Stay Home or You Could Accidentally Kill Someone – Adweek

Stay Home or You Could Accidentally Kill Someone – Adweek

In the handling of communications of the coronavirus crisis, some state leaders have emerged as direct, strong voices. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is likely the best example, but others have been forceful advocates for keeping citizens safe.

In Oregon, however, Governor Kate Brown faced criticism for her fumbling of the state’s lockdown. The indecisiveness prompted a group of mayors, including Ted Wheeler of Portland, to compel action from the capitol in Salem.

Eventually, the state moved to keep people home. Yet, as spring break started, residents and visitors from out-of-state flocked to the Oregon Coast, hoping to escape COVID-19. This resulted in mayors in those towns issuing emergency evacuation orders, evicting vacationers.

Though the order to stay home is well-established, the state seeks to be very clear about its importance. In a stark ad from Portland agency Wieden + Kennedy, the stakes of leaving one’s home—and the possibility of infecting others—is laid strikingly bare.

While other COVID-19 advertising and communication are essential, the math is undeniable, and this could very well be a good template for other states to use. The stark background and simple message are potent reminders in a society that deservedly values the ability to move freely (though it would be good to have a version with a voiceover for those with low vision).

The agency and state could have danced around the subject of death related to the disease. Instead, they chose to address it head-on.

Posters and social media posts are equally impactful and blunt (not necessarily a Portland or Oregon trait) with messages like “Don’t Accidentally Kill Someone” and “Keep Portland Weird Alive.”

“We created this campaign with the governor because we don’t want to look back and wish we had done more,” said Jason Bagley and Eric Baldwin, executive creative directors at Wieden + Kennedy Portland. “We have a lot of heart for Oregon and all who live here, and we know that staying home will save lives. This campaign provides clarity and conviction around what staying at home means—and how we all have a role to play to help our community.”

Another ad celebrates the state’s “essential heroes” on the frontline of the pandemic and again reminds people that they should stay home so that they can do their jobs.

“We are facing an unprecedented crisis. None of us have been through anything like this before,” said Governor Brown. “The single most important thing each of us can do to protect our community and frontline workers, and to save lives right now, is to stay home.”

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Microsoft Is Powering the CDC’s Coronavirus Assessment Bot – Adweek

Microsoft Is Powering the CDC’s Coronavirus Assessment Bot – Adweek

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is putting Microsoft’s artificial intelligence capabilities to potentially life-or-death use.

The health agency tapped the computer giant’s technology to build a chatbot, called Clara, that asks potential coronavirus patients a series of questions in hopes of screening whether or not they are suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, assessing risk factors and disseminating relevant information. The bot is built on Microsoft Azure’s Healthcare Bot service, a virtual AI-powered medical assistant already in use at major hospitals across the U.S.

It’s one of several chatbot portals that healthcare providers across the country have quickly rolled out in hopes of weeding out patients who are not in dire need of testing and reducing risk to frontline workers. But a recent analysis of eight of these chatbots from medical trade Stat News found that the advice they dispensed can vary widely, particularly as tech companies rush new COVID-19-specific products onto the market.

Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot was first developed as a research project in 2017 and became widely available to others in early 2019. It seeks to communicate with patients in conversational natural language and can be customized to the needs of a particular organization or integrated with hospital medical records.

The need to test anyone with cold- or flu-like symptoms creates “a bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement. The company hopes that the bot will “free up doctors, nurses, administrators and other healthcare professionals to provide critical care to those who need it.”

Screenshots of the Clara chatbot interacting with people


Microsoft is also making a set of assessment bot templates available for organizations to use or modify to better serve their own audiences, including a risk evaluator, one that dispenses up-to-date FAQs and one that provides worldwide metrics. The company claims to be fielding more than 1 million messages per day from people concerned about coronavirus across all of the versions of its Healthcare Bot at various hospitals and public health agencies.

