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Stephanie Miller

“Moonlight” winning the Oscar for best picture this year got us thinking about what movies were the best at telling the stories that live within advertising. After popping up a batch of popcorn (with extra butter, of course) and breaking out the M&Ms, we cast our votes for the following categories.

Best channeling of a target market—Going beyond Scarborough data and other secondary research, Mel Gibson embarked on a journey of primary research to best market a new product to women. For dedication and the best attempt to getting into the personae of the target market (and learning much more than he anticipated), the winner is “What Women Want.

Best ‘giving it your all’ in a creative presentation—Creative types often read lines and show story board of what ad is going to look like, but Tom Hanks and his team went the extra mile getting into costume, breaking out props and acting out their concept of A Trip to Grandma’s to win a major airline account for their Chicago agency. “Nothing in Common gets our nod for best presentation of a creative concept. Note: We couldn’t find clip of this scene online, but it’s worth the watch to check out the full movie.

Best creative lines a client would never approve ­– Deadlines and long hours leads an overworked AE, Dudley Moore, to lose all filters and begin delivering campaigns with the honest sell including “Buy Volvo. They’re boxy but they’re good” and “United, Most of our passengers get there alive.” This is a favorite because these truth is funnier than fiction and everyone who has worked in an agency knows lines like these are part of every brainstorm, Though, much to our chagrin, never see the light of day. For entertainment value, humor, truth “Crazy People wins the golden statue.

Best look at what keeps us up at night —Beyond brainstorms and creative briefs, this movie pulls back the curtain on a real look into the creative minds and methods behind the ads we love. Before the ‘big idea’ see what goes into developing a strategy, the stressors of channeling creativity today and worrying about where it’s coming from tomorrow, and the role advertising and PR has played and plays in our lives today. For best portrayal of the 60 hour work week, the Oscar goes to the documentary “Art & Copy”.

It’s been too long since we’ve had an ode to all that is advertising on the silver screen. Here’s hoping for a new release in the coming year. In the meantime, what can’t miss ad movies would you add to the list?

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One of the most difficult aspects of advertising can be trying to communicate a simple idea. Lucky for us, the language of love is universally understood. Powered by such a strong motivation, this means that Valentine’s Day is the perfect set up for clever and endearing advertisements. Here are our top ten favorite Valentine’s Day ads from the last 10 years.

1. Deadpool – True Love Never Dies

Just before last Valentine’s Day, Deadpool hit theaters. While Deadpool is actually a highly explicit, R-rated, 4th-wall-breaking comedy disguised as a superhero movie, it featured many prominent Valentine’s Day promotions that might have confused some potential moviegoers into thinking it was a Rom-Com. You never can trust advertisers, can you?


2. Durex – Happy Father’s Day

This ad doesn’t hold anything back when it proclaims, in perfect tongue-and-cheek, that other brands simply don’t offer the same protection as Durex.

3. Carphone Warehouse – Why Spend More?

Carphone Warehouse is a British mobile phone retailer who offers quick comparisons on phone prices, so you can get the most bang for your buck. In fact, they’re so affordable that they can even save you money on flowers for Valentine’s Day.

1-creative-valentine-ads4. HelpAge India – The Elderly Need Our Love Too

HelpAge India is non-profit dedicated to showing some respect to those who came before us. This clever ad reminds us that love isn’t just meant for the young.


5. McDonald’s – The Proposal

McDonald’s might not be your first choice for a romantic dinner with your special someone, but honestly, it’d probably make for a more memorable Valentine’s Day. Kudos to McDonald’s for trying.


6. Anthon Berg – The Love Experiment

Anthon Berg reminds us in this online video that telling those we care about that we care is good for our own health and happiness. And what better way to say it than with Anthon Berg chocolate (and some kind words of course)?

7. BMW – Motorbike Lovers

There’s definitely something romantic about riding off into the sunset on a motorcycle. I think this ad captures that feeling, don’t you?


