Blog Archives

Marc Stryker

We’re still in the age of Peak TV, where an endless stream of original programming is coming at us in all directions. And that’s before tech behemoths Apple and Facebook have even dipped more than their toes in the TV waters. As it becomes a constant struggle to stay on top of it all, you have to wonder when, not if, the TV bubble will burst. One day Netflix will run out of subscriber money and they’ll need to turn to… gasp… advertisers for another revenue stream.

We’re all watching so many different TV shows, it’s really hard to build a consensus list of top picks. But we did it anyway. You’re welcome, blog readers:

This is Us – NBC’s tearjerker drama continued to impress us, as did actor Sterling K. Brown at this year’s Emmy Awards. He deserved his award (thankfully beating out Kevin Spacey pre-scandal), as he acted the snot out of his half season-long arc with his dying father. People, if you have any humanity left in you, sit down and watch this show.

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Mindhunter – Okay, from here on out, it gets a little less warm-hearted as we descend into serial killer psychology with the David Fincher produced (and directed half of the episodes) Mindhunter. Come watch Jonathan Groff (acted and sang the part of evil Kristoff in Frozen) and Holt McCallany do the dirty serial killer profiling work no one in the FBI could imagine doing. Based somewhat loosely on real-life events. Never fun to watch, but always compelling.

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Rick & Morty – We’re often told that young males aren’t watching TV anymore. Rick & Morty is 100% proof that they still are. And it’s usually with this show and the rest of Adult Swim (Cartoon Network’s after hours block). The show is absolute bonkers, which is understandable when you find out that it’s from the demented mind of Dan Harmon (Community and HarmonQuest). And it also generated a McDonalds scandal this year, when fans demanded their Mulan-inspired Szechuan sauce and the restaurant somewhat obliged them.

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Game of Thrones – Season 6 was polarizing for many fans, as characters seemed to teleport from place to place with ease and characters did weird and stupid things. Now that GOT writers have surpassed the plot lines of author George R. R. Martin’s own books, have they lost the Westeros vibe? Who knows, but it still pleased enough of the staff to get it on our list. Did you check out that fiery loot train battle? And an ice dragon? And aunt/nephew dangerous liaisons?

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GLOW – Sure, it’s ostensibly about the creation of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling TV show back in the 80’s, but that hook is kind of a Trojan Horse for a lot of other ideas about ambition, friendship, women’s rights and identity. It could be seen as an older sister 80’s nostalgia companion to Netflix’s other hit, Stranger Things.

The Handmaid’s Tale – The first streaming show to win a best drama Emmy and it happened on Hulu! Netflix was certainly flogging itself after the news and later cursing its collaboration with the disgraced Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. Based on Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed 1985 novel, the show achieved major cultural relevance in the wake of the women’s march against President Trump. And then that Harvey Weinstein thing happened…

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The Good Place – With the track record producer Michael Shur has (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), it’s no surprise that The Good Place is a great show. We wondered where they would take it after the big twist at the end of Season One, but Season Two is even better. Time for another Jacksonville dance battle.

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Legion – Now that Disney purchased Fox Television, (Legion debuted on FX), this 8-episode series superhero/mental illness drama might get the Marvel overhaul, but that would be a mistake. Creator Noah Hawley scored with his adapation of Fargo from film to television and he’s doing pretty well with this one. But it was weird and challenging enough to keep most people away with its non-linear storytelling and Audrey Plaza weirdness. Not our creative department though.

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Master of None – What’s with all these comedians trying to be Woody Allen circa 1979? Well, if they’re done in the style that Aziz Ansari brought to his wonderful Master of None, we’ll take it. The show has its pretentious moments, but it’s also very open and honest and welcoming, giving voice to people who don’t normally get character depth on television. Tom Haverford, you’ve come along way since your days at Entertainment 720.

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Stranger Things – The overwhelming consensus as the number one show of 2017, Stranger Things 2 was equally binge-worthy as the first season. More 80’s pop culture references, more Demogorgons and more government secrets to unravel – the show probably needed more for Eleven to do than fall in with a bunch of unconvincing X-Men punks, but it still delivered the goods we craved.

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Honorable Mentions: The Leftovers, Godless, Insecure, Chicago Med, Bloodline, Marco Polo, Preacher, The Ranch, The Crown, Trial & Error, The Long Road Home, Manhunt: Unabomber, Big Little Lies, 13 Reasons Why, Desus & Mero

Did we miss any of your favorite TV shows? Let us hear it in the comments.

