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
Monday, May 23, 2011

Beer, Beer, Beer, RED TRUCK BEER

I'm more of a vodka man myself, but with the absence of quality vodka in many areas of the world, I sometimes have to take what I can get. Trust me, when you've been dealing with marketing sheep all week while sober, the only thing you want on Friday night is to get blind drunk on the nearest alcoholic beverage to hand, even if said beverage tastes like fermented mouthwash.

Now, beer is something of a hit or miss thing for me (I've never met a vodka I didn't like, however - make of that what you will). Some beers I would drink all day long, pass out happily with a smile on my face, and accept the hangover as a natural karmic consequence of having imbibed such ambrosia. Some other beers I despise with a deep and unholy passion, and nothing on earth can make me put them in my mouth willingly. Red Truck Beer falls in the middle of these two extremes, I think - I'll drink it, true, but I'll be thinking about vodka. Or a nice appletini.

Today's fail comes courtesy of the big red truck - behold!

Now, I saw this and immediately thought, 'How do you drink a truck?' Obviously their clever marketing ploy failed on me, and for that I should feel bad. As I kept looking at it, it dawned on me that the font wasn't exactly easy to read, and if you were in a hurry, you could mistake that 'tr' there for an 'f'.

At that point, I became very conflicted - this is either a fail of epic proportions, or it's the kind of subversive adult advertising that makes me giggle far too much. The purist in me wants to lean towards fail territory if only because that goddamn font is not working - yes, I know it's in character or some shit, but that's no excuse for ignoring basic readability. The internet troll in me wants to call it a win because HERP DERP FUCK LOL.

Hmm. It's a conundrum.

One other thing that made me suspect some kind of shenanigans is the fact that the tagline on the Red Truck Beer site is actually 'The Freshest Beer on Four Wheels'. Same silly font and everything. Did someone notice and change it to avoid possible internet mockery? Well TOO LATE, assholes! To paraphrase Reddit, 4Chan, and others... I SEE WAT U DID THAR.

Alright, alright, sorry. I'll go back to drinking vodka. This stuff clearly isn't having a good effect on me. Here's the red truck I wish I could afford.

CJ, over and out
Friday, May 13, 2011

And yet, I can't look away.

I'm an open-minded kind of guy. I think you have to be, in order to work in marketing and advertising. Well - no, let me qualify that a bit: you need to be open-minded in order to work in the industry successfully, because trying to think up new ways to sell to people means you need to empathize with them on some level. I guess that's why a lot of creative type people are liberal.

It makes sense in my head. I think.

Anyway, on the topic of being open-minded - I am aware that there are such things as furries, and I am also aware of... stuff... that goes on in that particular fandom as a result of one unfortunate afternoon when my curiosity, and Google Image search, got the better of me. Despite the ensuing mental trauma, I am largely okay with them doing what they do, but I never thought I'd see the day that such things would cross over into my area of expertise.

Brace yourself, and only press play if you're really, really sure you want to see softcore porn.

Now, there were a few things that jumped out at me, but top of the list was HOLY BOOB JIGGLE BATMAN! Then I just started to count the number of overt references to hentai and sex fetishes. And then I saw the octopus.

After that, my brain just went 'Fuck this' and left the building.

As far as I can tell, this is an actual advert made by an actual ad company with actual money, paid (presumably) by Orangina to help promote their drink. I have to ask if they knew what they were getting, or if they were aware of all the connotations surrounding the sexual objectification of anthropomorphic animals. I suspect, though I'm not sure, that someone was aware, and they went with it anyway for shits and giggles.

But that's not all. There was an entire ad campaign surrounding this, remember. Here's one of the pictures from it, courtesy of some website:

GAAAAH I'm reliving Day of the Triffids! MY EYES, THEY CANNOT UNSEE!