8. Wilkinson – Smooth Valentine’s Day

Wilkinson Sword is a British company that offers precision shaving instruments. This creative outdoor execution shows that they believe a smooth shave is paramount to a smooth Valentine’s Day.

9. Hovis Bread – Valentine’s Day

Hovis Bread is the third British company to make the list. I don’t know if it’s the incredible food photography or just the simplicity of this ad, but I truly would kill for some toast right now.


10. Google – Love in Paris

Okay, technically this isn’t a Valentine’s Day ad, but when it comes to advertisements that make you feel the love, this commercial is one of the best.


Thanks for checking out our list of top ten Valentine’s Day ads over the last 10 years. Let us know which ad was your favorite in the comments below, or tell us if we missed an obvious winner.

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For the first time ever, a Super Bowl went into overtime, and for the fifth time, the New England Patriots took home the championship. The Patriots win over the Falcons was nothing short of exciting, but what about the ads? Besides the “Big Game” itself, Super Bowl commercials have long since brought viewers to the TV, for the long-running tradition of picking the “Best” and “Worst.” So, we decided to ask our staffers what ads they thought were the best. Here’s our top 5:

84 LumberAlthough this commercial was deemed too controversial to show in its entirety, the 90-second teaser stood out in our minds. Featuring the journey of a mother and daughter who are leaving their country with hopes of a better life in the US, 84 Lumber capitalizes on the “land of opportunity.” 

Airbnb: The ad titled “We Accept” shows a collection of faces of different nationalities and the words “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.” The goal of the ad was to promote a message of diversity and acceptance, and was also used as an announcement that the company intends to provide short-term housing for 100,000 refugees, disaster survivors and other displaced people for the next five years.

Mr. Clean: Mr. Clean’s “Cleaner of Your Dreams” ad caused quite a stir this year. The ad features a revamped Mr. Clean, younger and “sexier” than his original character. Many viewers were entertained and found the ad to be funny, while others found it to be disturbing. It ends with the words “You gotta love man who cleans” on the screen.

Audi: Audi’s ad is narrated by a father who is worried about her daughter being valued less than men “despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence…” The ad ends with the words “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.” Although it did receive some praise from viewers, others criticized Audi for even running the ad while lacking women in leadership positions.

Skittles: With “Romance in the Rainbow,” Skittles decided to focus on humor with a classic scene of teenage romance: throwing pebbles (or in this case, Skittles) at the window. Little does he know, the girl, along with her family, a cop, a burglar and even a random beaver, are all in her room catching mouthfuls of skittles. Skittles never fails to create ads that are as sweet as they are completely off the wall.

Super Bowl advertisements can make or break a company’s brand based on the outcome after they air. Companies spend millions of dollars on their ads with the same goal in mind as the players: that once the game is over, will people still be talking about them? If a company can create an ad that makes the “Best” lists after the Super Bowl is over and continue to create an ongoing impression, they essentially win too. Which Super Bowl ads were your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

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In a fragmented media world with no M.A.S.H. or Cheers finale to be found, the Super Bowl has become our national TV holiday. It wasn’t until 2010 when the Super Bowl’s audience finally surpassed that legendary M.A.S.H. finale (106 million viewers back in 1983). Now, it’s unlikely any other program will ever be able to challenge it as the most watched.

Besides being an overhyped contest between two NFL football teams, the Super Bowl is the only program that inspires viewers to say they often enjoy the ads just as much, if not more than, the game. There is a ton of pressure for each advertiser to entertain, innovate and perhaps, sell something.

