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Shades of Life

We believe there are colors attached to the most meaningful moments of our lives. With Benjamin Moore, that story is told like no other: with gorgeous detail, surprising depth and unique nuance. The Shades of Life campaign utilizes paint colors and the unique Benjamin Moore paint names to tell a story, showing there truly is a color For Everything that Matters.

Shades of Life

Susana and Her Load of Crap

This is the story of a piece of crap, And a girl named Susana, Who saw way beyond that.

The video is animated, completely from sand, by Cesar Diaz Melendez’s very own hand(s).

So sit on back, yea we’re talking to you, and check out EARTH’s latest video that shows what doo-doo can do.

Susana and Her Load of Crap

Cookie Balls

This is the season when we like to do it up. And no Christmas is complete without a tree, icicle lights and, of course, cookie balls. Just don’t forget to leave a few for Santa Clause.

‘Cause everyone knows old Kris Kringle loves himself some cookie balls.

Cookie Balls

If I Were Going to Open an Agency in Yemen

If I Were Going to Open an Agency in Yemen
By Joe Alexander, Chief Creative Officer

I would be up against a lot of odds.

I would be one of the first agencies. Period.

There would be no ad infrastructure in place – editing suites, art supply stores, good coffee houses to snag free Wi-Fi.

There would be no schools cranking out kids with skills that I could use right away.

There wouldn’t be art directors around who idolize the graphic design genius of John Jay.

There would be no sage ad veterans nearby to emulate, no ad books to stick my nose in and steal from.

There wouldn’t be ad reporters calling up looking to write up my latest campaign or sites like Agency Spy spreading juicy rumors about me.

Even Martin Sorrell wouldn’t be eyeing the next great Yemen creative startup to buy.

There wouldn’t be a Yemen Ad Club where speakers from other countries would come in and share cool case studies.

There wouldn’t be CMOs ready to make a mark and do the bravest campaign in Yemen history.

The government would restrict me from showing any number of images, including women drinking alcohol.

I would have to run all my work by a censor.

My father-in-law would probably wonder what the hell his daughter was thinking marrying an ad guy. “What’s wrong with a shop in the souk?” he’d ask.

All of this – and more – would be stacked against me.

Yet, still.

Still I’d have the one thing all the ad guys in New York, LA, London, Paris, Hamburg, Tokyo, Stockholm and Richmond have.

I’d have my imagination.

I’d have the same ability to think up big ideas as everybody else.

Just like Rubicam and Burnett and Bernbach and Ogilvy and Wieden before me, I’d still have to figure out how to pay the bills and keep the lights on.

I’d still have to go back and make the logo bigger.

I’d still run out of printer ink and 11x17 paper.

I’d still have sleepless nights and weekends trying to win new business.

And I’d still get the phone call that makes it all worthwhile: “Congrats. You got the business.”

Last week at Dubai Lynx, I ran into two young professionals from Yemen who run their own tiny, 5-person agencies. Ibrahim and Abdulrahman.

They had their books and business cards and couldn’t wait to ask me questions about The Martin Agency.

They wanted to know how we did it and all I could think was “How do you do it?”

How do you do it, the Lewis and Clark of Yemen advertising?

So to you, Ibrahim and Abdurrahman, my hat’s off.

I hear a lot of complaining in our business. That it’s brutal. And tough. A churn.

Sure, it can be hard some days.

But really, is it?

Maybe not – if you put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

 

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Joe speaking on The Craft of Copy and Building a Compelling Brand Story at Dubai Lynx 2014

 

If I Were Going to Open an Agency in Yemen

Move Over Architects, Today’s Brands Need The Brain of a Biologist

My oldest brother is an architect. Early in my career, he would smirk when I talked about brands as if they were buildings – that classic Parthenon-looking thing with a foundation, pillars and such. He gets the metaphor of course – the idea of a solid base, structural integrity, and a need for a unifying design idea. He can even empathize with the struggles we have as “brand architects” in trying to bring clients around to our vision of what this creation of ours could be. 

