Nokia and Spike Lee invite consumers to contribute to ads

Moviemaker Spike Lee will do a short film for cellphone company Nokia that will be created entirely from material contributed by consumers at Through Aug. 21, would-be collaborators can upload original text, music, images or video. Lee will decide what makes the cut for the final 9- to 12-minute film to be shown this fall at the soon-to-open Club Nokia auditorium in Los Angeles.

The deal will help Nokia "connect with consumers" as well as raise brand awareness, says Craig Coffey, vice president of marketing for North America.

Lee's now testing Nokia's newest multimedia handset but admits he's behind on cutting-edge technology. His home is filled with "lots of different remotes," and his kids often have to help him figure out which ones work which devices. "I've got major work to do," he says.

Fire up the shredder.

A new report confirmed what the Ad Team has suspected: Junk mail is on the rise. There was a 17% increase in mailings by businesses to current customers last year vs. 2006, according to Mintel Comperemedia. Companies with more mailings included: autos (up 52%), insurance (29%), telecom (22%), and credit cards (18%). The only decline: Mortgage and loan company mailings fell 3% amid the real estate slump.

With postage rates rising and people spending more online, Mintel expects marketers to use less paper and more e-mail. That's a good thing, since the industry was tweaked in an April 18 Forrester Research report titled "Direct Marketing Needs a Green Wake-up Call." After surveying 55 direct marketers, Forrester said, "Most largely neglect green issues and rarely consider their environmental impact."

Cadbury gets wacky.

First, a March 26 press release from Cadbury Schweppes beverage unit promised every American a free can of its Dr Pepper if Guns N' Roses releases its long-awaited Chinese Democracy album in 2008.

Then, last week, the company suggested that the strange, UFO-like lights over Phoenix on April 21 were hostile aliens "here to eat us" and that "the best thing to do to appease these creatures" is give them 7Up. Worst case: "They'll have something naturally delicious to wash us down with."

Sean Gleason, head of the team that dreams up the tongue-in-cheek reactions, says it's been a cost-effective way to get his brands noticed. "We don't have the budgets that the big guys do. We have to make every single marketing dollar work even harder."

Mom's just desserts.

Frugal kids and food-loving moms are being courted for Mother's Day (May 11). In honor of dear ol' Mom, Boston Market will provide coupons for free desserts at They're good for all of May.

On Mother's Day, TCBY stores will give away a free small cone or cup of frozen yogurt to the family matriarch. (No proof of momhood required.)

Also on the big day, Uno Chicago Grill will take free photos of families who gather at its restaurants to honor their moms.

The freebies come as consumer spending for Mother's Day this year is expected to decline to an average of $138.63, down from $139.14 last year, reports the National Retail Federation.

What's the song in that ad?

That's one of the most frequent reader requests for Ask the Ad Team. On Tuesday, iTunes will offer the answers, and the songs, for 42 ads when it posts this week's themed playlist, Commercial Success: Songs from TV Ads.

The list includes such songs as What I'm Looking For by Brendan Benson from the iPod Touch ad, List of Demands by Saul Williams for Nike and Killing the Blues by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant for J.C. Penney.

Yael Naim's New Soul from Apple's MacBook Air TV ad was on February's ad-themed playlist.

You can buy all the song downloads as a bundle, but they'll still cost 99 cents apiece. That's $41.58 for those of you keeping score.

Commercial Success will be the featured playlist until next Monday.

By Laura Petrecca, Theresa Howard, Bruce Horovitz