Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Against Anti-Smoking Ads

Well, obvs

The CDC has recently begun a $54 million anti-smoking ad campaign. It is disgusting. The hope is that these graphic ads will pressure people into quitting, and they appear to be working: Since the ad started airing, calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW have doubled, and visits to the government’s anti-smoking website have tripled.

For New Yorkers, these types of ads are nothing new: New York (and, I assume, some other states as well) has been running ads of this variety for years. And while quitting smoking is a worthwhile goal, these ads are very disturbing for a number of reasons.

First of all, they are very disturbing. I mean, they are horrific to look at. Continue reading

The Worst Commercial Ever

This is probably the worst commercial I have ever seen. It is perfectly designed to make someone never want to use Ancestry.com.

To recap: This commercial introduces us to Scott Krinsky, a regular guy who has a cute little story about where his ancestors came from: “The story was that my grandfather was born on the boat on the way over here. In school they had us put a tack on the map where our grandparents were born: Mine was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.” You can even hear the happiness in his voice as he tells the story. Then he goes on Ancestry.com and finds out… no, that’s not what happened. His grandfather was born in Poland, like tens of millions of other people. Continue reading

The LeBron Commercial

Yesterday, when LeBron James tweeted his new Nike commercial, called “Rise,” it got more positive feedback than anything James has done since winning second MVP. People on Twitter loved it (if you didn’t know this, LeBron himself took the liberty of retweeting practically every good thing said about the ad), Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon both called it “brilliant” on Pardon the Interruption, and the Internet went crazy praising it as the first positive step in the rehabilitation of LeBron’s image.

“Rise” certainly is another example of Nike grasping the nuance behind a sponsor’s public image (something I was in the minority in seeing in April’s Tiger Woods ad). In 90 seconds, the ad manages to touch on LeBron’s Decision, the fallout, the betrayal felt in Cleveland, the criticisms he took from Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, his new role as the NBA’s Bad Guy, the attacks on LeBron’s “handlers” this season, his infamous “mental notes,” and the drop in his celebrity value, among other things.* It’s impressively comprehensive for one ad. Continue reading

Mad Men Season Four Review

Am I the only one who thinks Don Draper made the right choice? As Chuck Klosterman tweeted the day after Mad Men’s Season Four finale: “There’s always social pressure to disagree with Don Draper’s personal decisions.” This is oddly true in a way that’s not true of other television protagonists. In a television landscape that is littered with antiheroes, including serial killers, drug dealers, and mob bosses, Don seems to anger the audience the most for, basically, being a bad husband.

It is true that Don can be a rather lousy significant other—even during a season in which he wasn’t married he somehow managed to find a way to cheat, spurning Dr. Faye Miller, his primary love interest this season, to propose to his secretary in Sunday’s finale. This choice angered many fans, since Faye had become such a popular character and, well, we don’t know all that much about Megan the secretary (as Roger says when Don announced the news, “Who the heck is that?”).

And yet this choice is a great illustration of all the things Season Four did right.  Continue reading

My Favorite Commercial

Even though I previously called the Nike Tiger Woods ad “brilliant” (which, admittedly, may have been overstating it), it’s not my favorite commercial currently on TV. No, that honor belongs to the Slomin’s Shield. For those of you who don’t live in the New York area, and thus don’t have the privilege of seeing this on loop, here it is:

Here are my five favorite things about this commercial, in chronological order:

Continue reading

Tiger Staring Blankly

As you almost certainly know by now, this is Tiger Woods’ latest Nike commercial—his first new ad since his marital shit hit the proverbial fan back in November, and Woods subsequently went from respected golfing machine to tired punchline.

A lot has been said about this ad. That it is a shameless instance of a company capitalizing on a troubled marriage to sell a product. That it is crass manipulation of a dead man’s voice. That it is an illustration of Tiger Woods’ narcissism. That it is a rare example of a company promoting its sponsor, as opposed to a sponsor promoting the company. That it is just downright creepy and weird. All of these may or may not be true.

What hasn’t really been said about the ad, though, is that it is a really startling and brilliant piece of marketing. Continue reading

The Times They Are A-Changin’

As was reported last week (and noted today in our Monday Medley), The New York Times is planning to announce that it will soon begin charging for its online content. In some respects, this was inevitable: In order to produce a product, you need to generate revenue, and it’s becoming clear to many people in high places that online ad revenue is not going to sufficiently replace the revenue from print ads.

