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Neil French's sudden non-appearance at a Singapore AdAsia conference, held November 21-23, isn't news. What's news are comments he made in a Singapore newspaper article run a day prior to the show in which he tried to claim it's not just woman who are "crap" because they make time for family, it's men too. French claims, according to Ad Age, children are "incompatible with the long hours needed to become a top creative." Egoistically proving his point and hinting fatherhood is for wimps, French told the paper he hasn't seen his only child, an eight year-old boy in months. Keep smokin' that cigar, Neil but humbly suggest you give that Harry Chapin song, Cats in the Cradle, a listen. It's got an important message for you.
Of course, one could claim the above is written from an overly PC, American viewpoint. If you flip the coin and acknowledge cultural differences between America and Singapore, where French has spent most of his career, French comes out smelling like roses as indicated by a comment reportedly made by a creative who said, during a dinner attended by French and, we assume, the Ad Age reporter who reported it, "You have to look at this through a cultural filter. In Singapore, its still legal to beat your wife." While we find that hard to believe, we're not making it up.
Following a MediaPost Real Media Riff's column that roasted Ad Age for an editorial cover wrap attached to 1,000 copies of the magazine distributed at ad:tech in early November, Ad Age's Rance Crain, today, offers up a mea culpa and apologizes for what MediaPost deemed a serious ad/edit line crosser. Apparently unbeknownst to the magazine's management, including Crain and Editor Scott Donaton, a last minute deal was struck between someone at Ad Age and a company called SpecificMEDIA to adhere a front page cover wrap that appeared to look like news content and distribute it at ad:tech. Crain writes David Klein, publishing and editorial director of the Ad Age Group, sent an email to the magazine's staff stating, among other things, the publications credibility had been damaged by the wrap. Crain also makes no excuses for misjudgment.
In a nod to an American Business Media "Editorial Integrity: Under Assault?" panel Crain moderated last week, he noted readers have increased protection from "overzealous advertisers" by blogs and other journalists who will call out moves such as this cover wrap debacle. It's encouraging that Ad Age chose to publicly deal with this issues as it could very easily have simply swept it under the rug and moved on. Welcome to the conversation, Ad Age.
There's never a lack of ad babes peering, longingly, out of magazine ad pages luring guys into buying things they really don't need so it's without surprise that we find both been-there-done-that Paris Hilton and IndyCar babe Danica Patrick meeting our eyeballs as we flip though the December issue of GQ, which, by the way was a multi cover issue on which Jennifer Anniston appeared semi-nude but we, unfortunately, ended up with the Vince Vaughn version. Come on, Jim. You read Adrants. You know what we like. Send a memo to the circulation department, stat!
Paris, who, hands down, has the best "do me" look, is in GQ hawking her Paris Hilton For Men fragrance. Oddly, the container looks like a lipstick wand so we're doubtful too many men will actually be seen buying or using this stuff. Danica, who has the more girl-next-door, wholesome look, except here, is smirking for TISSOT Swiss Watches. The ad carries the headline, "A Woman's Touch...in a Man's World," which appropriately, references her place in the male dominated world of car racing.
So in terms of which ad does a better job selling its product, without doubt, the award goes to Danica Patrick's TISSOT ad. It's a product an actual man would actually buy and Patrick's demeanor, at least in this ad, is far more tangible and realistic that Paris Hilton's airy, empty, vacuous persona seen here.
"Advertising within TV shows is still the mother lode of how the networks bring in their revenue, and CBS and the other networks have an extremely important interest in protecting the sanctity of the first-run show's ratings," said Andy Donchin, executive vp and director of national broadcast at Carat. Andy might be eating those words in a few years as cable and broadcasters wake up and smell the VOD. Certainly, not everyone is going to pay for ad-free content but an entire generation who will refuse to accept current ad supported content models is fast growing and simply won't settle for business as usual. Additionally, if show producers and broadcasters see a viable and profitable pay per VOD business model, they'll dump advertisers faster than Cue Cat came and went.
Bringing two decades of style together and highlighting a few products a long the way, Norstrom, with help from Fatboy Slim, has launched Norstrom Silverscreen a remixed version of the 80's G0-GO's video "Our Lips Are Sealed." Random Culture points out several products are featured in the video and the two decade groups cavort in typical music video style. Other similar video remixes are forthcoming. Visitors can opt to watch a basic version of the video or an enhanced version which requires a download but will automatically play each new video as it becomes available.
