an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Levi’s Friends Store: Find Out What Your Friends Wear

Posted by Rosepixie on June 15, 2010

Facebook has opened up all sorts of marketing opportunities for companies and many are taking advantage of these opportunities.  Some are finding creative ways of incorporating Facebook’s tools and capabilities into their marketing while others are just trying to make the best of the tools as they are presented.  One company that has incorporated Facebook’s “like” button into their own website in a rather intense way is Levi’s.  They’ve set up two special Facebook stores – one an “Everyone” section in the “Friends Store” store (apparently everyone is your friend, they’re just friends you don’t know):

This part of the store shows you everything anyone has recently “liked” from their catalog (apparently they’ve put “like” buttons on everything).  This is, apparently, where to look to simply find out what the most popular styles are in general, since it’s probably going to show you entirely the opinions of a bunch of strangers.  And if you “like” something from Levi’s, it’s where your opinion will be shown to a bunch of strangers.

But if you want to know what just your friends like, you can click on the “Friends” part of the “Friends Store”:

So, I didn’t log in to find out if my friends had any opinions about Levi’s (although I’m doubting that they did, since my friends aren’t really the type to go through an online catalog and “like” the styles they like).  Presumably, though, this is the page where I get to see what I should be wearing to be more like, or more likable, by my friends.

If you doubt my interpretation that this is marketing that’s trying to get people to all dress the same as their friends, check out the marketing for the marketing campaign:

The text reads:

Like-minded shopping starts here.

Because they don’t want you to be thinking about dressing individually, they want you dressing in their most popular style and then peer pressuring your friends into all dressing in it too.  Which is incredibly creepy.

And this is part of why I don’t like the idea of Facebook knowing everything I buy online.  I don’t want companies using what I buy to try and pressure my friends into buying it too.  I think that my life is more interesting because my friends aren’t me.  I know me.  I am me.  I already have a me in my life.  Why would I want more mes?  That would be colossally boring!  My friends are each their own person with their own likes, dislikes and styles and I like it that way.

So, Levi’s, I get what you’re doing with this campaign, but clones are boring.  Besides, doesn’t this completely conflict with their whole individuality message from the “Go Forth” campaign?

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

Movie Monday: Killers

Posted by Rosepixie on June 14, 2010

This is a trailer for the movie Killers.

What bothered me most about this trailer was that it didn’t tell us the major point of the movie (that the guy is a spy or something like it) until more than half way through the trailer!  I have trouble believing that the movie is divided that way, since a movie that is a romantic comedy until a little beyond the half-way point and then turns into a guns-explosions-and-car-chases action comedy doesn’t sound like the most balanced or enjoyable movie (and Hollywood likes things to fit into neat little genre boxes and that, clearly, doesn’t do so).

So why does the trailer portray it that way?  If it’s an action comedy, which is what I’m guessing it actually is, why is the trailer mostly focused on the romantic meeting and getting together part at the beginning?  That kind of feels like a trailer for Betwitched that spent half it’s time focused on how Samantha and Darren met and fell in love and then more than half-way through told us that Samantha was a witch and showed some clips of her trying to use, but also hide, her powers.  See the problem?  It wouldn’t really be a trailer for Betwitched, it would be a trailer for the opening sequence of the first episode of Betwitched.

I don’t want a trailer to tell me the whole movie before I go and see it, but I do want it to give me some idea of what I’m getting into.  This doesn’t feel like it’s doing that, since it left me wondering what I actually should expect from Killers – a romantic comedy that happens to have some guns, or something more like Mr. and Mrs. Smith which was a spy/action movie that happened to have some romance in it.

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Meanwhile: A Book of Many Paths

Posted by Rosepixie on June 13, 2010

This is the cover of the book Meanwhile by Jason Shiga.

I love this cover.  I think that it does such a great job of conveying the idea of there being multiple choices and paths throughout the book without being overwhelming.  It also works well with the title, since the images aren’t really aligned sequentially at all, so it’s easy to read them happening at overlapping times.  The character in the middle ties it all together, keeping the cover from being too visually busy, and again helping to convey that there is a lot going on and he needs your help!

