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.

See something that makes your eyes bleed? Drop me a line at cjthewriter@gmail.com!

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Friday, December 3, 2010

The Eyes Have It

You know, here at INBT, we like to examine ads that make us want to metaphorically rip out our eyes and throw them away. It's okay, really - being jaded and cynical means that we're fine with it. It's part of the process, or something.

INBT - dissing horrible adverts so you don't have to!

Anyway, I seem to be coming across a lot of ads lately that go for the whole 'OOOOOOOH AREN'T WE EDGY' thing. Yes indeed. Edgy, controversial and of a theme that would normally get you tossed into a home for the criminally insane.

The latest fail comes courtesy of Advertolog, who make the finding of said fails much easier.

"The art of making people give away their eyes for 30 seconds". What. The Everloving. Fuck.

And this is for, I shit you not, an award ceremony for the best ads of 2009! I would have thought they'd know better. It's that or they're trying to attract a type of client that I hesitate to speculate about. I dare you to view that sucker full size - it's the creepiest thing I've seen in, oh, at least an hour and a half.

  • Oh god the blood. And the gore. And HOLY CRAP IT'S LOOKING AT ME.
  • Good use of black, but that text at the bottom is a major fail. The impact from the WTF eyeballs is just too much, and it kinda blots out the rest.
  • Not digging the font. It's not easily readable. The whole thing is just too understated.

Okay, yes, I went for the cheap pun on the title up there. Derp derp me clever and all that. It was better than 'HOLY SHIT EEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZ'.

The horrible thing about this is that it probably cost a metric fuckton of money, for something that could be thrown together in an afternoon with a photographer, some supplies from the nearest joke shop, and five minutes in InDesign. If you're ever curious as to why I'm still working in advertising, despite my obvious contempt for it - this is why. (Hint: I like metric fucktons of money.)

I was looking for fake glass eyes on Amazon, and it failed me. So here's a crappy plastic eye bracelet thing instead.

CJ, over and out
Saturday, November 27, 2010

Brain-dead sex sells...

I have to go into hiding every Thanksgiving. There was this one year, see, where I kinda maybe possibly did some things involving some unspecified police paraphernalia that may have been illegal or immoral and definitely against the rules of several major religions. So, the authorities and me have an arrangement - I keep my head down this time of year, and they pretend I don't exist and I never did that thing that embarrassed them.

I planned to spend the time hunting down crappy Thanksgiving ads, but I got distracted by some lolcat videos. So I'm posting this one instead. Behold!

Courtesy of some site I never visit.

It's not so much that I don't approve of the whole schtick of 'sex sells'. Marketing departments have to use whatever strategy they can to get attention for their products, and I'm mostly cool with that. The problem is when they think that once they cram some vaguely sexy stuff into their ads, they can go to print and take the rest of the week off.

This ad is a classic example of this. Seriously? You have a new sandwich that happens to be longer than usual and the best you got is ' hur hur hur oral sex'? Not impressed. Just want you to know that, Burger King.

  • Woman with blank expression posing like an inflatable sex toy. Classy, classy stuff.
  • GIANT CAPITAL LETTERS for the word 'blow'. I see what you did there! Subtle like a brick to the face.
  • The position of the clearly-far-too-thick-for-her-mouth sandwich thing, that suggests, oh, I don't know, a specific oral sex act.

See, the problem here is that the imagery doesn't actually match what they're trying to convey. Consider this: this sandwich will 'blow you away', which implies that it's the eating of the sandwich that produces this amazing experience. BUT, when you look at the ad, the static nature of the woman is all wrong; she can't be the one eating and experiencing this when she's presented as an inanimate object! We can therefore infer that either the designers are female, and get off on pretending to be inflatable, or they're male, and get off on someone chewing on their wang.

I like to think I'm open minded, but I draw the line at chewing.

In a slightly related topic, it turns out Amazon sell blow up dolls! Truly, they carry everything a man could ever want. The most surprising part is that they will list second hand prices, if they're available, like everything else in the store.

The fact that the male blow up dolls are not anatomically correct is somehow bothering me.

CJ, over and out
Thursday, November 18, 2010

You don't need grammar when you're a Street Fighter!