While the field of AI that powers chatbots, natural language processing, is currently in the midst of a transformation due to research breakthroughs, many of them backed by Microsoft, bots that can wholly generate dialogue on their own are far from ready for commercial use. Like Clara, most of the chatbots currently on the market are based on a more straightforward automation and maps of yes/no questions.

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Jeff Bezos Tells Employees—and the World—He’s Wholly Focused on COVID-19 – Adweek

Jeff Bezos Tells Employees—and the World—He’s Wholly Focused on COVID-19 – Adweek

On Saturday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos posted a letter to employees, calling the coronavirus pandemic “a time of great stress and uncertainty,” but noting Amazon’s efforts to bring food and supplies to consumers with limited shopping options has never been more critical.

In the post, Bezos said Amazon has responded with changes to logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing and third-party seller processes to “prioritize stocking and delivering essential items like household staples, sanitizers, baby formula and medical supplies.”

He also highlighted adaptations for warehouse workers who cannot work from home, including “increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning [and] adjusting our practices in fulfillment centers to ensure the recommended social distancing guidelines.”

Amazon employees have complained the company is not doing enough to protect them. Adweek spoke to one warehouse worker who said, for example, the company recommended what kind of masks they should wear, but was not providing those masks.

In Bezos’ letter, he said Amazon has “placed purchase orders for millions of face masks we want to give to our employees and contractors who cannot work from home.” However, few of those orders have been filled to date because “masks remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics.”

Meanwhile, companies like worker safety and health care conglomerate 3M announced it is doubling production of N95 masks to nearly 100 million per month and, in a press briefing on Saturday, President Trump said apparel brand HanesBrands is “retrofitting its manufacturing capabilities in large sections of their plants to produce masks.”

When Amazon’s turn for masks comes, Bezos said, “Our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working [on getting] essential products to people.”

Overall, Bezos cautioned that he expects “things are going to get worse before they get better,” and again pointed to the platform’s intent to hire 100,000 temporary workers who have been laid off. This follows a precedent established in China by the ecommerce platforms Alibaba and, who also hired temporary employees in logistics as orders surged.

Bezos took a moment to express gratitude to his employees, noting praise from the likes of even Trump, who has had his share of beefs with Bezos over the years.

And, the Amazon CEO added, he is now “wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role,” noting, “We won’t stop looking for new opportunities to help.”

“We are meeting every day, working to identify additional ways to improve on these measures,” he said. “I know that we’re going to get through this together.”

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TikTok Donates $3M to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s After-School All-Stars – Adweek

TikTok Donates $3M to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s After-School All-Stars – Adweek

TikTok teamed up with After-School All-Stars, an organization founded by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, to help families whose children are missing out on meals that they depend on due to the school closings caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The video creation platform is donating $3 million to ASAS to help families in the 60 cities where the nonprofit has chapters, starting out in highly impacted areas including Los Angeles, Miami, New Jersey, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Families will receive food vouchers and gift cards that can be used for food and other essential items through grocery store partners including Foodland, Giant, Kroger, Publix, Ralphs, Safeway, Target and Walmart.

TikTok also said it will match up to $1 million in employee donations to ASAS.

TikTok U.S. general manager Vanessa Pappas said in a blog post, “We are all operating in uncertain times, and it’s more important now than ever before for both our local and global communities to come together to help those in need “his pledge to ASAS will help more students get access to meals, safely provided to them, during this crisis. While this alone won’t mitigate the impact of the current situation, we hope it can relieve one worry for parents who are balancing social distancing mandates, work and caring for children who can no longer go to school each day.”

Schwarzenegger added, “During a crisis, improvisation is critical, and everyone has to look at new ways to help the most vulnerable. The After-School All-Stars programs are paused with schools closed, but we remain committed to supporting the 100,000 families we work with year-round. When I founded After-School All-Stars in 1992, the goal was always to support the families who need it the most. I’m grateful to TikTok for its donation, which allows us to shift our priorities so that our team can safely deliver groceries and gift cards for groceries to the families we help.”