What puzzles him is what happens after the building is done. He gets to walk away. His work is done. The building is finished and can only be changed through demolition or massively expensive remodels.  Oh sure, you can make some superficial changes after the fact. Alter the paint scheme or swap out the window coverings, but think about it: Can you grow the building? Can you move it if there is a better opportunity elsewhere? Can you protect it if the neighborhood goes south? What my brother found most bizarre was that the analogy was in direct opposition to everything I had ever talked about when we discussed my favorite clients and the brands I respected most. The problem with using a building as our metaphor is that it is a static, inert object with limited growth potential and almost no ability to adapt. 

My view of most brand architectures is probably considered heretical because I believe they do more harm than good.

Here are some reasons why:
1. Like a drug, they are addictive and while at first they might make us feel powerful and euphoric, will ultimately lead to our demise. We become dependent upon them and soon the drug is in control. I have seen great ideas killed because the concept doesn’t have a place in the structure. It is not that the idea violates the brand values, it is just that no one ever thought about it that way before and so a brilliant and potentially effective concept dies due to a lack of imagination and creative freedom.

2. Brand architectures are fool’s gold. They trick us into thinking we have actually created something. In reality they are paper tigers into which we somehow invest a false sense of accomplishment and completeness. 

3. As soon as the building is finished it starts to decay. Our function, our goal, is to guide and grow something much more organic, a brand that can mutate with a better future than being knocked down by a wrecking ball.

4. We need to stop kidding ourselves into thinking anything we do can be as rigid or stable as a building ¬– it implies that we can relax and trust in the structure. Our goal should be instability because instability equals nimbleness.

5. Even the greatest, most enduring buildings have one fatal flaw. People have to go to the building; the building can’t go to the people. The old metaphor worked when brands were in control and it was a one-way relationship. The world just doesn’t work that way anymore; it is too fluid.


The best strategists I know operate like biologists and environmental scientists. They bristle at being forced to operate in an engineer’s world. They can’t afford a static and myopic view of the world because the interrelations of ecosystems, survival of the fittest and adaptation are what really matter. Resilient brands are living things, not static, dead buildings.

Being a good biologist requires some important traits. First, they are curious, looking for linkages between things that on the surface do not seem entwined. Looking for why things are the way they are, how things can be manipulated, why some things thrive and others die. 

Second, they are comfortable with chaos. They know that in a complex system it is impossible to predict what will happen next. Externalities, strange attractors, mutations and migrations all impact the success or failure of an organism in any environment. 

They understand that things at a microscopic level can have mass impact, and how global shifts will have an effect on the smallest organism, how macro- and microelements interact.  Strategists who fall in love with tactics don’t see the ice caps melting and those living in the clouds don’t see the bacterial infection killing the trees. We need to know what is ailing our brands and what makes them great, but we also need to step back and see the bigger picture. 

Finally, biologists worship at the altar of adaptation. They know that adaption never stops. All strategists who are halfway decent at their jobs never stop watching, digging, investigating and looking for clues. The job doesn’t end once the brief is delivered, but all too often that is the perception and planners are faced with the daunting task of tearing down a structure they helped build. Worse still is the idea that once the strategy is set, the planning job is complete. Nothing is further from the truth – the hard work for the strategist has just begun.

Our goal for brands is that they become successful species propagating like crazy, spreading seeds across a wide swath of geographies by adapting to new environments. Like humans, cockroaches and weeds.

The big advantage brand builders have over biologists is that we get to create and modify our organisms while they tend be observers. It is this act of creation and, more specifically what we create, that most concerns me.

Look, I can knock out a brand architecture with the best of them, and I know they serve a purpose for getting everyone on the same page and cataloging important aspects of what the company or brand is all about TODAY. They keep people from drifting off into territories where the brand can’t survive.  However, in the wrong hands, they are deadly. They become an inviolate, unwieldy, dumping ground for everything anybody wants to say about the brand, and then become, at best, useless. At worst, they become a checklist for creative and then the well-intentioned structure is downright damaging. 

A more organic model is one based on a single core belief at the cellular level that can guide decisions as the need to make those decisions arises – an internal guiding spirit, not an immutable structure. 

