between two moving trucks, a new Volvo cars ad uses nostalgia to market their products to a new generation of drivers: fellow Millennials, like myself, who grew up having (or knowing at least one person who had) a Volvo station wagon.  The new ad takes the viewer back to a simpler time in his or her life when the worst part of the day was the possible nausea induced by a backward-facing ride.

The spot organically highlights the Volvo’s features and benefits (like ample trunk space) that have been updated for the modern world. Its purpose is to remind Millennials that we now have the power to purchase our own Volvos and create new memories in them. However, as a member of the ad’s target audience, the ad inspires me to buy an old Volvo station wagon and hire a chauffeur to drive me around while I sit in the third row and make faces at the cars behind me. Either way, it has me thinking Volvo.

~ Riley Kertesz, Summer Associate, The S3 Agency

VW’s Eerie, Interactive, Anti-Texting PSA

Mobile use is now the leading cause of death on the road. Despite increased awareness of the dangers of texting and driving, people continue to take the risk. VW is taking a new approach in an attempt to help solve this deadly roadway issue with their new PSA.
It’s powerful and very smart. It didn’t utilize footage of totaled vehicles or
pedestrians being taking away in an ambulance. Rather, what it did do was grab everyone’s attention to really drive the point home.

Here’s how it went down: The PSA takes place in a movie theater in Hong Kong. The lights dim and what looks like a pre-screening advertisement  begins to roll. It’s a first-person-POV video of somebody driving. Just motoring along, .The seconds tick by as the crowd is lulled into boredom, until everybody in the audience with a cell phone receives a “location-based” text message from someone behind the scenes.
See what happens next:

Published 5 days ago, over 10 million sets of eyeballs have tuned into YouTube to see the spot. Hopefully they will all get the message.

~ Michael Kolatac, Senior Art Director, The S3 Agency

Did the CIA just join Twitter?

The world’s most secretive organization, the Central Intelligence Agency joined Twitter on Friday by launching its official account and sending out a humorous first tweet, proving that spies can have a sense of humor. The agency, tweeting with the handle @CIA, confirmed in a news release that it has established a presence on both Twitter and Facebook.

The CIA’s first tweet – “We can neither confirm or deny that this is our first tweet.” – resulted in more than 160,000 followers in the first few hours, 216,000 retweets and 124,000 favorites. Celebrities got in on the fun, adding their starpower to the CIA’s instant Twitter popularity.

What can the CIA possibly share, you ask? Apparently, a lot.

"By expanding to these platforms (Facebook and Twitter), CIA will be able to more directly engage with the public and provide information on CIA’s mission, history, and other developments," CIA Director John Brennan said in a statement.

The agency also promised to post “the latest news, statements, and career information” from the CIA, along with artifacts from the CIA’s museum, updates from its World Factbook and unclassified intelligence information.

Is this part of an image campaign? It certainly seems to be…although they might want to tweet more than every three days if they want to keep their followers engaged.

~ Meredith Aman, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency


As hard as it is to believe, the actors who portray the characters on MAD MEN have yet to take the Emmy for their individual roles. Perhaps Matt Weiner’s years creating Sterling Cooper & Partners has convinced him that advertising works…because the show has launched a Don Draper-worthy print campaign of 8 ads, each with a spotlight on a different actor.

Each ad transports us back in time with a vintage late 60s/early 70s look and feel, connecting each character with a fictional product that very well could have existed. As Joan hawks hair color (red of course) and Roger is all about the shoes, the brilliant copy draws parallels between the faux ad and why the subject deserves to win an Emmy…without actually saying it. Betty, for example, “loves pearls but prefers gold.”

With ads this fun and well done, it’s entirely possible an Emmy judge could be influenced – connecting the campaign creativity to each actor’s stellar performance. We’ll see when the awards air almost 3 months from now, on August 25, 2014, whether or not Jon Hamm takes home the Emmy, proving that “Behind every pair of our glasses is a man with winning character…” We’ll also see if this campaign sparks a new round of retro concepts from real ad agencies for real products.

~ Denise Blasevick (aka @AdvertGirl), CEO, The S3 Agency


Lasalle College of Arts in Singapore recently launched their new advertising campaign to build awareness and boost enrollment. Being an art school, the campaign needed to showcase both creativity and inspiration – and they did just that.

Lasalle used quotes from famous artists and innovators on their own personal paths to hone in on the profound effect the arts have to inspire. Faces of these iconic figures were beautifully brought to life via words from their own quotes.

Each of the creative executions end with a simple, yet powerful, call-to-action: “What do you want to try?”; “What course will you drop in on?”; “What will you be?”. The detail of the calligraphy paired with with the quotes is really impressive. Now will this boost enrollment is the question…

What inspires YOU?

~ Stefanie Fernandez, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency

[Images: at top, Van Gogh; below, Steve Jobs and Picasso]



[Self Portrait: Vincent van Gogh]

What once was started out as unsolicited spec work by by Italian designer Marco Sodano has now become an advertising campaign. This pixelated art has become part of Lego’s “Imagine” campaign, conveying the message that “every child with Lego can become a great artist like Da Vinci and Vermeer.”