And ASAS president and CEO Ben Paul said, “The communities we serve are already very vulnerable, and this situation has further magnified the hardships many families face. This crisis has had a profound impact on millions of people, and I’m heartened by the tremendous generosity, collaboration and creativity that we’ve seen across communities and industries. I am excited to work with TikTok as we address immediate needs and examine the unique role that technology plays in bringing individuals and communities together.”

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RoboCop, Donatello and Bumblebee Are Selling Insurance Now – Adweek

RoboCop, Donatello and Bumblebee Are Selling Insurance Now – Adweek

Winston Wolf, the deadpan crime-cleanup expert from Pulp Fiction played by Harvey Keitel, has been shilling for Direct Line insurance in the U.K. for the past six years. But the famous fixer has been retired. And no, that’s not a euphemism for something sinister. (He’s not wearing cement shoes or sleeping with the fishes). He’s just stepped out of the commercial spotlight.

Direct Line’s new campaign, via Saatchi & Saatchi London, looks again to Hollywood for inspiration but this time chooses characters on the right side of the law for its spokescharacters.

RoboCop, Donatello from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bumblebee of Transformers fame are central to the brand’s message, “We’re On It,” which beats the well known crime fighters at their own game.

Direct Line joins a number of brands, like Sonic in the U.S., in moving away from ad stars that have built up equity over time with audiences. It was a carefully considered decision, according to Saatchi execs.

“It’s always brave to walk away from something that’s working really hard,” said creative director Franki Goodwin. “Winston Wolfe was disproportionately associated with Direct Line, and he was also still relevant.”

And he’s left big shoes to fill, said Goodwin, with “a benchmark to not just meet but smash.” Here’s a look back at how The Wolf made his debut:

Now enters the trio of TV and movie superheroes, who spring into action to solve consumers’ problems. They were chosen, Goodwin said, to “hit every demographic” and for their particular skill sets. 

RoboCop, for instance, responds to a theft of computers from a business, while Donatello tries to fix a home plumbing disaster and Bumblebee shows up at a car crash. In each case, Direct Line has already handled the situation and saved the day, effectively getting #outheroed.

The campaign, intended to be a new chapter for the brand that brings all its services under one marketing banner, is “scaleable and flexible,” Goodwin said. It may include other recognizable faces going forward, though the agency is “not addicted to putting characters” in the spots.

The 60-second cinematic ads, from decorated director Bryan Buckley, lean into their special effects and hew closely to the characters’ well-known DNA. That happened through an ongoing collaboration between the agency, the intellectual property owners and production house The Mill, Goodwin said.

The commercial launch, coinciding with a brand refresh of the company’s “red telephone on wheels” logo, hit upward of 7.5 million people on TV and VOD recently, via an ad break takeover on ITV, Channel 4 and Sky. As part of the extensive media plan, Direct Line plans out of home, social, in theater and radio for what’s expected to be a long-running campaign.

The new work differs significantly in tone from the past because The Wolf quietly crept in, dispassionately offered solutions and then disappeared, “like it had never happened,” Goodwin said. The superheroes, on the other hand, make a lot of noise and draw quite a bit of attention to themselves. 

Wendy Moores, Direct Line’s head of marketing, likes the evolution.

“The power and flexibility of the idea that Saatchi & Saatchi has created gives us greater freedom than we’ve ever had,” said Moores,  allowing the brand “to deliver a more cohesive and consistent campaign across the breadth of our product portfolio and through all media channels.”