At Martin, we spend a lot of time understanding the nucleus of a brand and use that to determine what we think the brand should look like in the future. It is a loose and open-ended construct that looks like something you’d see in a textbook on cellular biology (by the way, so does Sinek’s golden circle). 

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This is not so much about swapping one metaphor for another as it is a caution about becoming a slave to them. We need to continue to build stuff, we just have to make sure we’re building launch pads and not prisons. We should keep it simple, and then start monitoring our environments. Look out for things that are altering the ecosystem around us – there could be new competitors for scarce resources, changes that create new threats and opportunities. We have to be ready to move, adapt and mutate or risk extinction. 

— David Griffith, SVP/Group Planning Director

 

 

 

 

 

Move Over Architects, Today’s Brands Need The Brain of a Biologist

Shades of Life

We believe there are colors attached to the most meaningful moments of our lives. With Benjamin Moore, that story is told like no other: with gorgeous detail, surprising depth and unique nuance. The Shades of Life campaign utilizes paint colors and the unique Benjamin Moore paint names to tell a story, showing there truly is a color For Everything that Matters.

Shades of Life

Susana and Her Load of Crap

This is the story of a piece of crap, And a girl named Susana, Who saw way beyond that.

The video is animated, completely from sand, by Cesar Diaz Melendez’s very own hand(s).

So sit on back, yea we’re talking to you, and check out EARTH’s latest video that shows what doo-doo can do.

Susana and Her Load of Crap

Creativity Innovators of the Year: The Martin Agency

Creativity Innovators of the Year: The Martin Agency

Citing work for GEICO, Moen, Benjamin Moore and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Creativity named us to their Innovators of the Year list. We are thrilled to be included amongst the best in the world and can't wait to see what 2014 holds.

 

Creativity Innovators of the Year: The Martin Agency

Jeff MacDonald Named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30

Just this week, one of our creative technologists was named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 list. We're proud. Though honestly, for a self-proclaimed geek who grew up with a petri dish farm for his science experiments, we expected nothing less. 

Check out the rest of the list.

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Jeff MacDonald (right) with fellow Richmonder, Charles Merritt, who was also named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 List.

Jeff MacDonald Named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30

Hump Day Named One of Best Ads of 2013

Both Adweek and Entertainment Weekly included the GEICO spot among their picks for top ads of 2013. In the words of Caleb the Camel, "whoop whoop."

Hump Day Named One of Best Ads of 2013

Cookie Balls

This is the season when we like to do it up. And no Christmas is complete without a tree, icicle lights and, of course, cookie balls. Just don’t forget to leave a few for Santa Clause.

‘Cause everyone knows old Kris Kringle loves himself some cookie balls.

Cookie Balls

JFK: An Idea Lives On

While many see November 22, 1963 as the end of John F. Kennedy’s life, we see it differently. His ideas live on. They live on in people, places and actions. The live on in theater, in poetry and in the ideals he set as President. And now, they will live on AnIdeaLivesOn.org. Here you will find stories of how JFK lives on today — how even 50 years later, he is still very much a fabric of everyday American life and his impact is still being felt.

That said, we need your input. Submit your story of how JFK lives on today or how he has inspired you. Once we clear the content, you will be added to the bigger story, becoming part of JFK's living and evolving legacy.

For more info, visit the site or view the article in the Associated Press.

 

JFK: An Idea Lives On

The Kitchen: A Program on Steroids

Take 15 over-achieving prodigies from the worlds of art, copy, design, film, digital and business, give them three months and real-world assignments and you get The Martin Agency Kitchen. No, we won't bore you with culinary-puns and hackneyed cooking metaphors. Although that would be fun.

Starting January 2014, students accepted into the Kitchen will be dedicated to bringing awesome to life like it's Frankenstein, creating game-changers in film, apps, art, social platforms, installations and communication. They'll get real work in their books and real awards on their shelves. No copies or coffee. Or copies of coffee. It’s a program on steroids. It’s The Martin Agency Kitchen. Come Hungry.

For info on how to apply, FAQs, etc., visit martinagencykitchen.com

The Kitchen: A Program on Steroids

Awards: Yup, They Matter

Over the years, the agency has debated the merits of ad awards. Are they worth it? Do they really mean anything? Is an award winning ad more effective? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. But here's what I believe about awards.