Ever get that feeling where you see a really funny ad, with a really funny slogan, and you read it and smile a bit? You might even chuckle, and shake your head, and then continue on your merry way with a spring in your step.

This is good advertising, the kind that marketing people have wet dreams about. Creating such campaigns, though, is not easy - and of course, we witness the messy attempts at greatness here at INBT!

Coming to you direct from the deepest darkest reaches of Kotaku, in the red corner - CAPCOM!


AAaaaaaand in the blue corner, wearing the gold and black shorts and weighing less than Kate Moss - CJ!

Yes, well. Capcom apparently went a bit nuts for oddball slogans this time around. Another shining example in the same campaign is "She's Got Legs." Classy, classy stuff.

Anyway, let's take a quick look here:

  • Okay, not being able to read the name of the game is pretty poor. Yes, if you know Street Fighter, chances are you don't need to see the name - but it would be kinda useful to know what version of the game you're buying. Is this Street Fighter: Let's Beat Each Other Up, or Street Fighter: Let's Do Our Taxes?
  • That is not a slogan that makes sense. You're trying to imply that it's a whole new experience or something - please. Let's not fool ourselves here. I don't think anyone is going to buy this game for the novel gameplay, and anyway, doing something again for the first time DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. I can feel my brain trying to escape already.
  • Dumb slogans abound! 'She's Got Legs' should win an award for Boring Obviousness. (Not strictly to do with this particular poster, I know, but it's in the same campaign and therefore a legitimate target.)

Sometimes I get tired of saying this, but making a customer go 'Buh?' may not be a good way to get them to buy things. It's funny in a way, because the other slogans in the campaign here are actually kinda cool - it's these two that are letting the side down.

You know, I loved Street Fighter when I was a kid. I loved the animated movie even though it's a thinly disguised attempt to sell more computer games, and therefore has nothing even vaguely resembling a proper plot. Oh yes, I was the kid who wore combats and dog tags and spiked up his hair and ran around yelling 'SONIIIIIICCCCC BOOOOM!' on Halloweeen. And I am not sorry, not even when I accidentally kicked my best friend in the face.

Ah, good times. Here, have an action figure of the 10-year-old me.

CJ, over and out
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So you think you're being controversial...

First of all, let me start this by saying that the image down there is bad. As in, don't let kids see it bad. It's controversial, you know? If the sight of dead women really bothers you, please, please don't scroll down.

That's the idea, isn't it? You get people talking by doing an ad campaign that's controversial and edgy and provocative, and many other adjectives that are mostly bywords for "I want to make stupid offensive shit and look down on the people who tell me it's stupid offensive shit."

See, this is not exactly the healthiest attitude in the world. It leads to ad campaigns that would make Hannibal Lecter blush and make normal people recoil in horror at worst. At best, it leads to stuff that's - yep, you've guessed it - stupid, offensive and shit.

Are you surprised? I'm not. Really. Most marketing folks don't think like regular folks, and I should know - I'm one of them.

One of the common themes of these 'controversial' adverts seems to be how the marketing gurus hate women and want them to die and/or suffer. This tends to bother me a lot, because I don't share that particular view, not even for that brazen hussy Melinda who dumped me in highschool. But, children, if a jaded misanthrope like myself can accept that maybe we shouldn't be running ad campaigns that vilify one half of the human race, perhaps there's hope that the powers that be in the advertising industry will come around as well someday!

And then we can all have group hugs and give each other pats on the back that we're slightly less horrible human beings. Yay, indeed.

Or maybe not. See Exhibit A, courtesy of Styleite, and don't say I didn't warn you.

I wish I was making this up, but no - that is a real thing in the real world, and last I checked, we're still on Planet Earth and not in the Twilight Zone. The caption, if you can't read it, says "Superette: Be caught dead in it."

There are levels of fail here that I can't even begin to dissect, even with my armor-plated cynicism. Shall we dwell on the bottle of what is implied to be alcohol, tossed carelessly to the grass, suggesting that the dead woman is not just dead but also dead drunk? Perhaps we should point to the blood stains under her hands, of all places, and shout about how a giant spike through the torso wouldn't cause blood to randomly drip from her wrists? Oh, I'm sure they thought it would run down her arms or some other nonsense, which only proves that the maker has failed physics along with everything else. Nothing, really, can distract from the fact that HOLY EVERLOVING SHIT, YOU ARE USING A HANGING CORPSE TO ADVERTISE YOUR CLOTHES.

