an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Archive for the ‘Health and Science’ Category

Angelsounds Fetal Heart Rate Monitor: Listen to Your Baby

Posted by Rosepixie on June 19, 2010

A friend of mine sent me this set of banner ads for Angelsounds Fetal Heart Rate Monitor.

I have no idea if the second ad is missing a word or if there’s just an extra apostrophe, but the sentence as it is isn’t terribly clear, since either you’re listening to something that isn’t specified or the ad is aimed at the small percentage of people expecting multiple children at once (twins, triplets, etc.).  The image and the placement of the words could indicate that you’re listening to your baby’s footsteps, but if your baby is taking footsteps while in your womb you have bigger things to worry about that what it’s heart rate is!

Basically, I find these ads really confusing.  There might be a perfectly reasonable need for a fetal heart rate monitor at home during pregnancy, but I’m unaware of what it would be.  As far as I knew, you could reasonably go your entire pregnancy only having the fetus’s heart monitored during visits to the doctor and while actually giving birth in a hospital.  I can totally understand a midwife wanting such a device, but I’m not clear on why an expectant parent would need one.

And the one year warranty kind of made me laugh, since I doubt most people would get any use out of this for more than a few months.  I mean, what do you do with it after you give birth?

The friend who sent this to me said that the ad also suggested the device would strengthen the feeling of being a mother.  This also seems odd to me.  It seems to suggest that women need their maternal feelings strengthened and I have to wonder how hearing the baby’s heartbeat through a device is supposed to do that when, presumably, feeling the baby actually kicking your internal organs daily isn’t apparently doing it.  I mean, it seems like the woman who isn’t sufficiently feeling maternal from what she can already feel of her baby as she carries it isn’t likely to be suddenly turned onto the feeling by a blipping on a speaker.

Besides, who’s to decide that a woman isn’t feeling motherly enough?  The ad seems to suggest that it’s aimed at the mother herself, but this does seem more like the kind of thing you get as a gift than something an expectant mother actually buys for herself.  And if you’re giving the gift to help the woman feel more like a mother, that’s somewhat insulting to her.  As if you’re saying “you aren’t motherly enough, so I got this to help you (or maybe make you feel guilty about your lack of motherly feelings)”.

Basically, I can completely understand these devices needing to exist.  I just think that this is a pretty insensitive and thoughtless way of advertising them.  Although, apparently the people making the ads didn’t feel the need to even proofread them, so perhaps thought is asking a bit much.  Still, this feels very callous and money-grubbing.  It could be worse, but that’s never an excuse.

Posted in Electronics, Health and Science | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Camel No. 9: Appealing to Girls

Posted by Rosepixie on June 1, 2010

This is a print ad for Camel No. 9 cigarettes.

Doesn’t this look like a perfume ad? Even the boxes look like they contain beauty products rather than cigarettes.

It also has the same graphic feel as many of the book covers aimed at teenage girls and if you walk through the “girls toys” aisle at your local toy store you’ll find a large number of dolls and other toys in boxes that look a lot like this ad.  That’s a scary thought.  Those packages and book covers are aiming for girls too young to legally smoke and if they are successfully appealing to those markets, why wouldn’t this ad do the same?

Camel clearly intends the ad to be seen primarily by women.  Even the warning included in the ad is one specifically aimed at women, as opposed to the more general warnings usually found on ads for tobacco products.

I have a hard time believing that this ad isn’t specifically targeting a market that it shouldn’t be because of how very similar it is to the marketing of products to young girls.  It’s ads like these that make me skeptical about the tobacco industry’s claims that they don’t market to underage customers today.  This sure looks like it’s marketing to underage customers!

Posted in Health and Science | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Trojan 2Go: Pride and Prejudice

Posted by Rosepixie on May 15, 2010

This is an ad from last year for Trojan 2Go condoms that takes it’s inspiration from, of all places, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

This ad is interesting.  It’s very different in tone from pretty much every other Trojan ad I’ve ever seen.  It’s slow and, while still full of innuendos and physical comedy, a lot more subtle than Trojan commercials usually are.

