Sometimes I just love advertising

If you haven’t seen this Axe commercial about dirty balls you’re missing out. It’s (fairly) safe for work and cracks me up every time I see it. And the absolute complete silence during the shot where the moderator is examining a couple of golf balls is priceless. Enjoy.




Bad advertising, courtesy of Burger King

Burger King Ad

I came across this not long ago and sometimes I’m just lost for words.  Not only did a creative team come up with this idea, such as it is, they actually had the stones to take it their creative director. That CD then took it the account rep. Finally, once all was said and done, the agency gathered up their storyboards and mock-ups and pitched it to the client.

Who, for reasons passing understanding, somehow said yes.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m a former Marine and a long-time bartender, so sketchy humor is essentially part of my genetic make-up – so I’m not offended with the ad. At least not in the traditional sense. I’m simply left, pardon the pun, with a really, really bad taste in my mouth.

I’v said this before, and I’ll no doubt have countless opportunities to say it again, but there is some absolutely horrible advertising out there. Ads that don’t really do much more than lean on a dick joke to one degree or another and then exit stage left.

And maybe most people don’t expect much more. They’re just ads, right?

Except they’re not. Not when they’re good. There are some absolutely phenomenal ads that have been written and produced that not only manage to make us think, or smile, or talk to one another; they represent a business or product in such a way that we consumers choose to do business with them. Gladly.

But doing both is hard, and because of that you get crap like the Burger King ad pictured here. On the other hand, you can find an example of a banner ad that rocks here. What are some great/horrible ads you’ve seen?

Great advice, no matter what the decade

A wonderful, sassy designer I work with here at Hoover’s named Sarah (you can find her site by clicking on the “What’s on my mind” link in the Blogroll to the right) sent me a link to an ad she thought I might like a while back. I certainly did, and thought about it over the weekend. Given the constant, mind-numbing bad news we hear every time we turn the dial or watch the news, I thought you might enjoy the following:


You can find the actual ad here or the overall site, Ads of the World, here. There’s some really funny stuff if you have the time.

Seven things…part two

Assuming part one didn’t bore you to tears, here’s part two…

My first duty assignment in the Marines was with the 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, Camp Hansen, Okinawa. It was at that unit I learned, thanks to a large block of the substance thrown into my chest, that C4 is one of the more stable explosives. For anyone whose familiarity with Okinawa ends with Karate Kid, it’s an island, a prefecture (state) of Japan, and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I’ve often considered going back as a civilian and spending a couple of weeks getting reacquainted. If for no other reason, in a little hole-in-the-wall kitchen called “Mama’s Cooking,” you’ll find absolute bliss in a bowl: Taco Fried Rice with Cheese.

After the Marines I worked my way through college bartending and, in addition to my coursework,  learned the difference between ale and a pilsner, the proper use of a Muddler, and the art of the thirty second conversation. Far too many stories, too many interactions, too many moments, to try and choose one that stands out here. Maybe a series of posts another day if anyone’s interested. Instead, I have a question. This occured easily twice a week and in all the years behind the bar I never came up with a good explanation. Just what the hell prompts people to have sex in the bathroom?

After graduation I had some truly great clients as a freelance writer, but without doubt the darkest, most grueling experience during those years was developing a campaign of print ads for a local funeral home. No kidding. I’m an immersion kind of writer when it comes to advertising. Meaning, I try to learn as much as I can about the company, product, service, and so on that I’m writing about. And having that kind of information rolling around in my head for months was just plain rough. Add to that the almost weekly on-site client meetings and I don’t think I’ve ever been as grateful to see a job finished.

As a writer, I have the good fortune to have  job that’s challenging, pays a decent wage, and I love to do. But the reality is that in many ways, it’s still a job. That’s part of the reason for this blog, by the bye – it gives me the opportunity to stretch and have fun with writing in ways I just can’t do at work.