Notice, by the way, that despite the giant spike through the torso, there's no blood on the orange blouse thing she's wearing. You know you can't get blood on that, because OMG negative consumer reactions to our product. Seriously, this could make lesser individuals barf.

They keep doing this, you know. I still can't figure out why. I honestly struggle to connect 'dead bodies' with 'effective method for getting customers to buy your products', unless they're being used in a public service announcement kind of thing as a cautionary device - and even then, there are better ways to get your message across. This could be the very definition of advertising that accelerates several hundred miles past the 'despicable' horizon; there is nothing redeeming about it, not even composition or lettering, because of the HANGING CORPSE BEING USED TO ADVERTISE YOUR CLOTHES.

My mind, it is broken.

Here's a nice orange blouse being sold on Amazon that isn't, in fact, made by the company above. It's Indian, or something. I think it's for women, or men who are infinitely more fabulous than me. Look at the picture. Bathe in its orangy glow, and let it remind you that not all orange blouses are made and sold by total assholes.

CJ, over and out
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

False Advertising a go go!

Strange but true - if you advertise something and lie about it, people get very angry with you. If you lie hard enough, the EVUL GUBBERMINT will also come along and slap you upside the head for being a dumbass.

This doesn't seem to stop people from trying, though.

False advertising is a rotten way to get business. I'd even go so far as to say that people who think it's a legitimate way to make money need to be seriously examined by the appropriate tax-gathering government department, because it's not all that likely they're playing totally straight. But here's the thing - unless you're blatantly lying, it's not really a crime.

In other news, check out the Amazon affiliate thing there! Yes, kids, I like beer pong, and this post is beer-related, so I thought - hey, why not chuck an ad in there for useless crap you don't need? Apparently I get money if you buy it, which really warms my shrivelled little heart. I'm going to add at least one link to more useless crap in each post from now on, mostly for my own twisted amusement because I'm going to try to find the stuff that no one with a functioning brain would spend their money on.

A beer pong table, seriously. Oh, it looks shiny and all, but c'mon - if you're sober enough to care about the table you're playing beer pong on, you're OBVIOUSLY doing it wrong!


Presenting this latest fail, courtesy of Dumbblog:

Now, one part of me is thinking, "Man, that's going to piss off a lot of people." But I'm also thinking, "Hur, hur, hur, it's saying FREE BEER but it's actually not!" Take it with a grain of salt if you will.

If you can't read that, it says "FREE air conditioning BEER from around the world." It's meant as a joke, but it's got the distinct possibility of pissing off a bunch of customers who misread it and go looking for their free beer - maybe it's part of a promotion/giveaway/whatever - and find that no, it's just some sign writer making fun of you. The question is, are there more people who find it funny and look favourably on the bar as a result than there are people who get angry because they were tricked?

It's a knotty problem. I shall leave it up to you to decide.

CJ, over and out
Monday, November 8, 2010

INBT: An Advertising Public Service Annoucement

Gather 'round, children - it's time for Uncle CJ to talk to you for a minute about how to advertise without looking like a total idiot.

Yes indeed, some organisations don't understand that pop culture references are a very tricky subject to include in your marketing campaigns. Using them can leave you open to all kinds of ridicule from the younger generation, and they're only getting more numerous. So, may I present CJ's List of Things You Should Avoid in Adverts, If At All Possible!

  • Do NOT use the n-word. Seriously. I'm going to break my usual rule of never saying the n-word and I'm going to say it here, just so we can all be clear what I mean. Ready? Ahem... Nigger. This word is offensive. If you are not a person of color, it is very, very unlikely that you will use it in a manner which is not deeply offensive. As we all know, being offensive makes you a douchebag, and douchebags don't get customers. I will now go and wash out my mouth with bleach as penance for saying this word.
  • Don't use photos or other content that isn't yours. Down that way lies messy lawsuit territory. You might be tempted to make a parody of a popular pop culture icon for an advert, and that might be totally okay under fair use laws, but believe me - the big players will find a way to nail you, or they'll stir up a shitstorm the like of which will bankrupt you before it ever gets near a courtroom.
  • If you're going to use a pop culture reference that you know won't get you in legal trouble, DO THE DAMN RESEARCH. You will look like an idiot otherwise.