Unfortunately and stupidly on Nordtrom's or it's agency's part, the enhanced version only works with, you guessed it, Internet Explorer and not with the IE-killing and fast growing Firefox, the browser of choice for anyone that has a clue. Marketers and technology providers have got to stop sleeping with one bed partner and start playing the field. There's a lot of untapped Firefox hotties out there willing and waiting for the "enhanced experience." So, come on marketers and technology providers. Stop being so prejudice in your choice of bed partners.
Kathy Sierra, writing on Creating Passionate Users, has put together a chart that compares the old ways of marketing to the new. Filled with gems like "Hire a creative, user-focused product designer" rather than "Hire a creative, award-winning advertising designer" and Buy Typepad accounts for every employee in your company, and maybe some users too" rather than "Hire a PR firm" and "Product placements in the 'real' world, by donating samples to those who could benefit" rather than "Product placements in a 'fake' TV, movie world," Sierra has created a chart that inspires and demonstrates how truly stupid current marketing efforts are.
AdJab points to a consumer-generated media treasure trove called Revver. It's a site where anyone can submit self-created videos on any topic. Revver will host the video, insert a short ad at the end and share the proceeds, 50/50, with the video creator. The ad, called a RevTag, is embedded in the video so that viewership can be tracked whether the video is viewed on Revver or viewed as it wends its way from friend to friend via email attachment.
Apparently the site's quite popular as it's moving slower than a turtle pulling an 18 wheeler. We hope that's temporary. There's a lot of promise here as people begin to realize that all content doesn't have to come from big media companies and all ad revenue doesn't have to go to large corporate conglomerates.
In an interesting twist, Infinity's "Who's Replacing Howard Stern" campaign, currently gracing every sliver of ad space on Ad Age, may, according to 925M, do more to hurt Infinity than help. The campaign highlights Stern replacements Adam Corolla, David Lee Roth and Penn Jillette, who have received with less than stellar reviews as replacements for the irreplaceable Stern. As 925M indicates, all this campaign may do is say "Hey, we know Stern left. We know the replacements suck. We're trying this kooky FreeFM thing. Just skip it all and go listen to Stern on Sirius."
Adrants reader Samara Grant writes to tell us she's concerned about Wal-Mart's recent Precious Jewel ad featuring Ashanti. Grant writes, "In her ad she talks about her belief that all young girls are 'precious.' But it is a contradiction to say at the end of ad that her fragrance is a 'sensual' scent. I don't think young girls should wear something that is called "sensual" if they are told in the previous sentence how 'precious' they are. If Ashanti wants to impress young girls and get them as her fans, she needs to put a little more clothes on. It's disgusting and very degrading and is also sending these young girls the wrong message."
Well, like we said in another post, stereotypes are rampant in advertising and so is the urge to grab youth while they are young and vulnerable. Currently, hot pop and Hollywood stars are the way to do it. But, that perpetuates the 12-year-old slut conundrum. Conversely, as Tia Fix writes, at one point in time, youth and sex were quite normal.
Use Me. Abuse Me. I'm An Ad Babe
Feminist Naomi Wolf says that the beauty myth isn't good for men or women. "It prevents (men) from actually seeing women...in suggesting a vision in place of a woman, it has a numbing effect, reducing all sense but the visual..."
That's a fairly poignant statement regarding the numbification of society because marketing images portray impossible-to-achieve beauty and the representation of women as playthings. Granted, marketers are never going to show an ugly slob in an ad because no one wants to see a slob and we all aspire to something greater. But if all we see are unachievable representations of ourselves then certain unhealthy illusions of self are sure to emerge. And have. Just visit a highschool hallway.
About Face, whose mission is "to promote positive self-esteem in girls and women of all ages, sizes, races and backgrounds through a spirited approach to media education, outreach and activism," examines the portrayal of women, specifically, in advertising and comments on how damaging the images can be to the psyche of consumers. Part of the site has a list of the top ten marketers who, in the opinion of About Face, damage society through their imagery of women advertising.