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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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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!

*booooooo*


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!

Anyway.

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.
  • OH GOD THE BLEACH IT HURTS
  • 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. Clich├ęd 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

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