Wednesday, August 31, 2011

May the vaccinations be with you. Always.

When I was a kid, and Star Wars was still shiny and new, Lucasfilm lent out the cheaper characters for TV Public Service Announcements against drunk driving and smoking.

This doctor's office poster, however, just seen on Reddit, is new to me:

It's obviously an old one, but with the anti-vaccination movement and the renaissance of measles, perhaps it's time for a sequel.

JC Penney prepares your daughters to be sugar babies

In a product failure reminiscent of the "Math class is tough!" talking Barbie fiasco of almost 20 years ago, JC Penney has discontinued this shirt from its back-to-school girls' line:

In the early '90s, however, outrage spread much more slowly.

Care2 reports that, in this case, consumer reaction was swift and effective:

Tuesday night, Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly, shared the link to the shirt on her facebook page. Since then, the shirt has been shared across Facebook and Twitter by parents expressing shock at that the department store would be selling a shirt like this. While some people think the shirt is meant to be funny and not taken seriously, others like parenting blogger and advertising industry professional Liz Gumbinner (known as Mom 101), don’t see the humor. On Twitter, Gumbinner wrote: “How is it funny to promote to young girls that what we value in them is their looks, not their brains?”

Sure, it was probably designed by someone with innocent intentions of being cutesy with the whole "princess" tween culture. But the gaffe is still a shot against gender equality.

If such statements were simply foolishness, I guess it would be easy to let this one go. But attractive people (of both genders) really do have an easier time achieving success. It's just human nature. But it hardly needs to be hammered home to girls 7-16, who have already learned that their society values their cuteness and/or sexiness above academic achievement and independent thought.

The other scary thing about this is that there are women, just a few years older than this shirt's target market, who are putting its worldview into practice. Sugar Daddy "dating" sites and apps encourage attractive young women 18+ (especially cash-strapped students) to accept payment and gifts from older men in exchange for "company".

I guess they won't have to do their homework either.

Raise your hand if you think schools are underfunded

Here's a cute ad that showed up on Reddit. Looks like someone's spec idea, however the supposed sponsor, A Day Made Better, is a very real teacher-supportive CSR effort by Office Max in the USA.

Here in Canada as well, classrooms are grossly underfunded and teachers (such as my better half) end up spending this much and more out-of-pocket just to make sure their students have what they need to learn in a positive and fun environment. Yet political pressures to reduce school budgets continue to reduce the quality and availability of classroom resources and insult the professionalism of teachers.

So the ad above may well be fake (since it is so tonally different from the "real" campaign) but it certainly expresses a real frustration faced by educators.

Brazilian Burger King ad keeps it weird

UFC Middleweight and Mixed Martial Arts World Champ Anderson Silva, lipsynching “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton to a quadruple bypass on a plate.

North America may have given up bizarre BK ads, but they live on in the Latin south.

Via Illegal Advertising

Chipotle is killing them softly with this song

Don't get me wrong. I eat meat, and I prefer to eat ethical meat. I also love the aesthetics of this straight-to web video by Chipotle, who use a gentle Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist" and a wonderful animation by London's Johnny Kelly to promote their move to more sustainable food systems.

I applaud them on the effort, although I remain skeptical that a large fast food chain can be as local and low-tech as that. They have, however donated more than $2 million over the past two years to philanthropic organizations including Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, The Nature Conservancy,, The Lunch Box and the Niman Ranch Scholarship Fund. 

They've also been at this since last year:

Do you buy it?

(Thanks to @jayham for the tip.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Skyping in 1968

What will those crazy scientists think of next: Talking maps? Personal tracking devices? Computerized books?

Via BoingBoing

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bieberpocalypse shows epic failure of user-based moderation

I've written plenty about the idiocy of Facebook's policy of acting instantly on any complaint about inappropriate content, whether justified or not, and leaving the victimized user to prove they were wronged. It has been used by prudes to complain about non-sexual nudity, by political movements to ban social ad campaigns they disagree with, and who knows what else?

Well, YouTube has a similar policy of "yank first, ask questions later." And this policy was used today by a troublemaker called iLCreation who made an unsubstantiated copyright claim on every single Justin Beiber video on his official Vevo channel — leading to their wholesale removal — according to TMZ.