[American Gothic: Grant Wood]

I think the execution is visually captivating. Would the use of more modern art icons have been more on the mark may for Lego’s young demographic? Or does this modernization of classics create that appeal? Whatever the answer, it looks like this spec work was well worth the effort for Sodano.

~ Meredith Aman, The S3 Agency, Account Supervisor

[Girl with a Pearl Earring: Johannes Vermeer]

Gatorade, Milk, & the Very Latest Special Effect

It started with the recent milk campaign – replacing the long-running but no-longer-moving-the-needle milk mustache motif with a series of ads featuring milk pouring out of people as they go about their daily activities. Now, Gatorade has discovered the special effect whereby one’s product can flow forth in slow motion trails from the bodies of its consumers. In this case, behind athletes as they move majestically through their paces. Take a look:

I don’t know what’s going to be next, but with this effect out of the bag, I am expecting something to break soon. Perhaps a beer brand can jump on board, and golden sheets of sudsy ale can cascade from sports fans or bikini models as they party by the pool. How about something in the digestive aid category… say, Pepto Bismol? Is there a place for this effect in the realm of erectile dysfunction pharmacology? The mind reels with the possibilities.

Following so quickly on the heels of the milk campaign, the Gatorade effort comes across as extremely derivative. The commercials may be setting Gatorade apart from other sports drinks – but they’re doing it by reminding me of milk. Not, I’m guessing, what the market research must have called for. At least they didn’t steal the new milk campaign tagline, which might work for Gatorade as well: Milk Life.

~ Adam Schnitzler, Chief Creative Officer, The S3 Agency

Blood Into Art?

About 8 years ago I was introduced to Jordan Eagles at my sister-in-law’s place in upstate NY. He was the quiet guy at the party who struck up a conversation with me. I found out shortly in that he was an artist from Short Hills, NJ – right in our agency’s backyard. He even had a small portfolio of his work with him – and his work was gorgeous. His medium? Cow’s blood acquired by a local slaughterhouse.

These meticulous methods and executions incorporating resin, cheesecloth, copper and more all came together to make beautiful pieces of art that include sculpture, painting, video and even light installations.
Since blood is a source of life, Jordan’s work represents more the beauty of living than that of death – although it evokes the connection between both. I believe it’s best viewed for the end result, not necessarily the key ingredient in his medium which may or may not turn potential viewers off.

I didn’t think twice about checking out his gallery show when he came through NYC back in 2007. Years later, I’m excited to see that Eagles has made a serious impression on the world of modern art. This one is happening right now in Boston.

You can check out all his other work here. (Hard to believe True Blood hasn’t connected with Eagles to promote the final season…)

~ Michael Kolatac, Sr. Art Director, The S3 Agency


Few would argue the fact that books have the ability to change the course of human history. Usually, it’s the words within the pages that do the work, but in this particular book it’s the pages themselves: meet The Drinkable Book, the beautiful and functional result of a partnership between DDB New York and Water is Life.

As the accompanying promotional video explains, “every year, 3.4 million people die from water-related diseases.” The Drinkable Book not only educates about the causes and dangers of contaminated waters, it provides an invaluable fix for them: its pages are made from paper coated with particles of silver that enable it to filter out 99 percent of harmful bacteria from contaminated water, rendering it as safe as tap water here in the states. The paper is inexpensive to produce and each filter can last up to 30 days, meaning each book can give its owner up to 4 years’ worth of clean water.

This combination of humanitarian effort, scientific innovation and beautiful, simple design make for an award-worthy piece that has the potential to change the lives of millions. Watch the video here:

~ Trish Salge, Sr. Art Director and Chief Environmental Correspondent, The S3 Agency

New McDonald’s Ads: Who’s Loving It?

Fast food and French food don’t often go hand in hand, unless you’re talking about french fries…then again, these ads from McDonald’s in Paris go beyond the normal Happy Meal. The upcoming summer campaign is much more elegant than one might expect from the Golden Arches. The brand is letting their iconic offerings such as French Fries, Big Mac, and Chicken McNuggets speak for themselves – sans headlines – via flattened pictograms. The only other element: a small “Golden Arches M” reminiscent of a registration mark appears next to the image.

These striking ads certainly let the product be the hero. The illustrative style goes a bit against the traditional “appetite appeal” directive by which most restaurants (including Mickey D’s) generally abide. When these outdoor ads begin popping up in France this summer, will that differentiation work in the brand’s favor? Quite possibly. The campaign invokes heritage and modern appeal simultaneously.

It appears that, in Europe at least, McDonald’s is looking to elevate its image with these tasteful ads. Who’s loving it?

~ Denise Blasevick (@AdvertGirl), CEO, The S3 Agency

Note: This article originally ran in my column. Follow me there for tasty tidbits about advertising, public relations, and social media! ~ Denise