January, 2013

Vw Super Bowl Spot Is ‘racist,’ Politically Correct Critics Claim

Last year, it was Darth Vader. This year, politically correct critics claim, it’s Jar Jar Binks.

The 2013 equivalent of Jar Jar Binks?

The 2013 equivalent of Jar Jar Binks?

No sooner did Volkswagen release its $7.8 million (air time only), 60-second Super Bowl commercial on YouTube than self-appointed critics started slamming it as “racist.”

The commercial’s premise is that driving a Beetle makes you so happy, it turns you into a laid-back Rasta, complete with Jamaican accent.

‘No worries, mon’

Its lead character, a white-bread office worker originally from Minnesota, goes around telling colleagues things like “No worries, mon, ever’t’ing will be awright,” “Julia, turn dat frown de udder way ‘roun,” and “Don’t be no cloud on a sunny day.” And that was enough to provoke an overnight firestorm of political correctness.

On yesterday’s Today Show, MediaPost editor-at-large Barbara Lippert complained that the spot was guilty of “just saying ‘Black people are happy.’ Didn’t anyone look at this? This is so racist.”

In a roundtable discussion on CNN’s Starting Point, New York Times columnist Charles Blow joined the chorus. “It’s like blackface with voices,” he declared. “I don’t like that.” Read more →

Most Super Bowl Viewers Still Prefer Big Screens


Reports of the death of big-screen television viewing may not be greatly exaggerated, but they are exaggerated, MediaPost reported yesterday.

According to new KPMG research, most viewers want to watch their television shows…on television. “A majority of U.S. consumers — 60% — still want to watch their shows on TV,” says the report, “but these same consumers also want their smartphones and tablets by their side.”

Supplementing, not replacing

This finding backs up what Century 21’s Harris Interactive survey learned about how people will be watching the Super Bowl.

A majority of respondents – 52 percent – opted for regular television sets because of their bigger and clearer picture. But at the same time, 36 percent said they’d also be using smartphones and tablets. Of those, 42 percent will be going to sports apps for additional commentary. And nearly a third of viewers 18 to 54 years old will be discussing the commercials over social media.

Is the Super Bowl different?

You could make a good argument that the way people watch the Super Bowl is different from the way they usually watch television the other 364 days of the year. And you’d be right, because it’s one broadcast where people pay attention not only to the program material, but also to the commercials. Read more →

Careerbuilder Ends Super Bowl Ad Stars’ Careers


To America’s current 12,200,000 unemployed, we can now add about six chimpanzees.

Online employment agents CareerBuilders just laid off the chimps that have starred in its Super Bowl commercials since 2005, Advertising Age reported January 22. And it’s not because they performed on the job like monkeys.

According to VP-corporate communications Jennifer Grasz, the company’s “sitting out” this year’s Super Bowl and pursuing “other marketing opportunities this year, not only promoting the CareerBuilder brand, but also specific products and differentiators.”

This may make sense, because while viewers found their commercials real knee-slappers, the message – if you’re tired of working with monkeys, call us – was just a little bit light on specifics, products and brand differentiation.

Late to the game

CareerBuilder was a latecomer to Super Bowl advertising, getting into the game just when other big players in the category – and Hotjobs – were getting out.

But if audience reaction is any measure, they succeeded where others didn’t – to the extent that, two Super Bowls later, in 2007, when they ran a spot with humans instead of monkeys, consumers demanded a return to the workplace of the apes.

Killed by animal activists

The decision to kill the chimp campaign may have been made under duress. Read more →

For Most Ad Rookies, The Super Bowl’s A Losing Game


If your business has $3.8 million to spare and a burning desire to advertise on the Super Bowl, you’re out of luck. Advertising availabilities are all sold out.

But maybe that means you’re in luck.

Because, according to a January 22 MediaPost report, the Super Bowl’s not kind to first-time advertisers, most of whom never return for a second time.

Red Army tactics

Smart advertisers follow the Red Army’s doctrine for land warfare: Reinforce victory, not defeat. (This is a more aggressive version of the First Law of Holes.)

Marketers who know what they’re doing carefully monitor results so they can avoid wasting money by repeating costly mistakes. So we can reasonably infer that if an advertiser never comes back for a second year on the Super Bowl, it’s because the first year’s buy didn’t work.

That, however, doesn’t keep new ones from trying.

The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history

When Barry Janoff writes at MediaPost that “a Super Bowl spot does not guarantee success,” history suggests he’s making a big understatement. Read more →

What You Couldn’t Have Known About Qr Codes (until Yesterday)

British beach volleyball stars rent out their rears in unique advertising campaign

Marketers spend some $20.6 billion a year on mobile ads, according to Trinity Digital Marketing. A big chunk of it is totally wasted, because the QR codes those ads contain can’t send interested consumers where they’re supposed to.

Sometimes that’s because of boneheaded ad placement – on an underground subway platform or in an in-flight magazine, where there’s no signal, or an an object moving too fast for scanning.

But more often, it’s because, with so many variables – different coding generators, different smartphones, different sizes and scanning distances, to name a few – nobody really knows just how to make sure QR codes are reliably scannable.

Or at least they didn’t, until yesterday.

