It seems the American Society of Magazine Editors - which, oddly, sounds like a bunch of old men sitting around in a smoke-filled country club lounge - didn't take too kindly to the recent stunt The New Yorker pulled with Target - selling all ad pages, exclusively, to the discount giant. The Society requires magazine's with one sponsor to include an editorial statement stating the advertiser had no influence over editorial content. The New Yorker did not include such a note. Whether or not lines were crossed here, Target, as always, accomplished a masterstroke of publicity with this move and is likely sitting back laughing at all of those who have raised issue with the stunt.
Following a post to the WhereSpot discussion group and a story here on Adrants, Coke has called off its lawyers, who had threatened photographer Paul Papanek with legal action over a couple of spec spots he had created, and said it's fine the spots remain in existence as long as Papanek disclaims them as unaffiliated with Coke. It all seems very logical. A creative is allowed to express himself. A brand gets additional exposure without spending a cent. Everyone's happy. Except the lawyers. After three threatening letters, Coke's legal army was, apparently, called off and sent back to the dungeon to dream up other methods of charging Coke a fortune just to type up a few simple letter.
Writing in the WheresSpot discussion group, Papanek gleefully reports Coke representative Ms. Perlstein told him "everyone at Coke is talking about it" and even the brand managers are checking the spots out. Oh, and the lawyers? They're not all bad. They contacted Papanek directly and had amicable conversations.
Next time, perhaps, Coke will realize the value of consumer created media and leave well enough alone. Or, at least, approach the situation with less legal stiffness. Unless of course the work harms the brand which, clearly, Papanek's work did not.
As part of her sentence for screwing with Ogilvy billing, Shona Seifert, like a school kid writing "I will not snap Sally's bra strap in class" 100 times on the chalk board, has written a code of ethics for the ad industry which is available for download here. Enjoy.
Finally, common sense has prevailed and humor may be reborn. Adland points to an ad for UK Powerleague which shows a woman playing with a hamster in a ball until her boyfriend comes in, does some soccer moves and boots the ball out the window with the hamster still inside was not banned by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority. While one complainant said the ad could encourage animal cruelty, the ASA said it was all done in fun and is clearly not condoning animal cruelty. Humor people. It's called humor.
Television commercial director and photographer Paul Papanek who, a few years ago, directed a couple of spec spots recently received several letters from Coke's in-house and out-of-house legal councils informing him he used Coke's logo without permission. His spots have been featured on his websites as well as on The Spec Spot and Boards Magazine. Each of the three letters Papanek received were increasingly threatening with the last one, dated August 15, informing him he must remove the spots from all the sites within 14 days or suffer nastier legal ramifications.
While Coke is well within their rights to protect their logo and brand, Papanek, writing in the WheresSpot Yahoo news group, wonders about the implications of Coke's request. Papanek cites the common practice of directors and production companies producing spec spots to promote their businesses, build their freelance careers or to pitch new business and wonders how this might affect spec creative. We wonder if new businesses pitches and creative reels will now be required to have logos digitized out. The two spots in question can be seen here and here. Papanek has commented and posted Coke's letters here.
Ad industry trade groups, The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), today, announced Ad-ID, a universal ad coding standard, has been adopted by more than 300 of the nation's top marketers. In addition, a total of 875 companies have registered in Ad-ID, and over 14,000 individual codes have been created for various forms of advertising.
Ad-ID provides the foundation for digital trafficking and tracking as well as digital connectivity. It is the equivalent of the retail community's "UPC code." By assigning a unique system-generated identification code to all advertising assets, television, online, print and radio, Ad-ID can improve the accuracy and efficiency of advertising processes from delivery through billing, and is said to,ultimately, contribute to tracking and measuring advertising effectiveness across campaigns.
The clearing house for internal media conglomerate memos, otherwise known as Gawker, reports Time Inc is tightening the old Travel & Entertainment budget across all properties. This intercepted memo to Sports Illustrated employees urges them to "adopt a heightened awareness with regard to spending and be as frugal with the company's money as you would with your own." Staffers are urged to take Yellow cabs versus, we assume, limos; to fly only in cattle-class; to limit submitted entertainment expenses to story subjects and source - as opposed to, oh, friends, aunts, girlfriends; and staff meeting may not be catered. Oh, the horror of it all!
Marketing to two-years-olds is a no-no so says the Campaign for a commercial-Free Childhood. We agree. Enough advertising crap will find its way to kids eyes and ears soon enough. we say let kids be kids for a while and screw all that crap about building early brand loyalty.
As much as New York Mayor Bloomberg wished to sweep Marc Ecko's graffiti party under the rug, a colorful judge, yesterday, armed with the full weight of the first amendment and a wrist-slapping attitude toward the cities efforts to ban the event, Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled in favor of Ecko and required the city to reinstate a permit Ecko had requested for a block party at which mock subway cars will be painted graffiti-style. The event was to promote an Atari video game which would make the event commercial, thus allowing the city greater control over the event but Ecko, Friday, said the game would not be featured at the event making the event fully covered by the First Amendment.
Out legal linguist Bucky Turco sat in on the decision yesterday and tells us the judge "ridiculed the city and scolded them for first amendment violations and for acting outside of their provisional power and authority."
Following criticism by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, his Office of City Affairs revoked a permit granted to Marc Ecko to host an August 24 "block party" to promote a new Atari game called, "Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure." The game features characters who graffiti a city in defiance of corrupt government officials. The event was to center around graffiti artists tagging models of old New York City blue-bird subway cars. When Bloomberg caught wind of the promotion, he said, "Look, there is a fine line here between freedom of expression and going out and encouraging people to hurt this city. Defacing subway cars is hardly a joke. Encouraging people, kids in particular, to do that after all the money we've spent, all the time we've spent removing graffiti."
Certainly, the city does not want to be bombarded with un-approved graffiti but here we have an event created specifically for the artistic expression of graffiti where nothing other than sponsor-paid props are being used as canvas for the artists. Not one bit of city landscape is involved. Sure, it's all about marketing a promoting a game that involves encouraging graffiti. But it's a game. Not real life. There's a difference. Atari and Mark Ecko have provided talented artists with a legal, sanctioned channel through which to create and celebrate graffiti as an art form. Is it really any different that Time Magazine's hiring of COPE2 to paint a sponsor-paid billboard? We think not.
Art seems to express itself whether it is given a canvas or not. In this case, the smart thing for Bloomberg to do, in the long run, is provide that canvas.
UPDATE: Marc Ecko has written an open letter explaining his position in the Comment section.