That's right. Even that awful video with over 600 million views got removed because an anonymous user made a claim against it. And boy, were his fans mad.

Relax, Beliebers. He's back online now.

But considering the unbelievable power that Facebook and YouTube have put into the hands of every single internet loser with a chip on his or her shoulder to stifle argument and destroy multi-million dollar marketing campaigns, maybe it's time to put smarter moderation in place?

I'm just saying.

Lazy Photoshop at La-Z-Boy

While browsing furniture on the weekend, I happened upon this in-store ad at La-Z-Boy in Ottawa:

From enjoying countless Photoshop Disasters, I could tell immediately that something wasn't right. So I looked closer:

De agony of de-feet.
Feet crudely chopped off. Bum flattened. And a chair that is apparently stuffed with concrete.

Why do major brands continue to find such shoddy work acceptable?

Australian reality show invites admen to solve impossible briefs

Why don't we have a show this cool in North America?

Australia's The Gruen Transfer has a segment called "The Pitch" in which it asks viewers to suggest objectives for "impossible" creative briefs via social media, which real admen and adwomen then have to pitch spec creative on.

This episode, in which Australians were asked to support a ban on vulgar language, was pretty fucking hilarious. (Wear headphones if you don't work in an unashamedly vulgar ad agency office.)

You can just leave the playlist going to see other briefs. I just love how this show not only entertains, but educates viewers on how ads are conceived, and how different two good solutions to one problem can be.

CBC, I hope you are reading this.

"Smartmouth" QR pinup ads: ironic or lame?

Rebecca, a designer colleague, sent me a link to this out-of-home campaign from Honest Agency:

40s-style pinup girls with QR codes over their mouths?

Unfortunately, the agency didn't give enough screen resolution to actually read their lips in the portfolio page. But through the magic of the interwebs, I was able to get the link below. It goes with the woman in red:

The acting is pretty appalling, and considering this is for an ad over a urinal, I can't imagine:

1. Whipping out my camera phone while standing with other men who are peeing. That in itself is an ass-kicking offence. You're not even supposed to talk or make eye contact,

2.  Holding it over an ad with my one free hand.

3. Not being embarrassed by having the poster talk about my junk.

If you don't even want to watch the video, these transit (?) ads tell you all you need to know about the trashy copy style:

You see, guys, compliant women of your grandmother's generation won't have sex with you unless you have hair. Because they like their sex the way they like their hair. Or something. Hair.

Friday, August 26, 2011

F'd Ad Fridays: The world's most epic and confusing bank ad

Russian ads rarely disappoint. They often shock, occasionally disgust, but at least you can't say their ad agencies are phoning it in.

Case in point:

Apparently, it's a bank ad or something similar.

Via Copyranter

F'd Ad Fridays: Universal Serial Dildo

WARNING:  The embedded video contains images of phallic sex toys.

Finally — a vibrator that you plug into your laptop. (Oh, wait...)

Here's the pitch from their crowdfunding page at CKIE:

"We began with a shared vision: creating high quality, elegant vibrators for women. Because when it comes to the products currently on the market, even some of the better ones are over-the-top—the kind of thing you hide under your bed, feeling like a teenager with a dirty magazine. Instead, we imagined toys so beautiful and discreet that they could live in your purse or your vanity. We envisioned elegant, discreet, and sensual products—ones that invite you to touch and experience instead of hiding them away. Because if anything deserves good design, it's the things we bring to bed with us.

In that spirit, we launched Crave, a team comprised of industrial designer Ti Chang and entrepreneur Michael Topolovac. Combining Ti’s design ability, Michael’s engineering background, and the personal experiences of the many women we interviewed, we emerged with our first product, the Duet: a discreet, USB rechargeable vibrator."

Tip via Buzzfeed

F'd Ad Fridays: P.O.P. signs of the times

(click to enlarge and read)

Via Buzzfeed

F'd Ad Fridays: It's b-a-a-a-d

Via Vintage Ad Browser

You've got to hand it to the 1970s: Subtlety was just not their thing.

