Ad Love: Nike’s Unlimited Future

Life is harsh, it won’t coddle you, and there is no one to blame for the fact that you’ll face stuff you didn’t ask for and probably don’t deserve. But you can still decide the outcome of your own adventure, and sometimes knowing that makes the difference.

All of the above is at the heart of Nike’s recent, “Unlimited Future,” spot. Lebron James, Serena Williams and more star as the babies.

It takes the spirits of a gladiator to conquer. This as demonstrates that point and more. Check it out:

Ad Love: The Boy Who Learned to Fly

As world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, prepares to make a three-peat of his wins in both the 100m and 200m races at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Gatorade has debuted an inspiring animated film chronicling the athlete’s rise — and the light-hearted approach that’s helped him along the way.

TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles teamed with Oscar-winning animation shop Moonbot Studios ( and directors Limbert Fabian and Jake Wyatt to deliver the tale. It begins with Bolt’s childhood in Jamaica, when he was a young student sprinting his way to and fro, not even letting a grumbling stomach get in his way of beating an older, more trained runner in an impromptu race.

The story moves on to his days as a junior competitor, highlighting a moment when he’s struck by a bout of the butterflies and the anxiety that comes with representing his country. But those all fall away when his mother reminds him, “You can always go faster when you keep it light.” I love this:

Harry Belafonte’s Many Rivers to Cross

Harry Belafonte will launch a racial and social justice festival in October with the inaugural event featuring appearances and performances from actors Chris Rock and Jesse Williams and musicians John Legend and Common.

Belafonte recently announced that Sankofa.org , his social justice organization, will put on the “Many Rivers to Cross” music and arts festival on Oct. 1-2 in the Atlanta suburb of Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. The event will promote advocacy and awareness around urgent human rights issues.

Carlos Santana, Dave Matthews, Public Enemy, Danny Glover, Dr. Cornel West, Michelle Alexander and Estelle will also participate in the two-day festival. More performers and entertainers will be announced at a later date.

Tickets for the festival go on sale July 29. Belafonte founded Sankofa.org in 2013.

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Woke Mondays: Jesse Williams is Crown.

Actor and Activist Jesse Williams woke us all during the 2016 BET Awards.

He was honored with BET’s Humanitarian Award for his activism last night. In October 2014, he joined protests in Ferguson, Missouri to protest the shooting of Michael Brown. He was also an actor and executive producer of Stay Woke, a documentary about the movement that premiered in May. He has written extensively on Black Lives Matter and met with President Obama earlier this year to discuss his humanitarian work.

Last night, he used one of the most watched awards shows to further drop jewels on an audience which may have never heard of his political/organizing work. Further, he did it in such a relate-able way, nearly everyone was speaking on it then and will for a very long time. One of my favorite quotes:

This award is also for the black women in particular who have spent their lives nurturing everyone before themselves — we can and will do better for you.”

But wait. There’s so much more. Check it out via Billboard.com:

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Ad Love: Serena Looks to Her Younger Self

I love Serena Williams and always will. In a new campaign for Gatorade, a young Serena motivates her #1 fan in time for the Olympic games.

“For the Love of Sport,” skillfully portrays various athletes’ dedication and enthusiasm for their sports with humor and heart. Additionally, as part of the new campaign Gatorade will be, for a limited time, featuring Williams  and other athletes on its bottles.

Gatorade is also championing a donation initiative. Consumers are encouraged to choose between 19 youth sports-focused organizations to find four that Gatorade will donate $50,000 to on their behalf. Consumers can vote online until November.

AdWeek Intros Cause Marketing Report

Today, AdWeek debut its Cause Marketing report and I was all over it.

Described as a, “a deep dive into the rapidly evolving nonprofit world,” it features organizations who are doing an amazing job at pushing the envelope when it comes to cause marketing.

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A few highlights:

    • Staff writer Robert Klara and staff artist Yuliya Kim have created a detailed infographic looking at the millions of lives saved and improved by the Gates Foundation, which has given an astounding $36.7 billion to global charities since being founded in 2000.
    • Brands, especially tech leaders, have quickly become the most potent opponents of anti-LGBT state laws. Staff writer Christine Birkner looks at how corporations have shifted from being part of “the establishment” to being advocates for progressive policies.
    • Virtual reality can often seem impractical, but VR has quickly proven its value to nonprofits looking for new ways to create emotional connections between potential donors and charitable work being done overseas. Staff writer Marty Swant reports on the trend, alongside Adweek’s video production team, Alfred Maskeroni and John Tejada.
    • We often only see the downsides of anonymity on apps like Whisper, but staff writer Lauren Johnson reports on how nonprofits are also discovering the benefits of encouraging conversation in a place where young people can be open and honest.

Um …you know I’m in heaven, right? What do you think of AdWeek’s cause marketing report?

