Tag Archives: advertising

Shady Slimming

Jon Stewart made some hay this week over the redesign of the Quaker Oats Man, one of the first trademarked images in the United States, created in 1877. What redesign, you ask? Well, he’s been slimmed down and reverse aged, looking leaner and younger than he ever has before. See for yourself:

Notable about the size-down is the way in which the marketers discuss the changes. “Five pounds thinner,” they say of the rework. How does one determine such things for a non-person who has only ever been depicted from the neck up? Is an exact figure predicated on the years of photoshopping done to fashion models? A flimsy guesstimate? Read More…

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Evidence that TV Commercials Have Gotten Really Crappy

Call me jaded (Jaded!), but I’m not buying what they’re selling on television anymore. I don’t watch nearly as many commercials as I used to, having learned to fast forward through them in the 1980s with our top-loading VCR. Oh yeah, I went there. I can ignore ads old school and with my DVR. Good thing skipping ads is so easy, except when OnDemand makes it impossible. I will even opt for the longer running ads on Hulu so I can skip out and grab a drink. See what I did there? Even when the ad is playing, I leave the room! Only the furnishings will be subject to Madison Avenue’s messaging! Muahahaha…

Yes, again, all of this is simple stuff. But somewhere in the midst of skipping through, cutting out, and ignoring, I think commercials gave up on us. They don’t even try to sell us products and services anymore. Read More…

A Brief History of Bad Product Decisions

I’m old enough that I remember the introduction of “New Coke,” when the soda pop manufacturer decided to make their formula taste closer to that of Pepsi, which I find is most useful as a scrubbing agent rather than a thirst-quenching beverage. It was April 23, 1985, and while it was a little late to be included in all of the Orwellian weird events of 1984, it certainly can still be grouped into the moments we all would love to forget about the 1980s—big hair and scrunchy socks notwithstanding.

There was actual public outcry. People poured the redesigned drink into the streets, and Coke executives were floored. Soon, there was “Coke classic” on the shelves of grocery stores again, and we all breathed a sigh of relief, even as we muttered to ourselves about stupid executives. Quietly, some time later, Coke pulled the new formula altogether. Read More…

The Kinds of Lies Commercials Spew

We all know we can’t count on advertisements to give us the truth about anything. If the biggest, most widespread example of this is the coverup by Big Tobacco to hide the reality that smoking causes cancer, then we need only look at Big Pharma to see how this plays out in the 21st Century. Anyone remember Yaz, the contraceptive pill that also mellowed out Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder? That was reintroduced in a slightly new formulation by Bayer as Beyaz, with a new series of commercials to make the difference between PMS and PMDD more clear.

And then, no more Beyaz commercials at all until the latest data suggesting Beyaz’s side effects are even worse than stated. What’s worse than heart attack, I wonder? Greater risk of heart attack, it seems. Read More…

From Chicken Little: Last Day for Sale on Sky

woman in emergency mask

Of course her goggles and irises match!

I mostly bit my tongue when 30 inches of snow fell onto our house during the winter of 2009 and after which no plows visited our neighborhood. Scratch that, no plow, as in singular, moved any snow. Susanne and I understood a little bit better why people in this corner of the state and country act like they don’t need government, because hello, government isn’t, or wasn’t, there for us.

Fine, I get it. One doesn’t feel the pulse of the Capitol this far away, which means, one doesn’t have any reason to think that any government worker in the entire 2.6 million-person force actually cares about the average human walking around in this country. That such an idea couldn’t possibly be true doesn’t stop folks from generalizing what the U. S. government is and what it does. So they generalize. And then do it some more.

Sensing a problem here? At some point, our assumptions about government intent and capability take us off the rails entirely as we try to get our 50-train car over the river with no bridge.

Over time, we’ve gone from “alert your police to suspicious behavior” in the wake of 9/11 and the anthrax-mailing assclown to “pass laws so we can carry our guns into church” because apparently we’re now better at policing than the police. Osmosis? Or maybe strapping explosive metal to your thigh infuses your quadriceps with law enforcement knowledge and then that is carried up to your brain so that you know at any given moment who to shoot and who to leave alone. Damn those police academies for keeping us in the dark.