And finally, the most important rule; the one by which you should live by, if you're in advertising:

  • Never, ever use a pop culture reference that has already been claimed by a group of rabid Internet crazies who have already shown that they ignore things like laws and social niceties, and who will utterly destroy your online presence either in retribution, for giggles, or just because they can.

Obviously, children, I'm going somewhere with this. But Uncle CJ, I hear you cry, who would be so silly as to tempt the wrath of the Internet? Behold, the Oregon Tea Party - courtesy of Reddit!

A little background information: the quote you see above is from Anonymous. They are a group of... well, Internet users, I guess, and they act very much like a force of nature on the Internet. Sometimes they do good things. Sometimes they do bad things. They have no organisation, no leadership, and they are very, very scary.

The Oregon Tea Party used their motto on some merchandise, and the aftermath was not pretty. The best you can do is avoid their notice, and you do that by not appropriating their cultural markings. It's the same with a lot of groups, really, but in other cases you might only get bad publicity instead of being cyber-mauled.

Pop culture is a minefield for marketing, unfortunately. It's like handling a bomb made out of solid gold - lucrative, but HOLY CRAP it could blow up any minute! So, take this advice from INBT, and hopefully you won't make the same mistake as the Oregon Tea Party.

CJ, over and out
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween fun

Pumpkins and candy and Buffy re-runs, oh my!

All Hallow's Eve has come and gone - or as I like to call it, Annual Reason #36 to Go Out and Get Very, Very Drunk. The hangover has worn off just in time for me to go cruising for more victims - I mean, more adverts of questionable quality.

Commercial holidays tend to bring out the worst in ad agencies, I think. There's the temptation to plaster your product in the seasonal colors and make up some trite, brain-dead message in a vague effort to cash in and get more business, as if people are honestly that dumb.

Okay, I'm sure some of them are, statistically speaking. I've just never met them, and if you're reading this, I think we can assume you're not one of them either. So! Onward, to the main event! (Courtesy of Brand DNA)

Now, personally, I don't like Miller regardless of whether it's Lite, Dark, or Neon Fresco Pink. You can serve cat's piss in a glass tumbler with crushed ice and a complementary selection of fine cigars, but at the end of the day, you're still drinking urine. That doesn't really say anything about Miller, though, apart from maybe suggesting that they shouldn't try to market it to cynical, easily irritated white guys with a taste for vodka and novelty cocktails. Maybe they're aiming for the Twilight crowd... but anyway, this ad is still an exercise in fail, and it must be catalogued in detail!

  • The caption. Oh good grief, the caption. Clichéd and grammatically incorrect - two for one special! (For the nerds among us - it should be "Sink your fangs into a/the great taste."
  • Presenting a bottle of beer as a vampire... but the caption implies that the drinker is the vampire. Guh? YOU CONFUSE ME WITH YOUR WORDS.
  • What exactly is that behind the bottle? Is it the gates of heaven? A vortex into the netherworld? An oncoming meteor?
  • There's enough of a breeze to toss the cloak around, but the condensation droplets on the bottle continue to drip straight down. This is what we call a failure to understand the science stuff.

About the nicest thing I could say about this ad is that the illustrator is obviously talented beyond the ken of mortal man. Composition and color are top notch, don'cher'know. Shame about the rest of it.

See, it is possible to do clever beer-related advertising even at Halloween. Brand DNA highlighted another ad in the same vein but with... well, a different impact, shall we say? Here's one from Guinness, who are known for their stellar advertising efforts.

Just look at it for a while, and think Halloween. You'll get the joke.


Isn't that awesome?! You'll remember this ad, and you might mention it to your friends because it's clever, and  you'll look on Guinness favourably even if you never touch the stuff, and THAT, kids, is the definition of a successful advertising campaign.

CJ, over and out
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Self-Referential ads...

Okay, okay, yes. Ads are clearly self-referential in that they point to the product and scream at you to BUY IT NOW, BEFORE IT'S SOLD OUT DAMMIT! That is the nature of adverts, and the whole point of their existence.

