Welcome to I'm Not Buying That, the blog where we dissect the woeful mistakes of the advertising industry. I'm your host, CJ Garrett, and I view terrible ads so you don't have to.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Placement is for life, not just for Christmas

You know, sometimes you can do everything right and still get boned in the ass by pure, dumb luck. Or you can do most things right, and still get boned in the ass by that one thing that you didn't think of when you started your stupid marketing campaign, like your target demographic being offended by the use of squirrels or something. Such is life, and yes, it will cost you millions of shiny dollars to fix.

Today's poster child for idiocy is EA, the games company responsible for inflicting all those goddamn sports games on us. Seriously, how do you get away with releasing the same fucking game every year?! Are people honestly that dumb, or easily attracted by the prospect of slightly different jerseys or something? My rage, it knows no bounds.

Getting back to the point - behold, the insanity of EA's Medal of Honor campaign, courtesy of some site:

Oh yes, some marketing guru got in a whole heap of trouble over this. Medal of Honor - the game where you can shoot babies with a high powered rifle! Fun for all the family, especially little Timmy, who keeps whining about it and who will eventually get it when Mummy's patience snaps and despite the fact that he's way too young -

Whoops, getting off on another tangent there. Yeah, placement. You can argue that EA had no idea that this would happen, but I'd wonder why they didn't just buy all the ad space on the page or check what other adverts would be running. I mean, the name of the game is repeated four times there (five if you include the box), so why not go all the way and really shove that advertising down the reader's throat?

In other news, I'm trying out the new Blogger interface, so there will be no Amazon weirdness included this time.

CJ, over and out
Sunday, August 28, 2011

No Dead Baby Jokes, Please

Context matters in advertising.

...Wow, CJ, you didn't start a post with snark and/or swearing! Are you feeling alright? Yes, of course. This is just important, is all. Sometimes we must dispense with the funnies when making a point, and talk in the third person to make ourselves feel superior. Anyway - onward to fun and hijinks!

Context matters when you're advertising a specific thing to a specific audience. Like, putting up ads for feminine hygiene products in the men's room - and that did happen at least once. It's the most basic thing that whoever is likely to see your ad should also be the ones who are most likely to want to buy it if it's brought to their attention. Cause and effect, see? Customer see product, customer want product, customer buy product. Anything that interferes with this - like your own dumbass decisions - is going to affect the end result of SALES and PILES OF MONEY.

So yeah, context matters. The right advert hitting the right eyeballs at the right time. Put that all together and you've got the making of a decent marketing strategy, but again, not everyone succeeds at this. Behold, one of the failures, courtesy of Ads of the World again:

Now, by itself, this could be an average 'don't text and drive' campaign. I understand that this is a problem for people who own cars (i.e. not me, most of the time) in that they can't help but send text messages while driving in defiance of all common sense, and this has resulted in a higher number of people getting distracted and running into things, like trees, walls, cars, and other people. The authorities, of course, would prefer if this didn't happen, and in this case, they've decided to show their displeasure by taking a 'poignant' photo of a doll by the side of the road, and slapping a yellow blob on top with a short, pithy slogan.

I could talk about the doll-on-the-road metaphor being so heavy handed and overdone that the impact is probably lost. I could talk about the yellow box ruining the composition of the photo. I could even talk about the textspeak slogan, which they clearly haven't done the research on because it should read 'ur txt cn w8'. I will not write about these things. I will instead point out that, according to Ads of the World, these appeared on the bottom of those plastic tray things in airport security checkpoints around the nation.

There's a couple of things wrong with this. The first and most obvious is that people don't fucking well see the bottom of the tray because their stuff is in it while it's going through security. That narrows down the possible length of time for them to view and be influenced by this ad to begin with. The second problem is that you go through these checkpoints to get onto a flight - as in, to have someone else drive you to your destination, albeit at 30,000 feet and without the option of stopping for donuts. This removes the immediacy of the ad, and it's likely that, with all the usual bullshit of airline travel, you'll have forgotten it completely when you actually get to your car.

Context, c'mon! At least put the fucking ads in the right location! How about outside the parking lots of all the airports instead, so that people can see them when they're about to get into a car and drive somewhere? How about next to the taxis and the drop off area, so people can be reminded of it while they unload whoever is travelling? How about, and this could just blow your mind, ANYWHERE other than the stupid security trays?

I can't believe that stuff like this still happens, to be honest. Either the marketing department are really phoning it in, or there's some exciting new research on how people stuck in security queues are somehow really susceptible to shitty advertising. I'll leave it up to you to decide.

In the meantime, here's a book on airplanes. Oh, how I longed for my own personal Spitfire as a boy!

CJ, over and out
Sunday, August 21, 2011

Insert Witty Title Here

Two months... did you lot miss me? I'm still not dead, in spite of the soda goons' best efforts. I have returned from parts unknown with a new supply of vodka and a new thirst for ripping bad adverts into teeny tiny little whiny shreds.