So we’re shining the spotlight on some brands who will be going beyond the 30-second spot this year. Here’s what we’re looking forward to:

Snickers – The Mars brand will be airing the first LIVE Super Bowl spot. We don’t know much, but we do know it will be Western-themed and star Adam Driver (or at least his cardboard cut-out). Snickers has been teasing it on TV, Facebook and YouTube:

Hyundai – The Korean car brand is teaming up with NFL legends and director, Peter Berg (Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon) to shoot its 90-second commercial in real time during the Super Bowl. Apparently, they’re going to mix in some actual game footage, as well as shots from service men and women enjoying the game. The spot will air right after the final whistle blows. Can’t wait to see how they pull this off.

84 Lumber – While some brands use their Super Bowl spot to generally increase public opinion of the company, this supply materials brand will be the first Super Bowl advertiser to run a pure recruitment message. The company will be launching a massive hiring spree, and is perfectly fine spending $5 million to do it. Its first try at a spot was rejected by Fox, who evidently thought it too political, with its images of walls and ladders.

T-Mobile – Every Super Bowl has to have a celebrity redemption story. This year’s prize goes to T-Mobile using the much maligned Justin Bieber as it’s MC for the history of the Touchdown Dance. Will you Beliebe?

Zero Fatalities – In the spirit of the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign, UDOT’s Zero Fatalities traffic safety education program will be showcasing the winner of its #ZeroBowl contest. Teens all across the state submitted their best 30-second spot focused on a safe driving message. Look for this spot at the end of the third quarter. We are super impressed with the talent on display. While we can’t show you the winning spot  yet, here’s one of the finalists:

So sit back, grab a snack and enjoy the ads, er, the game!

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Penna Powers has a brand new soccer team, and we pulled from whoever we had in-house to make it happen: techies, creatives, has-beens, bikers, bums and account managers. Don’t let the player pool fool you, however, because as of right now, we are 3:1. Somehow, this hodgepodge of players has turned into a tactically savvy soccer team, feared by every other team in the Coed, League 10.

The Dungeons and Dragons discussions have been nixed by talks of soccer tactics and sub rotations. The afternoon Birthday Celebration sweets have been forgone in the stomach’s preparation for the evening’s match. The P2 staff is hyped every Game Day with anticipation. Needless to say, the creation of a P2 soccer team has had an energizing effect on the P2 workday.


1/5 Post-Game Recap:

Last week was a nail-biter! After overcoming a 3:0 deficit, Nate sealed the deal with a striking hit to far post for the 4:3 advantage with only minutes to go. Thor, Marsha and Becka worked some skilled offensive magic in the final third, sometimes surprising themselves, tallying upwards of 10 shots on goal. Audrey fit her defensive role like a glove and with Jordan’s coaching and stamina our team was organized and tactful. Tyson never swore, never let Jordan down and made a few seriously key stops in the final minutes of the match to seal the victory.

Players to watch 1/19: Definitely Collin Brian. A player that demonstrated some silky skills for 3 minutes — fans everywhere are anxious to see what he will do with a few more.

1/19 Post-Game Recap:

The wrath of P2 officially unleashed versus Pandas IFC. After 12 utterly nasty goals, the Pandas were left bereft of their cute looks and pride.

Speaking of cute, the girls brought the heat. Marsha continues as the consistent offensive threat while really sticking it to the offsides rule. Audrey’s savvy is missed every minute she is off the pitch. Becka receives “most improved player” and is typically found doing drills after the game. Carly got her sports confused and deliberately produced a screen, which resulted in a foul that would make any basketball coach proud. It made Kim really proud, too. Melinda had a harsh welcome to the sport with the whiff of the game. No matter, literally seconds later she was up and assisted the sweetest goal of the night. Whiff’s on you, Pandas.

The boys also did work. Player-to-watch, Collin Brian, exceeded expectations with a hat-trick performance – it’s amazing what a little more than three minutes can do for you. Jordan ran our defense…and offense…and midfield…he basically runs the entire game, literally and figuratively speaking. Nate is consistently on the leader board for goals and rumor has it scouts are watching him closely. Tyson had a sick shot on goal and if you don’t believe me, it was caught on film. Thor doesn’t say much vocally and let’s his moves do the talking: to this day he has the best shake-n-bake skills we have seen.


