Madison, Wisconsin, a city that has long shunned outdoor and in-school advertising may, in the face of spending caps and citizen's unwillingness to pay more taxes, give in to the easy money made possible through advertising. School officials, while loathe to do so, are revisiting the possibility of gleaning revenue through school-based advertising. Madison residents have always snubbed their noses at advertising with Alderman Mike Veneer calling bus shelter advertising "gross" and ruinous the the city's ambiance.
Displaying complete insensitivity to the cities mindset or freedom to decide whether or not advertising is an integral part of the community, Adams Outdoor Advertising General Manager Chris Eigenberger says it's "humorous" that Madison residents hold their city to higher standards than other cities that allow more advertising and said, "That to me is just arrogance and not thinking properly." Hey, Chris, there's this thing called democracy. Heard of it? It has to do with people having a bit of choice in how they live their lives and how the communities in which they live operate.
Following Thomas Early, who got 14 months in prison, Siefert will be tasting the inside of a cell as well and, quite humorously, as part of her sentence, will have to draft a written code of conduct for the advertising industry. Eighteen months in prison ought to remove any versions of adver-babble that might remain in her brain.
The proliferation of ad creep has made it far too easy for institutions in need of money to turn to marketers for relief. Naming building and stadiums was once taboo. Now, it's odd if a sports arena is not named after a marketer. A school in New Jersey sold the naming rights to its gymnasium to local grocery store Shop-Rite and now an elementary school in suburban Detroit is considering courting marketers to name its new school.
The International Dairy Foods Association is running ads, based on recent Dairy Council-funded research, claiming milk can help people lose weight. Just as we were ready suck down our Venti-monstrous double cream, caramel and mocha laced latte topped with a dollop or all natural, cream-drenched vanilla ice cream, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ruined our dairy orgasm by petitioning the FTC and FDA stating the Dairy Council weight loss claims are false and misleading.
The International Dairy Foods Association is standing by its claims. IDFA Spokeswoman Susan Ruland told the New York Times, "We are extremely conservative and careful in the claims we suggest. We spent years looking at what was going on in the science and what was fair to say."
General Mills Spokeswoman Beth Thorsgard, who supports a Yoplait campaign which claims eating three servings a day will get you into your "itsy bitsy, teeny weeney, yellow polka- dot bikini," said the physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine are a "radical, fringe organization that promotes vegetarianism."
Check out the New York Times article for the full scoop.
Commercial Alert is a bit upset the U.S. Department of Agriculture, yesterday, rejected a petition (pdf) asking the government group to enforce its own rules which prohibit public schools from selling "foods of minimal nutritional value," otherwise known as junk food. The petition asked for, among other things, monthly certification by schools that they are abiding by USDA guidelines, annual audits by state agencies to insure guidelines are being followed, adherence to guidelines as a critical area of review for school food authorities, adherence to guidelines an integral part of Food and Nutrition Service review of state agencies and USDA management control over compliance with guidelines.
Commercial Alert Executive Director Gary Ruskin isn't pleased. "It is outrageous that the USDA is refusing to enforce its own rules against selling junk food in public schools. They have turned their back on American children, who are suffering from an epidemic of obesity." While no one is forcefully placing the mouths of children on the dispensing area of vending machines, temptation is hard to resist.
Even though a U.S. District Court ruled, earlier this week, Gillette's M3Power advertising claim, "stimulates hair up and away from skin," is unproven by Gillette research, the razor giant, snubbing the court and competitor Schick, will continue to use the "up and away" phrase in its advertising.
Humor. Heard of It?
Last Month a KFC ad, showing call center workers singing with their mouths full to promote KFC's Zinger Crunch Salad, which ran in England garnered a record 1,671 complaints to the country's Advertising Standards Authority because many felt it would cause bad manners among children. At the time we said that was ridiculous and wondered if the human race was losing its sense of humor. Today, the ASA has agreed with us stating it did not agree with those that lodged complaints and that the ad was unlikely to cause bad manners. Parents teach manners. Commercials don't. There's a difference.
In a welcome sign of common sense and support for unbiased journalism, American Business Media and with clear reference to the recent negative editorial policies issued by Morgan Stanley and BP, issued a press release Wednesday urging member companies and 4,500 business to business publishers to reject any attempts by marketers to influence journalism with threatening policies. In the release, ABM President and CEO Gordon T. Hughes said, "Overtures or threats made by advertisers to pull ads with intent to steer content, or advertiser requests to review content prior to publication, undermine universal journalistic ethical standards."
Kudos. Bravo. Thank you, Gordon.
Citing video news releases, product placement and interactive television aimed at children, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has asked the FCC to expand its investigation into product placement disclosure and strengthen guidelines. As reported in As Age, Adelstein told the Media Institute, "People out there are frustrated by what they see as fake news and relentless marketing. The use of covert commercial pitches is penetrating deeper and deeper into our media."
While our normal pithiness calls for us to poke fun at government agencies creating rules that assume people are stupid and can't figure things out for themselves, we, believe it or not, feel some control is warranted. Advertising, because of people's increased ability to ignore it, is getting desperate. very desperate. A roadblock buy once meant buying every spot on every network during a single time period or plastering posters over an entire subway station. It now means, literally, creating an advertising barrier so intense, so pervasive one would have to leave the solar system to avoid an ad. It's reached the point on insanity as marketers, who are not entirely at fault since they are faced with intense media fragmentation and consumer control over media, grasp for any and all possible means to get their message in front of potential customers.
While inviting the government into things is not always the best solution, something, anything is needed to guide the advertising beast as it relentlessly seeks eyeballs with cash.
While Commercial Alert's Gary Ruskin says, "Good luck," cell phone providers have adopted a set of guidelines, Consumer Best Practices Guidelines for Cross-Carrier Mobile Content Services, which is intended to place limits on marketer's use of the cell phone as an advertising medium. The guidelines call for double opt-in to promotions, how people are charged for air time and wording people can use to opt in or out of promotions. Even as the guidelines are adopted by all major U.S cell phone companies, Ruskin believes cell advertising will, none the less, proliferate and cause a backlash similar to those that have occurred in Europe where the medium is more established. Ruskin is particularly concerned over the guideline's allowance of opt-in list sale to third parties.