an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Friskies: Giving Cats Hallucinations

Posted by Rosepixie on June 20, 2010

This is a current commercial for Friskies cat food.  My husband and I saw it while watching a television show on Hulu and were both so baffled by it that we had to pause the show and go find the ad on YouTube and watch it again to see if we’d imagined how bizarre it was.  We hadn’t.

Now that I’ve seen this ad a few times, I realize that it’s actually even stranger than I realized on that first viewing.  I have no idea what the people at Friskies were thinking when they made this ad because this seriously seems to tell viewers that Friskies pet food is laced with LSD or some similar hallucinatory drug.  If I had a cat who ate Friskies, I’d switch brands immediately.

The thing is, I’m pretty sure Friskies isn’t laced with LSD (or even with Cat Nip).  It may not be the very best cat food out there, but I don’t think it’s the equivalent of feeding your cat street drugs either.

Still, the commercial shows one seriously messed up cat trip.  It may look all cute, but think about this for a minute.  What’s wrong with that cat?  It’s in a happy fun world filled with it’s favorite food that are all just begging to be stalked and killed – frolicking cat-sized turkeys, ambling cat-size veal on four legs, dancing fish and chickens practically laying themselves out at the cat’s feet.  But what does the cat do?  I would have expected it to chase and probably eat the animals (they’re food, right?).  That’s not what it does.  It lazily strolls among them, almost like they’re it’s friends.  It’s eerie.  Cats don’t do that with prey.  That’s not a cat who realizes it’s in kitty paradise – it’s a cat who’s so strung out that it no longer realizes there are tasty meals dancing around it just begging to be pounced on.  That is not a healthy cat.

Friskies may have been trying to show a happy, wonderful human version of a happy cat, but anyone who actually has a cat will tell you that a real cat wouldn’t be happy like that.  A real cat would go crazy in such a fantasy world where they couldn’t chase the prey that’s everywhere.  And that’s why I have to stick with my original thought that I’d switch brands to something other than Friskies after seeing this, because Friskies clearly doesn’t know cats.

Besides, on the off chance the food is laced with LSD, I’d rather be safe than sorry.


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Coopers Homebrew: Just Add Water!

Posted by Rosepixie on May 16, 2010

This is a magazine ad for Coopers Homebrew All-in-One Microbrewery Beer Brewing Kit.

The text reads:

You’re a man damn it.  Get a man’s hobby.

Brewing beer at home has never been easier.  All you need is a Coopers Microbrew Kit – just add water and wait.

Coopers Homebrew

Brew your own at home.

So I was going to basically ignore the fact that building one of those model train sets – the real ones the hobbyists build, like what’s shown in the picture there, not the pre-fabricated ones you get in kits for little kids that just need to be put in place and they work – are really damn hard to build and take a lot of time, energy and hard work.  But then I realized that was stupid.  People who build those crazy awesome model train sets put in an enormous amount of time and energy on those things.  And money.  Did I mention they get really expensive?  Model trains aren’t cheap.

But apparently a hobby that requires real work and time isn’t “manly”.  Nope.  Manly hobbies are easy involve as little work as possible!  “Just add water” does not strike me as very manly.  It makes me think of all those various kits and things they make for kids that say “just add water!”  You know – you add water to a pill and it grows into a dinosaur shaped sponge!  Or you add water to the top of a plastic volcano where it mixes with powder and you have an instant volcanic eruption in your kitchen!

Actual brewing takes work as well.  It’s actually kind of an art and there are a million different ways you can affect the outcome to get different tasting beer (or ruin the end product entirely).  That’s how so many microbreweries can survive – each makes a different product by doing something slightly different.  And it’s hard work.

See the part about hard work here?  Now, I totally get that model trains aren’t “cool”, but that doesn’t make them not a real hobby.  I guess what I’m saying is that I have a hard time taking this ad seriously when it shows a hobby that’s really hard to do and says it’s not a “man’s hobby” and then says something that’s so easy you “just add water and wait” is a “man’s hobby”.  This makes me think that either they have no idea what they’re talking about or that they have very low opinions of men.

And the saddest thing is that I’m sure this works.  I’m sure that there are men who buy these kits and pride themselves on having more manly hobbies than others because of this kind of message.  And I hate that.

I also have to wonder if the company’s ads are all like this or if they have any that don’t play on masculinity like this, because I’m certain that they’d find a receptive audience for their product if they advertised to women as well – after all, women drink beer too.  If anyone can find me other ads from this company that are less focused on just the narrow-minded manly-men demographic I’d be extremely interested!

