Earlier this week, Intel and Lady Gaga unleashed a branded content brouhaha over the artist's tribute to the late David Bowie at the Grammys. Some people thought airing an Intel ad tied to the performance immediately following said performance—while making perfect sense in a marketing boardroom—may have been in poor taste given Bowie's lack of say in the matter. But bicker all you want about the timing or whether Gaga's take on the rock legend's greatest hits were inspired art or overcooked Vegas karaoke, this was a win for brands looking to become a part of culture.
Intel was able to integrate itself within an appointment viewing cultural touchstone like the Grammys, by collaborating with a credible artist like Gaga, all while avoiding the typical marketing downfall of over-branding or a slathering of logos. Did the timing of the ad take away from the overall project? Perhaps. But if brands are going to push the limits and possibilities of what constitutes tasteful participation in culture and content, they have to cross the line once in a while in order to know where it is. Onward!
What: An anthem spot that points out that, in order to be an elite athlete, you need to want it more than a lot of other things like sleep, parties, and pastry.
Who: Asics, 180 Amsterdam
Why We Care: Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Henry Alex Rubin, this puts Asics up in rarified Nike and Under Armour air when it comes to inspiring fitness spots. The brand says the campaign aims to make people think of Asics beyond running, but whether it does or not, it certainly gives it a new edge of personality it lacked. More please.
What: Former fake presidents Martin Sheen and Bill Pullman compare car notes and patriotism in this cheeky look at Chrysler's "Premium to the People" line of luxury sedans.
Who: Chrysler, Wieden+Kennedy Portland
Why We Care: C'mon people! If you can't get excited seeing President Thomas Whitmore (Independence Day) alongside President Josiah Bartlet (The West Wing) you must hate America, apple pie, television, lightning quick banter, movies, aliens, explosions, and inspiring fake speeches. Say it with me now ...
What: A split screen ode to Valentine's Day in collaboration with arts and culture site Nowness, profiling drag couples who also happen to love Chucks.
Who: Converse, Nowness
Why We Care: In the same vein as Honda's "The Other Side," this film allows you to slide between scenes and subjects at will, playing with perception and platform in a way that is both engaging, entertaining, and enhances the loves stories being told.
What: Another fun romp from stop-motion master PES, this time giving our prime smartphone navigating tool—our fingers—a small armless society of their own.
Who: Android, Droga5 New York
Why We Care: All it takes is a quick tour around PES' work to know why we care, but this is also a quirky way for a broad, mainstream brand to get creative with its personality.
What: A look inside the partnership between Gaga and the brand ahead of this year's Bowie tribute at The Grammys.
Who: House of Gaga, Intel
Why We Care: Love it or hate it, at least it's interesting. Which is more that can be said for 99% of advertising, so we got that going for us. Which is nice.