an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Mars Chocolate: Healthy Living

Posted by Rosepixie on June 17, 2010

This is a banner ad for a new initiative from Mars Chocolate, the makers of brands like M&Ms, Snickers and Dove Chocolate.

Doesn’t this ad look friendly and well meaning?  Like something you’d see in an educational pamphlet about eating right or at a doctor’s office or something?

Except that the center of the cute Earth-like image at the bottom is a big round piece of chocolate, which isn’t usually the featured food in health-food pamphlets.  And when you go to the website, it’s all about health, how to make sure you’re eating right and exercising.  Oh, and chocolate.  It talks about the history of chocolate and extols the virtues of the chocolate sold by Mars.

The website does a great job of actually not being full of mixed messages, despite being run by a chocolate company.  It’s very up-front about their products and their marketing, actually.  The problem is the banner ad, which isn’t so up-front.  When I first saw it I wasn’t even sure what it was for.  I thought “Mars, the chocolate company?” and “is that chocolate in the middle?” and generally thought it was weird.  Honestly, if it weren’t for this blog, I doubt I would have followed the link to see what it was pointing to.  I was kind of put off by it.

While I appreciate the efforts Mars seems to be going to in order to encourage healthy eating and everything, I can’t help but feeling like this banner ad doesn’t convey their message that well.  It feels almost deceptive, and that’s not something that I would think they’d want, given how the whole campaign is about how they’re trying to go out of their way to be open about the health information on their products!  I just think that there has to be a better way for Mars to advertise this initiative beyond the website.


Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Vintage Friday: Libbyland Dinners

Posted by Rosepixie on June 4, 2010

These are two commercials from the 1970s for Libbyland dinners (TV dinners for kids).

I think it’s cute that they sort of tell a very short story in each commercial featuring recurring characters.  I also like how they mix genres with the pirate ship, the cowboy, and the Snidely Whiplash look-alike villain.

What made me sort of raise my eyebrows at these commercials was “Libby the Kid (that’s Billy the Kid spelled sideways)”.  This would work if Libby wasn’t actually a real name, but it is.  The only thing I can figure here is that for some reason they didn’t want their hero being female.  Maybe they bought into the entirely stupid notion that male characters appeal to everyone while female characters only appeal to girls, or maybe it was even worse and they just couldn’t conceive of a female hero saving the day.  Regardless, the excuse that “Libby the Kid” is a “Billy the Kid” with his name spelled sideways comes off as pretty flimsy if you ask me.

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Hard Rock Cafe: Anyone Can Be Cool

Posted by Rosepixie on May 30, 2010

This is a magazine ad for Hard Rock Cafe.

This is one of those ads that really took me by surprise.  I’m so used to Hard Rock Cafe cultivating the image of being for real rockers – the stereotypical real rockers with colored streaks in their hair and customized guitars and crazy rock star clothes – that I wasn’t expecting to find an ad that actually speaks directly to the people who seem to actually frequent the restaurants most often.  Because although I’ve been to several Hard Rock Cafes, I’ve never seen anyone that looks like that stereotypical rocker there in real life, they’re just in the pictures on the walls.  The patrons were all more like me and my family – middle class suburban families with parents waxing nostalgic about how they used to gush over Elvis and kids marveling at the cool memorabilia on the walls.

But when you get down to it, I’ll be a large number of those parents have some rebellion in their past (isn’t that what most famous rock stars and bands are in their heyday, after all, rebellion of some kind?).  And they remember it.  People don’t just grow up and stop being who they were, they’re just older and have more experience and more responsibilities.  You may spend your afternoons singing along to the Wiggles, but Nirvana will still be your favorite band of all time.  And that’s what this ad is appealing to – those youthful rebellions and secret musical preferences that adults learn to sort of put aside when they grow up because it gives the wrong impression or because it would wake the baby or because their mother-in-laws don’t like it or any number of other reasons.

I think that this is a brilliant ad for Hard Rock Cafe.  It doesn’t let go of the image they want to project, but it reaches out the customers they actually attract, rather than the ones they want to give the impression of attracting.