At first I wondered about the inspiration here – this is a book mostly beloved by women being used as a clear reference but without being cited in an ad that appears to be aimed at men.  After watching it again and considering it, however, I think perhaps the inspiration is well chosen.  This is a story often cited as one of the most romantic of all time (I’m not endorsing or disputing that point of view, by the way, just stating that it is often stated to be such).  It’s more familiar now that perhaps ever before with all of the recent publicity around the movies, Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy, the numerous sequels and basically the mini-industry that has grown out of Jane Austen fandom.  And even though many of her characters have terrible manners, Austen’s stories and the feel of the society they center around is often a shorthand for romantic, polite society.  Since romance and manners are the focus of the selling point in this ad, it’s a logical choice to use Austen’s most famous story as a backdrop.

And I think they handle the odd juxtaposition of condoms and Pride and Prejudice pretty well.  It’s not completely seamless, but that’s almost the point.  Personally, I think it works well.  This is actually one of the most interesting and possibly effective ads I’ve seen from Trojan.

Posted in Health and Science | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Vintage Friday: O.B. – It’s Way You Should Be

Posted by Rosepixie on May 7, 2010

This is a commercial from the 1980s for O.B. tampons.

Ok, so this commercial manages to hit nearly all of my pet peeves for tampon commercials all at the same time!  It’s actually a pretty good jingle – the kind you remember and that gets the product name into your head.  Unfortunately, it contains absolutely no information of any kind.  The voice over isn’t much better.  It tells us about how the tampons are “rolled in layers” (with a helpful little cartoon graphic to illustrate this point), but doesn’t tell us why that’s good.

And through it all, we have women wearing primarily white spandex (one is even in a bathing suit) jumping around doing completely random things (seriously, what’s with the jump-rope telephone?).  Because white spandex and jumping and high kicks are *exactly* what I think of when I think about menstruation.  Not so much.

What this commercial doesn’t do is tell us what the product is for (what’s a tampon?) or why it’s better than any other tampons (yeah, it mentions layers, but not why or even if that makes the product work better).  It says happy, generic things like “keep it simple” and “set yourself free”, but doesn’t explain them.  How is O.B. simpler than anything else?  How does it set you free?  Is it more comfortable?  More reliable?  Cheaper?  Easier to use?  More discrete somehow?  And, again, what exactly is it?  We never see the product or get to hear what exactly it’s for – we just see a picture of the box and a graphic that looks like a blanket being rolled up.  So what exactly is the way we should be?  Because I’m confused…

The best I can figure out is that this is a product that will let me live in a happy two-dimensional black and white line-drawing world where strange things like telephone jump-ropes exist and everyone jumps around and dances all day.  That doesn’t sound like a tampon – it sounds like a drug.  Or maybe a whole lot of alcohol.  Either way, not really the way I want to be.  I like my colorful three-dimensional world.  How about you?

Posted in Health and Science, Vintage | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

U by Kotex: Getting Real with Periods

Posted by Rosepixie on April 27, 2010

If you’ve ever had a period and seen an ad for period products, you probably think they are laughably ridiculous.  They are.  I have no idea who makes those ads or why they think they’re a good idea.  Seriously, people, what is wrong with the whole “feminine hygiene” industry that we can’t even SAY “vagina” or “period” or “blood” or anything else AT ALL in most of these ads?

Apparently Kotex gets it, because they have a totally new approach with their new line called U by Kotex.  Not only are they talking about it, but they’re making fun of the fact that no one else (including themselves) really does otherwise.  Check out some of their great new commercials.

They also did these great “social experiment” ads to show how clueless people are about periods and all things related to them.  They are absolutely fantastic and well worth watching.

It’s just baffling some of the things people say in these videos.  But I have to give U by Kotex major credit for doing all of this.  They have a website full of frank information and discussion, questions and answers, submitted videos and other media from fans and more.

This is an incredible marketing campaign.  It is doing what I haven’t seen a single other campaign relating to anything that goes even near a vagina and is marketed to women do.  This includes birth control methods, whose ads usually don’t even say what the product’s primary purpose is (they focus on things like it making you happy or worry-free or regulating your period or reducing PMS, but rarely actually say anything about preventing conception), yeast infection products (which rarely even say what a yeast infection is and never say where it occurs) and all kinds of period-related products.