Books where the reader gets to make choices and direct the story are so much fun, but it’s hard to convey the concept on the cover.  Most cover designers never even try – they just put a regular cover with an illustration of a scene from the book and the title, series and author information.  This one, however, manages to have all the required information on the cover and convey the style the book is in at the same time.  Since this is a children’s book, it’s even more likely that the readers who come across the book are going to be unfamiliar with this type of book, so the fact that it’s somewhat evident from the cover what the general idea is helps a lot.  It’s also bright and the art style is unique and eye-catching (it’s not a style we see often on book covers).

As a cover, I think this works great.  It tells you about the book and about the experience of reading the book – both important pieces of information.  It also grabs your attention right away and makes you wonder what’s going on (I certainly want to know what’s happing in some of those little pictures!).  As marketing for this book, I think this cover is fantastic.  The “Choose Your Own Adventure” series and others like it could learn a lot from this cover!

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Microsoft Kin: Justifying Online Stalking

Posted by Rosepixie on June 12, 2010

This is an ad for the Microsoft Kin, a smartphone aimed at young customers.

This ad really bothers me.  While the social experiment element of the whole thing is an interesting idea in theory, the reality of sending a young woman out to actually meet people she knows very little about for certain (if anything) is a very dangerous prospect.  And why they chose this particular meeting to showcase their experiment is just beyond me.

Here’s the thing – Rosa explains pretty well why Matty’s behavior towards her online is problematic without getting into the dangerous and triggery possibilities of it.  She says that it’s creepy and sounds as if she sort of regrets having accepted his friend request.  Matty clearly doesn’t have any idea why his behavior is problematic, or even that it is.  He seems to think it’s a great thing because it means it easier for him to “pick up girls” without any risk to him – he can sit at home “half naked” and he believes that he has the “magical words” to start a conversation and get to know someone in a way that he couldn’t do in person.  But is it a “nice” conversation if it’s begun by objectifying the girl (and clearly creeping her out) and has pretty much exclusively the purpose of “picking up” the girl?  He doesn’t mention getting to know her until he’s talking to her in person, which he clearly never expected to actually happen!

When she walks up to him and confronts him about the behavior, he clearly still doesn’t get it.  He justifies it and says it’s just a way of getting to know someone.  He also accuses her of cutting off the contact without giving him a chance and of inviting it in the first place by accepting the friend request.  He says “how else am I going to meet you?”  And you know what, she seems to accept responsibility for it.  He doesn’t.  At all.

And that’s how rape culture works.  That may sound extreme, but if you go back to early in the ad when she was describing Matty before they met you’ll hear that she said he was the online equivalent of a construction worker hollering at a pretty girl walking by, and that kind of thing is very recognized as part of rape culture.  Check out HollaBack if you don’t know what I’m talking about here.  It’s also very indicative of rape culture in that the person performing the action here (the guy making the overtures) is not determined to be at fault, but rather the girl is determined to be at fault because she somehow “invited it”.  But she didn’t ask him to hit on her this way – he did it under his own power.  He could have approached her in conversation many other ways that would have been not creepy and more likely to invite her to get to know him (and to let him get to know her).  But that doesn’t seem to have even occurred to him.

This is just such a problematic ad.  They could have done so much with this concept that could have been interesting and appealing, but instead they came up with this ad which mostly taught me that people are scary and Microsoft thinks that’s a good thing.  Sorry, but that doesn’t encourage me to buy your products.  I think this is a horribly irresponsible ad and am pretty disgusted that Microsoft came out with it.

Posted in Electronics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Vintage Friday: Ride-Sharing with Hitler

Posted by Rosepixie on June 11, 2010

This is a poster advocating ride-sharing from World War II.

The text reads:

When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!

Join a car-sharing club today!

Is it just me, or does this poster seem a bit… overdramatic?  I mean, it was definitely a worthwhile thing to get people to think about and do during the war, but doesn’t the phantom Hitler seem a bit much?  It just seems like the issue could have been portrayed seriously, simply and memorably in a more positive (maybe less scary) way.  Maybe showing that car-sharing helps keep troops fighting or something.