Today's big fail comes from Saatchi, again, courtesy of Ads of the World. Someday, I hope to work for them, because somehow they've convinced a lot of companies with too much money that they're actually good at this shit. (I can't help but imagine the executives in their boardroom, talking about their customers while sniggering and rolling around in piles of coins, Scrooge McDuck style. I WANT IN ON THAT.) Behold!

Alright, explain a few things to me here - one, why isn't this READABLE, and two, what the hell does it mean?! Okay, okay, it's for an art gallery, so I think we can safely assume that it's not aimed at your average slob, but even for snobby fine art enthusiasts this is a bit much.

I would have thought that it'd be a given at this stage that people should be able to read your fucking ad. That seems kinda important, ya know? You're trying to communicate a message here, mostly something along the lines of "Come to this gallery, we've got art and shit!" But the other two adverts in the same series are equally baffling, even if they're easier to read. I get that they're describing a piece of art in this exhibition - or at least I hope they are, otherwise this campaign has an extra layer of pure stupid - but unless this piece of art is exceptionally well known, what the hell is the point? This could be a fucking stick figure, or a load of blobs on a canvas or something!

Impressed, I am not. Bad Saatchi, no more vodka for you.

Here's a book that they might have found useful, of they could be persuaded to stop skinny-dipping in the money piles for a few minutes.

CJ, over and out.
Sunday, June 19, 2011

Whoops, I forgot the title! Let's just call it BOOOBS

As you may or may not know, I'm big on boobs. I think the world needs more of them, regardless of the size or shape or color. That said, though, the marketing of boobs and the use of boobs in advertising fills me with the rage of a hungover Genghis Khan, because it's largely the most lazy shit I ever get to see.

I was prepared to be happy that someone was trying to show a little imagination when it comes to boob-related adverts, but it seems I must be disappointed once again. Behold, this image from some design school I've never heard of:

Now, let us take a look at the apparent dichotomy of Wonderbra and a soda cup. One is used to hold up boobs, and the other is used to convey sugary beverages to the masses. Today, they have intersected by way of the suggestion that wearing a Wonderbra means you need a longer straw, or something.

Happily I got this as soon as I saw it, but apparently I'm in the minority there. Ads of the World are split on whether it's crap or not, mostly because a significant number didn't get it at all. That's a bad sign in a potential advert, by the way - like I always say, confusing your customers means less sales.

Still, though, even while I get it, I'm not all that sold on it. I do know some women with large... tracts of land, and they drink their soda like normal people, i.e. extra long straws not required. Let's say, for example, that you have an average sized woman who suddenly puts on a Wonderbra and therefore does not have the experience of having enormous boobs, and may be flustered in her soda-drinking as a result - the ad suggests that she'd be adding at least six inches to her chest size, and although I know boob-related technology has come a long way in recent years, that ain't happening without surgery.

Fuck it, am I over-thinking this? I'd say so. Maybe I'm just annoyed by the lack of any actual women in an ad aimed at women, for a product that only women wear. All I can say about it is at least it isn't as creepy as a lot of other Wonderbra ads.

Today I learned that Amazon sells Wonderbras. They all look vaguely uncomfortable.

CJ, over and out
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello

Way back when I wasn't a twisted lump of human garbage, I liked listening to music like the Beatles. I liked how weirdly surreal Octopus' Garden is. Trust me on this, if nothing else - those guys were tripping so hard they probably saw through time and space, and nothing anyone says now can convince me otherwise.

Nowadays, I listen to experimental punk rock bands you've never heard of. And Rammstein, because their music videos are so completely fucking nuts, and I loves me some crazy Germans with leather fetishes.

I was young enough to know about MTV, believe it or not, and I thought it was a total waste of time even when it was the next big thing. These days, they seem to be making a habit of sucking every time they come to my attention, and this ad is no different. Courtesy of Ads of the World, again...

Ah, I see we have a variant of the 'edgy and controversial' advert style - it's the 'if you don't get it, you're stupid' method of marketing! So, I believe an explanation is in order once again.

First of all, that grid thing you see there is supposed to be a guitar fretboard, and it's usually used in guitar tabs. This is a sort of simplified way of teaching someone who knows fuck all about actual music, and it's been around for hundreds of years. Read the Wikipedia article if you're that curious. Now, the two little pictures there represent 'yellow' and 'submarine' in a nod to the Beatles' song of the same name. These two things together are supposed to be an in-joke, I assume, from the tagline of 'If you know music, you know MTV' - ergo you will recognize the two elements and go 'HEY I KNOW THAT I AM SMART!'

Perhaps this might have worked back in the day, but right now, MTV is known for shallow, shitty reality TV shows rather than actual music. The people who (a) know the Beatles, (b) can figure out those two teeny little pictures represent the name of a song, and (c) know what guitar tabs look like are already getting their music elsewhere in true, aging hipster fashion. The young, two-second-attention-span demographic who may or may not still watch MTV either won't get this at all or won't even look because it's bland.