On one hand, I want to call this a fully fledged train wreck the like of which marketers have nightmares about, but on the other hand... I can't look away. I guess you can call it successful in that it got people's attention, even if those people were alternatively wincing or shuddering in disgust. Maybe they're aiming at the furry demographic... do furries drink a lot of Orangina? I have to wonder.

I find this kind of thing problematic anyway. It's another example of the brain dead 'sex sells' mentality that pisses me off. I mean, the whole concept of the campaign is how Orangina is naturally juicy, or whatever - couldn't they have done that without the addition of porn? If the production values are anything to go by, they had the money to spare.

It might not be so bad, except I know that some poor animator had to produce this advert, and unless they're a furry, they probably wanted to gouge out their brain with a spoon afterwards. Whoever you are, I salute you, sir. You're a braver man than I.

I'm gonna go rewatch this now.

CJ, over and out

Never eating sausages again

I'm not all that picky about what I eat, if I'm being honest here - and on INBT, I'm nothing but 100% honest. Really. No bullshit, hyperbole or anything. Everything I say is the absolute truth, especially that thing about being hunted by the soda goons for figuring out Pepsi's evil master plan.

I don't drink Pepsi, by the way. I do like sausages, though - or at least I did, until I saw this particular gem of an advert. Behold its wince-inducing glory, courtesy of MomGrind:

I've been meaning to write about this one for a while, but I got distracted by some other vintage ads. Don't ask me what any of that crap means - I can speak Sindarin, and I can insult someone's mother in Chinese, but I never learned French. (That is French, right?) I just can't get over the image, though - it just... defies gravity, and physics, and I dunno, common fucking sense when you think about it. It's a pig. And he's dismembering himself with a smile. And his internal anatomy apparently makes no sense whatsoever, being composed of red mush with assorted blue bits.

I can't help but get the idea that it's some kind of cadaver being posed for our horrific amusement, and those blue bits are actually the steel bars that are stopping it from collapsing into a heap of HOLY SHIT I'M SCARING MYSELF. Right. No more of that. Back to happy fun times.

Oh yeah, I'm creeped out now. Damn my overactive imagination! Here's the book I will be reading tonight to help rid my mind of those particular mental images.

CJ, over and out
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Osama bin Laden Ads: It had to happen eventually

Yeah, yeah - two posts in as many days; you feeling alright there, CJ? What's with this new-found work ethic?

I don't usually post about good ads. This is a given, seeing as this blog is all about shitty advertising. It's not really on topic to point out ads that are really good. I'm largely okay with that, seeing as good ads are about as rare as fucking unicorns.

Today, I have to break with tradition and highlight an ad that I personally think is one of the best you're likely to see. Courtesy of my comrade-in-arms, the Copyranter...

You'd better just click on it to get the full effect. You might not actually get it straight away, but look at it a while and it'll probably jump out at you. I'll just wait here until you're ready.



See?! That's an emotional punch in the gut right there! It's shockingly simple, clever, and powerful all at once. The agency is MSTF Partners in Portugal, and this was made for a Portuguese paper called the Expresso. They deserve a fucking medal for this one.

(If you still don't get it, those are the birth and death dates of those killed in the Twin Towers bombing, and the last date is, obviously enough, the birth and death of the dude on the top left.)

Thing is, I've been expecting a lot of shitty advertising to pop up after the death of Mr Beardy up there, with companies trying to cash in on the wave of 'AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!' I got kinda blindsided by this one if only because it's appropriate and tasteful while still referring to two very touchy events, i.e. 9/11 and bin Laden's death. It works on a few different levels and across multiple languages, which is really not easy. There's not really much more I can say about it, except that it's one of the finer examples of my industry and I'd like to salute the guys that did it.

Anyhoo... tomorrow I'll be back to my usual vodka-fueled snarkiness. In honor of Expresso, and the fine job their advert agency is doing, here's a coffee maker.

CJ, over and out
Monday, May 9, 2011

Facebook, what? This is advertising?