Client: Direct Line
Kerry Chilvers
Wendy Moores
Claire Sadler
Kirsty Hoad
Allie Lawson

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi London
Chief Creative Officer: Guillermo Vega
Creative Director: Franki Goodwin
Creatives: Will Brookwell, Will Helm
Social Creative: Sarah Heavens, Phil Gull & Helen Giles
Agency Film Producer: Rebecca Williams
Agency Creative Producers: Mel Arthur, Rikesh Patel
Creative Director Design: Nathan Crawford
Head of Design: Kerry Roper
Designers: Sam Sheridan, Victoria Draisey, Teresa Goncalves
Account Handling: Alice Flanagan, Paul McHugh, Victoria Turner, Juliet Cornick
Managing Director: Sarah Jenkins
Chief Strategy Officer: Richard Huntington
Planning Director: Rui Ferreira

Production Company: Hungry Man
Director: Bryan Buckley
Production Company Producer: Matt Lefebvre
Editor: Final Cut / Cabin
Sound Design: Sam Ashwell & Mark Hellaby @ 750mph
VFX and Character Animation: The Mill
Music: Andrew Feltenstein & John Nau @ Beacon Street Studios
Tom Player @ Twenty Below Music
Media Agency: MediaCom
Chief Transformation Officer: Sue Unerman
Partner: Oli Scargill
Strategy Director: Jon Hildrew
Business Directors: Alex Jockelson, Marine Turner
Planning Managers: Robbie Coakley, Stefan Jovanoski, Giuseppe Negro
Implementation Planning: Aron Jackson, Gill Reid, Rick Chambers, Matt Burton, Nate Barker, Ade Fadairo, Allison Windegaard
AV Implementation: Joe Phelan, Victoria Pennant, Shannon Browne

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America’s Largest Cruise Lines to ‘Pause’ Operations In Response to Coronavirus – Adweek

America’s Largest Cruise Lines to ‘Pause’ Operations In Response to Coronavirus – Adweek

America’s largest cruise lines will be halting operations “voluntarily” for the next 30 days in response to the global spread of coronavirus. That includes Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line, all members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which announced the suspension today.

The decision to pause operations comes after the U.S. Department of State issued a directive that citizens “should not travel by cruise ship,” after two Princess Cruises ships became hot zones as the coronavirus spread across North America.

Since the State Department warning, CLIA began increasing pre-boarding temperature and health screenings.

“This is an unprecedented situation,” Kelly Craighead, CLIA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our industry has taken responsibility for protecting public health for more than 50 years, working under the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and prides itself on its ability to deliver exceptional vacation experiences for guests, as well as meaningful employment opportunities for crew. This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible.”

The statement’s release coincided with President Donald Trump tweeting that he had requested the major cruise lines to suspend operations. However, Trump was not mentioned in CLIA’s statement.

Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise operator, is the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, Cunard, and Princess Cruises. Yesterday, Princess announced it would be suspending operations, as did Viking Cruises. Virgin Voyages also announced that it would postpone its inaugural sail to July.

The suspension is set to take effect at midnight tonight. Ships currently at sea are expected to begin their return to port.

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Yelp Issued Over 1,300 Consumer Alerts in 2019 – Adweek

Yelp Issued Over 1,300 Consumer Alerts in 2019 – Adweek

Head of user operations Noorie Malik wrote in a blog post, “Have you ever seen a Consumer Alert banner over a business’ reviews while browsing around Yelp? These warnings appear when we see brazen attempts to manipulate ratings and reviews. The Consumer Alerts program (part of Yelp’s broader Consumer Protection Initiative) launched in 2012. In 2019, we issued more than 1,300 Consumer Alerts, which run the gamut from identifying attempts to purchase reviews, to informing consumers about businesses that may be getting attention more for their high profile in the media than their customer service.”

Yelp said that in total, more than 1,500 users reported cases to its user operations team in 2019.

Consumer alerts were placed on over 580 business pages when disproportionate numbers of positive reviews originated from the same IP address, and this was most common among restaurants (11.6% of all IP address alerts) and automotive businesses (11%).

Malik wrote, “Contrary to what some may believe, businesses do not receive this alert simply because they have reviews that came from the business’ Wi-Fi. Instead, we look for egregious instances where many positive reviews appear to come from a single IP address in a manner that indicates a concerted effort to improve a business’s reputation on Yelp.”