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Tostitos Restaurant Style Salsa: Innovation in Video

Posted by Rosepixie on May 13, 2010

Today’s ad is a fantastically cool web commercial for Tostitos Restaurant Style Salsa that was sent to me by a friend of mine.  Unfortunately, I can’t embed it here, so you’re going to have to follow the link and go watch it over on Vimeo, but trust me – it’s well worth watching!

And Then There Was Salsa – Tostitos Restaurant Style Salsa Commercial

The content of this commercial isn’t especially remarkable – it’s really the innovative execution and how polished and attractive it is.  I hope we get to see more interesting uses of technology in advertisements like this – it’s almost immersive and engages you in a slightly different way than a traditional commercial does.

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Vintage Friday: Kellogg’s Krumbles

Posted by Rosepixie on April 30, 2010

It used to be fairly common for companies to create paper dolls to use in marketing or advertising their products.  Often these paper dolls featured mascots or modeled clothing from the company, but sometimes they were on a theme and simply used as a device to entice young customers to buy the product in order to collect the paper dolls (the same way McDonald’s encourages kids to buy multiple Happy Meals in a given time span to collect all the prizes from a particular toy line).  For whatever reason, using paper dolls for advertising went out of fashion after a while and no one really does it any more.  Still, many of these dolls are quite interesting.

This one is from Kellogg’s Krumbles (a breakfast cereal) and is of the collectible variety.

The text reads:

Around-the-World Cut-Out Dolls

Get the complete series


Portugal is the land of wine and olives.  Its children have appealing beauty.  Their costumes flash with many attractive colors.

Kellogg’s Krumbles

Why Portugal’s children have any more “appealing beauty” than children from other countries, I have no idea.  I love the costumes, though.  They are colorful and have a surprising amount of detail for paper dolls that were printed on the back of a cereal box!

Companies still use the “collect them all” strategy with marketing gimmicks (cereal still comes with prizes inside, products will come with a website code that reveals a “collectible” item or game, etc.).  There is something simple and appealing about these paper dolls, though, that is hard to find in many modern day collectible marketing items.  They were right on the box so you could choose the one you wanted before you bought the cereal and they were a complete toy that added little to the cost of production – once the paper doll was designed, it just needed to get printed onto a box that would have needed something printed onto it anyway!

I doubt you could convince a marketing company to try this technique today, but it is fun to look back at.  Marketing paper dolls were extremely creative in their hay-day and I may post more at some point.

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Pepsi Max: It’s Still Rape, Guys

Posted by Rosepixie on April 25, 2010

This is a recent commercial for Pepsi Max.

I can’t even tell you how much this ad disgusts me or how absolutely horrified I am that it was considered a good idea by the company.  I have no idea what could have POSSIBLY told them that this commercial was ok, because it’s really, really not.

This ad portrays a group of guys setting up an elaborate ruse to deceive a woman for the express purpose of one of them having sex with her.  Compelling someone to have sex against their will is rape.  I’m not even going to argue that point (and this is one of those posts were I will carefully screen all comments, since rape is a very sensitive subject and some people just plain don’t get, especially on the internet).  We live in a rape culture – the media all around us tells us that women’s bodies are for the taking and that if a man’s not “getting any”, it’s because a woman is withholding it from him.  This encourages and gives something of a free pass to men’s attempts to coerce women into “putting out”.  And women give in because they’re told they should.

To create a commercial that shows guys tricking a woman who has explicitly said “no” like this and then dancing about their success at the end is to glorify rape.  I really can’t find any other way of reading this one.  I’ve tried.  No means no and if you then trick her into it, it just makes you an asshole.  Pepsi, you totally fail this one.  I hope it comes back to bite you.

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Brothers Bar: No Music School

Posted by Rosepixie on April 8, 2010

In Madison, WI the Brothers Bar is on land that is going to be used for a new University of Wisconsin Music School.  There are legal reasons the university can take the land, but it’s all a legal mess I haven’t taken that much time to sort out.  Anyway, the bar, which is part of a national chain and thus not even a local institution or anything, is losing it’s location.  There isn’t any reason they couldn’t buy a new location and reopen a few yards away, but that particular lot is being used for the new music school which the University has been trying to create for quite some time.