But when I really want to get creative and shake off the cobwebs I actually shut the computer down. Instead, I stand up, change clothes, then go out to the garage. And build things. Taking a few pieces of oak and shaping and molding and coming away with a piece of furniture friggin’ rules. The picture below (an Amish style step stool) is the current project. A little more sanding and  some finish work and she’ll be good to go.


Right. So that’s seven things you may or may not have known about me. Now, according to the MEME, I’m supposed to give you the opportunity to learn seven things about seven other folks. The problem there is I just don’t know 7 bloggers who haven’t already participated. So, four will have to suffice. What the list lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality.

Sarah – What’s on my mind
Designer extraordinaire, Sarah is one of those people who does a great job of mixing professional insights with personal stories, and does so with a sweetness that’s decidedly hers.

Dan – Post Thirty Post
Fairly new to blogging, Dan still knows how to turn a phrase and bring a smile to my face. He’s an old friend, a fellow UT grad, and one of the infamous Thursday Night Boys. I look forward to seeing how his blog evolves.

Rob – Rob Lifford
A former Hooverite, Rob is sharp as a tack and always provides great fodder for thinking. From what’s going on in the industry to what’s happening in the economy, Rob likes to keep us on our toes.

Jennifer – Jenamonkey
Jennifer is one of those ladies you just can’t help but admire. Passionate, driven, and always looking for an adventure, Jennifer’s blog is a glimpse into the life of a wicked-smart woman who squeezes the tasty goodness from life. And devours it.

The rat behind the rat, part two

An old friend of mine left a comment about the previous post that, while working on answering I decided worked fairly well for a post in and of itself. Surely he’s not the only one who has these questions or opinions, so maybe it’s a good idea to put them front and center. If you’d like to read the entire comment check out the previous post. (Thanks for keeping me honest, Ron)

my response…

Thanks for the comment. Lots to chew over here, so let me break it down. But, before I get into your points, I’d like to remind you and whoever else might have read this post that the idea I was presenting had nothing to do with this election or the candidates. Rather, I wrote about political ads in general and, because of their classification, their lack of oversight. The video was an example of just how disgusting the result can be. Finally, I referenced the Peggy Drexler article because it solidly demonstrated my points and tied them back to traditional advertising.

To that end:

The article makes it sound like McCain has done nothing but lie to the public… and if you vote for him you’re stupid

Sorry, but I’m not sure how you came to this conclusion. The article definitely states Senator McCain has lied about Senator Obama. Multiple times. Is that a question? It also reads he’s counting on America to be stupid – not that if you vote for him that’s what you’ll be. The context is the that the lies just keep on coming, even when they’re clearly not true. See this post for an example of just that. You might know the Earth isn’t flat, but I spoke with two people over the weekend, who, thanks to the McCain camp, the GOP, and great guys like Rush, think that Senator Obama is a Muslim. That it shouldn’t matter is an entirely different conversation, but in the Muslim=Islam=Terrorist mentality many Americans operate within, it’s relevant here. For this discussion it’s important to note that idea didn’t just come from the ether – it’s a lie perpetuated and fostered by Republicans. And, it’s perpetuated because they’re hoping people won’t take the time to check the facts. Both of these people also still think the Obama tax plan will increase their taxes. Also not true, easily checked, and perpetuated by Senator McCain and Governor Palin. It seems to me this is the idea Ms Drexler was trying to get at.

The article fails to mention lies told by Obama

Okay, it fails to mention lies told by Senator Obama. Fair enough. It’s clearly a left-leaning publication, so that’s not overly surprising. Want the facts about Obama’s lies? Do a little research. you can find a fairly comprehensive list of both candidates’ lies here.

Misleading advertising is the reason for Obama’s success and those misleading ads have made people believe he’s something he’s not

Out of everything this puzzles me the most. It’s a pretty global statement. He’s made people believe he’s something he’s not? Based on what? His rise has had, in my opinion, fairly little to do with political ads. Rather, his message of change, his passion, his ideas, and his record have done this. That he’s the author of two open, insightful books about his family, his life, and his ideas certainly doesn’t hurt, either. Now, there’s no argument that his record is pretty thin compared to Senator McCain. I get it. But, he hasn’t served for two decades, either. Either way, Senator Obama’s core message, Change, is apparently such a good idea the McCain camp fairly quickly started using a variation of it themselves.