But CJ, I hear you say, clearly you wouldn't be talking about this if it wasn't something truly horrifying. Tell us, oh great and wise Baron von Advertsberg, what have you turned up today?

Yes, children, I have another truly mind-bending gem of promotional material to deride and dissect for your entertainment. (Incidently, you may refer to me as Baron von Advertsberg at any time it seems appropriate.)

This weird example of marketing comes to us courtesy of the Cheezburger Network site called Oddly Specific.

I literally cannot parse exactly what this is trying to say. There is a point to the repetition, but damned if I can figure out what it is. I almost think someone made some kind of typo at the printers, and it was supposed to say something like, "If it's not Boar's Head, it's not quality" - which isn't grammatically correct anyway, but at least you get the idea of why you should care about and buy this product.

  • Repetition, although it may seem 'hip' or 'cool' and something all the kids are doing these days with the rap noise they like to listen to, is not a legitimate strategy for attracting customers. It's just annoying.
  • What the snot are they actually selling?! There's space above and below the writing, but they don't even mention a product. Is it meat? Cheese? Is Boar's Head the name of the shop or just a brand name? Give us a clue, cmon!
  • Minus ten points for clearly showing you know what punctuation and grammar is, and yet you still decided to leave out a comma and a full stop for no reason and capitalize words in the middle of the sentence.
  • Minus a million for just not making any damn sense at all.

People. Please. If you can't bring yourself to describe what you're selling, at least make it easy to understand. The very last thing you want in your prospective customers is confusion over what you do or make. Confused people do not spend money on stuff, and if for some reason they do, there's a good chance they'll be back to make your life miserable once they figure out this isn't what they wanted at all. You're hurting your employees! And your business! Won't someone think of the minimum wage minions?!

When I take over the world and assume my throne as Baron von Advertsberg, Lord of All He Surveys, people who do ads like this will be locked in a small room for a day and forced to watch The Little Mermaid on a loop.

(People who do infomercials, of course, will be contestants on a new Survivor-style reality show set wherever on earth gets the most rain.)

CJ, over and out
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Obvious Ad is Obvious

Now, sometimes I've heard people in the ad industry talk about customers as if they're literally as dumb as chimps on a sugar high. There's an attitude there that sometimes (or all the time, depending on who you ask) people need to have the core message of an advert beaten into their eyeballs in order for it to be truly effective.

Needless to say, I don't really subscribe to this position. If anything, I would think that ads need to be even more sophisticated these days to really penetrate the collective public consciousness.

[obligatory silly comment] Hur, hur, I said 'penetrate'. [/obligatory silly comment]

Moving swiftly on - if there were an award for Most Obvious Ad Banner Ever, Even Including those McDonalds Coffee Cups That Say 'Caution: Hot!", I think Pizza Hut would win it by a mile with this little gem.

Yes, Pizza Hut has Pizza. The mind, it boggles.

Actually, this got me thinking about why they'd decide to put that up there. I realize this means I'm ascribing actual rational thought to someone working in both advertising and Pizza Hut, but let's just go with it for now.

Back when I was in college learning how to be a pretentious asshole, I got a part time job working in a Chinese restaurant to help pay for beer money and smokes. I was one of the counter jockeys who took orders and handed out food. The pay was terrible but you got your dinner free - and if you're into Chinese food, it was an awesome place to be.

Anyway, one night this guy comes in and asks for a pizza. Dude, this is a Chinese place, I say. We don't do pizza. He stares at the menu for about ten minutes, then comes back and says, okay, I'll have a burger then.
No matter what I said, this guy just didn't get that WE ONLY SELL CHINESE FOOD.

Seeing this sign kinda makes me think Pizza Hut have had a run in with the same dude. If so, they have my deepest and most profound sympathy. He's the kind of guy the ad agencies have in mind when they think of the 'average consumer'.

Hear that, dude? You're making the rest of us look bad!

CJ, over and out
Friday, October 15, 2010

Poor Heidi Klum

It never ceases to amaze me that companies feel the need to take perfectly good women and contort their bodies into poses that are either grotesque or simply biologically impossible. I really feel for the poor models. Do they have those pictures in their portfolio? What if someone asks them to strike that pose again?

It's a conundrum, I tell you.

