Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Teenager Repellent.

From the NY Times:
...Mr. Stapleton[ed] a novel device that he hopes will provide a solution to the eternal problem of obstreperous teenagers who hang around outside stores and cause trouble.

The device, called the Mosquito ("It's small and annoying," Mr. Stapleton said), emits a high-frequency pulsing sound that, he says, can be heard by most people younger than 20 and almost no one older than 30. The sound is designed to so irritate young people that after several minutes, they cannot stand it and go away.
Read the full article.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I know it might be wrong

I thought we had escaped this travesty, but appraently it has returned. It's the Dr. Pepper ad that uses Fountains Of Wayne's Stacy's Mom and goes a little like this: bunch of young (maybe 12-ish years old) boys are hanging around after soccer. Stacy's Mom starts playing. This plain looking woman gets out of a mini-van and in slo-mo walks around to where the kids can see them. Wind is blowing her hair and shirt around a little. She kind of looks over at them semi-seductivel, then opens up the door of the minivan to reveal a bunch of Dr. Pepper's inside. Chorus kicks in, kids freak out with glee, Mom looks satisfied with herself.

Here's what I get from this ad: Dr. Pepper is as good as pre-teen sex. If you can't bone your friends mom, at least you can drink a DP. Which ad exec was watching Court TV coverage of the Debra Lafave case and thought, "That's it! That's the brand image we want"?

And I know this is probably shallow and chauvinistic, but the woman in the commercial is really plain. (If anyone can find a cap of her, let me know.) She's not someone you would ever spend any time fantasizing over, even if you were a teenager and constantly horny. It's almost as if they got to the shoot and realized, "Wait a minute...we're equating our soft drink with statutory rape. Maybe we shouldn't use this supermodel babe here." So they grabbed the makeup woman's friend and threw her into the ad. So now you have an ad that not only has tasteless implications of sexual felonies, but also is nonsensical on a narrative level. Just awful. Wouldn't you like to be a Pedo too?

Monday, November 28, 2005


"The new line of fashionable iConnect Bibles feature the hottest covers. Available in a sleek and simple design--similar to the popular iPod(r)"


Ra Ra Cialis!

From the NY Times:

Drug companies seeking attractive sales representatives have opened a recruiting pipeline to top college cheerleading squads.

Read the the full article.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Crash Box 360

When Microsoft announced it's first Xbox, the news was met with comments like "Oh great, now my video games can crash." Well, it seems those sarcastic comments have come to fruition with the 360. Microsoft, predictably, has managed to ruin the console-gaming experience with its signature bugs and crashes. My prediction: xbox virus by the end of next year. Imagine if you had to plug your NES into the wall to get a firmware upgrade? I've seen the future of gaming, and it looks annoying.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Be the first idiot on the block to own one:

"Evoking a 12th century Central European tradition of hanging a tree from the ceiling at Christmas, this unique 7' pre-lit fir is inverted to ensure a smaller footprint for less-spacious areas, and allowing more room for the accumulation of presents underneath."

Finally, a tree that can accomodate my loot pile.


This one is slightly old, but it seems to be coming back into the rotation, so I'm bringing it up. It's the ad for McDonald's new(ish) breakfast sandwhich, the McGriddle. The ad features a guy and a girl sitting in McDonald's, and it goes something like this (entirely from memory, so forgive the inaccuracies):

Guy: My girlfriend broke up with me.
(Girl brightens up, as if she finally has her chance to score with this guy, who is a toolbag)
Girl: Oh. Well, you know what they say... (reaches over and grabs his McGriddle(TM) from in front of him and starts eating it) ...a woman is like a McGriddle. They're soft and sweet and enjoyable, but the next thing you know, they're gone. (She finishes eating it and looks at him somewhat seductively) So what are you going to do now?
Guy (confused beyond all capacity for rational thought): I'm...going to go get another McGriddle?
(Girl looks disappointed. Cut to product plug. Back to them and she has a cup in her hand.)
Girl: OK, let's try again. A girl is like a cup of coffee...