Well, wherever there’s confusion and hysteria, there’s someone looking to make a few bucks. I was ignorant of a lot of this until the other night, while watching a rerun of NCIS, I saw a commercial for a 72-hour disaster response kit. A what? I went back with my DVR. Yes. I’d understood correctly. Flashing images of the Katrina hurricane, the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, and the Chili earthquake, a deep-voiced, threatening voiceover told me that government wasn’t there for any of these people, and I should not sit around waiting for 1. a natural disaster nor 2. the government to bail me out. Bail me out? Wait a New Jersey minute.

Bailout is from seafaring, as in bailing water out of a sinking boat. It’s taken on a negative connotation because it’s used when the Feds have given money to a struggling company or industry. And the negativity has branched out to the struggling entity. So don’t call me a bailoutee in waiting! I haven’t asked for anything! I’m . . . I’m . . . I’m buying this nonsense, aren’t I? Of course it’s fine to expect that at least the national guard will roll in if half of Walla Walla blows away in a dust storm, leaving only Walla. That’s not a sign of weakness, that’s a sign that I’m an individual and not an institution, that’s all. Sheesh, for a minute there. . . well, I don’t want to think about it.

Okay, so this ad is comparing the non-Katrina response, the Haiti and Chilean earthquakes and saying they’re equally devastating, and suggesting the next one is around the corner and buying their $100 worth of plastic-wrapped product will what, be like having soldiers bringing me clean drinking water and tending to my wounds? Will it pull me out from a crumbled building? Is it like a Roomba on steroids with self-extending grappling hook? I had to laugh at the ludicrousness of this. I laughed, and yet my chuckles were laced with nervousness. Someone will buy this. Of course many someones will buy it. We bought Pet Rocks. We bought Snuggies. We bought ShamWOW!s. We’re Americans, darn it! We buy what we feel like buying! If I’m not spending money on insurance against Armageddon, I’m not a patriot!

I went online to see what was in these kits, anyway. And I was astonished to see how many different Web sites are hawking this schlock. Go on. Google it. 72 disaster kit, that’s what I typed. Open another tab and check it out, I’ll wait.

See? Holy preparedness, Robin! There is a lot of selling of crappy stuff! Light sticks, freeze-dried food, first aid kits, water pouches—I’m sorry, pouches? What’s wrong with water in bottles? Does it have to be so militaristic? I’d rather just put a case of Evian in the basement, okay?

I can buy pre-packaged kits or I can learn how to make my own from one of what, a dozen or so Web sites that have painstakingly put such content together. I’ll be good for 72 hours!

Doing the math, I see that that’s three days. Three days, really? Seriously? And then what? The earthquake ravaged buildings are renovated? The landslides are packed back onto the mountain? The flood waters recede like the hot air at the end of a car wash?

Oh. The government comes into town. The do-nothing, help-nobody government. We want to condescend enough to suggest we’ll need to sort out ourselves for up to three days, but then, we want our government to come to our rescue.

Let me know when any of this starts making sense. Maybe I’ll strap a banana to my thigh and walk into a church with it. That seems less kooky.

Electing to

Last week, the voters spoke and changed the landscape of a state for the foreseeable future. I was beyond excited to see my fellow countrymen and women take the time to consider the ramifications of their vote, get educated on the issue, and cast their ballots. One million strong. A mandate, even.

It is a special feeling to know one has backed a winner.

Kirsten is the newest California cow! Go Kirsten!

She was my sentimental pick because she’s from Saskatchewan, homeland of my own mother. This isn’t to say that none of the other eight choices would have done well as the newest addition to the Real Milk Comes from California family, but Kirsten has her own place in my heart. With a jouissance I ventured to the Real MilkTM Web site to relish in my skosh of glory and see Kirsten frolicking in the pastures of the Golden State.

But what met my retinas was not the heifer I knew and loved. Or thought I knew. This, this was some imposter cow! The election officials surely thought they could fool everyone, but I know very well that cows don’t change their spots, or patches, or whatever the hell they’re called. These spots were different!

Don’t take just my word for it, check it out on your own. Look at Kirsten’s audition tape, and then look at one of the clips after her win. Yes, the voice is the same, but the cow, the cow is different. That’s just plain creepy.

So now, my heart aches. Where is my beloved farm girl? Did a Canadian wolf get her and California has now gone to some clandestine cover-up to keep their so-called election intact? Did Kirsten opt out to seek her fortunes in the next misdirected balloon saga? Did she sneak away to LA early so she could see a plastic surgeon and have a makeover? California’s Real Dairy farmers, tell us what’s become of our small town girl turned starlet!

Did Gary Condit have anything to do with it?

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