Today's bad example comes from the ever informative Photoshop Disasters. Is that the beautiful and talented Heidi Klum, I hear you ask? Why yes, it is, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Oh Heidi, I know what you really look like. I know you're not an alien hybrid who's been starved for weeks on end. I know, in fact, that you're a beautiful woman who dresses fabulously and who smiles like a sunrise.

I just want you to know that. If you're bored sometime, we should totally do lunch and talk about clothes - especially those Christian Louboutin shoes. I have a pair just like them at home.

Anyway, let us proceed to the list of fail!

  • Promoting activewear through the use of a model doing a pose that maybe, possibly, a skilled contortionist could do after getting tanked up? Bad choice. Why not a photo of Ms. Klum doing some kind of sport, huh? HUH?
  • HEIDI KLUM DOES NOT LOOK LIKE THAT. Stop lying to us, dammit! Enough of the damn cartoon anatomy!
  • The dead, drained look in her eyes does not bode well for the success of the clothing. That would be projecting the wrong impression entirely.
  • Okay, I get the whole 'active pose' idea you've got going on here, but c'mon - nothing else? No color? I've never seen an action photo look so completely lifeless. It's got a creepy puppet vibe going on.

The moral of the story, kids, is that if something looks like a good idea at first glance, that doesn't mean you should just go with it. And please - the point of using a pretty woman is to get positive attention. Turning her into a creepy alien hybrid through the magic of Photoshop is just wrong, and makes for bad advertising.

CJ, over and out
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

INBT: Moving Pictures Edition! Also - SEX!

A friend of mine mentioned this the other day, and it was like having a light bulb the size of frikkin' Everest turned on in my head.

Did you know... you can use SEX to sell things?!

OMG, the world and everything in it suddenly makes sense! Even Scientology! And that Perfect Blue anime I saw a few years ago! My mind, it is blown, I tell you!

Ok, sarcasm aside, I thought adverts had gotten past the whole idea of trying to use sex + random product unrelated to sex IN ANY WAY in order to sell said product. Obviously, I was wrong.

May I present Birds Eye at it's finest:

The horror. For those of you living in caves with computers made from leaves, mud and your own hair, that's a video where a talking fish finger with a woman's voice strips off for two other identical fish fingers with male voices.

Someone needs to call Birds Eye and remind them that 'sexy' is not a word that should be used in conjunction with 'frozen sticks of dead animal flesh'. The message here seems to be 'buy our new fish fingers, they're sexy!' or 'buy our new fish fingers, and women will strip off for you!'

I'm not sure which is more problematic. Maybe they were going for the humor angle? Personally, I find talking, stripping fish fingers gives me a serious case of WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK, not a case of the giggles.

CJ, over and out
Saturday, October 9, 2010

Office Depot got bit in the ass

I know some people like to think that advertising consists of just big graphic ads, or little text links - that adverts are the beginning, middle and end of advertising, controlled by the company, with the purpose of getting their name out there and getting customers to sit up and take notice.

Oh no, kids - nothing could be further from the truth. Advertising is everything about the company that's out in the public sphere, and that includes things that are being said by critics and customers. At one time you could have full control over your corporate image, but these days and with the Internet being what it is, a customer in London will hear about it pretty soon if you piss off another customer in Toronto.

People talk. You're a fool if you don't listen.

Here's a case in point: Office Depot, purveyor of all things office-related, including computers.

Image and story courtesy of Enterprise Irregulars.

Guy goes to buy netbook. Guy sees good offer on website. Guy also sees what appears to be the exact same netbook for $150 more, and probably wonders whether Office Depot are actually proofing this stuff before it goes live on their website. Guy goes to buy cheaper model - oops, no stock. If you want it, you'll need to pay more.

Can you say PR disaster in the making? That blog post is on the front page when you google 'deceptive advertising'. Guy even tries to contact Office Depot and get some info about what the hell is up with the price, and the chat log of the conversation between him and the customer service monkey is painful to read.