You know, some days I feel like I should be an advertising consultant. Now, I know what you're thinking - that would mean selling my eternal soul to the Devil and killing at least three puppies - it seems extreme, but hear me out.

Those guys make buckets of money. Like, enough money to swim in, Scrooge McDuck style. (If you don't get that reference, you are too fucking young and I hate you.) They also get away with the most ridiculous shit you've ever seen, the kind of stuff that makes me think they've been making bets as to who can get the most ridiculous shit into print and still get paid for it. This appeals to my sense of dramatic lunacy, in a twisted kind of way.

Case in point: this ad, courtesy of Ads of the World again.

For once the miscreants who inhabit Ads of the World and myself agree: this is pretty shitty, as adverts go, hence my theory that someone pitched it as a bet and the powers that be didn't spot the fact that it's shit. It looks like an ad for Facebook, right? It's not - as far as I can tell, it's supposed to be for a radio station.

I think, and don't hold me to this, that it's got something to do with singers having a conversation using lines from their songs. And the little tagline there is just saying hey, it could happen. I guess it's clever, or something, but I'm still scratching my head and wondering how this connects to anything the radio station might do. It's not hugely effective either, not with all that white space, anyway. I bet lotsa moneys were paid for it though. IT LOOKS LIKE FACEBOOK THAT MEANS IT'S TOPICAL WOOO.

Yeah... I don't get it. Here's a book on radio stations with a flashy cover instead.

CJ, over and out
Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Million Dollar Question

If you've been following along with INBT at all, you'll probably have guessed that I'm a sucker for vintage adverts. Every time I see them, I can't help but get a dose of the warm and fuzzies for how shockingly inappropriate they look these days.

Sometimes, though, I have to wonder. We can give the guys who made the ads a pass because it was back in ye olde times, when men were men and women were interchangeable and disposable, it was the done thing to make ads that were so sexist, even the MGTOW brigade would have passed on them these days. (That's Men Going Their Own Way, in case you're curious, and I'd be totally down with their philosophy except they seem to dislike women for some reason.)

Anyway, this latest example comes to us courtesy of Randomn3ss, a site with a bizarre name in which a '3' is put in the place of an 'e'. IT'S MADNESS I TELL YOU!

Well, now I have to go and consult my lawyer. He may be drunk or high, but this is a simple question that I'm sure won't shake him out of his happily inebriated state.


Goddamn voicemail...

Alright. Next best thing - to the Interwebs!

AH-HAH! In your FACE, vintage sexist advert!

Aside from the truly bizarre question, I'm also left wondering what exactly is being advertised here. I can infer what a postage meter is, true enough, but I don't know how and why this is connected to a man in a laughably bad tie wanting to kill the Guinness Book of Record's Biggest Snob champion. I suspect I do not have the requisite philosophical skills to ponder the depths of WTFery going on here, so I think I should just leave it to other, more enlightened minds.

In other news, Amazon sells postage meters. Not the one in the ad, much to my disappointment, but still...

CJ, over and out
Monday, April 11, 2011

More confusing than a monkey doing calculus...

Yep, I'm still not dead, and the soda goons haven't gotten to me yet. This can only mean that I need to post another long, weird rant about how advertising sucks and how you should bow down and accept me as your lord and master.

My preferred title is Baron von Advertsberg, remember. I'm thinking of making an official seal.

(In other news, someone found my site by googling 'dicks everywhere'. This both pleases and amuses me in equal measure.)

Today's fail comes courtesy of Ads of the World, again. Can't say I always agree with the guys over there - we have sometimes wildly different opinions on what is absolute shit and what isn't - but they're great for checking out the latest and sometimes greatest in the world of advertising. Hence the name, I guess.


If, at this point, you are asking yourself what this ad is about, I'm afraid I have no fucking clue. I honestly don't. I am just as baffled as you are. The tagline is 'Time to Switch to Sweet 'n' Healthy'; make of that what you will. There's a teeny tiny little icon thing up in the corner there that could be just about anything related to healthy eating.