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Vintage Friday: Vanish

Posted by Rosepixie on May 14, 2010

Today I have an ad from 1949 for a toilet cleaner called Vanish that I found on a blog.

The text reads:

Social Security Hint

Don’t let the “Ghost of the Past” cast reflections on you!

A “ghost” in your bathroom is socially distressing.  For sure protection against him, use Vanish, the double-action toilet bowl cleaner that (1) deodorizes (2) as it cleans.  Its bubbling action spreads a pleasant fragrance.

New Vanish kills toilet odors as it cleans

The “social security” pun was bad enough, but the drawing makes it look almost like the woman was about to draw on the bathroom mirror with lipstick when she was startled by the ghost holding (weirdly) a miniature outhouse.  Why a miniature outhouse?  Because they traditionally smell bad?  It still seems weird and I had to look at it twice to be sure that I was seeing it correctly.

I think this ad is on the right track, it just sort of missed the mark a little bit.  I actually think the social security joke is perhaps a little too subtle and the drawing is just too busy and strange.  The rest of the text paired with a simple graphic of the can would have been much better!  Still, it’s definitely interesting and caught my attention.

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Cottonelle: Toilet Paper News

Posted by Rosepixie on April 29, 2010

Cottonelle recently came out with this commercial which mimics a television news story.

I found this ad odd.  It’s clearly supposed to be funny in its absurdity, but when local news channels actually do run stories this pointless (and worse) all the time, it’s hard to really just laugh at it.  It also feels a bit disjointed – because they needed to get the plug for the product in, they sort of abandoned the news story partway through, which makes it feel even more pointless.

I think that they were on the right track with the debate idea – if you ask people a question like that or start a discussion about it, people actually will think about it and start to express preferences.  And that might get them to think about their product preferences and remember your name the next time they shop.  Unfortunately, this didn’t talk much about the survey they did or how they responded to it.  They appear to have actually done something to either the product or packaging in response to this survey and that didn’t get talked about here at all!

I think this ad was a wasted opportunity and I found it annoying and disappointing.  Hopefully Cottonelle will manage to do something more interesting than this with the marketing around their new product and the results of their survey.

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Tide: Wash a Flag

Posted by Rosepixie on April 11, 2010

This is a commercial for Tide laundry detergent.

I had no problem with this ad until the line “colors that mean so much shouldn’t fade”.  That line really bothers me.  The line, paired with the imagery and song in the commercial, suggests that anything red, white or blue should be treated reverently, like an American flag (most of which, by the way, fade a great deal as they flap proudly in the breeze hanging in the sun – just compare a brand-new flag with a flag that’s seen a good deal of use and you’ll see what I mean).

The colors of our flag are important, but that doesn’t mean that a red shirt or a blue skirt or even a white dress with red and blue embroidery on the smocked bodice deserve the same reverence.  They’re just clothes, they aren’t a symbol of anything.  The colors are just colors.  Even a shirt with a picture of the American flag doesn’t need to be treated the same as the flag itself – it’s not a flag, it’s a shirt.  You can throw it on the floor when you take it off and you aren’t showing disrespect for anything (just possibly annoying whoever has to clean up after you).

I understand Tide wanting to impress upon consumers that their product won’t make colors fade from fabric, that’s an important consideration for people who care about their clothing and a great selling point for a laundry detergent.  I think it’s kind of reprehensible, however, to suggest that it’s somehow unpatriotic or disrespectful to America to let anything you own that is red, white or blue fade just to make that point.  That not only conflates totally unrelated issues, but it has the potential to further confuse the already often very confused issue of what is and is not disrespectful in regards to flags and all things related to them.

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Mr. Clean: The Other Man

Posted by Rosepixie on March 25, 2010

Last year was Mr. Clean’s fiftieth birthday and to celebrate, the company ran a series of ads based on the belief that women have some kind of romantic attachment to him.  Here’s an example:

Other examples of ads from this campaign pretty much looked the same, but the background color varied and some of the other headlines read:

– Good men aren’t hard to find. Just look in the cleaning aisle

-Strong, clean and performs well under pressure

-A relationship built on stubborn stains and routine cleaning tasks

Apparently, the ad executives hired by Proctor and Gamble (the company that makes Mr. Clean products) really seriously believe that women have some kind of emotional, romantic attachment to this mute, cartoon bald guy who spends his days cleaning floors and toilets.

