Minneapolis advertising agency Carmichael Lynch struck a winning chord with the editors of Time magazine, who picked the company's heartwarming ad for Subaru as one of its top 10 TV commercials of the year.
In it, a 5-year-old girl is settling into the driver's seat as her father warns her to stay off the freeways and not to text. As he hands over the keys, we see that he's really been talking to his teenage daughter, who gently says, "Thanks, Dad" and backs out of the driveway.
Randy Hughes, Carmichael Lynch's group creative director for Subaru, said the commercial featured a father and his two daughters, and not a trio of actors. The casting agent found the family in California, and Hughes said the agency decided to "chance it with real people."
While the advertising industry hands out plenty of awards, "they're not ones your Mom knows about," said Hughes, who worked on the campaign with chief creative officer Jim Nelson. "Telling your mom you were honored by Time magazine, it means something."
And how did Hughes' mom react? "She started crying."
The ice bar at the Le Meridien Chambers hotel in Minneapolis has some North Shore competition.
Grand Superior Lodge in Two Harbors unveiled its new chilly libation location on Tuesday -- the winter solstice -- with a celebratory pouring of a martini down the ice luge.
The bar was crafted by St. Paul Winter Carnival champion carver Chris Swarbrick and includes more than 200 blocks of ice, weighing 350 pounds.
Weather permitting, the bar will remain open through mid-March.
As its holiday greeting this month, Liberty Diversified International, headquartered in New Hope, sent a $20 check with the "pay to the order of" line blank to 5,000 employees, customers, vendors and other business partners.
The recipient can fill in that line and give the $20 to any deserving individual, family or charity.
"It's a way for 5,000 people to have the chance to 'pay it forward' for people in need." said Mike Fiterman, CEO of the packaging manufacturer.
About 1,400 checks went to employees, and the remainder to customers and others. Any money left from uncashed checks will be donated to charities, making the total giveaway $100,000.
A little-known provision of the tax-cut bill that President Obama signed this month also extends by one year a 30 percent cash rebate for commercial developers of alternative energy projects.
It will benefit the wind-energy industry, which generates about 9 percent of Minnesota's electricity, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
"Factories across the country will restart production lines, recall workers and avoid layoffs that would have followed the loss of this key incentive for wind energy," said Denise Bode, CEO of the AWEA. "With consistent policies like this one, wind energy can generate 20 percent of America's electricity within 20 years, and employ half a million Americans."
Many of the companies in the wind industry that depend on the U.S. Treasury Department's grant program can be found on a new Minnesota-based online directory called the Rural Energy Development Initiative, or REDI Resources, at www.REDIresources.org. It's a collaborative effort of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, Clean Energy Resource Teams, the Minnesota Project and Windustry.
HealthcareScoop, a three-year-old website aimed at getting people to share their health care stories, closed last week.
Launched by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and publicized on billboards around the Twin Cities, the site was aimed at engaging the public, but it ended up being overtaken by new social media tools such as Facebook.
Terri Simon, who oversaw HealthcareScoop, said the insurer learned a lot about consumer attitudes. The most popular topic was obesity, with more than 1,000 posts about the topic. Several hundred other posts were about the H1N1 virus, commonly called swine flu.
The insurer has new initiatives, including its fitness campaign "do" on Facebook.
JACKIE CROSBY, NEAL ST. ANTHONY AND CHEN MAY YEE