Monday, October 31, 2011

Model Heidi Klum needs a sandwich... a BRAINS! sandwich

Crushable reports that for her 13th annual Halloween party, supermodel Heidi Klum decided to do what many beautiful women do for costume parties, which is strip down...

Really, really down.

According to the article:

"Heidi Klum goes all out when it comes to her costumes. Nothing is too outlandish, too dorky, too labor-intensive. Then I promptly forget her dedication to the holiday and am surprised every year by what she comes up with.

This year is no exception: Heidi showed up to her own Halloween party looking like a corpse stripped of all its skin. And this wasn’t some sexy ghoul: The only airbrushing involved was the fake blood and muscles showing through all over her body. It makes you wince just looking at it. She even wore a pair of false teeth! Truly, she’s unrecognizable."

Here it is full-length, from Style Bistro:

Also, check out the heels:

Happy Halloween, Heidi. Yikes.

Christian church ditches "Christmas", goes with pagan holiday instead

It's Halloween, sure, but The Bay put up their Christmas decorations in September. And when I was out for a walk near my office, I saw this banner on the side of Dominion-Chalmers United Church:

I belong to the United Church of Canada, even though I no longer attend. And I had never heard of anyone being afraid of calling "Christmas" by name.

Sure, there are places where name-checking a religious holiday is considered inconsiderate to those who do not follow the same gods and/or prophets. But I would have thought a Christian church, even a very liberal one, would be okay with putting the "Christ" in the whole thing.

Even stranger is the use of "Yule". I like the term, but it's a religious holiday too. It just happens to be a pagan German one that few today observe.

I'm not at all offended that a church I sort-of belong to (and Canada's largest Protestant denomination) decided to go this way. All I can figure is that they are trying to be welcoming to the diverse community of Centretown Ottawa. The UCC, after all, is the affirming church that welcomes people of all sexual orientations, and often holds religious weddings for people from other churches and religions that are no longer accepted in their own places of worship. It is also the church responsible for this ad:

But it still made me go "hmmmmm..." You?

An Open Letter to Hawkins Cheezies

Dear Mr. Hawkins

Today is Halloween, and I am giving out nothing but Cheezies.

This is not due to any obsession with your product. It is the best of its category, sure, but there are other reasons to give it out.

First of all, I am from Kingston. You are from Belleville. I now live in Ottawa. And your product gives me the opportunity to contribute to a regional family-owned business. My family and I buy local food as much as possible — Ontario wines, and local cheese, meat and produce. So the opportunity to make even our rare junk food purchases (sorry) locavorous is one we appreciate.

Second, I'm having more and more of a problem with chocolate these days. A child labour problem. So much of the cheap chocolate that will be given out tonight to excited children was illegally harvested by children their own age in Ghana and Ivory Coast. These kids are exposed to dangerous working conditions, climbing trees with machetes to harvest pods, and few of them go to school. Many are trafficked from neighbouring countries as slave labour. It's really sad.

That's why my wife and I have tried to move towards Fairtrade chocolate from another regional company, Camino. But that stuff is a little expensive for Halloween giveaways.

Your product, on the other hand, is very affordable. I just wish it had not been so hard to find. But I know how the companies of "Big Chips" dominate shelf space with money and pressure. My sharp-eyed son managed to find two 24-packs of 28g bags of Cheezies stuffed into a bottom shelf at the Halloween display in an Ottawa Wal-Mart. (We had to buy the rest in much more expensive 8-count bags from Metro.)

Part of my Hawkins horde.
I was surprised how few Hawkins Cheezies I could find in local retail. Everyone seems to agree that yours are the best. Humpty Dumpty's cheese things and Cheetos both have long and scary ingredients lists, compared to yours — including MSG. People like your crunch better, too, and the fact that the orange stuff is not quite so stainingly neon.

I would have expected that Halloween was the perfect time to mount a strong regional campaign, touting your provenance and your goodness, to encourage parents around Ontario to act as brand ambassadors to hand out Cheezies samples at their doors. But I saw nothing.