F'd Ad Fridays: "Make your dinner a wiener with Happy Hot Dog man"

This has already been on Jimmy Kimmel, but I just saw it yesterday:

Okay, that's just another stupid product. But the viral followup, inspired by The Mr. Bill Show, is awesome:

Thanks to Casey for the tip.

F'd Ad Fridays: Racism, homophobia and dirty old men... sell cookies?

Grey Kuala Lumpur, we need to talk...

"Your inner desires. Right in the middle."

Via Ads of The World

F'd Ad Fridays: Vodacom gives us hot cloaca porn

(click to enlarge and read)
Ironic that an ad warning parents about the perversity of the internet should feature the most explicit and twisted interspecies erotica I've seen in, like, at least an hour.

Via Copyranter

F'd Ad Fridays: "We're out of milk!"

And here I thought lactose tolerance was rare in Japan. Perhaps it's just the dairy ads that cause indigestion...


F'd Ad Fridays: Divine Rags

This spot for Memphis-area clothier Divine Rags is currently making the viral rounds.

Could this brand get any more classy?


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ambiguous copywriting kills God

Well, that's unfortunate.

This real church billboard was placed in Mansfield, Ohio, as a response to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's "Good without God" campaign.

It caused Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist to comment:

"Not only are they telling us that god doesn’t exist (in a large font, no less), they’re also telling us to be skeptical of what we hear! I couldn’t have said it better myself :)"

Sexy done right in FCUK ad?

Forget American Apparel's amateur porn. Never mind Calvin Klein's gangbangs. The most sensual shirt ad you will see today is this delicate video by French Connection UK:

This ad was, one must assume, aimed at women. Because when they aim their ads at men, they look more like this:

The minimalist beer commercial

And by "minimalist", I mean that there is nothing to get between the viewer and its three key messages:

1. Women are anonymous objects of men's sexual desire
2. Beer is good
3. Women are anonymous objects of men's sexual desire

Now let's review:


Via Illegal Advertising

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The 'shock and ha!' Hyundai ad that you won't see on TV

Ads of The World shared this Dutch "shock and ha!" ad by Fitzroy, which was Hyundai apparently abandoned post-production because it is "'too shocking for our brand'.

At first it made me wince, but if you don't mind the cartoonish violence its parody of Final Destination is actually kind of amusing.

A PSA on how to make tea from Brad Pitt's intoxicated, half-dressed, assistant

So this is bizarre.

Lara Marsden is Brad Pitt's personal assistant, and the trash press are having a field day speculating about what her duties may include.

Me, I just love watching people embarrass themselves in the name of internet fame.

How to make the perfect brew!!

Lara | Myspace Video

Video via Robby Nova's Pop World

Jesus Christ, Gervais!

Source: New Humanist blog

According to Patheos, this shot was originally intended for Gervais' Rolling Stone cover.

I'm not offended. Just disappointed.

It's been done, done to death. Manufacturing outrage through sneering imitation of Christ? Maybe in the '70s.

But this is the 21st Century. I expected better, from such a brilliant comedian, than grabbing the low-hanging fruit.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mmmmmmm... Meat-and-potatoes Chips...

Ever have one of those snacktime crises where cou can't decide between potato chips or beef jerky? Just tuck into a bag of Cherkees™ the chips with bits of preserved beef in every bite!

Actual copy:

"Cherkees are a blend of two delicious snack foods; beef jerky and potato chips. These are NOT beef jerky flavored potato chips. Cherkees are real beef jerky AND potato chips AT THE SAME TIME! Lean beef and crispy potato are finally combined into one crunchy beef jerky flavored chip. These chips are one of a kind and currently unavailable in stores. Cherkees are indeed unusual: very low in fat (a third the fat of potato chips), high in protein, and not fried. Now have all the flavor of beef jerky without the chew!"

But I like the chew! I guess they're somewhat less gross than fried pork rinds, but the army surplus packaging is not exactly making my mouth water. But if you're intrigued, you can buy them online here.

Via Foodbeast

Castrating the fertility tree

L'albero di Fecondità ("the tree of fertility") is a fascinating piece of medieval art history and/or political propaganda that was unexpectedly uncovered in the central town fountain of Massa Marittima, Tuscany, at the turn of this century.