1/26 Post-Game Recap:

If you’ve ever wondered if Narwhals exist, they don’t. P2 defeated second-in-the-league foe Narwhal Nation 9-3 last Thursday wrapping up a 3-game winning streak. The Narwhals were feisty but P2 fought back, collecting the most fouls they’ve had all season. Kim made-good with her 3-goal promise to Chuck and scored her first hat-trick of the season. She also made-bad with an opposing player, failing to chip over his 6’5″ self resulting in a nice ball-to-face moment for him. He had some colorful words for Kim immediately following (something about “going around…”).

Meanwhile, Tyson was caught counting out loud the number of times he was falling to the ground – going down with a loud “There’s three!” midway through the game. He and Thor almost had to shave and let their locks flow due to a shortage of female players. Collin remained calm and collective helping us to keep our cool all game long. Marsha has added to her soccer position repertoire by developing as a fantastic midfielder, constantly checking back to add support. Becka and Nate are beginning to make a great “soccer couple.” Fans can really see the chemistry between the P2 players develop. It is not uncommon to see give-and-go’s, wall passes, and spectacular assists at every game.

Players to watch 2/2: Alex Antonino. Let’s call this what it is: an all-out call-out. Her sassy spunk in soccer form is the most anticipated venture of the New Year. Fans and P2 players cannot contain their high-hopes for Miss. Antonino’s participation.


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It was hard to pick our top 10 movie selections – but the quality of television made it difficult to even leave our couches. So many shows (e.g. Game of Thrones, Sherlock) now deliver mini-movie episodes every week that look like big budget, big screen spectacles. And now, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon just dump entire seasons on us to ignite rampant binge watching. OTT services and cable networks have become crack dealers and we are either addicted junkies or compulsive hoarders with overflowing DVRs and instant queues.

So here’s what we hoarded or became addicted to in 2016:

Game of Thrones (HBO) – Let’s get this out of the way. GoT is like that professional athlete that delivers so many great performances night in and night out that it becomes boring. The show doesn’t carry as much buzz as it used to (typical when you get to six seasons), but it still brings the goods and prompts plenty of water cooler chatter week after week at the office. With dragons, zombies, flesh-eating dogs and uppity bastards, this show is TV’s most epic.

Preacher (AMC) – During the lunch hour on any given summer weekday, you would find at Penna Powers a gaggle of gamers and geeks enthralled by the latest episode of this gonzo AMC series. Yet another comic adapted to the small screen, this one goes pretty far off the rails from any normal TV show. That’s a good thing according to our creative department. If you share a love of Preacher, they might kiss you on the Arseface.

This is Us (NBC) – Because we need to have a least one broadcast network show on our list. This is the perfect Parenthood replacement that will make you cry, laugh and get mad at yourself for laughing and crying.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Netflix) – Netflix is pretty good at resurrecting old beloved shows. They didn’t do so well with Fuller House (despite big audiences, at least according to Netflix) but nailed it with this one. Cue more laughing and crying.

Daredevil (Netflix) – Another favorite for the Penna Powers’ creative department. Daredevil’s Season 2 was certainly no sophomore slump, despite what people have said. We’re glad Shane from Walking Dead got resurrected to keep his unbridled rage-flame burning as the Punisher.

The Crown (Netflix) – Seriously, stop making such great shows Netflix – it might go to your head and then you’ll start making really crappy stuff. But in the meantime, Penna Powers dug The Crown, which explores the rise of Queen Elizabeth II, when she first took the crown at the age of 25. If you’re having Downton Abbey withdrawals, this may be the costume drama for you.