Brothers Bar, however, thinks this is incredibly unfair and put up this (overly large and thus illegal) sign to protest the school.  [Thank you to my friends in Madison for taking this picture!]

It really does hang down over basically one whole side of the building.  What I found especially odd about this poster was not it’s existence or the fact that the bar clearly believes that not only should the music school not be where it currently stands, but shouldn’t exist at all, which is more than a little childish and stubborn (wouldn’t it have seemed more reasonable to say “ok, we love the idea of you building a music school because it’s totally needed, but we love our space, so could we work with you to find another location for it?”).

No, what seems odd to me is that they chose to put a target on the side of their building.  Presumably the building will be knocked down and replaced with something more appropriate for a music school (something with specially designed acoustics and many sound-proofed practice rooms, ideally).  So, in theory, the target makes sense from the point of view of wanting to destroy the building.  And perhaps it’s there to remind people of the immediacy of the issue and the realness of the building going away.  But mostly it just looks like they painted a target on their own building.

That and the fact that their customer base is largely made up of students, many of whom play music and might actually want a music school, especially since it isn’t replacing any of the other departments, makes this poster seem very ill-considered.  I think there could have been some good ways for them to protest this decision, and even some ways to get their customer base involved, which would have been great since their student customers are involved in both sides of the argument, but I really don’t think this poster was the way to do it.  This makes them look like whiny, petulant children, which can’t be helpful in their cause.  I have to hope that they have better tactics than this.

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Fat Ass: So Many Issues…

Posted by Rosepixie on March 21, 2010

This is an ad for Fat Ass Tequila and was found in a magazine.

The text reads:

Sexy, Nice Body, Delicious and Smooth…

And the model isn’t too shabby either…

Fat Ass Tequila

Can anybody guess what I noticed first about this ad?  It’s a model of color!  In this case, I’m not sure that’s so complimentary, though.  This ad is really pretty mean to the model and she was clearly chosen pretty much exclusively so they could show off how nice and round her butt is.  And stereotypes say that women of color have bigger and better butts than white women, so OF COURSE the model is a model of color!

I understand that the name of this product makes this kind of ad really easy, but is it really necessary to actually pick on the model?  Can’t they sell their product on the basis of fat asses being a good thing, being attractive and something desirable?  Make the model look hot and celebrate how hot she is as she drinks your tequila.

Oh, and is it just me or does the bottle look really Photoshopped in to this picture?

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hillshire Farms: Pony!

Posted by Rosepixie on March 4, 2010

This is a commercial for Hillshire Farms deli meat.

I really like this commercial.  It has the typical things kids like to trade their lunches for (cookies, pudding and candy are generally considered better than lunch meat sandwiches in the school lunchroom trading game), but then it’s got the pony at the end.  And really, if you were offered a pony for your sandwich, wouldn’t you trade it?  I find this extra amusing since several of my friends are always asking for ponies from waiters.

As an advertisement it works because it’s fun and keeps your attention, but also cleverly conveys the idea that the sandwich (and thus the lunch meat it’s made of) is worth all the great stuff being offered for it.  It is also nice that it’s kids doing the trading because not only is it a situation a lot of people recognize (trading at lunch is something many people remember doing), but it suggests that this is a product even kids like.  And yet the ad doesn’t feel aimed at kids or parents particularly, so it’s not too focused.  It does a great job staying on message, being entertaining and being relevant for a wide audience.

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Vintage Friday: Biscuits Lefevre-Utile

Posted by Rosepixie on February 19, 2010

This is a French poster advertising biscuits from 1897.

I love this poster. It’s so needlessly pretty.  I mean, did they really need such a lavish image to advertise biscuits?  Probably not.  But, on the other hand, why not have one anyway if you can?  Companies don’t really think that way anymore.  I just love the colors and the way the woman is posed.  She’s clearly showing off the plate of biscuits, but she’s as much on display as it is.  I think the details are interesting and wonder why the artist chose them.  Her hair is so elaborately decorated with poppies and her dress drapes so beautifully, but she’s got bare feet.  It’s just such a beautiful design!  I wonder where it was intended to hang and how effective it was as an ad.  Today it’s just a pretty piece of art, but once it was really intended to sell biscuits.  Do you think it likely worked?

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