That’s right, AntiFriday is on Saturday today. Here goes.
* Heart asked the GOP to stop using “Barracuda” as Sarah Palin’s de facto theme song — and the GOP promptly played it again after her convention speech. “I feel completely f—ed over,” Nancy Wilson says. She and sister Ann add: “Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image. The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women.” Slate says the GOP may not need the band’s permission.
* Unplug Your Friends features a cute video intended to counter “screen addiction.” Specifically you can counter screen addition by joining/forming a Meet Up group — or (in a classic murketing tactic) emailing your friends to get them involved in Meet Up. And I must disclose that this came to my attention because someone at Meet Up sent it to me. [Link goes straight to video]
* The Washington Postassesses retail signage that looks a lot like Barbara Kruger’s work. Guy responsible says it’s an “obvious homage.” Kruger doesn’t seem to care one way or the other. Writer Blake Gopnik concludes: “Sometimes — maybe even most of the time — the look of an image is itself the thing we care most about it. Its look is its crucial content. Its style is its meaning; it’s what gets distilled out of it, as the message we take home. When a real estate agent borrows Kruger’s look and leaves most of her ideas behind, he may be treating art the way most of us do.” [I'm a devoted WaPo Style page reader, but thanks also to Braulio for mentioning this.]
* And finally: E directs my attention to this video in which you “meet the graphic designer behind Hollywood’s most famous floating head movie posters.” Amusing. [Again, link goes straight to video.]
*. Sex & The City wins the Film Whore award, for most brand placements, per The Independent: “The film, which declares in the opening scenes that life is all about ‘love and labels,’ features 25 fashion designers, eight shops, seven electronics brands, seven publications, seven food and drinks brands, five cosmetics companies, three car companies, and one airline.”
*. Amusing summation of flaws in Sears gamer ad: Kid is playing “a PlayStation 3 game, with an Xbox 360 controller”
*. Speaking of Banksy, Debbie Millman shares the street artist’s thoughts regarding the ad industry, here. Once again, I note in passing that my opinion of Banksy as a supposed King of Anti-ness and Artistic Purity is colored by having been approached some years ago by his publicist.
*. Accusation: Republican ad subliminally includes the word “hang” in the background of an Obama clip.
Of interest to me are this one and this one. These allude to something you may have noticed if you’ve spent time in New Orleans: Lots of squarish blocks of gray rolled-on paint, all over the place, blotting out what used to be graffiti or street art. The guy behind this is Fred Radtke, a/k/a The Gray Ghost: Basically an anti-graf zealot who rides around town and paints over every tag or other street art manifestation he sees, Radtke is a much-reviled figure among N.O. graffiti types.
This image below is not one of the ones linked above; it was taken some time later:
The earlier version had the guy painting over a flower; now the whole flower has been rollered out. By Radtke? Hard to say. Seems difficult to believe he would take the care evident here — but maybe he was flattered or amused by this.
Personally, I’ve always found Radkte to be perversely impressive. E and I were last in New Orleans in December (actually she’s been back since then), and the Gray Ghost’s blobby “work” was everywhere. I like his quote in this old article: “I know them all and they know me, absolutely,” he says of N.O. graffiti writers, and he knows they hate him. “But they understand,” he adds, “that I take out everything.” And it’s true: The guy is basically the king of kings in N.O. — the ultimate bomber.
Michael Phelps to endorse Frosted Flakes, and the Daily News notes some health experts who don’t like it: “I would not consider Frosted Flakes the food of an Olympian,” says one. But really he’s an ex-Olympian, isn’t he? “Frosted Flakes: Breakfast of Former Champions Who No Longer Have to Worry About Staying in Shape.” “Frosted Flakes: The Official Cereal of Going To Seed.” Right? [Via Commercial Alert.] …
More seriously, Bill Moyers had a great interview this week with Andrew Bacevich. It’s better to see it than read the transcript, and the quote that follows isn’t the part the made it so compelling, but I’ll just throw in one bit, because it relates to earlier posts here and here: Moyers asks about GHW Bush’s 1992 pledge that the “the American way of life” is not up for negotiation, and Bacevich replies most Americans would concur, but: “If you want to preserve that which you value most in the American way of life, then we need to change the American way of life. We need to modify that which may be peripheral, in order to preserve that which is at the center of what we value.” I believe you can watch the whole interview here. …
Much less seriously, I meant to mention this earlier but I don’t think I ever did: Andrew Andrew keep mentioning this site, The Impulsive Buy. I’d heard of it before (and maybe you have too) but only recently actually checked it out, and it’s pretty entertaining. …
Marginal Utility contemplates “wrongness” — that is, “purposeful attempts to alienate an audience through a kind of puerile repetition or offensiveness that on its face contains no politically subversive content.” Possibly relevant to recent-ish discussions on this site of MySpace and other unappealing aesthetics. Either way, worth a read. …
Here’s an interesting post on The Consumer Trap, that questions the use of words like “consumer” and “consumption.” Michael Dawson writes: “Usefulness, pleasure, longevity, and cost minimization are our normal goals as product users. Consumption, the final using up of a product, is almost never our intention.” I thought this was an interesting framework. Do we think of consumption as happening at the moment of purchase? Or at the final-using-up of a product? …
Sabrina Gshwandtner, in American Craft, writes about “many long-standing DIYers” who “feel that craft fairs are now, for better or worse, a hybrid mix of straightforward commercialism and viable counterculture practice.” Etsy, too. Or maybe Etsy even more so. …
Core77 points to an excellent video comparing iPhone in adland vs. iPhone in real life. Ouch!