More than 300 business pages received Consumer Alerts after Yelp received evidence or tips that people were being incentivized for new or updated reviews, or offered compensation in return for removing critical reviews.

Malik said offers of this type are typically made via social media posts, email, text message or in-store signage, adding that this type of Consumer Alert was more prevalent in home services (17%) and restaurants (13%).

Yelp added Consumer Alerts to over 35 pages after determining that someone associated with those businesses tried to stifle free speech.

Malik wrote, “Reviewers have a First Amendment right to express their honest opinions on Yelp, and we regularly promote and defend their ability to do so. More than one-third (37.7%) of our Questionable Legal Threat alerts were placed on pages of home services businesses. Often, businesses receive this alert because they have included a gag clause in their contracts with consumers—something that’s illegal under the Consumer Review Fairness Act, a federal law Yelp helped pass in 2016.”

Yelp’s user operations team helped clean up the pages of over 450 businesses who saw influxes of reviews that were motivated by news events, rather than by actual customer experiences.

Malik shared the following examples:

  • Yelp removed over 2,000 reviews last year that were not based on first-hand experiences, but on headlines created, either deliberately or accidentally, for things related to President Donald Trump or his administration.
  • When former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was confronted at a restaurant in Lexington, Va., in 2018, an Unusual Activity Alert was triggered on that restaurant’s page, and it reappeared last summer after the owner of the business published an op-ed in The Washington Post.
  • Allegations of bedbugs flooded the page for the Trump National Doral golf club in Miami after Trump said he wanted to host the 2020 G7 summit there.
  • Hotel properties owned by former U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland were affected after his impeachment testimony, with Unusual Activity Alerts being placed on 21 Provenance Hotels pages.
  • Over 1,100 reviews were removed after fans used Yelp to defend their favorite celebrities, including: a restaurant whose owner posted an Instagram video of K-pop superstars BTS; a coffee shop owner who was upset when National Basketball Association stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George signed with the Los Angeles Clippers; and a Sephora store where singer SZA was disrespected.

Challenges also reared their ugly heads again in 2019.

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Yes, Shell Will Become She’ll on International Women’s Day – Adweek

Yes, Shell Will Become She’ll on International Women’s Day – Adweek

Shell is giving itself a temporary name change for International Women’s Day, a move that—while part of a larger effort to highlight women in leadership at the company—has been mocked and criticized by many in social media today for seeming insincere.

At one Shell station in San Dimas, Calif., the brand will replace its logo with one that says She’ll to mark Sunday’s global day of recognition for women. The location was chosen for the activation because it is owned and operated by women who are, according to a statement about the campaign, “the largest distributors of Shell-branded oil in the state of California.”

Carrie Philpott, president of agency Wunderman Thompson Atlanta, said in a statement that she hopes the campaign will “continue to position Shell as a brand that supports and is invested in [its] female workforce. International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to shed light on this issue and Shell’s commitment.”

As the “She’ll” activation circulated on Twitter today with an image of a gas pump with the temporary logo change, Shell’s effort was largely mocked and denounced for seeming opportunistic or insincere.

Things got especially confusing when satirical activist group The Yes Men, which has trolled petroleum companies in the past, took credit on Twitter for the “She’ll” activation for International Women’s Day and said it was a hoax of their own creation.

However, Adweek confirmed with Wunderman Thompson on Friday afternoon that the campaign and pump design mockup are real.

Before the mockery and hoax claims kicked in, Shell had intended to highlight its efforts at elevating women in leadership and across its industry, calling the move “just the beginning as the company hopes to be the fuel for inspiration,” per a statement by Wunderman Thompson.

Last year, the Petroleum Equipment and Services Association reported that women account for only 15% of the oil and gas workforce.

