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Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

Portland Radio Station Gets Slammed for Racist Billboard Adoring its Fans

kxl_billboardPop culture is so great, right?

We all get to add memorable quotes to our lexicon of coolness. At parties, we become the local ‘Jeopardy’ champion because of our potpourri of useless knowledge. In life, it just makes us all feel better that we can force “Show Me the Money,” “You Can’t Handle the Truth,” or even “My precious” in a conversation.

Most of our pop culture references come from movies and reiterated by the radio heads on-air. I should know. I was one for 12 glorious years. A station where I did not work is KXL 101-FM in Portland, Ore.

I suppose that’s a good thing because with this article, I probably would not have lasted. The station’s promotions and marketing department were thinking of a way to further enhance its tagline “Stay Connected.” To wit, someone who knows pop culture spoke up with a great movie reference that turned out to be a half-baked idea (and a full-fledged case study) for crisis communications.

See the picture?

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E-Cigarettes Have a Huge Cheerleader: Big Tobacco


Smoking ads are a skosh different these days

Smoking ads are a skosh different these days

The Marlboro Man. The Virginia Slims Gals. The Phallic Joe Camel.

These images have been engraved in our medulla thanks to a bajillion dollars in advertising budgets by big tobacco for the past six decades. For all those years, smoking was made to look cool, care-free and almost bitchin’. That is, until multi-billion-dollar lawsuits forced them way out of business. You know, pity and such. Boo-hoo. Whatevs.

In fact, according to this story from NPR, tobacco companies have paid more than $100 billion to state governments as part of the 25-year, $246 billion settlement in the past 15 years. 

Many thought that was the death knell for the industry. Until some foreshadowing a few years back, which was found in a movie that — no joke — is an absolute must for all PR professionals to watch, “Thank You for Smoking.”

In this film, and the last scene of the linked trailer, is this dialogue between Rob Lowe (agent Jeff Megall) and the great Aaron Eckhart (smoking lobbyist):

Jeff Megall: Sony has a futuristic sci-fi movie they’re looking to make.
Nick Naylor: Cigarettes in space?
Jeff Megall: It’s the final frontier, Nick.
Nick Naylor: But wouldn’t they blow up in an all oxygen environment?
Jeff Megall: Probably. But it’s an easy fix. One line of dialogue. ‘Thank God we invented the… you know, whatever device.’

Whelp, beam me up, Scotty. The future is definitely here and big tobacco is so digging them — E-Cigarettes.

In a story with a great headlineThe New York Times delves into this obvious cheering section to help bring smoking back to the forefront and coolness factor out into the open.

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Hockey is Back. Will Nike’s Anti-Lockout Ad Still Work?

This new Nike ad, from Wieden+Kennedy New York and Biscuit Filmworks director Tim Godsall, flies defiantly in the face of the NHL lockout by giving hockey-lovers a chance to declare that “hockey is ours.”

The spot features kids decked out in their gear, looking directly at the camera and asking the league “what are you gonna do, take my skates? Take away my puck?” The message is clear: The NHL may have all the power, but fans and the amateur players really “own “the sport–and no lockout can take it from them. While we’re hardly the world’s most dedicated hockey fans, we found ourselves stirred by their testimony.

But–in case you missed the tidal wave of exuberant, profanity-laced Facebook and Twitter posts–the NHL lockout is officially over. Now what?

In some ways, the ad still works; even when the NHL is fully operational, the sport is more about the fans than any team owners or league officials. On the other hand, it’s pretty hard to get around the fact that the spirit in which the ad was made no longer applies.

What do we think? Does the message still resonate, or should Nike pull the ad?

Deutsch, VW Go Sci-Fi with Matrix-Style ‘Spin-O-Scope’

Confession: Back in the halcyon days of the early 80’s, our family owned a yellow Volskwagen beetle; our dad would drive erratically around our neighborhood imitating Herbie the Love Bug. We loved it, but we never really thought of the car as a particularly hip model. Now VW and Deutsch LA have teamed up in an effort to make the 2013 revamp a little sexier than its predecessors using interactive pages and camera stunts borrowed from science fiction movies.

360-degree views of cars aren’t exactly new to company sites, but this “Spin-O-Scope” campaign takes the concept two or three steps further: Not only do the interactive pages allow users to spin the car around and get a better look at the whole package, they also include a customization tab so prospective buyers can play with options like trim, color, and engine type to see how their ideal beetle would look—and how much it would cost.

Deutsch reports that the VW site has seen “almost a twofold increase in the amount of time consumers spend on it” since the campaign debuted, and we can see why. It certainly makes the car look a whole lot cooler.

Have we seen any interactive web campaigns fit to rival this one? Here’s a video if you want the whole experience in 90 seconds:

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UK Authorities Axe Another Good Ad

Yesterday we reported on UK advertising authority Clearcast’s decision to pull an excellent SodaStream spot for “denigrating” major soda brands whose products don’t even appear in the ad. Today brings another story of a regulatory group killing a clever campaign, and we have to ask: have British people always been such irrational buzzkills?

Here’s the ad for travel metasearch engine Kayak:

The Advertising Standards Authority received more than 400 complaints about this video and decided to kill the obviously satirical spot “because it was too upsetting to individuals who have undergone brain surgery, and their families.”

OK, full disclosure: Your editor is one of those people who’ve undergone major brain surgery–and he does not find anything about this ad to be particularly offensive. It’s not like Kayak’s creative agency made a mockery of an entire culture or anything like that.