You have a good product, but I'm afraid that your marketing is a little old fashioned. Why can't I find this beloved Canadian brand on Facebook? Where would I hear your great story, if I had not bothered to Google you? You need help.

And it's not just the "promotional" P of marketing that you need to work on. While the product tastes great, I note that you are a hold-out for still using hydrogenated vegetable oil. My son doesn't eat enough Cheezies to make the small amount of trans fats a health issue, but your competitors have already made the switch to better oils. You need to do that, ASAP. The war on trans fats is not going away.

The other thing you could do is make sure your product fully lives up to its local, wholesome, made-in-Canada heritage. If you're using Canadian corn, you should proudly say so. People like that. And while I don't expect you to go organic, as a family-owned company you could become a very popular champion of smaller, family-owned farms that use non-GMO corn. This would also be a great thing to add to your story. Finally, using real aged cheddar is part of your Canadian charm. Is the cheese made regionally, or provincially? This could also be a great story to tell.

And then there's the peanut thing. Humpty Dumpty got their cheese sticks certified peanut free. I'm sure you could, too.

Your product will never be health food. But it is a "feel-good" food. Wouldn't it be great if you were able to out-maneuver your larger competition in Canada by being the cheese-flavoured snack with more to feel good about?

This is a conversation I'd like to have. So if you're in the neighbourhood tonight, please drop by for some Cheezies.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

GoDog! Buns: The jokes just write themselves

Some Buzzfeeder posted a GoDog! display and described the bun as a European "method of hotdog". But the company is actually in Wisconsin.

Get a Grip-Not a mess! 
Teach an old dog new tricks! 
Frequently Asked Questions: 
Q:    How in the heck do you get the condiments in? 
A:     It doesn't take any longer to put condiments "IN" the bun than it does the old fashioned way!        Simply squirt, squeeze, pump, spoon or pour the desired condiments down the "inside" wall of the         opening...allowing it to run down the "inside".Catsup, Mustard, Pickle Relish, Mayonnaise, BBQ Sauce, Melted Cheese, Chili Sauce, Sweet n Sour Sauce, Pizza Sauce etc. Add thin slice Pickle, Finely Chopped or small slices of Onions and Peppers.
Not just for Hotdogs! Any Sausage will work. Bratwurst, Italians, Kielbasa, Cheddar Dogs, Jalapeno Dogs, Polish Sausage. 
Try BBQ  Chicken, BBQ Beef, BBQ Pork. Sloppy Joe, Chicken Salad, Ham Salad, Tuna Salad! 
Don't stop there...use your imagination! 
Don't get any on ya.

Even the product description is... ummm...

GoDog™ Standard Size 6" long / 1.35" diameter opening
(fits any regular size store bought hotdog)
$14.40/case + $12.95 Shipping & Handling

GoDog™ Brat Size 7" long / 1.5" diameter opening
(fits the bigger size products)
$14.40/case + $12.95 Shipping & Handling

Cool "Arablish" ad from Al Jazeera

From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera has been enjoying unprecedented interest from the English-speaking world. Despite facing suspicion and even censorship in the United States, the network is looked to online (especially on Twitter) to provide a different and often breaking "on the ground" Arabic perspective.

That's why this ad is great. Because much of our historically-important news first comes to us with a distinct accent:

Click to enlarge.

Even the grammatical mistake in the tagline works, somehow. (The ad agency is Danish.)

Via IBiA. The other two, unfortunately, are not very good.

Friday, October 28, 2011

F'd Ad Fridays: Birthing and nursing o'lanterns

I actually like these, although others may find them weird. The first one would be a great way to freak out your neighbours, depending on the uptightness of your community. The second is just damn cute.

They were created by Blessed Birth Doula Services and shared by my super-lactivist FB friend Emma.

Happy Halloween weekend, everyone.

Postscript: Apparently birthing pumpkins are a thing this year. But most seem like they were done by guys.

F'd Ad Fridays: Danica Patrick snuff film?

If you're in to that kind of thing.

