In brief: Apple sends out invites to Watch launch; McDonald's gets no respect

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In other news: Pantene teases fictional "Beauty Water" in the Middle East ... Publicis picks up South Africa's Epic ... Vans' regional marketing director talks skateboarding in Asia.

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Publicis picks up South African firm Epic. (PRWeek) Publicis Groupe has bought South African firm Epic Communications, with plans to merge it into MSLGroup, the holding company said Thursday morning. The acquired agency’s CEO, Elian Wiener, will remain on-board in the same position, and the firm will operate under the Epic MSLGroup brand. Epic’s services include integrated strategic communications, specifically traditional media and IR, reputation management, activations and digital.

In Middle East, Pantene teases with fake "Beauty Water" to break "miracle solutions" myth. (Campaign Middle East) Women in the region are challenged by the damaging effects of the region's hard water. To get their attention and pitch realistic hair care, Pantene and agency Buzzman Middle East spoofed a teaser for a new product that won 2 million views in four days. Then it revealed "Pantene Beauty Water — bottled water for hair" was a myth and pitched its new shampoo for water damage.

Vans' regional marketing director talks skateboard culture, content and Asian sensiblities. (Campaign Asia-Pacific) Nick Street has been in Asia just 18 months, and is excited about the opportunities to grow the brand in the region. He oversees activity in Hong Kong, China, Korea and India — four markets with very different levels of maturity when it comes to streetwear. "Skateboarding is not a sport widely understood or practiced in Asia," Street admits. "Australia has a strong action sports culture, but when you go to India, no one knows what it is, so depending on that you have to tell the brand story in a different way."

Around the Web:

Apple "springing ahead" to Watch launch? (Ad Age) On Thursday, the company sent out a cryptic invitation for an event on March 9 in San Francisco. The Apple logo appears against a flowery design, with the tagline, "Spring forward." CEO Tim Cook has said the device would begin shipping in April. March 8 marks Daylights Savings Time, when clocks push forward an hour. (You do the math.)

Lebron James disses sponsor McDonald's. (Cleveland.com) In making a point about how he became more serious about taking care of his body, LeBron James pointed to his youthful eating habits — specifically, dining on McDonald's, a multi-million-dollar sponsor of James. When called out on it later in an interview with sports reporters, James recanted, saying he eats McDonald's "every day. Every day. Every day," drawing laughter from reporters. "I had it this morning. Egg and sausage McMuffin. All day."

Did McDonald's lift its own ad for the Oscars? (Chicago Business Journal) The McDonald's spot in question, "Lovin' Takes the Right Ingredients," from Leo Burnett comprised a montage of groups of words closely linked to various iconic films, leading into the ingredients of the Big Mac. But reporter Lewis Lazare points out similarities to an earlier campaign that wasn't from Burnett at all:  "Big Mac Legends" from DDB's Sydney, Australia office. McDonald's was equivocal about the apparent lift: "Great ideas are meant for sharing, and we are often inspired by creative campaigns in other McDonald's markets. We're proud of all of our agencies' work on our behalf."

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