And is it just me, or does Hitler look kind of upset?  When I first saw this poster I thought he was crying, but now I don’t think he is, I think he just looks very upset.  If the guy driving the car by himself is helping Hitler, shouldn’t Hitler be happy about that?  The driver, on the other hand, looks pretty content… despite the phantom Hitler riding shotgun.  I’m not sure the artist of this poster really understood the concept here…

Posted in Advocacy, Vintage | 1 Comment »

Toyota Prius: Nature People

Posted by Rosepixie on June 10, 2010

This is a recent ad for the Toyota Prius.

So this is one of those commercials that I had to watch a couple of times before I really had any idea what to say about it.  I’m beginning to feel like car ads are more about the gimmick in the ad than about the car itself.  Maybe it’s a bet between car ad designers or something – whoever can get away with the most random thing in their commercial wins!  I don’t think this is winning (I’m guessing the current front runner is either one of Kia’s ads or something from Asia), but it’s certainly weird.

The problem here is that this ad is so busy distracting viewers with the weird people-as-nature thing (which, by the way, strips actual nature out of the picture entirely) that it doesn’t really tell us anything about the car.  We get some vague statements said by a voice that is typically the kind giving us information, so I think they’re hoping we’ll think it’s information, but “more power and less smog” is not actually informative.  It’s fuzzy and unspecific.

And the people, randomly popping up like the munchkins from the beginning of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, give more of an impression that the car is creating nature than that it’s helping to preserve it.  That is definitely a confusion of message as well.

This is just such an odd ad.  It feels like it should be selling something far less serious than a car.  I’m not sure what it would be selling, actually.  Flower costumes, maybe?

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

HTY Gold: How Old?

Posted by Rosepixie on June 9, 2010

This is a magazine ad for a product called HTY Gold that promises to reduce the crepe-paper appearance of aged skin.

The text on the left side of the ad reads:

Prevent and conquer dry, wrinkled, crepe-paper skin!

Hide the Years: HTY Gold

The all-natural solution for aging skin… worth it’s weight in gold!

– No Chemicals, Preservatives, Fragrances or Parabens

– Rich in powerful antioxidants, HTY Gold truly reverses time’s aging effects on your skin

– HTY Gold is the only skin cream you need!  …the only product of it’s kind that alleviates shriveled crepe-paper skin on your face and body.

This ad comes with lots of fuzzy, rather unspecific promises.  What I noticed first about it, however, was the pictures.  The pair of images partway down the right-hand column of the ad showing two arms, one labeled “treated” and one labeled “untreated” seem appropriate for this product.  The untreated arm does indeed display the crepe-papery skin commonly seen on older people (I remember my 90 year old great aunt’s arms being very much like that).

The image above that before and after set, however, seems somewhat out of place.  It shows a tight close-up of a smiling model’s face.  Presumably she’s a happy customer, right?  Except that she appears to have perfect, youthful skin and be perhaps in her 30s, which is much too young to be likely to have crepe-paper arms like the ones shown just below her.  Not that we get to see her arms, of course, because the bit of arm in the picture is covered by a very chic sleeve.

So who is this product aiming for and what is it promising?  It sounds like a product for older people promising to help improve their skin and help them look and feel younger, but it shows a woman much younger than that suggesting they are either promising more than they could possibly offer (unless this is magic genie-cream) or that they are hoping to sell their product to younger women who don’t really need it.  Either way, it seems like a bad marketing decision to have chosen this model or image for this ad.

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

Haagen Dazs Help the Honey Bees: Disappearing Dancers

Posted by Rosepixie on June 8, 2010

This is an ad from a campaign by Haagen Dazs (the ice cream makers) to raise awareness of disappearing honey bee populations and encourage people to donate to research programs aimed at understanding what’s going on and reversing it.

I think that this is an interesting ad.  It’s part of an advocacy campaign, but spends almost no time explaining its cause.  At the end of the ad it tells us that honey bees are disappearing and asks us to help, but it doesn’t tell us anything about why this is an important issue or how we can help.  It’s clearly trying to get people’s attention and trying to be cool, but is it succeeding?  After seeing this ad do you remember the cause or do you remember people dancing around dressed as honey bees?  I’m guessing more people remember the dancers than remember the  cause.