And scene. OK, what the hell is any of this supposed to mean? Let's ignore the fact that a breakfast sandwhich that seems to be based on some sort of combination of synthetic pancakes and more synthetic syrup, served by a place as disgusting as McDonald's, could be the vilest thing ever consumed by anyone not named Divine. I can't even wrap my mind around the basic plot of the ad. Is the chick trying to hit on this guy? If so, why is she comparing herself to shitty fast food? And if she's trying to show him what a great girlfriend she could be, why is she doing it by stealing from him? Maybe she's not hitting on him so much as using his time of desperation and loneliness as a means to her opportunisitcally getting free food off him. And just how stupid is this guy? I get the feeling that he has some sort of Memento-esque short term memory loss, and this chick just feasts off of him every meal.

I know that it's almost redundant at this point to single out McDonald's as being tone deaf. But here are the messages I get from this ad:

1. Women are only after you for your shit. They act nice to you, but really all they're doing is stealing out right from underneath your nose. And when they're done with your food, then they go after your beverages.

2. Women are like bad fast food - low quality, cheaply made, easily dispensible, even more easily replaceable, and bad for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sport Banality Vehicle

You'd think Madison Avenue would have figured by now that the American public suffers from "mountain-top-vista" fatigue. I mean, how many times do we need to see a marginally tricked-out mini van, cresting some craggy peak?

Have you seen this SUV ad with the tagline "Tell better stories"? It's telling that I have absolutely no clue which SUV it's advertising. What the hell kind of better stories do you think these people are going to tell? "Gee, Fred, I spent so long pumping my mammoth gas tank full of gas that my dog suffocated inside the vehicle."


"Wilma and I were out driving in our new SUV on I-95 and I drove right over a shredded tire--didn't swerve or anything--of course, now we've got severe undercarriage damage, but I never would have dreamt of doing that in my Camry."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bigotry at T-Mobile

These ads are appalling. T-mobile's "Poser Mobile" ads are blatantly, outrageously racist. The ads prominently feature characters with heavy ethnic accents--one with a thick east-Asian variety, another with a thick Pakistani / Indian accent. These stereotypes misuse slang and sport comically over-sized gangster wear. T-mobile is obviously acting on their perception that these cultures lack "street-cred." The ads are based on the sadly out-dated view that East Asians (and to a lesser degree, whites) are uncool.

Implying that a culture as uncool, or acting on such a stereotype, is deeply irresponsible, even for the advertising world. These ads scream "TONE DEAF."

T-mobile would likely point out that the "cool gang" has members of these ethnicities as well. Their presence in the cool gang, however, is pure tokenism, and they get no lines, and split seconds of screen time, as the "cool" African-American protagonist tells the posers to shove it.

Am I alone on this? Does anyone else think these ads are hateful?

Friday, November 18, 2005

(back to) The Future of Product Placement

Product placement is a mixed blessing. Observe the "Back to the Future" Trilogy. These movies wouldn't be the same without it. From Steven Spielberg's cameo as a Marty-towing truck driver (wearing a Mountain Dew hat) in Part I, to the Tab joke in 1955, to the Pepsi Perfect in 2015, Pepsi is well represented in these movies (so is Calvin Klein, Nike, Pizza Hut, USA Today, Western Union, and Mattel...and it certainly was the best/only thing to ever happen to Delorean Motors).

Did all this product placement bother you when you first saw the movie? It certainly didn't bother me. I doubt I thought twice about it.

Go back and watch any 80's family classic, be it Ghostbusters, Innerspace, or E.T., you're bound to find some well-displayed logos mugging for the camera. Furthermore... wait, nix Innerspace. Even Martin Short wouldn't stick Innerspace between those two.

My point is, isn't this the best kind of advertising? It makes the movie more realistic--It always pissed me off when some sitcom character would have a box of "Donuts Donuts," or when Dad would catch his kid reading "Playpen" magazine--and it isn't jarring or disruptive to the movie experience.

Except when it is. I don't watch 24, but I heard recently that during a terrorist attack or whatever, the computer technician turns to the camera and says something like "Gee, this Cisco Brand (tm) security system sure is fantastic!" Not cool!

As my colleuage Mr. W. Stack, Esq astutely reminded me, Seinfeld was big on product placement. I saw that episode today when Seinfeld and Elaine keep offering people Snapple (It's the Virgin episode), and it's really funny. I don't care if Snapple paid for that exposure. It's well done. Snapple gets its name out there, Seinfeld seems more realistic, and there are some funny jokes. It wasn't just Snapple; Sienfield shilled for Häagen-Dazs, Bosco, Entenmann's, and Junior Mints, and it always worked.