Yeah, you can't get away from that either. I'm not sure when beige became an acceptable background choice for adverts in general but I do NOT approve, I will have you know, when it results in this mediocre shit.

It's a bit of a shame, when you think of how completely batcrap crazy so much of the Beatles stuff is. I mean, come on - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Those outfits were fabulous.

CJ, over and out
Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ye olde tymes, when men were men...

I never get tired of vintage ads. They're so wonderfully inappropriate, and so easy to mock when examined from the perspective of the modern day. The ones that keep popping up again and again tend to be sexist and racist, but every once in a while you get a real gem that's directed squarely at teh menz. It's usually something the like of which would make guys who ain't completely comfortable with their sexuality just a little bit nervous.

There's more than a few of these ads knocking around, and nearly all of them give me a major case of the giggles. They're so overtly homo-erotic that I have to question whether the marketing departments of yore were actually all staffed by gay men with a great sense of humor. Oh, how they must have chuckled, as they covertly spread their deviant lifestyles through the use of common imagery! Someday I'd love to meet a few of them and buy them drinks as a small thank-you for services rendered unto all mankind. (If they exist, that is, and not only in my overactive imagination.)

Today's vintage fail comes courtesy of Creative Advertising.

That guy on the far right looks like he's having the best time EVER, like he's in a L'Oreal commercial or something. And that tagline, hur hur hur. It just makes me laugh, every time.

The reason that I'm calling this a fail, however, is because I honestly cannot work out who it's supposed to be selling to. It suggests that this is a group of... okay, I'm going to say friends, and thus avoid the implications of what may be going on there, and they've pooled their money to get a group shower. Which is then installed where, may I ask? Do they all go over to one guy's house to clean themselves? Is it installed inside or outside? The other alternative is that they're living together and decided to get a shower where they can all be naked at the same time rather than taking turns, like, y'know, regular heterosexual dudes, and that begs the question of just how big their bathroom is. I'm not sure when exactly this ad was created - I guess the '50s, maybe? - but this still seems very suspicious, and I think it supports my theory of the ad agencies back then being staffed with gay comedians-in-training.

Here's another one from the Copyranter:

I mean, look at that! There's three guys openly staring at the ass of the guy in the shower! Check out how close their feet are, too - the guy with the towel over his shoulder, with the guy leaning over in front of him?! THAT IS NOT A FUCKING ACCIDENT. Or, well, maybe it is a fucking accident, ho ho ho, I made a double-entendre.

I love the Copyranter's take on it. "And what's with the guy in the left stall with his hands behind his behind? Modest? Or receiving oral?" That question may never be answered, dear readers. I shall leave it up to you to decide.

Here's a book on vintage art. I suspect it doesn't have examples like the ones above, but we can still hope.

CJ, over and out
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rule #1: Don't advertise other companies

What exactly is it with companies using other companies' logos or styles in their advertising? One would think that this would open up a shitstorm the like of which men were not meant to know, especially if the logo of someone with the cash to keep a team of trained attack lawyers on staff were appropriated.

It's a gray area, is what I'm saying here. Yeah, fair use and all that, and I'm sure you're willing to test that in court no matter the expense, right? Right. Other more sane people are already mocking you for being dangerously stupid.

Anyway, let me get to the point. DirecTV is some cable service that is likely to go the way of the dodo when people realize that the Internet can supply all the entertainment they'll ever need for free. I neither know or care about the particulars of what they do, but I was pointed at one of their adverts from the ever-popular Ads of the World. Take a look at this lovely graphic:

The tagline down at the bottom reads 'Set your DVR over the Internet. Anytime. Anywhere.' I don't get the misspelling of Google's name. If the other ads in the series are anything to go by, it's related to the name of a movie or something, but damned if I can work out which one.

Using Google's logo is probably not the smartest idea ever. Not that I think the Overlord of Search Engines is all that bothered by some cable company ripping off their look; it's the fact that it's kinda tacky to start with. I mean, this is the best they could come up with to advertise their new service? Somebody in marketing has been phoning it in, methinks. It doesn't really make any sense, even in context - the first impression is that it's actually an advert for Google itself, with an extra 'e' added on for reasons unknown.

(Let's leave aside the obvious fact that anyone smart enough to be able to set their DVR over the net probably knows what BitTorrent is, and therefore can get their hands on a sizable chunk of TV shows without having to do anything so crass as wait for them to be shown on some TV channel. Wrong demographic, perhaps?)

It's weird, but this shit isn't exactly rare. I just posted about a radio company ad that rips off Facebook, after all. The mind, it boggles...

Today I learned that Amazon sells DirecTV receivers. Isn't that awesome? Now I can get some soon-to-be-irrelevant technology shipped right to my door!

CJ, over and out

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