Funny deconstruction of some weird Burger King place mats on Idea-Sandbox. I’d missed this earlier, but I guess it’s made the rounds. If you missed it … well, check it out. (Thx: B.A.) …
NYTstory looks at the role that ad campaigns played in making debt (home equity loans) ets., less scary to consumers; ad execs now say ” society’s attitudes about debt shaped the ads, not the other way around,” but I bet they didn’t say that in pitch meetings ….
The Wall Street Journal recounts The Olive Garden’s “mixed feelings” about “rogue brand ambassador” and Hugh Heffner harem member Kendra Willkinson; traffic-hungry blogspileon ….
Living Oprah, blog of 35-year-old artist, performer and writer in Chicago: “For one year, I will live as Oprah advises…. Additionally, I’ll be charting the cost of living as Oprah prescribes. Will the costs — financial, time spent, energy expended — be worth the result?” …
Report “focuses on methods of advertising food to kids [via] spreading messages through social networks, and urges lawmakers to restrict junk food advertising to kids online” (via Commercial Alert) …
A political ad making fun of Barack Obama uses the Jackson Browne song “Running On Empty,” and Browne, “incensed,” is suing. …
Shell newspaper ads in the U.K. describing oil-exploration and refining projects as sustainable-energy initiatives spark complaints from World Wildlife Federation, and Britain’s ad-watchdog agency forces the company to withdraw them …
Amusing yet earnest video by Municipal Arts Society about news racks around NYC in clear violation of various laws …
Bono’s philanthropy efforts are self-righteous, ineffective, & counter-productive….
The grassroots leaders of the global fight against AIDS didn’t ask for Bono to be their frontman. Its time for Bono to step down. We’ll all pledge donations to the Global Fund, but no pledges are collected until Bono retires from public life…
2. The Oregonianreports that a Converse effort to put up street-art-style ads on some buildings on Portland’s North Alberta Street has ended poorly. Somebody called the cops, but that’s not really the bad part.
The vacant building’s owner, developer Rambo Halpern, said he wouldn’t have granted permission to Nike-owned Converse to post the ads had he been asked. Alberta Street, he noted, is known as an art district and alternative business hub.
“They’re a little bit anti-corporate, anti-chain,” Halpern said. “Providing free advertising to a corporation making billions of dollars a year is not high on my list of priorities.”
Ouch! Not exactly the reaction Converse wants, I’d say. (Actually, I did say it, to reporter Brent Hunsberger. I’m quoted in this article. Just so you know.)
The weekly roundup of backlashing, dissent, and critiques.
1. What’s a hipster? For some reason I’ve had several conversations about that in the past year. Here is AdBusters on the topic:
We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.
2. Crocs, subject of a July 15, 2007 Consumed, are still hated — this time, per UnBeige, by Tim Gunn: “it looks like a plastic hoof. How can you take that seriously? I know it’s comfortable; I understand that. But if you want to dress to feel as though you never got out of bed, don’t get out of bed.”
3. AdPulp links to a video in which “activist, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist” Joi Ito questions the self-congratulatory faith of VC-tech culture: “The capitalists aren’t really that helpful, generally.” The upshot is they chase deals and don’t focus on social implications, basically listening to the profit motive only and screening out the rest. AdPulp’s David Burn adds:
I think the same thing can be said for the ad business. Like technologists, we have a lot of power, but we don’t think about the harm we might be doing or the decided lack of a moral compass in our shops and clients’ businesses. That’s a flaw.
A bold observation/assertion. Good starting point for a wider conversation, I would think. Wonder if others in the business will pick up on it.
Time for another roundup of the week in backlashes, dissent, and critiques. Here goes.