Nevertheless, this move seems like it may come too late in the game: Readers are already used to getting the Times (and newspapers in general) for free online, and charging these readers is likely going to drive a significant number of them to other sources. It’s true that some papers, most notably the Wall Street Journal, have succeeded with a pay-for-content model, but this won’t necessarily translate for the Times. For one, the WSJ has a reputation for expertise in a particularly valued field—finance—so people are likely willing to pay more for that content. More important, though, is that the Times operates on a different standard for readership; even at the height of the financial crisis, when people turned more and more to the WSJ for their news, the Times got about 30% more unique visitors. That number would almost certainly shrink—and with it, ad rates—once the website starts to charge for content.

It is probably wise, then, that the Times is evidently leaning towards a “metered” system. Instead of a simple pay-wall, in which certain content remains restricted, the system will allow casual readers to browse for free, only charging once you overstayed your welcome. This will obviously keep some readers, but once people get tired of having their browsing interrupted, some will stop going to the Times with the same frequency. Continue reading

Mad Men Season Three Review

Mad Men Guy Walks

Warning: This review contains spoilers….obvs.

Well, let’s begin at the end: The Mad Men season finale was excellent. Practically every scene had something important, and every plot twist, even the ones you could see coming like Roger recruiting Joan to the new agency, was welcome.

Most great finales are the ones that shake things up, and this one did exactly that. Once news got out that PPL had been sold, and Sterling Cooper with it, Lane Pryce “fired” Don, Roger and Bert so they were free to start their own agency. As a result, much of the episode involved recruiting others to the new company. Many of these recruitments took the form of confrontations that were long overdue: Pete’s worries about his place in the company, Peggy’s about her relationship with Don, Roger’s about how expendable Don now views him. All of these scenes allowed characters to hash out things that had burdened their relationships for a long time, extending back into Season One. And all of them were executed well.

What may have been the most interesting thing of the finale, though, was what it had the potential to set up. With Roger, Bert, Don, Lane, Joan, Pete, Peggy, and Harry all working together—and in the close confines of a hotel room—in a new, upstart agency, the show can integrate the business aspect of the show in a totally fresh way next year.* And while it worked very well in this instance, this is not necessarily the best strategy to pursue in a finale. Continue reading

Pabst Blue Ribbon: There is No Good Reason to Drink This Beer

PBRPabst Blue Ribbon has undergone a catastrophically successful rebranding over the last decade. What was once a heartland, working-class beer, brewed in Wisconsin and enjoyed by the Walt Kowalskis and Frank Booths of the world, has now become the beer of choice among hipster 20-somethings. In fact, the change has been so successful that the charitable organization that owns the Pabst Brewing Company is looking to sell it (since a charity cannot own a for-profit company and retain nonprofit status) for $300 million, despite the fact that the brewing company doesn’t actually brew anything. The Pabst Brewing Company mainly operates as a marketing company for the beers it sells, specifically PBR, which has significantly upped its sales figures recently.

Now, I suppose the company deserves credit for PBR’s recent success, but I’m reluctant to credit people for simply knowing how irrational American consumers are, particularly the brand of consumers commonly known as “hipsters.”

I’m reluctant to criticize hipsters because they are an ill-defined, much-maligned breed; like “racists” and “partisans,” “hipsters” are almost universally condemned, even though nobody can agree on what exactly makes one a hipster (although it probably involves skinny jeans).

With that said, we all know who drinks PBR, and it’s not people who like how it tastes. These are people who are trying to send one of the following cool, but factually incorrect signals to those seeing them drinking it (and the fact that PBR is rarely on tap means people generally will know what you are drinking): Continue reading

Manufacturing Want

I don’t know if anyone has heard about Colgate Wisp, but it’s all the rage now (actually, I just heard of it about fifteen minutes ago, I have no evidence that anyone even owns one).

Now, for those of you who don’t know what it is and don’t have time to investigate the website as thoroughly as I did, the Wisp is a portable, disposable miniature toothbrush. It has a “freshening bead” so there is no need for toothpaste or water. You can get a four-pack for about $3 or 16 for $8. It promises fresh breath, anytime. Continue reading