That’s right, it’s the latest weekly rundown of backlashes, complaints, critiques, and like that. Continues after the jump. Here goes.
1. Blackwater, ADM, Wal-Mart, and Countrywide head up the vote-getting for the Corporate Hall of Shame. (Earlier Murketing musing on the Blackwater brand here.)
2. Surely you caught the bit of Long Tail anti-ness in the HBR. WSJ columnist Lee Gomes, who has been skeptical of the theory in the past, piled on here. Tyler Cowen backlashes against the anti-ness here. These debates always seem to devolve into tedious numerical definitions — how the data gets counted and divided, etc. I’m invariably left wondering why, exactly, I’m supposed to care. But I suspect that in a broader sense it has the opposite effect: People feel they need to wade in and have a position, pro or con. Thus the anti-ness nets out to a huge plus for the Long Tail as a commodity-idea.
3. WSJ: “Phone operator CenturyTel Inc. and cable provider Charter Communications Inc. shelved plans to use ad-targeting technology from Silicon Valley start-up NebuAd due to privacy concerns raised by their customers and lawmakers.” Read more
[Note: After spending a good deal more time than anticipated stuck in airports and so on last week, I am running late both on AntiFriday, and on responding to recent comments to various posts. Will do that soonest.]
1. WSJ says “Federal regulators are beginning an effort to crack down on stealth advertising in television shows, a move aimed at letting consumers know when companies have paid to use their products as props.” (Via Commercial Alert.) And Ad Age says: “Hollywood’s screenwriters are the latest group to write poison-pen letters to the Federal Communications Commission about Madison Avenue’s use of product integration, which jumped 39% on broadcast TV in the first quarter of 2008, according to Nielsen Product Placement Service.” (Also via Commercial Alert.)
Something people ask me about a lot lately, vis a vis the broad topic of murketing and Buying In, is this very subject: Will there be a backlash/crackdown on the specific practice of commercial persuasion leaking out of the 30-second ads you can zap through if you happen to have a DVR, and into actual shows?
It’s clear that this practice really bugs a lot of people, but up to now my answer has been: I don’t see anything indicating it will slow down. Maybe that’s changing?
2. Meanwhile, one of the better-known murketing campaigns of the moment is the one pushing Colt 45. The malt liquor brand is owned by Pabst (whose PBR is of course the subject of a chapter in Buying In). The PBR story is largely about a brand picked up by consumers, with the corporate owner amping things after the fact. The Colt 45 thing seems more synthetic, but maybe there was an awakened interest in the malt liquor that I’m not aware of.
In any case, the Colt 45 campaign has been more of a “buzz building” effort, with aggressive stunts meant to have publicity value and talk value. One effort involved indie art on brown paper bags. More recently:
Philly’s “Mural Arts Program” has painted 2,700 murals. But while most of the murals are about life, energy and color, some murals in Fishtown are all about malt liquor, Colt 45. Pabst Beer paid local businesses for some of their wall space. But the city said the quasi-murals are illegal because a permit is needed. NBC 10 called Pabst and they are not commenting on the issue. The city is still trying to see if any local advertising agencies helped them out.
1. Advertising & Marketing Made Easy and Wired both address the recent cellphone-radiation-pops-pocorn viral video — which has apparently been viewed 4 million+ times, and which turned out to be an ad. In truth, I haven’t personally seen a ton of backlash about this, but people have asked me about it. The answer is: I’m not a fan of this kind of thing, at all. But it does seem to have gotten this company’s name around. Whether it does much for the client or not, I’m guessing the marketing firm that made the thing will get some new business as a result.
2. “On July 1st, the Anti-Advertising Agency and Rami Tabello of IllegalSigns.ca will give a free workshop teaching you how to identify illegal advertising and get it taken down. You will leave this workshop equipped to have illegal signs removed in your neighborhood.” Details.
The U.K. media minister has attacked product placement in TV shows and said he will not allow the practice on British broadcasters even though it has been approved by the European Union.
The news is likely to infuriate TV companies, including beleaguered terrestrial giant ITV, which are all trying to find additional revenue streams as new media continues to make inroads into traditional advertising. Read more
Possibly I spent too much time reading political news, or possibly I’m just more addled than usual this week, but I didn’t notice as much backlash, dissent, and critique as usual in the last seven days. Here’s what I’ve got.
1. Recently in the linkpile in the sidebar at right I noted this NYT article, “Wal-Mart’s detractors come in from the cold.” Wake-Up Wal-Mart disputes this and says the anti-ness continues: “It is unfortunate that the Times chose to ignore all that we’ve done over the last year, and all that we are planning for this year, and instead focus on Wal-Mart’s PR stunts as evidence of an imaginary slow down.”
1. Above, a trailer for a short film about the DKNY orange bikes promotion that ticked off some people so much they sawed the bikes in half when they realized it was a murketing effort that cyclists said shamlessly knocked off the “ghost bike” idea that is intended as a marker for cyclists killed or hit by a car. The film short, titled Orange Bikes Take Manhattan, plays tonight as part of a program of shorts at the Bicycle Film Festival. (Thanks Andrew Andrew!)