Here's a weird one from Jump, in New York:

Via The Reel

F'd Ad Fridays: Sexy teenage holocaust victim Halloween costume

I don't think you can sink much lower than this "Anne Skank"costume:

Lisa Wade writes in Sociological Images, "The Halloween revelers who made the choice to sexualize and laugh at this 15-year-old victim of the holocaust are graduate students in the Creative Writing program at Florida State University."

F'd Ad Fridays: Babymetal

Japanese schoolgirl pop death metal. Why not?

Thanks to Kerry for the link.

F'd Ad Fridays: A very scary FEMEN Halloween protest (nudity)

Wasn't this a scene in Heavy Metal?

What's scarier than having FEMEN show up bare-chested and screaming to protest your mistreatment of animals? How about FEMEN showing up bare-chested and screaming, wearing animal masks, covered in blood and flinging raw meat at you?

ZooMorgue from FEMEN Video on Vimeo.

That's what happened to the keepers at Kiev’s ZooPark, where Animal NY reports the animals have been dying from inadequate feeding, shelter from the cold, and vet care.

It's in Ukrainian, as usual, but I'm sure you'll still get their points.

F'd Ad Fridays: What a shitty Xmas gift

Jezebel says this is the "it toy" the the UK this Christmas. I think they left out a couple of consonants.

F'd Ad Fridays: Consider yourself teased

Gabbo! Gabbo! Gabbo!

Thanks to Marc for sharing on G+

F'd Ad Fridays: Is this Pert ad deliberately this awful?

It's hard to believe they didn't set out to make a truly horrifying ad: the smelly jokes, the bad special effects, the delivery... it must be what Tim Allen hallucinated when he did too much coke.

Via Copyranter

F'd Ad Fridays: How would you advertise skateboard wheels to teenage boys?

Oh! Oh! I know. With porn?

Or maybe a little racist lesploitation? (I just made up this word today.)

Or perhaps a bad pun or two?

And some trash talk.

Thanks for turning me on to this brand, Steve Hall. It's just awful.

You can see the rest of the ads here.

F'd Ad Fridays: "Pizza Party" is the worst music video you will see (for the next few minutes, anyway)

I'm not sure whether they're promoting their music or selling pizza. Probably both. Or neither. I don't care.

Ummm... yeah.

F'd Ad Fridays: Bunnetics ass workout video tape

Butt... butt... butt...

Never mind.

Via Flavorwire

F'd Ad Fridays: Senior citizens gone wild!

This was a PSA of The Day at The Daily What, who wrote:

"Lancashire Police are warning resident to be on the lookout for a band of menacing pensioners roaming the streets and wreaking havoc. 
The (mostly) tongue-in-cheek PSA attempts to convey the message that anti-social behavior of any sort would not be tolerated in Lancashire, irrespective of age."

It is a rather silly ad, using the overdone "old people acting like young people" trope that Pepsi used to rely so heavily on.

Plus, it's hard not to think about Monty Python the whole time...

F'd Ad Fridays: Agent Provocateur says "Boo(bs)" in much, much scarier horror flick

What is this? I don't even...

Axe never had a chance. While the spray-on teen angst brand has a sene of humour, AP just goes straight for the lesploitation, excessive skin, S&M, cannibalism, and just plain weird.

Agent Provocateur - 'Fleurs Du Mal' from Epoch London on Vimeo.

They are, after all, a sophisticated fashion brand...

Via Illegal advertising

F'd Ad Fridays: Axe says "Boo(bs)" with Halloween zombie vid

She's coming from inside the house!

So, Axe gives us some Halloween horror laced with T&A and a bit of zombie humour. They've done worse.

Via Adrants

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How would ad agencies prefer to depict women's body issues?

Copyranter shared a link about a challenge South Africa's Marie Claire put out to agencies there:

"We asked six advertising agencies to design posters that challenge our perceptions on what the perfect body is. Would any of  these campaigns alter the way you feel about your body? ‘We don’t all have the same body type but, regardless of this, we are all perfect. So, what is it going to take for you to love your body?’ says ed Aspasia Karras. What are your thoughts on the various campaigns?"
Here are mine:
This one by Jupiter Drawing Room is pretty good.
This other one by Jupiter seems a little weak.
TBWA's seems like I've seen it on a T-shirt or video a poster or something
Jesus, TBWA. Come up with something new already.