I think that looks like a paper bag full of green goo, in fact. Maybe they're selling edible goo that is both sweet and healthy? If so, this is goo that I would like to actually see in the advert, as opposed to peeking out of some generic paper bag...

Wait, wait, wait. My bad. That can't be goo, it'd soak through the bag or something. Green felt, perhaps? Maybe some kind of velvet?

GAAH the suspense is killing me! WHAT PRODUCT ARE YOU SELLING, DAMMIT?! If I have to explain why this is a bad advert, I will actually despair of all mankind and start preparing for the inevitable nuclear holocaust.

In the meantime, here's some healthy shit from Amazon. As I am largely fueled by vodka and whatever I can kill with my bare hands, health food is both weird and alien to me - but you might like it.

CJ, over and out
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I think you missed something there, Hollywood

Advertising can be anything, and everything can be advertising. Weird but true fact.

Something that kinda hacks me off a bit is how advertising can be intentionally misleading, but not outright illegal. Ads can't lie, not blatantly, but they can lie a little by omission. Hollywood is the worst for it. How many times have you watched a trailer or seen a movie poster, and gotten all excited about what looks like the latest action movie, only to go see it and find out that it's really some angsty, arty shit that has less swearing than a rom-com?

....Okay, that could just be me, but you get the idea. I likes me some action and blood - less so the angst. Twilight made me want to throw glitter all over people then punch them to death with an Edward action figure.

Today's little fail is actually hard to see. You'd miss it, in fact, if you weren't paying attention. Take a look at this movie poster:

True Grit was released in December. Pretty good movie, if I recall right. I didn't notice the posters at the time.

You don't see it, do you? This poster, kids, is LYING TO YOU. Top billing for the three dudes, that little picture at the bottom with three figures on horseback - you'd think this is a film about them, yeah? Well, you'd be WRONG. Let's go to Wikipedia...
True Grit is a 2010 American Western film written and directed by the Coen brothers. It is the second adaptation of Charles Portis' 1968 novel of the same name, which was previously adapted for film in 1969 starring John Wayne. The film stars Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, and Jeff Bridges as U.S. Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn along with Matt DamonJosh Brolin, and Barry Pepper.
What's that I see there? Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross?! Who is this person? Well, if you're familiar with the novel True Grit is based on, or if you've SEEN THE FUCKING MOVIE, you'll know that Mattie Ross is the  main character. She - yes, SHE, this shit wouldn't happen to a male lead - is the 14-year-old girl who hires the U.S. Marshal to go after the guy who killed her father, which is, in fact, the whole goddamn plot in a nutshell. And the actress's name isn't even mentioned on the poster.

Yeah, yeah, I know Hollywood likes to keep the top billing for the stars who'll draw in the most people, but seriously?! This shit is still misleading. If I'd seen nothing but this poster, I'd think it was a western about three cowboys because you left out the fact that the protagonist is a young girl!

I'm cynical enough to believe that it's down to Hollywood sexism - and if anyone's going to tell me that doesn't exist, I reserve the right to laugh my fucking ass off at you - but the bigger concern here is that it's still lying by omission. And that, children, is bad advertising.

The movie's alright, though. And the book too. Here's the original 1968 hardcover, which actually has a picture of Mattie Ross on it OH NOES IT'S CLEARLY A LESSER BOOK BECAUSE THERE'S NO COWBOYS ON THE COVER.


CJ, over and out
Monday, March 28, 2011

Someone Went There

I've seen enough terrible advertising to know that nothing, NOTHING is sacred when it comes to getting attention - even if it's the worst kind of attention, and may get you beaten up repeatedly. Something about controversy makes marketing departments everywhere lose whatever sense they had and produce crap the like of which wouldn't look out of place in a sewer, under a pile of rotting garbage, crawling with rats and flies.