This is what it looked like:

If you click to enlarge the image. you'll note something rather odd about the fruits of this tree:

Yeah, that's right. It's a penis tree. Uncovered during restorations, it was hailed as a glimpse into the medieval world of political insult (note the German eagles — then representing the Holy Roman Empire and its Ghibelline faction) in flight, while a group of women look on. The women have also been interpreted as witches performing a ritual in which severed male members were placed in birds' nests. Yeah, mediaeval artists were weird.

When first discovered, the fresco lay underneath a layer of whitewash, and the penises had been plastered over with inoffensive flowers. But that was not to be the last indignity the work was to suffer.

This summer, after years of restoration, the fertility tree was re-opened to the public. Art historians were not impressed. The restoration team were accused of fading out the phalluses, and in some cases, gelding them:

The Daily Mail reports:

Chief restorer Giuseppe Gavazzi denied there had been any intention to remove the penises that have disappeared and said: 'It's possible that the aggressive nature of the chemicals used made them disappear.

'It was not a deliberate act. People have to remember that the fresco was already in a very poor condition when we started work on it and the restoration was carried out accordingly.
It's difficult to find "after" photos online, but La Nazione had this screencap:

How is flavoured instant coffee just like adultery?

They're both a really bad idea.

These Publicis Conseil ads for Nescafé's "Dolce Gusto" line of flavoured hot beverages seem a little subtle and sophisticated for people who don't like the taste of coffee. But perhaps it's a French thing.

Via Ads of The World

Sunday, August 21, 2011

If sugar is fattening, how come so many kids are thin?

Facepalm, right? This kind of folksy anecdote is always dangerous, when used in place of science, but at least this was from a time when neighbourhoods were still built with sidewalks and and kids spent all day active outdoors.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

You knew it was coming to this: PETA to launch porn site

The controversial ".XXX" top level domain is set to launch at year's end. And at the bottom of a Reuters article about how major brands are scrambling to lock down their claims against sexy squatters is this item:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also signed up. However, instead of blocking its name, said PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt, the organization will launch as a pornography site that draws attention to the plight of animals.

PETA has long used and abused sexuality (particularly female sexuality) to get its message across.

The fleshy outreach comes in two flavours: the tasteful celebrity nude and the naked dedication of an army of beautiful young nobodies around the world.

The question arises whether PETA is planning to put these earnest and trusting efforts into its "porn" enterprise. First of all, I doubt many of the actresses or volunteers want a career in porn. With, perhaps, some notable exceptions...

Second, why would anyone pay for what PETA gives away for free?

I realize this is just a publicity stunt. But it should also lead you to question what they're really willing to do for their cause.

Friday, August 19, 2011

F'd Ad Fridays: Why you should always be present for your 15-year-old supermodel daughter's photoshoots

The headline is probably wrong at this point. See updates at bottom.

Styleite reports that the parents of (now) 16-year-old model Hailey Clauson are suing Urban Outfitters, photographer Jason Lee Parry and two other stores for a grand total of $28 million in damages for putting the images of Hailey on apparel without their permission.

Parry and Clauson, archived from a deleted post (hmmm) on Hailey's Blog.

This is a young woman who has modelled for Gucci and Oscar de la Renta, and she’s been done spreads in French, Russian and Chinese Vogue. So on the surface, you'd think that this was about lost revenue from abuse of their supermodel daughter's image.

But apparently, it is something else:

The pic is presumably taken from the UO online shop, as it matches the style of their other merch. (Although it doesn't seem to be there now).

The parents' claim for damages stems from what the describe as the "blatantly salacious manner" in which the teen was photographed.

I imagine UO are pretty pissed off about this, especially if they didn't have all the details about the photo. The hipster retail chain is known for producing dozens of ironic tees, with images ranging from Saved by The Bell's Kelly Kapowsky to Thai Pepsi logos.

The photographer, meanwhile, had parental permission to do the original shoot, as demanded by law. And the pics from that session were already up on fashion blogs. Presumably stage parents in the industry would be aware of that. They also appear on Parry's online portfolio.