Not bad, Canvas Lifestyle. Not groundbreaking, but at least it tells a story.
(Fun fact: I did not know Barbie had pink permapanties)
Cool one from King James RSVP. Very Dovesque, but I like the copy.
Morbid and uncalled for, M&C Saatchi

Ogilvy, meanwhile, let a Client Services intern write and design their entry.

Which ones do you like? Which ones do you hate? And has any of these agencies come up with a new insight?

Sex, sex and racism at Belgrade's Grand Casino

Ads of The World featured this rather unimaginative campaign for Grand Casino in Belgrade, Serbia. It uses party shots to make visual puns on gambling, like this:

And this:

That's just run-of-the-mill female sexploitation. The guys, of course are all players, while the women are prizes.

But here's the one that really stopped me cold:

Even if the word "spade" does not have the same connotations in Serbian, it's still pretty damn offensive.

Agency responsible: Euro RSCG

See the entire collection at AOTW's Facebook page.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Veterans fighting over the flower of peace

CBC reports that The Royal Canadian Legion is threatening legal action against another Canadian veteran group for using a red poppy as part of their logo.

The Legion, don't you know, trademarked the red plastic lapel poppy as a symbol of remembering Canada's war dead. They're the ones you're supporting when you pick one up at the liquor store.

Last year, the Legion threatened action against another group, who had designed a white poppy to represent peace.

This year's legal letter, from the IP firm Ridout and Maybee LLP to Canadian Veteran Freedom Riders (CVFR), says "We must insist that the CVFR and all of its members immediately cease all use of trademarks or other indicia incorporating the Legion's protected mark 'poppy design' and any of the Legion poppy trademarks."

Apparently, according to the Trademarks Act, every group must legitimately apply to the Legion use the poppy in any way.

A spokesman for the Legion said, "The poppy's a strong symbol, so when you see the poppy you automatically think it's for veterans and remembrance. Therefore, it must be legitimate all the time."
He added that if one organization is allowed to use the poppy, the flood gates would open for other groups.

The veteran bikers are not amused. "It's a slap in the face," said Capt. Michael Blow. "I'm a veteran, I wear that poppy for remembrance, I don't wear it for profit."

What on earth is wrong with the Royal Canadian Legion? They are acting like a soulless commercial brand protecting their stranglehold on a symbol. The moral "owner" of the poppy as a symbol for the war dead was Canadian soldier/poet John McCrae, who wrote "In Flanders Fields", but he died in the war (of disease, like many others). Following the publishing of his poem, the red poppy became the symbol of honouring war dead — and hoping for no more war — throughout the Commonwealth. The symbol, in essence, belongs to all of us. But it especially belongs to every Canadian who has served his or her country.

Good thing the Legion didn't take out a predatory trademark on the maple leaf, the beaver or the toque. Because then we'd have to ask permission to use any of our national symbols.

Sometimes it's best not to campaign it

Saw this Lithuanian ad on I Believe in Advertising, and loved it:

And not just the illustration, either. If you're going to sell urban bikes to their target market, you can't go wrong making fun of the well-heeled but stressed out steel cage drivers.

Then I saw these:

The girl needs some common sense and a cab. The guy needs a day job to wake up to... and possibly a cab. Neither of these latter two ads do anything to sell bikes except reference young adult lifestyles.

Yeah, they look awesome. But why not stop when you're ahead, Love Agency? Not all ideas require tenuously-related sets of three.

A smarter way to stop drunk driving

Copyranter just featured this NZ anti drunk driving spot, and I'm reblogging it because I really love it:

Here are all the things it gets right:

  • It accepts that teens like to get drunk
  • It recognizes the social pressure not to take a stand
  • It's funny and culturally relevant
  • The language, characters and setting realistic

Here are things it didn't do:

  • Guilt
  • Preach
  • Shock
  • Tell youth not to drink

Through my work with the Traffic Injury Research Foundation I've come to understand that positive reinforcement is the only way to really get through to anyone. To completely denormalize drunk driving, you've got to normalize the culture of refusing to participate in it.