1. An “in your face” print/outdoor campaign from Nike is accused of blatant homophobia by Towleroad.com — and by many, many comments on the W+K site where the work is posted. Other comments, of course, defend the ads, but some of the images (above, for instance) seem pretty calculated to me. [Thx: discoczech.]
I’m also sort of curious if any of the slang-ologists among you have a reaction to the one below. I associate the phrase “Punks jump up” with the early 1990s Brand Nubian track “Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down,” which has a great sound — but also, if I remember right, included an anti-gay epithet in the original lyrics that was later excised.
But then again I’m not exactly long on street cred, so maybe the phrase “punks jump up” has other associations and the fact that it makes me think of that song is coincidence. I actually find that particular juxtaposition of image and phrase generally confusing. Any thoughts?
It is far from clear that the value of the Obama works will hold up. Prices have fluctuated, driven by news and events throughout the campaign season. For example, prices for Obama-related items on eBay dipped in March during the controversy over the candidate’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, according to Ken Harman, a collector and art blogger.
That said, it still looks like a better financial bet than the anti-Obama art:
In Texas, Austin-based designer Baxter Orr, an Independent, created “Dope,” a parody of Mr. Fairey’s posters that makes sport of Mr. Obama’s cocaine use as a young man. The posters are still available for $30 on the artist’s Web site, and sales are slow. Mr. Orr says that buyers only want posters glorifying Mr. Obama. “If I [had] followed the herd and created pro-Obama posters,” says Mr. Orr. “I am certain I would have made more money.”
So it’s a holiday weekend and I’d just as soon not be sitting in front the computer at all. Nevertheless. In lieu of the usual rundown of dissent, critiques, and backlashes, I offer you this one image.
Well, Frank-c doesn’t care for it: “I think it’s misleading and primarily flawed; it’s inaction cleverly disguised as action. If you want to save the world, start by saving what’s prevalent in it: people. Help them. Love them.”
On that actually-rather-upbeat notion: Have a good weekend.
[Thx to Shawn -- though please note that if this entry ticks you off, he shares no blame.]
[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
I saw something REALLY disturbing on TV and immediately thought of you*. Have you seen these TBS ads for the Bill Engval show? He literally walks onto the screen, pauses the show with a remote, tells you to watch his new series, and then restarts it. It’s insanely awful. Made me get up and write to TBS about how bad it is. Found a youtube clip of it. Obviously I’m not the only one bothered by this…
Whether you watch the clip or not, a quick scan of the 200+ comments confirms that, yes, TBS viewers are mightily annoyed.
I’ve said before — and particularly a lot lately in interviews about Buying In — the real significance of TiVo and click culture (see the book for more on that) is not that it’s all given great power to the consumer (you know, “the consumer in control”) to zap past ads.
The real significance is that, faced with the possibility of people zapping past ads, etc., the commercial persuasion business has completely rewritten the rules about where and how advertising and marketing can appear. (Thus, “murketing.”) This thing is just a blunt example of one small way they’re doing that.
And it’s worth noting that, even now, less than a quarter of U.S. homes even have a DVR. But every home that gets TBS, DVR-ed or no, experiences this unpleasant stunt.
Maybe this particular style of ruining your viewing experience will fade if the backlash is severe enough, but it’ll just get replaced by more experiments in pitches that are tough to TiVo past. As with the just-noted Vespa street art campaign, I think we can expect more of this sort of thing in the future.
[* Yes, as a matter of fact, friends often think of me when they see "disturbing" things on television.]
A couple of weeks back I noted this Vespa murketing effort in Montreal and other Canadian cities: What looked like street art was actually Vespa branding. In subsequent conversation with the Globe & Mail‘s Jennifer Wells, I learned that this work was executed by an actual street artist, known as Fauxreel, whose work has included a number of billboard alternations. (I wasn’t familiar with him; here’s his site.)
So how big a deal is this? I’m not sure. Fauxreel is hardly the first graffiti/street artist to do paid work on the street for brands. (Memorable precedent: Tats Cru for Hummer.) Sure this alienates some fans and draws some sellout charges. But I’ve had plenty of conversations with people who figure this sort of thing is just fine: That it sort of amounts to corporations supporting artists, and bankrolling kinda-sorta subversive stuff.
Moreover, I suspect Vespa’s goals here had less to do with impressing street art fans than with simply finding a way (legal or not) to run a campaign that basically can’t be avoided, because it’s not happening in the traditional confines of a magazine ad you can flip past or a TV spot you can mute. It’s not about interrupting a media experience, it’s about interrupting your life. If that costs Fauxreel some credibility, well, I’m sure Vespa will live with that just fine.
Ultimately, backlashing like the above would have to get a lot more widespread before street art murketing goes away.