And then there's the issue of much more provocative professional work that she has also done:

She's also done topless stuff, but I'm not posting that.

I don't blame Urban Outfitters, or the photographer. They're only part of the problem. The big problem is a fashion industry for which only teenage girls have bodies flawless enough to convey the stylemakers' ideals of beauty. And even more so, the  blame has to be shared by parents who let that industry get a hold of their dependent children.

UPDATE e-online provided more details:

The suit alleges that Parry agreed to never release the shot after her then agency Ford Models complained. She is now represented by Next NY.

But the risqué photo turned up later in the German glossy Qvest. It also popped up on T-shirts sold at boutiques Blood is the New Black in Los Angeles and Brandy & Melville in SoHo.

A manager at the Brandy & Melville store in SoHo was unaware the shop had been named in the lawsuit and did not know if the tees were still being sold. "We don't know anything about it. I hadn't heard," said the employee.

Parry says both Coulson's mom and dad were at the photo shoot in question in March 2010 and gave him permission to publish the shot.

Coulson's mom, Bethany, did not return a request for comment.

More UPDATE - Parry apparently did the shoot for Qvest.

Sunday UPDATE - statement from "Team Parry":

“In regards to the recent lawsuit against Jason Lee Parry and Urban Outfitters­.

While the outcome of the Jason Lee Parry’s lawsuit will ultimately be determined in court, I would like to address the undeniable facts about these absurd allegation­s.

-The model’s father was present for a majority of the shoot. He was shown photos while on set and sanctioned them long before they were published.

-Ford modeling agency assigned the model for Jason Lee Parry’s shoot. Ford approved the fashion story featured in Qvest magazine to be published. The photo in question was featured in the model’s portfolio on Ford’s site. All correspond­ence is documented in emails approving the shoot.

- A total of seven people were on set during the entire duration of the shoot, including three female stylists, and a female videograph­er. The upmost care was given to ensure the model was provided privacy while changing wardrobes and that absolutely no nudity of any kind was visible.

-There was absolutely no breasts or genitalia visible in the image in question. There is less skin observable in the image than could be seen in any contempora­ry bathing suit photo.

- Unbeknowns­t to Jason Lee Parry the image in question was selected by the t-shirt brand. He was also unaware of retail distributi­on of the t-shirt.

-After the photos were released the model proudly posted the images in question to her personal site.”  

F'd Ad Fridays: Have you ever had sex with Rick Perry?

Via Salon

Just to clarify, are we talking today, in the past week, or just... ever? Because I've had a few blackouts in my life.

F'd Ad Fridays: Possibly fake, definitely tasteless, 9/11 referencing ad

No provenance (found on Reddit) but Jenburkt is a real pharma in India.

F'd Ad Fridays: Deliberately bizarre Australian hostel ad

The explosions really make it.

Via Buzzfeed

F'd Ad Fridays: The most awkward jingle from the '70s?

This bizarre old RC Cola spot from Australia features an impressively unsingable jingle, "unusual hair", bumcrack and sideboob:

Well, okay then.

F'd Ad Fridays: A luxury car ad for total dicks

Via Copyranter
Copy reads (in ALL CAPS):


F'd Ad Fridays: the worst attempt at viral marketing I have seen this week

Buzzfeed lists are one of the laziest ways to generate content. You just come up with some kind of observational humour angle, then compile a bunch of photos and captions. Most of them suck. So I don't even know why I clicked on something as unpromising as:

Notice who/what the submitter is? I didn't. I guess I was tired. And bored. So much so that I endured several of these lame and obvious dichotomies hoping for something surprising.

Then I got to the kicker. If it can be called that. It was actually the most hamfisted transition to a sales pitch ever:

Are students much stupider than they used to be? In my day, this kind of craptacular attempt at stealth marketing would have led to backlash against the brand. And we didn't even have social media; we actually had to write editorials in the student newspaper to register our disgust. (And they called us "slackers" back then.)

Now, all it gets is this:

All I could think about, reading this, was that someone let a summer intern run with his or her "OMFG, this is totally going viral!" idea without really giving a shit.