Atlanta (FX) – If you enjoyed Donald Glover and the meta-comedy of Community, you might like this one. FX pretty much gave Glover the keys to the car to drive wherever he wanted. The road had lots of curves and rest stops, but it took us to a place TV’s never been. Never has a series created such a unique sense of place and time – it’s like he mixed Coen brothers absurdist humor with Spike Lee, Kanye West and Samuel Beckett. Now go watch it.

Black Mirror (Netflix) – The Twilight Zone for the new generation – this anthology series focuses on the scary side of technology and extrapolates the terrifying conclusion of what may happen as a result of our “progress”.  Season 3 dropped a healthy dose of six episodes. You’ll want to permanently tape up your laptop camera or go off the grid entirely after watching (with the exception of the unusually positive “San Junipero” episode). Warning: trailer video has some salty language – those bloody Brits.

Westworld (HBO) – HBO’s hoping Westworld will be it’s next Game of Thrones. The ratings have been good and the show has stirred up online discussion forums debating and conjecturing each episode. The series has certainly begged more questions than delivered answers, but the intrigue is contagious and addictive. And Anthony Hopkins is at his best, delivering a calm yet mad scientist version of his Hannibal Lecter character.

Stranger Things (Netflix) – We saved the best for last. The overwhelming favorite for the Penna Powers staff was this eight-part series that dropped out of nowhere over the summer.  If you were to mix the eighties versions of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Carpenter, all the while keeping the rating at an usual and somewhat family-friendly TV-14 (OTT services and premium cable seem to relish the TV-MA rating), you would get Stranger Things. Take 11 by the hand for a trip to the Upside Down world and witness outstanding performances from Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Matthew Modine and the best kids cast assembled since Super 8. And please keep a candle lit for our beloved Barb and her puffy jeans.

Honorable Mentions: Mr. Robot, Billions, Shamless, New Girl, Madame Secretary, Luke Cage, Silicon Valley, Veep, Insecure, Atlanta, Narcos, Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Last Week Tonight, Broad City, The Good Wife, Scandal, The Great Indoors, Ray Donovan, Goliath, The Path, Catastrophe, How to Get Away With Murder, Candle Cove

What did you watch in 2016? Let us know in the comments! Check out our 2016 movie selections and keep refreshing for more end of year selections from the Penna Powers staff.

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If you have friends or family who always have their noses in their phones, who shoot “quick” emails at 10 PM, whose blood runs thick with coffee, you may know someone who works in marketing and communications. And we have the top 10 gifts to give them…

Lump of Coal

To send to those coworkers they’ve been complaining about

Nerf Gun 

For downtime at the office, and so they can get a few shots in on the coworkers you sent coal to


Elf on the Shelf

To make sure they don’t spend too much time shooting people on their naughty list with Nerf darts and actually meet their deadlines


Pillow Pet

To keep them company and keep them comfy for those late nights in the office



To help them unwind from a long day of back-to-back meetings


Fidget Cube

To channel their knee-shaking, foot-tapping, pen-clicking addiction without endlessly annoying everyone around them


Noise Cancelling Headphones

If other people around them don’t have a Fidget Cube and their desk-tapping is driving them up the wall

BS Button

So they can call out their coworkers for being late, being loud, or just being plain annoying

Magic 8 Ball

For those days when they just can’t make a decision


Caffeine, Caffeine, Caffeine

Enough said…


Which of these top 10 gifts will you give YOUR marketing guru? Have anything to add? Let us know in the comments!

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Whether you are new to the advertising industry, or have been working in it for a while, sometimes it can be difficult to bring fresh ideas to the table every day. One of the easiest ways to start each morning with a little inspiration is to keep an eye on what others in your industry are doing. Here are five sites that are fun to read, easy to navigate and chock-full of the latest industry trends.


AdWeek is always up to date on the latest and greatest tactics and strategies that brands all over the world are using. You can count on it to have updates on technology changes and new industry standards. The best thing about this site? Its writers are not afraid to throw in the occasional industry gossip or write about the more controversial topics.

