1. The schadenfreude was flying as news broke that Food Network star and doyenne of fatty, sugar-choked Southern cooking Paula Deen revealed she has Type 2 diabetes. This week, pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk officially announced that Ms. Deen will promote its diabetes drug Victoza, reportedly a multimillion-dollar contract. The move sparked derision, with chef – and frequent critic of Ms. Deen – Anthony Bourdain, taking to Twitter on Tuesday to quip that he’s “thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.” During a television appearance Wednesday, Ms. Deen said she plans to donate a portion of her pay for the campaign to the American Diabetes Association.
2. The Deen diabetes campaign may have raised eyebrows, but star power is used in more subtle ways by many brands to burnish their image, notably through product placement that sets brands in the orbit of the biggest TV and movie characters. Now, Cannes is catching up. The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has this year added a new award category for branded content and entertainment. Last November, a mobile category was added. Cannes Lions CEO Philip Thomas said in a statement that the award is designed to “give due recognition of the convergence of marketing and entertainment.”
3. The Cannes jurors aren’t the only ones thinking about mobile platforms. The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada this week issued new ad specs for mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, and online display ads, to bring the Canadian industry in line with North American standards. Among the new specs are high-resolution ad units for mobile phones. Currently, these high-res ads are available on only a handful of devices, but IAB said it expects that will change in six months. The new guidelines also alter online ads for the new Online Behavioural Advertising regulations coming this year. Canada is joining an industry-wide move to require advertisers to tell consumers when they are being targeted with behaviourally based ads. An extra five kilobytes of space will now allow for the OBA “ad choices icon” already in use in the U.S. to draw attention to those targeted ads.
4. Star Wars fans who enjoyed Volkswagen’s tiny Darth Vader ad last year have a treat in store. The company has released a teaser for its coming Super Bowl ad, entitled “The Bark Side.” Unleashed on YouTube on Thursday, it features a cast of dogs – some in tasteful Wookiee or Ewok garb – barking the Imperial March. The Palpatine pooches have set the bar for the season of frantic anticipation surrounding Super Bowl ad campaigns. Another dog-singing novelty video may seem tailor-made only for the canine/George Lucas fanatics, but trust us: Wait for the greyhound decked out convincingly as an Imperial Walker. Wait for it. (However, some have cried foul, saying the Greyhound AT-AT is a ripoff.)