They matter. Just like the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys matter.

They matter because they give us a target to shoot at. They matter because they honor excellence. They matter because they motivate us. They matter because they make us feel good about what we do. And they matter, most of all, because they work better than non-award-winning ads. As an agency, we believe ads with a great big, award-winning idea behind them break through the clutter, engage more powerfully and motivate action. Think Wonderfilled, Hump Day, Statement Pieces for your Bathroom, Awesomecross, More Birthdays, Scary Good Job, The Pursuit, etc, etc.

Today, we're proud to be named one of the 10 most award-winning agencies in the world. And while a special shout out goes to the entire JFK Library team, when one team wins here, we all do.

Link to Ad Age Awards Report PDF

 

Photo Credit: Mary Taylor Otañez

Awards: Yup, They Matter

Scary Good Job

We wanted to prove to professional painters that Benjamin Moore paint does a high quality job, and fast. So in the spirit of Halloween, we hired real painters for a job they wouldn’t want to spend long on — a haunted hotel — and we caught it all on hidden camera. 

Scary Good Job

Group Planning Director, Dr. Lauren Tucker, Talks About Diversity and Glass Ceilings

Dr. Lauren Tucker, SVP/Group Planning Director and founder of The Martin Agency's Decision Sciences unit presented last month to the Washington Leadership Council on Legal Diversity in a talk titled "Poking Holes in the Glass Ceiling: 7 Insights to Surviving the Fallout."

Check out the full 20-minute video as well as the 3-minute highlights

Group Planning Director, Dr. Lauren Tucker, Talks About Diversity and Glass Ceilings

Mike Hughes to be Inducted into 65th Annual Advertising Hall of Fame

We are honored to announce that our President, Mike Hughes, will be inducted into the 65th Annual Advertising Hall of Fame! 

AAF Press Release:

The Walt Disney Company, Seven Legendary Individual Inductees Headline the 65th Annual Advertising Hall of Fame®
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 65th Advertising Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies & Gala Dinner will be held the evening of Monday, April 7, 2014, in the Grand Ballroom of New York's historic Waldorf-Astoria hotel.

Elected by the Hall of Fame’s distinguished Council of Judges, here are this year’s “magnificent seven” to be inducted into the Hall of Fame:

Bob Greenberg, Founder, Chairman and CEO, R/GA
Sir John Hegarty, Founder, Creative, BBH
Mike Hughes, President, The Martin Agency
Edward T. Lewis, Co-Founder and Former CEO, Chairman and Publisher, Essence Magazine; Co-Founder, Latina Magazine; Chairman, LMV; and Senior Advisor, Solera Capital
Jane Newman, Co-Founder, Merkley Newman Harty
Aldo Papone, Senior Advisor, American Express
Joe Pytka, Filmmaker, PYTKA

Mike Hughes will also be presented with the inaugural David Bell Award for Industry Service, a new award being introduced to recognize extraordinary and unique contributions and service to the advertising community and industry as a whole.  It is named in honor of David Bell (Hall of Fame Class of 2007), a visionary leader and mentor to several generations of advertising professionals.

This year’s corporate inductee is The Walt Disney Company, one of the world’s most beloved companies, imbued by its legendary founder with a unique sense of optimism, creativity and innovation. Disney is the largest media and entertainment conglomerate in the world, with an unprecedented collection of amazing brands including Disney, ESPN, ABC, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.  It is one of only five storied companies ever inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“The Walt Disney Company holds a special place in the hearts of people around the globe, and it is hard to think of another brand that has had a bigger impact not just on the landscapes of advertising, marketing, and media, but indeed on the very culture and ethos of our society.  It is truly a part of the great American story,” said James Edmund Datri, President & CEO of the American Advertising Federation, which administers the Advertising Hall of Fame.

“The AAF brings together top leaders from throughout the advertising industry to form the Hall of Fame’s Council of Judges—heads of advertising and media agencies, media owners, advertisers and members of the Hall of Fame itself. The selection of Hall of Fame members is a rigorous and thoughtful process that identifies the people that have truly shaped and defined the practice of advertising.” said Daryl Evans, Vice President, Consumer Advertising and Marcom, AT&T, and Chairman of the Advertising Hall of Fame.