Let us count the fails:

  • Listing two identical laptops on your site, with two vastly different prices, and the only indicator that they are in any way different is the teeny model number
  • Talking like a robot reading from a script when the customer comes to you looking for info
  • Suggesting to the customer to buy the more expensive model (seriously, he thought this was appropriate?! The whole point of the conversation was how that model was $150 more for no visible benefit!)
  • No sign of working with the customer to get them the laptop they want, when a few OD employees confirm in the comments that stock was available in some stores

What are Office Depot getting when they fail this hard? A link to deceptive advertising from a blog post written in January that's still being read now. Not bad for $150.

Apparently the guy was contacted by Executive Customer Relations, which is corporate speak for "Oh Shit People Are Talking About Us Negatively, How Do We Stop It". I'm sure he probably got his laptop, but think of the bad publicity that could have been avoided. That kinda adds one last fail to the list:

  • Not doing anything to fix the problem until it's blindingly obvious that the damage has been done

Seriously, that blog post could have been all about how Office Depot bent over backwards in order to get the guy a laptop, or how they decided to discount one for him as a gesture of goodwill, or how they explained why the more expensive one was more expensive, or... you get the idea. No wonder their stocks have been falling over the last year.

Companies have to get past the mindset that advertising is only what they put out themselves. Advertising is every customer who's willing to talk about you as well. You can't control what they say - and believe me, even trying to is another PR disaster waiting to happen - but that doesn't mean you can't at least influence them in a good way. It all starts with customer service, and actually caring about the people who buy from you.

CJ, over and out
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Welcome to the Internet, L'Oréal. We hope you enjoy your stay.

You know, I like to think that the major brands of the world have marketing departments that are staffed by actual people, and not dribbling morons. Some days, though, I like to believe that there's actually a network of marketing underlings spread out across the world that are enacting some huge, Illuminati-like plan that involves shockingly bad advertising. The alternative - that rational individuals looked at this and decided it was actually going to work - is almost too depressing to contemplate.

The latest fail comes to us courtesy of the Cleveland Leader, because I am being a little bit random for the sheer hell of it and picking a site I've never heard of. Let's talk for a minute about Beyonce.

Yup, attractive woman modelling for L'Oreal. 'This is not news', I hear you cry - BUT WAIT. Here's a picture of Beyonce without all the crazy Photoshopping.

Oh yes, still jaw-droppingly desireable. Note the slight difference, though - L'Oreal decided to lighten up her skin for their advertising campaign, presumeably because they think the fact that this unimagineably delicious singer has dark skin is a mark against her.

Whitewashing. Did they really think the Internet wouldn't notice? The same collective hive mind that can obsess over whether Wolverine or the Hulk would win in a fight, and write slash fiction about Edward and Jacob? (I've read it. It is not for the faint of heart.) L'Oreal has learned a harsh lesson - what could be dismissed or forgotten in meatspace can live on and spread like a disease in cyberspace, and you ignore the viral effect at your peril.

What's worse is that here, they denied they'd done anything - and then used the same image, darkened, elsewhere! They must think we're completely stupid.

Never, ever forget that the Internet can take your best efforts and turn them upside down in a matter of days - and, good grief, think about the obvious consequenses of changing a fundamental feature of your model where people can easily reference 'before' pictures. This is like using a photo of Russell Crowe, but shopping his nose so that it doesn't look like it's been broken in three places! People Will Notice, because people are obsessive, and the backlash when they find out isn't going to bode well for sales.

CJ, over and out
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Toilet advertising: not always effective

Ah, Failblog. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Who thought of putting ads in the bathroom first, I wonder? I expect they're currently swimming through a lake of cash in their solid gold castle in Bavaria, whoever they are. The location itself is a major win, when you think about it - where else do you have people's undivided, empty-headed attention? GENIUS, I tell you!

Oh, but this wouldn't be fun unless there was a screw up somewhere, and here on INBT, we love screw ups.

Especially in company.

And maybe with furry handcuffs.


Sorry, kinda lost my train of thought there. Where was I?

OH YES! Failblog. Right. Here's a lovely little example of advertising gone horribly wrong:

Oh yes indeed, this is a urinal, and that is the men's bathroom. Which has an advert for... something... for women drivers. Two options immediately present themselves.

  1. Someone, somewhere, forgot that women don't use the men's room, or
  2. "Bargain rates for women drivers"? There's a word we use to describe someone who sells women, you know.