What gives? At what point do advertising and PR pros have to be intentionally boring in order to avoid ruffling a few feathers? Do our industries really have a creativity problem?

Pulse News App Bets the Farm on Sponsored Content

In the era of brand journalism, we talk a lot about “editorial”, “earned” and “sponsored” content–and the respective value of each. Now, leading news app maker Pulse plans to turn the dominant revenue model on its head by relying exclusively on sponsored content for its advertising dollars.

It’s a bold move that reflects the growing influence of branded materials as the line between PR and editorial grows ever fainter.

The company’s primary rival, Flipboard, made headlines as the first app to bring “glossy print-style ads to the iPad”, and Pulse just made a big move in the opposite direction. Their explanation? Mobile is a brave new world for brands, and betting on the success of traditional banner-style promos would amount to “short-term thinking”—however tempting it might be in the moment.

The fact that big-name publishers began pulling their full-page ads from Flipboard this summer strengthens Pulse’s case, because the publishers who dropped out mentioned the downsides of sharing revenue with a third party and noted that they would make more money with traditional banner ads. They also believe that, by partnering with Flipboard, they are discouraging readers from using their own sites and apps.

Publishers who work with Pulse don’t just get increased exposure; they also get a cut of the ad revenue earned “if a sponsored post runs within their content feed or if they bring the advertiser to Pulse”. The fact that advertisers pay on a “cost-per-read basis” is undeniably appealing as well.

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PAC Ad: Black Americans Should Vote Republican Because…Abraham Lincoln

Yes, yes, we know we shouldn’t delve too deeply into the shady world of politics, especially in the week before the election, and especially when reporting on news related to last-minute advocacy ads. But what are these new Super PACs (political action committees) if not temporary PR firms promoting a very small range of clients? Creating a group specifically to improve public perceptions of a particular candidate or party via assorted messaging efforts is very much PR.

We felt the need to highlight this new ad, which was created by the Empower Citizens Network PAC to air in the crucial swing state of Ohio, because it is truly baffling.We can’t get into the details because there really aren’t any, so we’ll just lay it out its message: Black Americans should vote straight-ticket Republican on Tuesday because Abraham Lincoln was a Republican in 1865, and a larger number of Democrats opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which was sponsored by John F. Kennedy and signed by Lyndon Johnson, by the way).

Honestly, now–will this ad convince anyone of anything other than the fact that the person or persons who paid for it just wasted a lot of money?

What’s Next in the ‘Do Not Track’ Ad Debate?

Advertisers must have their precious data…

The Western world has a strange relationship with advertising: We really hate it when ads get intrusive on us, and we use every possible method to avoid watching them (DVR, hello), but we also seem to love certain spots (the fact that 54 million people watched that Darth Vader VW ad on YouTube strongly supports this theory).

So we understand on an abstract level why ads are necessary, but we want to watch them on our own terms, and we can’t seem to accept the fact that our favorite programs (and our precious Internet) could never survive without them. We don’t want to pay for our entertainment, but we don’t want to be forced to watch the ads that subsidize it, either. This is obviously a bit of a problem.

Well, based on the ad world’s aggressive response to the ongoing “do not track” browser controversy, we’d say they don’t seem to care too much what we think of them—they just want to get their content in front of as many eyes as possible, and they don’t mind being a little dickish about it.

Here’s the deal as it stands: The “do not track” option on browsers would theoretically allow web surfers to close the portal through which advertisers collect their precious, precious data. Most Americans love that option, because we don’t think that our private travels through the World Wide Web should double as research sessions for whatever companies happen to be interested in tracking us.

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Junk Food Brands Target Kids with Mobile Games

A few short years ago, the concept of advertising in video games would have seemed a little ridiculous. But now these sorts of in-game promos are everywhere—and with good reason. Some of the most popular downloadable games for young kids are nothing but interactive candy ads.

Today’s tikes spend more time playing games than they do watching TV, so apps like “Cookie Dough Bites Factory” and “Icee Maker” are extremely effective ways to familiarize them with brands. Snack food makers are jumping all over the opportunity, of course.

As The Wall Street Journal puts it, these kids “can master the largely intuitive touch screens well before they read.” Get ready, young parents: Your little treasure’s first words may well be “I want a Super Pretzel.”

37% of kids aged 4-5 use mobile touchscreen devices at home, and a significant number of slightly older children carry smartphones. The inevitable follow-up question: Do we need to regulate the amount of advertising that comes their way? And how does one define advertising in this context?

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Google to Ad Agencies: Let’s Kiss and Make Up

Is this their latest logo? We forget. According to the people at AdAge, Google (Don’t Be Evil) has made a new attempt to repair the testy relationship between the search engine leader/monster and an advertising industry that has long feared and loathed its influence. Beyond hiring Madison Avenue veterans and making some colorful videos, Google recently began to reach out to agency creatives directly with a traveling multimedia PR effort they call “Agile Creativity.”

According to the choice advice contained within, marketing/ad agencies need to:

  • Go Lean: rethink the creative brief writing process
  • Focus on more, tighter deadlines
  • Make the most of Google’s amazing technologies (didn’t see that one coming)

Let us translate: “You have no choice but to work with us. Now deal with it while we still feel like being nice.”

Go ahead — try and make sense of this video. We couldn’t.