Laura Desmond, Global CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group, and Vice Chair of the Advertising Hall of Fame added, “the Hall of Fame has always represented the best and brightest in our industry, and this newest group of honorees is no exception. They have differentiated their careers through innovative and forward thinking that will continue to shape our industry for years to come.”

For more information on the Advertising Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies & Gala, please visit www.advertisinghall.org, or contact the AAF at events@aaf.org or (202) 898-0089.

 

About the American Advertising Federation:

The American Advertising Federation (AAF), the nation’s oldest national advertising trade association, and the only association representing all facets of the advertising industry, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and acts as the "Unifying Voice for Advertising." The AAF also has 15 district operations, each located in and representing a different region of the nation. The AAF’s membership is comprised of nearly 100 blue chip corporate members comprising the nation’s leading advertisers, advertising agencies, and media companies; a national network of nearly 200 local federations, representing 40,000 advertising professionals, located in ad communities across the country; and more than 200 AAF college chapters, with over 6,200 student members. The AAF operates a host of programs and initiatives including the Advertising Hall of Fame, the American Advertising Awards, the National Student Advertising Competition, the Mosaic Center on Multiculturalism, and summer Ad Camps for high school students. For more information on the full range of AAF programming, please visit www.aaf.org.

Mike Hughes to be Inducted into 65th Annual Advertising Hall of Fame

Look Ma, I Won an Emmy

On October 1, The Martin Agency and Tool of North America accepted an Emmy for Clouds Over Cuba. But it wasn't just the team that won an Emmy, it was a win for the whole agency. Congrats, all.

Look Ma, I Won an Emmy

Mike Hughes Makes an Appearance at Advertising Week

Sep 27, 2013

One of the best things about a conference like Advertising Week is the kismet that happens in the hallways, the synchronicity that strikes when we stumble into a session by accident and find ourselves hearing inspiring narrative that we never planned to witness.

That’s exactly what happened to me Thursday afternoon. I arrived early at the Times Center Hall to see the panel “People as Brands as Publishers.” There was a film running as a tribute to some great guy named Mike that everyone loves. Apparently the guy is a legend in the advertising world. Everyone in the film just kept calling him by his first name. When the film wrapped up, Mike made an appearance. It was Mike Hughes, the legendary and brilliant president of The Martin Agency.

I went to business school at the Darden School at the University of Virginia so The Martin Agency’s story and culture are well-known to me and to my classmates because it is based in Richmond, only an hour’s drive from UVA. What I didn’t know until Advertising Week is that the culture of The Martin Agency is the envy of the entire advertising world. Everyone wants what Mike and his growing team have built, what they continue to build day by day, over decades of time. Here are their values:

Joy
“I work too many hours because I love my work and I love the people I work with,” said Mike in the film. In all this work, he’s looking for just one thing: messy, unbridled, unpredictable joy. How many presidents of wildly successful companies say that? You can tell in his actions and words that he is on a mission to live a joyful life, even through his current battle with cancer. Joy is contagious. It explains why hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of people are willing to get on board and follow him to the very ends of the earth, online and off. Before he exited the stage, he thanked all of us who follow his blog and support him online. “It really means a lot to me, so thanks. It keeps me going.” I wanted to run up to the front of the room and hug him. I don’t think I was alone in that.

Team
Mike is a member of several halls of fame for his brilliant work on behalf of hundreds of brands over the years. He doesn’t credit his ideas, his leadership, or his talent as the driving force behind his success. “Surround yourself with hall-of-fame caliber people. Do that and the right things happen.”

Good and Tough
After Mike, The Martin Agency’s COO Beth Rilee-Kelley walked us through their core, shared belief that they should be good to each other and tough on the work. Her opening comment said so much to me about who she is as a person and as a professional. “People who know Mike often say that he makes us feel like we can walk through walls. And that’s exactly how I feel right now. Like I could just walk right through a wall.” Mike had recounted the story that he encouraged Beth to think about becoming the head of the agency once he steps down. The next day Beth walked into his office and told him she had no interest in being president. She wanted to be COO. “And she’s the very best in the business,” he said.