The media doesn’t tell the truth

No kidding. Of course, not every outlet can be as fair and balanced as others. At any rate, Drexler’s article doesn’t state that the media is honest. It simply reads that the media has become more focused on truth than in other elections. Elections where questioning the sitting administration or its policies was considered unpatriotic, for example.

Thanks again for your comment, Ron. That was fun. But, for me, the things I’m pondering are the first ammendment, political ads, and free speech. In doing a little more research, there are quite a few discussions covering these topics. Where do you stand?

The rat behind the rat

Or, politics and advertising

About a year and a half into college at UT I switched majors from history to advertising. It was tough decision to make – I loved my classes and I was starting to move into courses far more interesting than the introductory classes we all go through. But, after much thought, I decided to do something I loved just as much with the added benefit (so I thought) of being more practical – writing. As it turns out, getting into the field as a junior copywriter wasn’t nearly as much of a sure thing as I thought, but that’s a story for another day. It was during one of my advertising courses, Advertising and Ethics, that I think I really started to pay attention to politics and candidates.

Contrary to what most believe, advertising is pretty heavily regulated. It seems otherwise with all the really, really bad advertising out there but, unfortunately, ads that just plain suck don’t fall within the purview of that regulation. One of the greats in the field, David Ogilvy, once wrote this: “The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife.” Most bad advertising has forgotten that bit of wisdom.

At any rate, in addition to the Federal Trade Commission there are countless professional and consumer watch-groups that work to ensure ads are truthful. And, for the most part, they’re pretty successful at it.

But that’s commercial advertising; political ads are a different animal altogether.

Political ads, for reasons passing understanding, qualify as free speech. Meaning they’re constitutionally protected to make whatever crazy-ass, fetched, unproven, or even dishonest claim they want and there’s absolutely nothing to stop them.

What would you think about a Ford ad where the spokesman told you the checmical makeup of the paint used on Hondas causes cancer? How about an ad that informs you Diet Coke increases your IQ? And yet, every election cycle we watch politicians make promises they have no intention of keeping or tell lies they know to be false.

Peggy Drexler has a great article about this subject you can find here. Check it out.

So, what’s worse than a lie, an empty promise, or a baseless attack from these politicians in their ads? I give you subliminal advertising. Below is an ad attacking Al Gore during the 2000 election. Watch carefully. If you miss it, watch again and pause at second 25.

The irony is subliminal ads just don’t work. But that’s not the point. This is the kind of man America put in the White house. Twice.  

Beauty, expectations, and my daughter

Dove has an ad running now called, “Esteem Workshops.” You’ve probably seen it; a barrage of images flash across the screen in front of a young girl; models, tight bodies, bras, cheerleaders, etc. The camera then tightens in on her young, solemn face and copy fades into the screen reading, “Girls are under more pressure than ever.” The spot then introduces the dove self-esteem fund. It’s a project designed to help girls develop positive self-esteem and body image.

This weekend, as I sat on the couch, one leg stretched out to make sure my daughter (now just over one) didnt’ hurl herself off the pillows into the abyss, I saw this ad. I’d seen it before, but as I sat there with my daughter giggling away, pushing at my leg, and looking for an escape route, the spot took on more meaning than it had in the past.

Google reports each of us is exposed to roughly 3,000 ads each day. That’s 3,000 opportunities each day for my daughter to be wounded on a level much deeper than a bumped head or scraped knee. That just won’t do. If you have a daughter, or a niece, or are in some way part of a girl’s life, I encourage you to check it out. You can find the homepage here.

Need a starting point? Try the video below. This has been around a while, but it never fails to make me shake my head in wonder…