Dr. Kevin Berisso, director of Ohio University’s Automatic Information and Data Capture lab, has actually been testing these different variables. And though his work’s still in progress, he presented some very useful pointers at yesterday’s ProMat 2013 show:

  1. Know who’ll see your QR code. While millions of Americans use smartphones, some use them more than others. Proportionately, about twice as many Millennials, age 18 to 29, own smartphones (66 percent) as their parents’ generation (34 percent), age 50 to 64. Urban- and suburbanites outnumber rural residents by a 20-21percent margin. (Signal availability may be a factor here.) People with at least some college education are about twice as likely to own smartphones as people who got no farther than high school. So check Pew’s 2012 tracking survey results against your target demographics. Read more →

Thanks Again, Readers!

I hope you’re not getting tired of this. (At least I’m not.)

#1 again

Subway Response To Consumers’ 11-inch Footlong Outrage Comes Up Short.

short sub

When Perth, Australia, teenager Matt Corby measured a Subway footlong sandwich and posted the results on Facebook, he didn’t think he’d be starting a consumer revolution.

But, as MediaPost reports today, “It doesn’t take much to kick off a social-media stampede followed by a mainstream media steamrolling. The question is whether Subway’s response, sincere and honest as it may have seemed, comes across as half baked.”

Making a long story short…

Corby, who works at competing fast food franchise Red Rooster, bought a Subway footlong and measured it with a tape measure. When it measured only 11 inches, he photographed it next to the tape measure and posted it on Subway’s Facebook page with the message, “Subway, plse respond.”

Subway didn’t respond right away, but most of the rest of the world apparently did.

The short heard ’round the world

His post got about 131,000 likes, 5,890 comments and 3,910 shares.

That was only the beginning. Read more →

New Commercial Says Car Parts Make Perfect Wedding Gifts

CarPartsLinens, china and silverware are so passe. A new 30-second Dodge commercial suggests the latest chic, new trend in wedding gifts – car parts.

“Chrysler is trying to redefine a wedding ritual with ‘The Dodge Dart Registry,’ a site that lets engaged couples raise money toward purchasing a new car by asking their friends and family to chip in,” Advertising Age reported yesterday.

A new television :30 started airing to drive traffic.

Give the gift of lug nuts

The commercial tells engaged couples to go to an online “Dodge Dart Registry,” where they can “configure and customize the car, then set a goal for how much money they need in order to make it theirs.”

When that’s done, couples can put the bite on relatives and friends by connecting their wish list to Facebook or Twitter and getting contributions through crowdfunding platform RocketHub.

As the commercial ever so subtly and graciously suggests, Dad can pay for the engine, Grandma the rims, and so on.

Hey, there’s nothing like spark plugs to put the spark in that marriage. Who needs wedding rings when they can get piston rings? And for the millions who still can’t find jobs in our supposedly recovering economy, you can always give the gift of lug nuts. Read more →

Ftc Ruling Pummels Pom Advertising


For over two years, the Federal Trade Commission and POM Wonderful LLC have been locked in legal battle over who was overreaching – POM in making health claims in its advertising or the FTC in exercising authority it doesn’t have.

Yesterday, the full Federal Trade Commission declared the winner was…the Federal Trade Commission.

In 2010, the pomegranite juice makers learned of an impending FTC administrative action alleging that their advertising violated new, stricter standards for health-related claims. The action was supported by consent orders the FTC had won from two other companies – Nestle USA and Iovate Health Systems.

As JDSupraLawNews reports,

POM filed suit in federal district court in September 2010, in anticipation of an impending FTC administrative action. The company challenged what it perceived as agency overreaching, in violation of its First and Fifth Amendment rights, and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The basis of POM’s complaint was the FTC’s use of consent orders with two other companies (Nestle U.S.A. and Iovate Health Systems, Inc.) to establish new and more stringent advertising standards for medical and health claims.

When the FTC waved these consent orders in front of POM (in an apparent attempt to pressure the company into agreeing to tougher standards like Nestle and Iovate), POM responded by thumbing its nose and filing suit in federal court. POM contended that the FTC failed to adhere to the requirements of administrative law that, in order to modify advertising standards, the agency must go through a notice-and-rulemaking process. The FTC subsequently filed its administrative action against the company for alleged failures to adhere to the more stringent standards.

Two years later, US District Court Judge Richard Roberts in the District of Columbia dismissed the lawsuit, on the grounds that complaints against the FTC should be decided by the FTC itself, which, his decision said, was “perfectly capable” of determining, in a perfectly objective and unbiased manner, whether they themselves had violated the FTC Act and First and Fifth Amendments.

In a decision last May, POM won some and lost some. Read more →

Zombies Take A Bite Out Of Super Bowl Ad Costs


There’s good reason to advertise on the Super Bowl; it sends your message to broadcast television’s largest, and most male, audience.

There’s also good reason not to.

For one thing, it’s expensive: a record $3.8 million for 30 seconds – and that’s just for the air time.

For another, it’s national. So if your distribution isn’t, you’re paying to reach consumers who can’t possibly buy from you.

That’s why, as Advertising Age reports today, Time Warner Cable is trying something different – an end run with zombies.

A zombie end run

Characters from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” will invade the Super Bowl broadcast – though technically not the game itself, so all the players are safe from becoming zombie fodder. Read more →