This campaign considers women who actually have periods and what it feels like when you’re having one, how varied an experience it can be, and how incredibly ignorant most people are on the topic.  It is definitely trying to sell a product, but it’s doing it by being a little more honest and a lot more real.  How many women actually dance around in white dresses while they’re having their periods?  Not a lot.  And I’ve always wondered about that stupid blue liquid.  It’s not even a useful consistency (unless your blood is blue tinted water, but I’m betting if you pricked your finger and checked you’d find that it isn’t).

Basically, this campaign is making ads making fun of the cultural fear we have of menstruation (which is really nonsensical when you think about it) and, unlike all those ads with perfect women who are still happily doing ballet in white spandex during their periods, U by Kotex is suggesting that it’s ok not to be that way – that you’re perfectly normal if you don’t feel like twirling on the beach in a see-through sun dress when you’re having your period.

And that message of normalcy and it being ok is really important because while there are women who are happy doing those things, there are women who aren’t – and there’s nothing wrong with them.  That’s fine.  Not wanting to wear a bikini even when you have a tampon isn’t weird.  And all the white?  That gets old.  Not wanting to wear white doesn’t suggest you aren’t clean, it just means you’re practical.

But the problem is that we’re discouraged from talking about this stuff – it may be normal and natural, but it’s been deemed “icky” by society so much that it’s seen as more desirable to medically remove ever having a period even if there are problems with doing so for some people than it is to just talk about it openly and make it less scary and mysterious.  And it’s something absolutely not acceptable in mixed company.  How many women do you know who would be willing to openly discuss their periods with a guy?  Even a guy they know well.  I’m guessing not a lot.  And I’m guessing a lot of the guys would rather it stay that way!  But it would probably be healthier for everyone if it didn’t and I, for one, and thrilled that U by Kotex is making a tiny step towards changing it.

Posted in Health and Science | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

5-Hour Energy: Studying?

Posted by Rosepixie on April 10, 2010

Sometimes companies buy ad space that lets them cover up the actual covers of magazines.  Sometimes they make it obvious that the wrapper isn’t the real cover, and sometimes they don’t, because if you can convince someone that their favorite magazine is shilling your product in one of their featured articles, you win, right?

This recent example of this kind of deceptive cover ad is from a recent issue of Maxim and is for the drug 5-Hour Energy.  Here’s what the readers of the magazine saw on the cover:

The page after it was the actual cover. The backside of this fake cover continued the ad:

The product didn’t have any other ads in the issue and, unsurprisingly, no articles were about it (I have no idea if it was mentioned in passing anywhere, but it’s remotely possible, regardless, it wasn’t featured anywhere prominently).

While the cover generally mimics Maxim covers (sexy girl, little else of note), it’s actually not really very much like actual Maxim covers.  For one thing, Maxim cover girls are rarely wearing that much clothing (and when they are, it’s not all properly buttoned up like that).  They wear trashy lingerie and have poses to match most of the time.  And backgrounds of any kind are rare indeed (why distract from the sexy girl?).

All that said, the ad is surprisingly coherent.  It sticks to it’s school theme well.

Still, it’s deceptive, which doesn’t seem like a great move for a product that feels more than a little shady to begin with.  This probably wasn’t the best choice.  The target audience they were trying to reach is likely to be more interested in the girl (and even more interested in the less clothed girl on the real cover on the next page) than bothering to read the information or remember the product.  I don’t like this ad very much, even beyond the sexy girl or the venue it’s trying to mimic.  I think the choice to try and deceive the reader was a poor one and the ad itself isn’t that compelling.

What do you think?  Are deceptive ads like this a good idea?  Does this one work?

Posted in Health and Science | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

H1N1 Vaccines: TXT 4 Info

Posted by Rosepixie on March 23, 2010

This is a billboard for H1N1 Vaccines that a friend of mine saw and snapped a picture of for me.

This is one of the few ads that I’ve ever seen that is written almost entirely in text-speak.  It is asking people to send a text message for information, but it’s still not necessary for the request to have been written in text-speak.  The problem with text-speak is that it is a short-hand which isn’t used by or understood by everyone.  Granted, it’s becoming more and more prevalent every day, but it’s far from universal.