Ad Love: Cookie Monster for Apple

Cookie Monster is my favorite character from Sesame Street. He has been for a while. When this pic was taken, the only apples everyone knew came from an orchard:

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Apple has been rocking out as of late with their ads. The latest iPhone 6 spot stars a Cookie, who chats with Siri—and uses the phone’s timer and plays music, hands free—as he waits, agonizingly, for some cookies to bake.

Patience is a virtue….

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Check out the ad:

Nas Lends a Hand (and Diversity) to Tech

A new fund is being created by General Assembly, a private New York City technical school, which has the goal of addressing the lack of minority representation in the tech sphere. Dubbed,”The Opportunity Fund,” it will offer scholarships to women, veterans, African-Americans, and Latinos, all groups who have historically and systematically been denied equal access to the sciences. Nas, who has stepped up his involvement in the tech world in recent months, is joining Google, Microsoft, and Hirepurpose as one of the fund’s backers.

Nas’ QueensBridge Venture Partners project will provide the funds for scholarships to African-Americans and Latinos, while Google will fund women and Microsoft and Hirepurpose will pay for veterans to attend the school.

The New York rapper, with several platinum albums and Grammy nominations under his belt, is gaining cred as a tech investor. QueensBridge Venture Partners has backed start-ups from Dropbox to Meerkat to Lyft. The firm is also backs Walker & Co Brands, of which I am a fan. Here’s more about that company:

 

Viola Davis and the Vaseline Healing Project

I don’t know about you, but one of the things which irks me most is having dry hands, lips or legs and not having anything to help the matter. There have been times when I’ve left the house, gotten to the train and looked down at my ankles and realized that I neglected to lotion them or my lips are super-dry and I reach into my purse to find that my lip-balm was left at home. The horror is so deep that I will head to the nearest CVS to purchase replacements. Not having these items for a day is uncomfortable. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live without them.

It turns out that for some, not having emollients such as Vaseline is, in fact, a matter of life or death.

In 2014, Samer Jaber and Grace Bandow, both doctors, returned from the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where tens of thousands of displaced Syrians have settled after escaping merciless violence in their war-torn country, and wrote a joint essay about their experience. In the article,  they revealed that countless refugees they treated needed relief from severe skin problems that could be remedied by simply applying Vaseline.

Vaseline publicly launched an initiative with Direct Relief, an international medical aid organization, to get petroleum jellies and lotions to people displaced by natural disasters or humanitarian crises. Their goal is to heal the skin of 5 million people by 2020.

The brand has already donated 1 million jars of its product worldwide through Direct Relief in 2015 and sponsored dermatological missions to Kenya, the Philippines and Jordan last year. This year, the company plans to return to Jordan, as well as India, Nepal and South Africa.

As part of its Vaseline Healing Project, the company is also putting together virtual relief kits to supplement its jelly and lotion donations. Anyone can contribute to pay for pre-selected items to fill the kits with other modest medical supplies such as thermometers, emergency blankets, soap and gauze.

Vaseline also has implemented a year-long, one-for-one promotion. For every jar of Vaseline jelly or lotion sold, the company will donate two cents, up to a $1 million, to the project.

The brand has also tapped award-winning actress Viola Davis as the spokesperson for the campaign. Check it out:

Hip Hop Unites for Flint Water Crisis.

Someone, please tell me how the most developed country in the world can have a widespread water contamination issue?  A state of emergency has been declared in Flint to alleviate the city’s lead contaminated water crisis, the Detroit Free Press reports. President Barack Obama’s response releases up to $5 million and authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts. This action will cover 75 percent of the costs for providing clean water, filters and other items to residents.

This is infuriating. Thank God, individuals are lending a hand to alleviate the crisis. This week, Hip Hop got involved.

Rapper Meek Mill  has stepped up to the plate to help out residents in Flint as they deal with the current widely reported water crisis. The rapper responded to a tweet that basically told him and 50 Cent to cease with a petty back and forth social media beef and help residents. Mill did just that. The rapper stated on Instagram that he’s giving $50,000 to Flint to help its residents. Mill also challenged 50 Cent to do the same.

Other rappers, such as Sean Combs and Big Sean, also took to social media to rally entertainers to help with Flint’s water crisis. And beyond rappers helping, last week Cher donated 180,000 bottles of water to the city.

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The president rejected Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s appeal for a disaster declaration, which would have allocated more federal funds and resources. Under federal law, only catastrophes caused by natural disasters are eligible for a disaster declaration, compared to the lower-level federal emergency declaration.

Unlike a disaster caused by a hurricane, Flint’s water emergency is man-made. In 2014, officials switched the city’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money. The more polluted river water, treated at the Flint water treatment plant, turned out to be corrosive to the city’s pipes and caused toxic levels of lead to seep into drinking water. Meanwhile, the governor is under pressure to resign over what has become a scandal. Critics say that state officials knew for months that the water supply was unsafe before Snyder declared a state of emergency and sought help from Washington.

Help the people of Flint. Here’s an excellent article which outlines a number of ways how you can do that.