Though I’m sure that they did a lot of preparation for this mini-panel (after all, they are an advertising agency!), I could see how much heart and soul went into that preparation. It made me realize that as much as I love being a freelancer, being part of an established company can pave an incredible path so long as we love, respect and admire the people working alongside us.

By, Christa Avampato

This article is part of Allvoices’ coverage of Advertising Week, the world’s largest and most important advertising gathering. This series is supported by Advertising Week.

Mike Hughes Makes an Appearance at Advertising Week

The Martin Agency Wins Emmy for Clouds Over Cuba

RICHMOND, VA. October 2, 2013 – The Martin Agency announced today its acceptance of the agency’s first-ever Emmy Award, for the Clouds Over Cuba project on behalf of the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. The 34th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony was held in Manhattan on October 1 by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

The Emmy was awarded to Martin and its LA-based partner on the Cuba project, Tool of North America, in the category of New Approaches: Documentaries. Other finalists in the category included CNN, The New York Times and UNC Chapel Hill.

"To be on the same stage as some of the most courageous and talented journalists in the world is absolutely humbling," said Joe Alexander, chief creative officer at The Martin Agency. "JFK really believed in the power of innovation. So, this project continues our mission to extend and preserve JFK's legacy through technology, especially the convergence of digital, mobile and film. The lessons we learned on Clouds Over Cuba will pay dividends for our clients and our agency for years to come."

The JFK Presidential Library & Museum has brought history to life in new ways, inspiring a new generation of followers through a handful of interactive exhibits. From inviting people around the world to join in redelivering Kennedy's inaugural speech, to recreating the landing on the moon 40 years later in real-time and developing a site powered by Twitter that allowed the world to pay tribute to American icon Neil Armstrong, The Martin Agency and The JFK Library have a history of producing award-winning exhibits together for the past 19 years. The latest project, Clouds Over Cuba, allows the world to rediscover the Cuban Missile Crisis through an interactive documentary as well as four “What If” scenarios, depicting how modern day would be different if Kennedy had taken America to war with Russia.

This Emmy Award joins a library of distinguished achievements for Clouds Over Cuba in 2013, including recognition from D&AD, The One Show, The CLIO Awards, Art Directors Club, Webby Awards and 11 Lions from the Cannes Lions Festival.

The Clouds Over Cuba team will be presenting the JFK Library’s recent interactive exhibits at the Create Tech Conference in Brooklyn on Thursday, October 3.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Marc Bryan-Brown Photography

The Martin Agency Wins Emmy for Clouds Over Cuba

Adweek Ad of the Day: GEICO Cinema Camel Spot

The Hump Day Camel is back, this time in Cinemas. Adweek features the new spot as Ad of the Day. Check out the story

Adweek Ad of the Day: GEICO Cinema Camel Spot

Go Forth and Conquer

For LG's new G2 smartphone we needed to cut through the steady din of specs, superiority claims and preciousness that's rampant in the industry. So we took a charismatic geek hero, guitar god Zakk Wylde, the legendary sword Excalibur and a couple of Vegas bound aliens and stirred them into a delicious smartphone stew. We embraced LG's "Life's Good" tagline by creating three slightly ridiculous digital films that are playful, humorous and deliver the important specs on a top-notch phone.

In the immortal words of Rick…our geek superhero…these videos were designed to "Go Forth and Conquer."

Go Forth and Conquer

A Statement Piece for Your Bathroom

When a jewelry designer is looking for inspiration, a bathroom faucet probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But with the launch of Moen's new global style campaign, this could soon change. The campaign is based on a simple premise -- just as a statement piece necklace can transform your look, a "statement piece" faucet can transform your bathroom.

To bring this idea to life, we collaborated with jewelry designers from around the world to create statement piece necklaces inspired by Moen's  faucets.  The necklaces can be seen in TV, cinema, print, documentaries, showrooms and coming to a red carpet soon. We've even created pared down versions as gifts.

A Statement Piece for Your Bathroom
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