Agency Brief: Soul, sisters and selfies

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Aretha Franklin Snickers
Aretha Franklin Snickers Credit: via tototoo2u/YouTube

Let's get this out of the way: I'm not Meg Graham. Your usual writer is off today -- like most of the rest of the world -- enjoying her Friday holiday in Chicago. So you get the second string today while Meg is in the second city. Deal with it.

If you're like most of us, you're busy buying Aretha Franklin songs on iTunes, where it's gratifying to see the Queen of Soul topping the charts once again. Her contribution to music and to popular culture is immense, and in case you missed it, we put together a roundup of some of the many ads Franklin appeared in over the years.

Among the spots she graced were a number from BBDO, Snickers among them. Franklin appeared in the candymaker's longrunning "You're not you when you're hungry" campaign alongside fellow diva Liza Minelli.

My colleague, I-Hsein Sherwood, asked the shop's Chairman-Chief Creative Officer David Lubars for some memories of working with Aretha on the commercial. "She was really funny. The director was Craig Gillespie, who just made 'I, Tonya.' And she was really good. She had been in TV shows back in the '70s, so she knew what to do. It wasn't even that many takes."

Then Lubars recalls: "Right around that time, I had read that she was offended that Tina Turner had called herself the 'Queen of Soul.' It was in my head, so after she was done, we were sitting around and I go, 'They should also call you the Queen of Comedy,''' acknowledging that she was the 'Queen of Soul,' too. She goes, 'I like that!'"

And speaking of strong women...

This week I got to meet Carol H. Williams, the creative mind behind campaigns like Secret's "Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman" as well as so many other memorable spots for brands like Pillsbury, Allstate, General Motors and Disney. And while she's the first female, African-American creative director and VP at Leo Burnett, and was last year inducted into the AAF Hall of Fame, Williams is certainly no diva.

With Carol H. Williams
With Carol H. Williams Credit: Alfred Maskeroni

In our wide-ranging and delightfully entertaining conversation, Williams proved her chops as a storyteller, relating how some of those famed campaigns came to be. She also talked about what it was like to work at Leo Burnett in the '70s, what Leo himself was like, and she candidly discussed her experience with prejudice and sexism in the workplace. A lot of it will suprise you. Look for the video interview next month in Ad Age. You won't be disappointed.

Sign with your selfie

For WorldHumanitarianDay.org, VML and m ss ng p eces collaborated to create what they are calling a "living petition" that allows people to "sign" with selfies. The new technology turns faces into 3D images that are being shown on an installation at the United Nations beginning today until the General Assembly next month.

United Nations: World Humanitarian Day Selfie Signatures
United Nations: World Humanitarian Day Selfie Signatures Credit: United Nations

According to VML, "The installation has motion sensors that will allow the eyes of the petitioners to follow world leaders and delegates as they enter the UN hall, reminding them that the whole world is watching." No pressure.

'Bad-ass girls'

Are we sensing a theme? Creative shop LO:LA tells us it has landed a new client in GRRRL — which it says makes "bad-ass sportswear for bad-ass girls." The athleisure brand will work with the agency for advertising, social media and experiential campaigns later this year and in the first quarter of 2019.

I wanna know... have you ever heard the rain?

Epsilon will bring its data know-how to the Talking Rain Beverage Co., for which it will handle integrated marketing, strategy, media, analytics and shopper solutions. Talking Rain, in case you didn't know (I didn't), is based near Seattle, Washington and makes Sparking Ice Flavored Waters.

Number(s) of the week: 13 and 14

Specifically, November 13 and 14, which are the dates of Ad Age's Next Conference. This is one you don't want to miss. Trust me. Register here.

A word about your timelines

I know a lot of you are on vacation. Maybe your interns have left to go back to school. Maybe you are all in the theaters watching "Crazy Rich Asians." But really that's no excuse for such boring Twitter feeds. You are ad agencies, you are supposed to be creative! As such, I struggled -- and failed -- to find a tweet of the week from an agency that was worth this space. In the meantime, we'll have to make do with this instructional offering.

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