2. According one marketing executive: “Consumers hate us — the marketers and advertisers who invent new ways to spam them online and offline. The result: [ad/marketing pro] turnover is rising dramatically, and advertisers are ranked below lawyers in terms of public respect.” Ad Age suggests that the underlying problem, or the upshot, or both, is that “self-loathing has become all too commonplace in marketing.”
A marketing backlash among marketers? Well, no. The proposed solution is “Marketing with Meaning.” Examples: “ConAgra Foods, which has attracted more than 2 million visits to a healthful-lifestyle site since January, and Kroger Co., which has gotten more than 1.2 million votes on more than 35,000 designs in a contest to create the grocer’s national reusable bag.”
Assessing this, Anti Advertising Agency lives up to its name and critiques the critique: “A different type of more stealthy, manipulative message.” (That AAA post has drawn some comments worth checking out.)
3. Speaking of AAA: “Add-Art is a free Firefox add-on which replaces advertising on websites with curated art images. Created with the support of Eyebeam, Rhizome, Add-Art releases new art shows every two weeks and strives to feature contemporary artists and curators.” Intro/demo here.
Murketing’s weekly roundup of backlashes, dissent, and critiques:
1. Noah Brier‘s Brand Tags project doesn’t really have anti or backlashy intentions, I don’t think, but it’s really made the rounds and is worth noting as a kind of critique-enabler. If you haven’t seen it, basically the idea is you pick a brand from a list and enter the first word that you associate with the brand, then you click for the results: A tag cloud where the size of the words shown indicates how often people have typed them in as their gut reaction to a brand.
Needless to say, those gut reactions can result in some pointedly anti sentiments.
The most interesting one to me is the cloud for Twitter, which rather prominently features reactions such as “annoying,” “pointless,” “stupid” and “useless.” Meanwhile, lots of people also seem to love Twitter, and see it as wildly important. (I’ll never forget this Johnnie Moore post in which he suggested that asking “what’s the point of Twitter?” is like asking “What’s the point of life?” So if you don’t like Twitter, kill yourself?)
I just can’t get worked up about Twitter either way. Why do people have such extreme reactions to it?
2. AdPulp points the way to Debranded Home, a site “committed to helping you reduce visual pollution by lessening brand presence in your home.” The idea is that once you’ve bought something and taken it home, “its label has served its purpose.” Debranded Home offers no-brand labels instead. (The set at right costs $9 plus shipping.) I assume the idea is you put the cleaning product or shampoo or whatever into another container of your choice, then put the new label on it. There are also how-to guides for making your own cleaners.
I suppose the noteworthy thing about this is that traditionally the argument over too-much-branding-and-advertising has been about public space. I suspect more people are bothered by branding that interrupts a walk in the park or whatever. But maybe this is the last resort, at least in your own home you can escape branding, even though it’s on stuff you actually bought?
I’ll be honest: Slim pickings this week in dissent, critiques, and backlashing. Here’s all I can offer you.
1. A Christian group (“The Resistance”) is calling for a boycott of Starbucks on the theory that its logo is offensive. Significant? Uh, well, no. But I like the reverse-anti tone of the Starbucks Gossip item on the subject: “Christian group doesn’t have anything better to do than protest Starbucks’ logo.”
2. Wal-Mart opening thwarted in Chicago: Wal-Mart got the word from city officials last month that Mayor Richard Daley doesn’t want to risk a messy showdown with unions over Wal-Mart—like the big-box store battle of 2006—while Chicago is still in the running as a host city for the 2016 Olympics, according to people familiar with the matter,” says The Chicago Tribune. Via Wake Up Wal-Mart.
3. The Orlando Sentinal comes out against “Bus Radio, the prerecorded music-and-advertising programming being broadcast to students,” in Seminole County, Florida. I guess it plays on the bus. Isn’t weird that we live in a time when someone has to editorialize against an advertising medium tied directly to the school system? No? Okay, I’ll take your word for it.
As every Friday, here’s what I’ve noticed recently in backlashes, dissent, and critiques:
1. I haven’t spent a ton of time there, but I’m interested in this site: The EnviroMedia GreenWashing Index. Submit and/or rate marketing messages touting green-ness. Interesting idea; keeping an eye on it.
2. This got linked a lot (it was even in the murketing linkpile earlier this week) but Nerve.com put together a list of its Top 25 ad parodies. Fun.
3. Speaking of hating on Dove’s “real beauty” campaign, a New Yorker profile of photo retoucher Pascal Dangin included this: “I mentioned the Dove ad campaign that proudly featured lumpier-than-usual ‘real women’ in their undergarments. It turned out that it was a Dangin job. ‘Do you know how much retouching was on that?’ he asked. ‘But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.’”
Someone at Ogilvy subsequently told Ad Age: “There was no retouching of the women.” Still, some details are unclear, and Ad Age says the story is “potentially devastating” and recaps some of the backlashing against Dove to date. UnBeige chimed in to express “deliriously wonderful schadenfreude” about the possible undoing of the “deceptive” campaign: “So now, or soon to come, everyone will be up in arms about being blindly suckered into loving the campaign for its truth and honesty.” We’ll see.