On Shell’s website, the initiatives that it has taken to educate, develop and engage women in its workplace are specifically delineated. The company highlights its leadership and networking programs for women, such as Women’s Career Development, Senior Women Connect and Gender Gap Stories. From 2012 to 2017, Shell said, its female representation in senior leadership positions rose from 16% to 22%.

Gretchen Watkins, the current U.S. CEO for Shell, is the second woman to hold the title in the brand’s history. She has been in the role since the summer of 2018.

The brand’s “She Will” short film, which highlights the company’s work toward a gender-balanced workplace, was intended to be shared across Shell’s social media accounts.

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Instagram Is Testing a Latest Posts Feature – Adweek

Instagram Is Testing a Latest Posts Feature – Adweek

It’s not quite the return of the chronological feed, but Instagram is internally testing an alternative.

Blogger and developer Jane Manchun Wong discovered a Latest Posts feature in the code for the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network, sharing a screenshot in a tweet.

Alexandru Voica, Facebook’s communications manager for engineering in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, responded in a tweet, “Another great find, thanks for sharing it. For those who are keen to know how this was developed, it’s an early prototype from a recent hackathon (a Facebook tradition). It is not available to anyone publicly, and we have no plans to test or launch it at this time.”

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How Verizon Blurred the Lines Between Sports and Esports – Adweek

How Verizon Blurred the Lines Between Sports and Esports – Adweek

As Super Bowl ad spends continue to climb, with an estimated $435 million (nearly $100 million more than last year) spent during this year’s Big Game, brands are looking for other ways to leverage the spectacle of the Super Bowl. 

One prime example from this year was Verizon. As a partner of the NFL, Verizon had a Super Bowl commercial, in which Harrison Ford provided a voice-over honoring first responders. (The ad wasn’t one of Adweek’s favorites, but it also wasn’t one of the worst ones during the game.)

In addition to that ad, Verizon also focused on a new niche—blending the worlds of competitive gaming and the NFL. In both Call of Duty and Fortnite, Verizon sponsored events that paired famous gamers with top NFL athletes. For a fraction of the advertising budget used for the Super Bowl, Verizon was able to tap into the hype of the event and connect with a difficult-to-reach demographic. 

In Fortnite, Verizon and TurboTax sponsored the Streamer Bowl on Jan. 30. Sixteen top players, including wideouts Mike Evans, Juju Smith-Schuster and Keenan Allen, were joined by young quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. Fortnite personalities including Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo, Turner “Tfue” Tenney and World Cup winner Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf competed for draft spots to pick their NFL partners.

While casual fans might first recognize the NFL players, it’s actually the gamers who command a bigger online audience. Tfue, a talented Fortnite player with one of the biggest channels on Amazon’s, has more Twitter followers than all five of those NFL players combined.

One activation could be random, but two is a strategy. The day after the Streamer Bowl, Verizon sponsored the “In the Know Bowl 2020.” Similar to the Fortnite event, this activation put seven different NFL stars (and Keenan Allen again) with eight Call of Duty players who compete for the Florida Mutineers in the Call of Duty League.

“We’re so excited to be teaming up with Verizon ITK to bring some esports flavor to all the Miami Super Bowl celebrations,” said Ben Spoont, CEO and co-founder of Misfits Gaming Group, the company behind the Mutineers. “Whether it’s on the virtual battlefield during a Call of Duty game or during a football game, we all understand the thrill of the win—and we’re ready to put up our best Florida Mutineers against NFL players to see what they’ve got and to share the excitement of live esports.”

The overlap between esports and traditional sports is only growing larger. This season, Twitch aired Thursday Night Football games with commentary from gaming personalities.

The younger generation of athletes is playing video games all the time. Shooters like Call of Duty and Fortnite are the most popular, along with sports simulation games like Madden, NBA 2K and FIFA. With streamers commanding massive audiences, events like these are mutually beneficial to both massive sports leagues and streamers individual brands. Companies like Verizon are just serving as the matchmaker.

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