This isn't the first time New Zealand has taken a more progressive approach to encouraging responsibility. The "4 Mates" series, aimed at men, also showed that being a designated driver for your drunken friends sucks, but is sometimes necessary.

(There is something wrong with the vid, though. It shakes.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making an ass of yourself in social media

So, Chapstick had this kind of lame idea for a customer engagement campaign on Facebook. The advertised it in the real world like this:

Seems pretty harmless to me, just a poorly shot slice of life that was supposed to resonate with the female audience.

But that's not how one blogger, Melissa Spiers (guest posting on ReelGirl) took it. She flew into a very angry rant about the fetishization of the woman's bum and the possibility that we were supposed to imagine the Chapstick shoved up it.

Here's a sample:

"But why would anyone visit my online world, anyway?  Don’t we go online to experience an alternate reality? Chapstick! Woman’s Ass!  Have you ever gone through a day without being bombarded with any sexist messages or images?  Some of them are right out there, nothing subliminal about them  – see exhibits A through Z on the Rap Lyrics floor.  Lost. Chapstick. Ass. Others try to be subtle and sneaky (please take the audio tour in the Museum of Advertising).  Unfortunately, the use of women’s bodies to sell everything from beer to books has become so pervasive that we almost don’t see it anymore.  Hey, I bet I know where the Chapstick is!"

She is, of course, fully entitled to be angry at advertising (and other pop culture content) for continuing to treat woman as sex objects to promote sales or sexy brand associations. I just didn't see it here. I saw the portrayal as an attempt at humour by showing the model in an awkward and inelegant position — one that I often see (especially) women make self-deprecating comments about when they find themselves accidentally so positioned in public. It never occurred to me to think that the Chapstick was in her rectum. Why would I?

Now, Chapstick could have easily defended its intent (if I got it right) and agreed to disagree with its detractors who (it cannot be stressed enough) they invited to "be heard" at the campaign Facebook page.

But foolishly, they deleted all negative comments. So Reel Girl set up a protest FB page where they display screencaps of user comments before deletion.

From Jezebel:
A company deleting comments from its own Facebook page isn't censorship — Chapstick has no obligation to provide a public forum, and users are free to take their complaints elsewhere, as they have done. And in the grand scheme of things, the ad that started the whole controversy isn't that offensive. What Chapstick is guilty of is really bad PR. When Dr. Pepper issued a much more objectionable ad, at least they allowed customers to sound off about it on their Facebook page. By deleting negative comments, Chapstick is sending the message that they can't handle criticism. And especially if you're encouraging people to use social media to talk about your brand, that's a stupid message to send.

Seriously, seriously dumb. You lose at social media, whoever manages the Chapstick page.

UPDATE: Digging way down on the page, I found some un-deleted comments:

I wonder if this will stay:

"We interrupt this ad for a message from our sponsors"

I was reading this AdFreak post about the perennial return of McDonald's McRib sandwich, then I clicked on the Flash video embed for the latest McRib TV ad:

Yeah, I know. Crappy ad.

But the first time I clicked it, I had to sit through a pre-roll ad from Google... to watch the ad I came for.

What. The. Hell?

Let me know if it happened for you.

BTW, if you like the McRib as an ironic brand, but don't want to actually ingest one, try on this McRib t-shirt. All proceeds go to Ronald McDonald House.

A weirdly intense political ad from the USA

Herman Cain is a Republican running for the 2012 United States presidential nomination. A Tea Party supporter, he has been criticized for promoting tax policies that favour corporations over working people, discriminatory statements against Muslims, and absolute views against reproductive choice and equal marriage. He has also made a point of distinguishing himself as ethnically different from President Barrack Obama:
In an interview with Bloomberg view, Cain argued that he is a 'black American' rather than an 'African American' on account of being able to trace his ancestors within the US, describing Barack Obama as "more of an international...look, he was raised in Kenya, his mother was white from Kansas and her family had an influence on him, it’s true, but his dad was Kenyan". Interviewer Jeffrey Goldberg pointed out that Obama had spent 4 years of his childhood abroad, and that it was in Indonesia - not Kenya, at which point Cain revised his claim.