I think that I would find text-speak less objectionable if this wasn’t a public service announcement kind of ad.  In an ad that’s actually selling a product, I expect a certain level of gimmicky attempts to be “hip”.  The problem with putting it in a PSA is that it limits who you reach and with PSAs you want to reach as many people as possible.  It might be a small thing, but it can be more important than people realize.  My grandmother has a serious problem understanding text-speak, yet she both drives and uses a cell phone.  This ad could totally reach her, but I have a feeling that if she saw it she would either be confused or annoyed, which is not the goal.  The details are important, especially when they can so affect the accessibility of your ad!

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Trojan Condoms: Protect the Nation!

Posted by Rosepixie on March 6, 2010

This is an ad for Trojan Condoms that is masquerading as a vintage PSA.

Mostly I found the voice-over in this commercial particularly funny.  It’s such a serious voice and the script is peppered with the least serious words for things (i.e. “boinking”).  I also laughed at the image of Mount Rushmore with condoms falling out of it.

The humor factor goes a long way here because this is actually not a very informative commercial.  There was some factual information given, but mostly it stuck to rhetoric and gimmicks.  I did notice that on the very brief screen where it listed facts about STDs (not the best term, by the way, Trojan, since you’re talking about STIs as much as STDs and I’m pretty sure some of your facts cover both) it listed the percentage of teen girls with STDs (again, I think that’s the STI/STD number, since the STD number alone is much lower), but not any guy-specific statistics.

I think this ad works pretty well, even if it does have some issues.  What do you think of it?

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Vintage Friday: Tylenol

Posted by Rosepixie on February 26, 2010

This is an ad for Tylenol that apparently aired in 1990.

I really wonder how this ad got approved and actually made and aired and everything.  It’s not that it’s a bad video, it’s just that it’s pretty useless as an advertisement.  We not only don’t see anyone using Tylenol, but we don’t get to hear anyone tell us that it works well.  We just see a wife offering it to her husband, who turns it down because he doesn’t have a headache (a good reason) and then she decides to put it away until someone does have a headache.  That may tell us that this family has Tylenol and considers it a remedy for headaches, but we don’t know if any of them have actually ever used it for headaches or if it works.  I mean, people also used to consider tying clay crocodiles to their heads remedies for headaches*, but would you try it without someone telling you it worked?

I guess it just seems like it’s mostly a waste of ad time.  They could have had a commercial in exactly the same time for the same cost that had someone actually suffering from a headache and getting relief from Tylenol or talking about having done so.  Or maybe a doctor discussing how Tylenol is so scientifically proven to help headaches.  Both would be better options.  But instead we get a headache medicine commercial that is completely free of headaches.  Maybe it’s just me, but it seems dumb.

*Seriously, they did.  It was a headache remedy in ancient Egypt and there’s even some science behind it (not the crocodile part, but the part where it puts pressure on your head).

Posted in Health and Science, Vintage | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Head On: Apply Directly to the Forehead

Posted by Rosepixie on February 16, 2010

So today I’m looking at a commercial that’s not so new.  This is a commercial from a few years back for a product called “Head On” which was a Homeopathic mix intended to relieve headaches.  I’ve decided to feature it because it’s such a great example of repetition as advertising.

Annoying, huh?  So here’s the story behind this commercial as far as I know it.  Since there isn’t any data showing that “Head On” (or most homeopathic remedies, actually) do anything at all, the FDA wouldn’t allow the company that made it to actually claim in their ads that it relieved headaches.  Instead of trying to work with that limitation and come up with a decent ad campaign that still conveyed what their product was, they came up with this.  Presumably they figured that just repeating the name a lot would get people to remember it and hopefully buy it.

Now, getting your product’s name in people’s heads is important, but I don’t think it’s enough in this case.  The problem here is that they don’t tell you what it does at all.  For all this commercial conveys, that stick of stuff could be for your skin (reducing shininess? removing wrinkles? who knows), it could be for some specific condition, it could be make-up!  So what is it?  No idea, but evidently you apply it directly to your forehead.  When people have no idea even what something’s basic function is, they aren’t likely to buy it.  If they happen to notice it in a store they might be more likely to pick it up, just to figure out what it is, but since the box isn’t likely to say “for headache relief” (that pesky FDA regulation about things actually having to work again!), that still may not help solve the problem.

While this commercial might reduce the likelihood that people will put “Head On” onto their lips like lip balm, it still isn’t likely to help dramatically increase sales.  Although it is good for inspiring internet parodies!

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