I’m not sure if I should laugh at this or be insulted.  Seriously, guys, he’s a cartoon spokesperson for a cleaning product and he doesn’t even talk, he just… sparkles.  He’s actually kind of creepy when you think about it.

But clearly Proctor and Gamble think that their primary customers for Mr. Clean are housewife moms (just visit Mr. Clean’s website and you’ll see what I mean) and while I would like to think that they respect this customer base, this ad campaign doesn’t make me feel like they do.  It reeks of the “desperate housewives” stereotype that would have been patronizing in the 1950s and 1960s, but now when fewer and fewer women are housewives at all is downright insulting.

I hate to break it to you guys, but men clean too.  Not that any other cleaning product company seems to know this either, but it’s true.  Women aren’t the only ones who have to scrub floors and toilets nor are they happy when they’re told that it’s their job to do so.  That’s not to say that women don’t scrub floors and toilets, just that they aren’t always the ones to do it and that they shouldn’t be the only ones expected to do it.

And, I’m sorry, but despite what cheesy gift books might say, “girl porn” is not pictures of guys cleaning.  It’s pretty much the same as guy porn, but with fewer big boobs and more hot guys.

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Target: With Muppets!

Posted by Rosepixie on March 7, 2010

This is part of a multi-billboard display featured on Times Square in New York for Target.  I haven’t been able to find the other parts of the display, but I do know that they did not feature muppets.

I’m not sure what exactly you were supposed to do (perhaps the instructions were on another panel?).  My first thought was that you were supposed to text the ten names to Target, but on closer look, I think you’re just supposed to text “Street” to them and I have no idea why.

Still, it’s fun to see the Honkers on a billboard!  How often do Sesame Street characters make major ad campaigns that aren’t specifically aimed at kids?  Not very often (with the exception of Kermit, who is a cross-over muppet and gets to be in everything and appeal to everybody).

I really don’t have anything else to add to this one.  It’s just a billboard that made me smile, so I decided it was worth highlighting.  Sometimes that’s all you need from an ad – to have it make you smile!  So did this one make you smile, too?

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Vintage Friday: Spring Curtains

Posted by Rosepixie on March 5, 2010

This is an ad for new curtains and a matching bedspread from a 1934 catalog.

These curtains certainly do feel like spring with all the flowers and pastel colors.  I’m not sure how widely appealing they are, though.  And the bedspread is more what I would think of for a child’s room now than for an adults, but this ad does not seem to be suggesting that it’s intended for a child’s room at all (in fact, the size of the bed would suggest that it’s intended for a couple’s room).

But the theming is great and they’ve certainly tapped into the idea of wanting to spruce everything up and make everything new for spring.  “Refreshing as the new season!”, “a gay spread… and drapes to match”, and “It’s Springtime… new curtain time!”  They are great phrases to get shoppers excited about the idea of fresh, happy new things for a fresh, beautiful new season.

While I don’t think I’d buy any of these curtains, I think the ad is great.  It’s well laid out and the text works perfectly to convey the excitement of buying new things.  This was also one of the few pages in color in the catalog, which means even more attention was drawn to these curtains!  I wonder how well they actually sold?

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Cheer: Next Time On…

Posted by Rosepixie on February 18, 2010

This is a recent commercial for Cheer, a laundry detergent.

I like that Cheer is trying something different with this ad.  It’s kind of fun.  The doctor holding up the bottle of detergent is a little weird, but the whole thing is over-the-top cheesy that it really doesn’t feel that odd!  I know that a lot of companies that do “story” ads like this one have lately been doing series of them, but I kind of hope that Cheer doesn’t continue this story.  If this ad is part of a series, I hope that it’s a series of completely different stories (different actors, storylines and settings for each one) in the same soap-opera style.  I like that the ad shows what the product is and what it does in a fun way, though.  This is a different and entertaining ad.

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Bounce: Singing Pets!

Posted by Rosepixie on February 4, 2010

This is a recent commercial for Bounce Fabric Softener.

I understand what Bounce was trying to do here with the singing animals.  They’re cute and fuzzy and they’re appealing to the “aw” factor.  The problem is that they’re going for “you love your pets and snuggle with them so their hair gets on your clothes”, yet we’re mostly seeing the pets deliberately being kept away from the people and their clothes.  Not to mention that it was unclear to me if the ferret wanted to be with the person, the laundry, or the fabric softener.

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