Once again, confusing ad is confusing! The use of red on 'for women' also makes no sense. It feels very disjointed, which is not a good promotional method for a business. I can't imagine that they actually intended to convey a message about selling women, but if they did... Great holy hell, Batman, the marketing department needs to come back from their little time travel excursion into the Dark Ages.

We should always remember the point of ads - to get people to buy your stuff. Confusing and annoying your customers, or marketing to people who will never, ever buy, is a waste of time. This is the 21st century, kids - the Internet will maul companies who are not savvy enough to be sensible with their marketing.

CJ, over and out
Friday, October 1, 2010

Marlboro: Historical Edition!

You know what's so funny you'll laugh until you pee? Really old ads.

You know what'll make you stare in dumbfounded horror that anyone thought this was a good idea? Really old ads.

I think someone at Marlboro was smoking something a little more illicit in their usual nicotine fix when they put this delightful campaign together. Behold!

Yes, children, Mommy needs to light up a cigarette to keep her nerves under control, because women have been hysterical lunatics since forever and need chemicals to make them rational! (Image courtesy of the fabulous BlogHer)

Let's ignore the fact that smoking is actually really bad for you, and for kids. Back in ye olde mists of time, they didn't know all the horrible stuff we know today about these little cancer sticks. Just check out the advert itself:

  • Bad typeface. Cutesy, yes - readable? Not so much.
  • The colors, seriously. Menstruating red and toxic pink are not working with the grays there. I guess this was a first foray into the use of colour...
  • What the hell does 'over-smoked' mean? Google doesn't seem to know. And the hat on the baby on the left seems very random. Confusing ad is confusing!
  • This ad pretty much says outright that it thinks women are insane. Maybe it's the effect of the 21st century looking back, but the babies' attitude seems totally patronizing. Is this really the kind of image you want to project to your target customers?

Yeah, we tend to get all nostalgic for the old days. You know, back when the '50s were all about apple pie, white picket fences, gingham skirts and all that stuff, before we had the Internet and America fell into moral decay... Just remember, folks, the adverts sucked back then, too.

CJ, over and out
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Someone call H.R Geiger!

I think someone is ripping off his work.

For those of you not in the know, Geiger is the man who did the design concepts for the Alien movies. Check out his website if you're into seriously creepy yet awesome art. It's not everyone's taste, but it sure as hell isn't wussy.

He's got a... thing... about female figures in poses or in machines or... hell, I can't describe half of it. You gotta respect a man who's turned his issues into a business.

Anyway, getting back to the point: here is Exhibit A: the first alien/human crossbreed.

Courtesy of the oh-so-popular Photoshop Disasters blog. Which you should read, dammit!

I'm sure this lovely model has actual human proportions in real life, but the slavering graphic artists have decided that she's JUST! NOT! THIN! ENOUGH! for fashion, and they've shrunk her waist and other bits. I feel for her, truly I do. No one deserves this kind of treatment.

But take a look at the ad overall. It's got problems beyond the whole 'heroin chic' thing. Proenza Schouler sell clothes, and if the purpose of the ad is to get women to buy its clothes, I think they're failing. Let's count the ways:

  • Shitty color choice. All black vs. the model's face in color? It's like they don't want you to look at what she's wearing.
  • The model looks angry. Oh noes! People who buy these clothes will be angry!
  • Photoshopping some seriously bizarre anatomy problems onto a perfectly lovely model: bad idea. She doesn't look human any more, and I guess that's cool if you're selling to the alien hybrid market, but I thought these clothes were aimed at actual, real women.
  • The weird effect around the text kinda makes it look like someone made a mess of developing the photo. Or something. Either way, it's making my eyes hurt.

Strike one for Proenza Schouler! Maybe they'll knock the next one out of the park...

CJ, over and out
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't you just hate it when...

...companies decide to be lazy about their advertizing? Or maybe their photographers are having an off day, or their legions of Photoshop gurus haven't been given their sedatives, and the end result just makes you want to scream 'OH GOD GET IT AWAY FROM ME!

Never fear - here at I'M NOT BUYING THAT, we welcome the horror and dissect it for our own amusement. There is no ad campaign too sleazy, no Photoshop mess too ridiculous, and no company too big for us to take pot shots at for their silliness.

And we like to talk in the royal third person because it makes us sound cool.

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