Here's a preview

This is to wet you're appetite for my upcoming post:

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Isn't everyone this wealthy?

A thanks to Dr. Meyers for letting me post here. I'll do what I can to maintain his high ideals and whatever.

On to business: there's this new-ish Dodge ad with that annoying husband and wife who have been in their ads for a while. There was the one where they were in the psychiatrist's office talking about two different cars, but really it's the same, but the doc doesn't get it because science is junk and religion is where it's at. And there's another where the dad wants to make sure the infant son knows about grilling and Hemi engines so he doesn't grow up gay. OK, I may be over-interpreting them a bit..but that's the gist. A solid string of annoying ads.

In the new one, they're driving in the desert and the wife wants the husband to use the GPS system because he's lost. She's pointing out all the other cool awesome features, like "Weren't you happy with the Hemi?" and "Don't you like the DVD player?" She throws in some line when she's like, "Weren't you happy we got a discount on the truck?" And he says, "It allowed us to get a bigger boat." Like everybody in fucking America can relate to this douchebag family who not only can spend $40K on a big truck that they only use to cart their whiny snot-nosed kids around, and can not only spend $75 at the pump to fill it up every 100 miles...but can also buy a boat on top of that. Do top ad execs know that most of America doesn't live in the same income bracket as they do? Is there any chance we can finish off this series of ads with this couple getting audited to hell by the IRS and spending 15-20 in the joint for tax evasion?

In a future installment, we'll discuss when we became so slavishly attached to screens with moving pictures that we collectively concluded it was a good idea to be able to watch TV while we drive.

Blast from the obnoxious past

This is an oldy, but this ad's sheer out-of-touchedness (yes, out-of-touchedness) has been eating away at my, my, very soul for the past 3 years.

Does anyone remember this ad where Bill Ford (grandson of Henry) is talking straight into to the camera about how great Ford is and how much he loves the outdoors, and he states, totally seriously "I love the outdoors so much, I won't even stay at a hotel where the windows don't open." Okay... what the fuck? There are so many things wrong with that statement. First off, the most vivid image that comes to mind is this spoiled billionaire screaming at his assistant for not booking him at the right hotel. I have trouble conjuring any other image.... wait, I'm coming up with another one: spoiled billionaire screaming at hotel desk clerk for not having windows that open.

Does this screwball really think that opening hotel windows is a way to experience the outdoors? Or that insisting on there openability is a way to prove his love for the outdoors?

Okay, I'm all for hotel windows that open. But come on. Seriously. Couldn't someone have clued Bill in on the fact that he'd come off as seriously out-of-touch. The average Ford driver doesn't even stay in a hotel (nevermind a hotel with swishy requirements) he stays in a tent, waiting for deer, or liberals, to come within firing range.

Some good

Although the point of this blog is to point out the negative (that's always more fun isn't it--why else would anyone become a critic?) I think it would be prudent to point out some positive developments in marketing etc. Right now, one force is making it quite clear to the myopic bean counters who run consumer electronics companies, that industrial design and an intuitive interface are just as important as any other product feature. Apple, with its iPod, has proven that people profoundly care about these things. Dell and Sony can throw all of the money and bells and whistles they want at their mp3 players, but until they grasp the fundamental fact that iPod's design is what's beating them, they're doomed to scrap around over the few contrarians and obsessive-compulsive ogg-vorbis devotees who refuse to buy Apple's superior product.

Even the companies that have tried to focus on design don't really get it. It's still dusted-down colors and cheap chrome: "cool" tempered with boardroom. One look and you can tell these companies were all putty-gray clunkers and 486 processors while Steve Jobs was envisioning the Green Apple iMac.

full disclosure: I have never owned an apple computer, yet I've owned many putty gray clunkers


The point of this blog is to point out the inane blunders made by corporate marketers every day. I do this because their tone-deaf, ill-concieved advertising, branding, and design personally offend me. I don't hope to help them fix these problems. I do this because after watching a jarringly bad advertisment four times a day for a month it's cathartic to rant about it a little bit. I hope you enjoy.