4. Anti-Advertising Agency offers up a few testimonials from current and former ad pros in response to its previously mentioned efforts to get ad pros to quit their jobs. “Advertising is inherently evil … I am glad I am not doing that anymore. It is better to starve righteously.” Etc.
Once again: Murketing’s Friday rundown of highlights from this week in backlashes, dissent and critiques….
1. Via Counterfeit Chic I learned of the above piece, actually a T-shirt image (proceeds to charity) by Nadia Plesner. I guess it speaks for itself but just in case here’s a bit of what Plesner says:
My illustration Simple Living is an idea inspired by the medias constant cover of completely meaningless things.
My thought was: Since doing nothing but wearing designerbags and small ugly dogs appearantly is enough to get you on a magazine cover, maybe it is worth a try for people who actually deserves and needs attention.
Well. One can always debate the real impact of such things, and one can also generally make a safe bet that among the reactions will be a trademark objection. That’s the Vuitton/Murakami/Jacobs bag being toted by a Sudanese refugee. And LV has sent Ms. Plesner a letter, which you can download from her site, asking her to stop selling the T-shirts.
EMPOWERING BY DISEMPOWERMENT
How satirizing corporate doublespeak gets a promotion in a time of layoffs.
Despair Inc. It sells scores of posters satirizing the banalities of the motivation industry. The business first became Internet famous a decade ago, but has proved remarkably durable, with sales climbing to around $4.5 million last year.
And possibly its worldview is resonating in a lot of cubicles and offices just about now: the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently calculated that U.S. employers cut 80,000 jobs in March. Meanwhile, Despair’s sales are up about 15 percent this year. “We do see some people are buying because things are getting bad,” says Justin Sewell, a co-founder of Despair. “They’re Googling things like ‘despair’ or ‘failure,’ and we’re popping up.”
Read the column in the April 27, 2008 issue of The New York Times Magazine, or here.
Consumed archive is here, and FAQ is here. Consumed Facebook page is here.
A somewhat truncated (due to being out of town) look back at this week in backlashes, dissent, and critiques. [Note: Speaking of out of town, I was in planes and airports all day and this was written last night so if missed something, set me straight. On a related note: If I owe you an email about something, I'll catch up tonight or tomorrow.]
1. As you may have read, since it’s been on a bunch of marketing blogs, Greenpeace put out a video slamming Dove. One place to see it is on Adverblog, which also links to the Dove ad called “Onslaught.”
“Onslaught,” which is worth watching if you’ve never seen it, is probably the most caustic extension of Dove’s effort to position itself as a product with an enlightened view of the nature of beauty: In surprisingly harsh terms, the video slams “the beauty industry” for the images of women it peddles (via marketing), climaxing in a startling plastic surgery montage.
Well, I guess Greenpeace wasn’t impressed with Dove’s culture-jamming sales job, and its video, titled “Dove Onslaught(er),” uses an equally in-your-face montage to illustrate the destruction of Indonesian rainforest for (it says) ingredients used in Dove products. Read more
1. Earth Day is coming up. Guess what? Ad Age suggests there may be a kind of Earth Day backlash brewing, and that the holiday is practically becoming “the new Christmas,” as “marketers of all stripes are bombarding consumers with green promotions and products designed to get them to buy more products — some eco-friendly, some not so much.”
“Companies are saying, ‘We need something to green ourselves up, so let’s … sponsor Earth Day,’” one marketer comments. “It’s really now in this hype curve, and hopefully we’re getting toward the top, so we can start having some fallout.” Another is more blunt: ” “Earth Day’s usefulness has passed.”
2. Actually this is one from last month, but I wanted to mention it. There’s this company in Seattle that makes a single-cup, commercial-grade brewer, called a Clover, “specifically for the cafe and retail environment.” And indeed it seems their clients tended to be indie coffee shops. More recently, this company was purchased by Starbucks. At least some indie shops, such as Stumptown in Portland/Seattle are now reportedly dumping their Clovers. Says the owner of River Maiden Coffee in Vancouver: “This feels like a betrayal.” Core77 coments that the incident is a “precise, accelerated example of how a well-designed product can become a vessel into which people pour their beliefs, expectations and senses of betrayal.”
3. Via Murketing.com’s incoming links, I can offer you one person’s backlash to the recently mentioned drug advertising campaign that uses the form of “Missing” fliers, which apparently is in place in San Francisco as well as New York: “Particularly distasteful.”
More backlashes, critiques and dissents after the jump. Read more
aims to respond to the increasing commercialization of public space, human relationships, journalism and art by decreasing the number of individuals working in industries that directly support these goals. “Getting these talented people out of advertising and working on real problems is so exciting!” states Steve Lambert, CEO of the AAA.
Lambert and AAAFFF Executive Director Anne Elizabeth Moore have put up the initial seed money for the grant — I gather it’s currently at $500 — and encourage further donations here.
Application forms for the grant (“Please briefly describe your sleaziest campaign,” etc.) are here, and worth downloading.
The vast numbers of ad industry creatives who regularly express hatred toward their own jobs is expected to bring in thousands of submissions. “So many ad industry types hate what they do. I wish we could help them all,” Moore states.