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Every year we ask the Penna Powers staff to list the top movies they saw. These are the best movies of 2017 that moved, entertained, challenged or inspired us.

 

Wonder Woman – You’d be forgiven if you had seen Batman V Superman and seriously worried about the viability of a stand-alone Wonder Woman movie. It had all the makings of a train wreck. While the opening Themyscira scenes had some cringe-worthy CW-level posturing and acting, we quickly got pulled into the story thanks to the incredible charisma of star Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins’s assured direction. Wonder Woman, we believe in you.

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The Big Sick – You may know Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh from Silicon Valley fame, but here he nicely dials it back as a struggling stand-up comic who falls back in love with his ex-girlfriend while she’s in a coma. Based on true events and written with his now-wife Emily Gordon, we really dug the story and performances, especially Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily’s parents.

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John Wick 2 – After Keanu Reeves’s titular character avenged the death of his dearly departed dog, he thought he could just lead a quiet civilian life. Of course he’s mistaken and soon has to kill lots of bad guys in hyper-stylized and brutal ways.

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Thor: Ragnarok – After the dreadful Thor:The Dark World, something had to be done to give life to the God of Thunder. Enter Taika Waititi, director of the fantastic faux vampire documentary What We Do in the Shadows and the quirky brilliant Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Pretty much directing a Thor/Hulk buddy movie, he brings a desperately needed dose of humor and buoyancy before the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s dour slide into the Infinity Wars.

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Dunkirk – Some movies must be seen in a movie theater – Dunkirk is one of those movies. Director Christopher Nolan out-Nolaned himself once again by delivering a war movie that defied all of the usual conventions associated with the genre, all in under two hours. You’re provided absolutely no back story to any of these characters. There’s no helpful historical context (although a title card provides some), no explanation of what a “mole” means or preparation for the three timelines depicted. You’re dropped into it just like the film’s non-descript soldiers. It’s basically a horror movie masquerading as a war survival tale. And it’s an amazing cinematic experience.

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Get Out – Call it a horror film, comedy, social parable or whatever else you want, Get Out managed to capture the zeitgeist of racial anxieties in a Trump-presided America. Comedian Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele fame), nails his directorial debut with a tale that will literally get under your skin. If you went to the theater to see M. Night Shyamalan’s creepy Split, you probably saw the Get Out trailer and thought, “What the hell?”. No, not hell, just the Sunken Place.

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Logan – Marvel got serious with Hugh Jackman’s last performance as the iconic Wolverine. It pretty much amounts to a graphically violent 2017 comic-book version of the western Shane-meets-Unforgiven. It has some killer moments, like when a dementia-afflicted Professor X nearly destroys the world, or at least Las Vegas.

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Blade Runner 2049 – Not everyone’s cup of tea, but neither was the original. Why anyone gave acclaimed director Denis Villaneuve (Sicario, Arrival, Prisoners) this much money to direct a 3-hour sci-fi art film is beyond movie studio logic. But hey, we dug the outcome. If you loved the first film (before it became a cult classic that you were obligated to love), then you probably loved this.

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It – Who would’ve thought a Stephen King-adapted September movie release would become the highest-grossing horror movie of all time? Riding Stephen King’s coat tails doesn’t always result in box office success (for every Shawshank Redemption, there’s a Dreamcatcher), but the marketing team deserves an Oscar for properly seeding the sinister trailer that suddenly got everyone excited about killer clowns. We can now properly bury the horrible TV movie adaptation starring Tim Curry.

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You might ask yourself, “That’s all very well and good, Penna Powers, but where is The Last Jedi?” Great question! Well, it’s not because it went unseen at press time. It’s just that there are too many fan boys here who have religiously studied the Jedi scrolls and have declared The Last Jedi a blasphemous mess. Some of us vehemently disagree, but not enough to get the movie on the list. We’re terribly sorry – all apologies to director Rian Johnson for having the chutzpah to try something different.

Honorable Mentions: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Baby Driver, Call Me By Your Name, Alien: Covenant, A Dog’s Purpose, Wonder, Wind River, Logan Lucky, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Last Jedi, The Disaster Artist, Girls Trip

So what made your top 10 movie list this year? Please please share in the comments! And check out our past movie lists for 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011.

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“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?

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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