TechCrunch is one site that we have recommended before, because it is one of the best sources for breaking tech news. It profiles startups, reviews new Internet products and is a great resource for up-to-the-minute industry news. Seeing what is new in the tech world may help you incorporate some out-of-the-box thinking into your next marketing plan.

AdvertisingAge takes a similar approach to AdWeek, but the great thing about this site is the way it organizes its information. You can look specifically at marketing, advertising, digital, media, data, B2B, etc. It provides a different take on industry news.

FastCompany is focused more on small businesses, start-ups and business practices in general, which makes it a little more difficult to find relevant articles. But, you can read about topics like virtual reality, big data, productivity, etc. The articles are well written, easy to read and you might even find an off-topic article that boosts your creativity.

Marketing Land covers all aspects of the digital marketing industry, and is the ideal one-stop information source for any digital marketer. It is, again, easy to navigate, easy to read and has articles from experts across all disciplines.

If you want to read about more marketing sites that we recommend, check out this article: The Six Websites Marketing Professionals Should Check Daily.

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Manning’s personalized 10th anniversary poster

We recently celebrated the tenth year of having the talented Jon Manning on our Penna Powers team. Jon, or “Manning” as we call him around the office is our Senior Web Developer. In fact, Manning is one of the original members of our very first interactive team in the agency.

For each anniversary we celebrate in the agency, we like to center the theme around that specific staff member’s hobbies, interests and personality. When he’s not busy helping our clients with their technical and interactive needs, Manning enjoys roasting his signature coffee beans, brewing beer from home and being the ultimate “fixer-upper” for any old or broken objects he can get his hands on.

As an added bonus, Manning hosts his own YouTube channel, The Burning Pan. Be sure to check it out if you are looking for a fantastic recipe for homemade tomato sauce or an innovative way to make a planter out of an old wine bottle.

We couldn’t be more grateful to have had such a talented individual on our team for the past decade. Here’s to ten more years!




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Vegas800Sometimes it takes little people with big ideas to make a splash in the marketing world and sometimes those ideas will ultimately lead to the creator having a day dedicated to them posthumously and sometimes the projects that seemed insignificant at the time land on the National Register of Historic Places.

It doesn’t happen often and before Betty Willis’ idea struck her in 1959, the Las Vegas Valley had never seen anything like it. In fact, we still haven’t. Betty Willis, who passed away in April at age 91, is an icon in Las Vegas and her project is an even bigger icon. In Las Vegas, one-time landmarks are imploded at least a couple times a decade but Willis’ still stands… most times with dozens of tourists snapping shots of each other in front of it.

Even if you don’t recognize her name, you’ve seen Willis’ work – it has defined Las Vegas for five decades. It’s on postcards, T-shirts, magnets, lighters; you name it. She crafted silver dollars with letters inside that read “Welcome” on top (the silver dollars signifying the state motto, Nevada, the Silver State) with a diamond-shaped sign below that says “To Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada”.

Sound familiar? Thought so.

One of our favorite features of the sign? The flip side. We’re pretty darn sure it’s the first prominent traffic-safety message in the entire state. It reads,“Drive Carefully; Come Back Soon”. We at Penna Powers applaud Willis for thinking about safety! “The fact that everyone loves that sign and its design after all these years is a testament to Betty’s talent,” Steve Sisolak, a Clark County commissioner recently told NBC news. “There is probably no bigger Las Vegas icon than that sign.”

There are zillions of advertising firms in the state, yet the sign designer took it upon herself to develop a genius piece of artwork. There are no copyrights to the sign and Willis never made a dime off her world-famous creation which, compared to the multi-million dollar contract for the creators of “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” campaign, makes Willis’ work even more astounding.

Marketing and advertising agencies come in all shapes and sizes. Gone are the days of Betty Willis, now it takes a creative team effort to draw up a successful campaign. And that is why Betty Willis will always be so special to the Entertainment Capital of the World.

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