So does this kind of ad help?  Well, it probably doesn’t hurt, but I’m not sure that’s actually helpful.  It clearly cost a fair amount of money to make this ad (it uses a good number of real actors/dancers, bee costumes, a set, etc.).  That isn’t to say the money was wasted or that another ad wouldn’t have cost just as much, but if you spend a certain amount on an ad that only manages to attract a small amount of donations (which is the only way the website suggests people can help), I have to wonder if it was worth it.  Is there another ad they could have made that would have been more effective?  Possibly.  I doubt it’s easy to get people to understand it importance and urgency of this cause.  Until it effects them, may people are likely to consider it just another campaign to protect animals.  And a lot of people don’t like bees and may not realize there are different kinds.

So I appreciate that this has to be a hard campaign to advertise for.  I’m just not sure I agree that this ad is the best approach.

Posted in Advocacy | 1 Comment »

Movie Monday: Eat Pray Love

Posted by Rosepixie on June 7, 2010

This is a poster for the upcoming movie version of Eat Pray Love.

I stared that this poster for a long time before deciding to talk about it here.  The thing is, this poster bugs me.  A lot.  And it took me a while to figure out exactly why.

It’s the nun.  I don’t think that the nun belongs in this poster.  In fact, I think she’s there deliberately and it bugs me even more now that I realize she’s the problem here.  The thing about Eat Pray Love is that it’s a memoir very specifically divided into three sections: eat, pray and love.  Each one follows the author’s journey to a different country and focuses very much on a different thing.  “Eat” focuses on her travels to Italy and, obviously, is in large part focused on her explorations of different dishes and foods.  “Pray” focuses on her travels to India and her spiritual quest there, which is not (obviously, since it’s in Italy and not the Vatican City) centered around Catholicism.  “Love” takes place in Indonesia and tells about her taking a lover there.

I’m pretty sure the nun is in this poster so that Julia Roberts eating gelato isn’t just representing the “eat” portion of the story, but that the poster can also evoke the “pray” part.  The problem is that it’s deceptive and makes me suspicious of the movie’s adaption of the book.  It’s deceptive because it suggests that “pray” has something to do with the Christian religion, which it doesn’t really.  It makes me suspicious because I have to wonder if Hollywood changed the story so that it does.

This may all sound like nitpicking, but in a country full of people who assume that the world is Christian and nothing that isn’t Christian is religious this kind of message is powerful.  Even subtle messages matter (hopefully if you’ve been reading this blog for a while that isn’t a new idea), and subtle message that I got from this poster was a continued marginalization of anything that wasn’t Christian.  There are so many ways they could have evoked Italy and food without Christian imagery and ways they could evoke India and her spiritual journey as well, but this is what they chose?  I just find it frustrating and disappointing.  We can do better and we should expect better.

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

New Mexico: Where’s the Video?

Posted by Rosepixie on June 6, 2010

This is a travel commercial for New Mexico focusing on the construction of “Spaceport America”, the first commercial spaceport.

I really have to wonder about this commercial.  It’s an official commercial, but it really doesn’t feel that way.  It feels… well… frankly, fake.  Where’s the video footage?  This is a video commercial, guys!  You can give us more than just still photographs of the space port being built!  Still photographs are kind of boring in this context and when paired with the extremely excited announcer, seem really odd.  His enthusiasm would feel far less silly if there was moving footage of an actual spaceport being built going on behind him (this would also make his hard hat seem less pointless).

The thing is, a spaceport that you can actually visit and tour is a pretty cool tourist attraction.  Since such things have typically been exclusively the property of governments and mostly housing secure or sensitive projects, they aren’t usually places you can really tour in any meaningful way.  So a commercial spaceport that is not so tightly locked down at every turn and where consumers can actually see what’s going on in more areas is a pretty cool thing.  Space and space travel are things we still find fascinating, so it’s absolutely worth using as a tourist draw if you can.

This commercial is just so very weak.  It wouldn’t take that much effort to make a more dynamic and interesting video that could actually get people excited.  I guess I just can’t understand why a video that’s actually boring and kind of makes the announcer look ridiculous was even released when they could have spent just a little more time and made a much better one that either didn’t have those problems or minimized them considerably.  This isn’t a video that’s going to help with tourism much, but a good commercial about how exciting it is that there’s a spaceport that you can visit and eventually even use yourself definitely might!

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