Cain is perhaps typical of the "businessman" style of politician, who has excelled in the private sector (as former Godfather's Pizza CEO) and believes that kind of thinking can make government more efficient. You can see this in the ads "no-nonsense" delivery. But why the conspicuous 1970s action movie style cancer stick drag by campaign manager Mark Block? Why be so weird about it?

Tom Murphy of Mother Jones gives this backstory:
"As the New York Times pointed out on Sunday, there's another side to Cain: lobbyist. And as a lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association in DC in the 1990s, Cain was one of the tobacco industry's best friends on K Street. His group received big bucks from major cigarette manufacturers, and returned the favor by opposing things like smoking bans."

So I guess that explains that. But not the slow-mo smile by Cain at the end. The Daily Beast's Michelle Goldberg Tweeted, "his smile at the end of this ad is the creepiest fucking thing I've ever seen". And it really is.

Next year's election campaigns are going to be really interesting. Especially from the sidelines.

Trick or Read: UNICEF now using QR codes for digital donations

Ah, yes! The UNICEF box. An important part of the Halloween routine. After you got your candy, you'd get a handful of pennies in that flimsy cardboard box. Then you'd bring it back to school for rolling and counting.

Via Polite Dissent
I haven't spotted as many UNICEF boxes at my door in recent years, and I was wondering what had become of the "children helping children" charity. After all, it's not like a handful of pennies buys much these days, even in the developing world.

Turns out that UNICEF Canada discontinued the program five years ago because "Coin is very labour-intensive."

Is that the end of the tradition everywhere? The Cause Marketing blog today answered my curiosity: UNICEF USA has gone high tech.

"...the United States Fund for UNICEF has embraced a slick new way for kids to Trick or Treat for UNICEF. 
Today kids can Trick or Treat for UNICEF, raise good sum of money and never touch a single nickel of it. 
This Halloween the kids can print out a canister wrapper like the one at the left which features a QR code. When people scan the code using their smartphone they can make a direct donation to UNICEF 
What if the person who answers the door doesn’t have a smartphone or the necessary QR reader? 
Well a persistent Trick or Treater also knows that people can text “TOT” to UNICEF (864233) to make a $10.00 donation to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. The $10 will be added to donor’s phone bill."
I'm a little skeptical about this approach. While QR codes have become a ubiquitous part of the print communication landscape, shortening the gap between it and the digital world, some feel they have already jumped the shark. Will the average suburban mom or dad really whip out a smart phone at the door?

The texting plan, however, is much more likely to work based on my experience with the medium.

And what about the whole healthy competitive aspect? We used to compare the weight of our UNICEF boxes when we brought them into school. It was part of the fun.

If someone is going to donate $10 per text, they are maybe going to do it once for the entire night. The donations would then no longer be a matter of how many kids came to the door with boxes. One exposure to the QR or TOT code might trigger an end to the night's donations. How will the other kids feel when they are told they're carrying the boxes for nothing? And how many dishonest but polite people will say they already gave?

I think it's great that UNICEF is embracing change. But I think they've lost their connection with the kids. The money was only part of it for us. What was really important was the reminder, during a night of gluttony and greed, of how lucky we really were. I hope that is not lost on today's Halloweenies.

Monday, October 24, 2011

In the Demi and Ashton split, who gets custody of the Foundation?

D & A in Egypt last year
The Demi & Ashton Foundation is one of the cause N4Ps I follow online. They are an organization that fights sex slavery, and I have written about one of their celerity-rich campaigns on Osocio.

But now that Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are getting divorced, what happens to the foundation brand?

One would hope that the work will go on, and even that the celebrity ex-couple will be able to work together "in partnership to end child sex slavery". But is it still possible after a very public break-up?

The DNA Twitter is still active, as is the Facebook page. But they don't seem to be responding to questions about the future of their cause brand.

Do you think they can keep it going?