Author Archive

The insult continuum

There are many elements to making a good commercial, but none are as important as insulting the consumer in just the right fashion. To the untrained eye it may seem as though ads belittle, insult, and put down consumers without rhyme or reason, but in reality, there is a strict set of protocols to be followed.

Men: Of course, men are always fair game. You can insult men as much as you want under any circumstance. This is especially true of fathers. Nothing is quite as stupid as fathers.

Women: This is far trickier. Mothers can be insulted by teens, but never by their husbands. One woman can insult another, providing the woman being insulted is not the one buying the advertised product.

Teens: A teenage girl will always show up a teenage boy, but both can make fools of their parents.

Age: The older they get, the funnier and more idiotic they get, isn’t that right? Pretty well any person over the age of 40 is fair game, but the male/female standard still holds: an older woman can only be put down by another woman, but anyone can make fun of the older man.

It’s a pretty simple process, and most ad agencies seem to understand the principle quite well. So join the fun — make fun of an old guy today (for the good of your product, of course).

Categories: boomer advertising, satire

And was the guy in the grassy knoll from Madison Avenue?

November 4, 2009 1 comment
The Hathaway Shirts man revealed
The Hathaway Shirts man revealed

An article by theatre critic Richard Ouzounian in Tuesday’s Toronto Star, (Time in a Mad Men World) travels the well-tread ground of blaming Madison Avenue for pretty well every ill confronting the modern world.

Having attended “a scholarship Jesuit boys’ prep school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan” during the early to mid sixties, he and his friends “wore jackets and ties and moved within that bubble of artificial but attractive sophistication that was Manhattan in the 1960s.”

It was during this time that the “real-life equivalents of Drapper and company at Sterling Cooper” force-fed Ouzounian and his friends with the lies that would scar each of them for life. Read more…

Categories: crisis in ad-land

• The man on the street is a frickin’ liar

October 12, 2009 2 comments
No, really. She does all her makeup herself. And its all Cover Girl (well, at least till the end of her contract with them)..

No, really. She does all her makeup herself, and only uses Cover Girl. ("Nothing covers bruises like Cover Girl.")

I must have been around eight years old when I saw a Candid Camera spot that taught me almost everything I needed to know about “man on the street” testimonials.

It involved a restaurant owner asking his customers what they thought about a new brand of coffee. The catch? Each cup of coffee had several heaping teaspoons of mustard added. The camera, of course, was hidden, but the ketchup bottle, which he waved conspicuously in front of their faces, had a thick cord running out the bottom. The customers, then, were led to believe they were being “secretly” interviewed for a commercial.

They waxed poetic. It was the best coffee they’d ever tasted. This was the way coffee was supposed to taste. And so on. Of course, what the camera caught (that their words were meant to hide) were the expressions of shuddering disgust. The most amusing was one customer who was asked if he’d like another cup. His face showed pure horror, even as his mouth said, “I’d love one.” Read more…

Categories: campaign analysis

• Product business vs. marketing business

October 11, 2009 2 comments
Note -- this is not one of my twins who plays bagpipes in China.

Note -- this is not one of my twins who plays bagpipes in China.

I just talked to my twins on the phone.

I don’t hear from them too often, and see them even less, because for the past three years they’ve been earning their living by playing bagpipes in China.

That’s right. Bagpipes. China. Earning a living.

During our conversation, John (or was it Aragorn) mentioned the difference between “product business” and “marketing business.”

“Marketing business is based mostly on your marketing efforts,” he said. “Product business is based mostly on your product.”

Of course, all business requires some degree of each, but I could see his point.

To illustrate it, he compared Starbucks with Tim Horton’s. Read more…

Categories: crisis in ad-land

• Told you so

Just a quick note:

From WARC:

NEW YORK: The “green” messages of many major advertisers in the US are failing to resonate with consumers, despite the fact an increasing number of Americans are placing a heightened emphasis on environmental issues, a new study has found. (US brands see green messages fall flat.)

Well, duh! With everything from light bulbs to bathroom tissue promoting themselves as the latest word in “green,” the message is bound to get muddied. I pointed that out in Prius Gets It Right — With the Help of a Contrarian:

The purpose [of the Prius ad] is solely to promote the brand as being eco-friendly — a feature which, in the present market of eco-friendly cleaners, bathroom tissue, light bulbs, and drain cleaners, is becoming less and less of a distinction.

What with the present obsession with Word of Mouth (WOM), social networking, and promotion of “green” it’s a wonder any ads manage to sell a single product these days.

• I’ll be back

It is against the law to use the phrase Ill be back without accompanying it with a picture of the Terminator

It is against the law to use the phrase "I'll be back" without accompanying it with a picture of the Terminator

I’ve had a few e-mail queries asking if I’ve gone the route of Bob Hoffman (better known as The Ad Contrarian) and folded up shop. Not true. But this semester has presented me with two classes in a course I’ve never taught before, two new campuses in which to teach, and a reworking of the curriculum I already had reworked last year — but that now has to be done again so I can accommodate certain changes.

Oh, and I’m taking courses myself towards a journalism certificate.

As a result, I’ve not had a chance to attend to either Ad Nauseam or Editor’s Sidebar.

But it is only temporary.

Categories: Uncategorized

• Another example of gorilla advertising

Following a decline in public perception of the Cadbury brand during the first part of 2007, the UK company bypassed its main agency, Publicis, in favour of the Fallon agency to promote its Dairy Milk product. The result was this video, and a noticeable improvement in public perception, according to the polling company, YouGuv.

On YouTube, the video received 500,000 hits the first week.

But note — the spot was also widely aired on TV and in movie theatres.

Note too — the spot also tells you what the ad is for.

Best of all, however — it’s just plain fun.

Categories: satire