Now, there are competitions for the best ads in the world. As far as I can see, some of them have an odd selection criteria and reward agencies for being shocking instead of being good. Some not-so-ethical designers can even submit adverts that have never and would never get into print or onto a screen, because although marketing departments may get a bit silly sometimes, the legal team of a company know how to avoid shit getting serious.

This advert is a combination of these two ideas. It was never meant to be seen, but seen it was, and the Internet hive mind did not react well. Great tragedies, like a fart in a crowded room, are something you just don't draw attention to in case you get a metaphorical punch to the face. Using a great tragedy in an advert had better be for some kind of humanitarian cause, because quite frankly, only the most noble end can really justify bringing human suffering into the crass world of advertising.

This ad does not fall into that category.

Yeah. Someone went there.

There is more than one in the set, which I am not going to post or link to here. The ads went up on Ads of the World, and were subsequently pulled after complaints.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. The ads were originally attributed to M&C Saatchi, but they threw a total shitfit - here's the reaction of the regional PR, as you can see from the comments here:
I am writing officially from M&C Saatchi. My name is Kim Walker, I am President and CEO of M&C Saatchi Asia Pacific.
These appalling images are NOT the work of the agency and are NOT sanctioned or approved by either the client or the agency. The credits are incorrect and misleading.
They are the private work of a previous employee and were posted without any knowledge of the agency.
M&C Saatchi is mortified and disgusted by these so-called ads and despite not having any participation in theri creation, apologises for the understandable revulsion from those who see them.
IVAN _ please remove them immediately. They are not the work of the agency and to continue to credit the agency is defamatory.
Ivan is the admin of Ads of the World, and he wisely pulled them before the lawyer pitbulls were released. But... check out the start of this article here:

The images, which depict the World Trade Center, Hiroshima and Bhopal tragedies, appear as ads for skincare client VLCC, along with the strapline "Some scars never go." The art director responsible for creating and uploading the work - Chaman Singh - has since been fired by the agency, while the offending work has also been removed from the website.

Oh deary, deary me. (Italics are mine, by the way.) I thought Ms. Walker was implying that these were not done by M&C Saatchi in any way, shape or form initially, but this article kinda implies that an employee of the agency did do them, uploaded them to Ads of the World, and then got their stupid ass fired when the Internet took notice and started to kick up some heavy brand poison. And then the agency sent out this memo talking about a 'previous employee', in the usual damage control fashion that no longer surprises me in any way. (Why yes, I do believe that they're not actually sincere in apologizing - but then again, I am a nihilistic misanthrope who hates everyone.)

Possibly this is something that the guy did on his own time, and M&C Saatchi do deserve some credit for at least trying to make amends, but you know what? This shit is not new. Ads that accelerate past the boundary of good taste and and plain common sense are not new. This is what ad agencies do for a living. I think it's fucking despicable, but that's what we call precedent, kids.

Controversy. Shock and Awe. The Internet generation are so jaded that they won't take notice of anything else. And nothing is sacred.

It shouldn't be like that.

Alright, I know there's no funnies in this particular rant. I've asked Courage Wolf to respond to any whiners as a result.

Also, here's a book that is somewhat relevant and that definitely makes me feel better about all the shitty 9/11 advertising.

CJ, over and out
Friday, March 25, 2011

Penis enlargement? Sign me up!

Normally, I have to say, I'm 100% in favor of penis enlargement. Anything that adds more penises (penii?) to the world is a service to mankind. Did I mention I lost about six hours today reading slash fiction? Dicks. Everywhere.

Never mind. On to the terrible advertising!

See, even though I'm a depraved misanthrope for whom nothing is shocking, 103 inches seems... excessive. The trousers for carrying such an enormous member would need to be specially fitted, for one. The use of a normal urinal would probably require scaffolding. I think sex would probably be amazing, though, if you could convince fifty to a hundred women to lick your schlong all at the same time.

Let this be a warning to all advertisers of penis enlargement treatments: PROOFREAD, for the love of god, or the very least that will happen is you'll get customers with excessively high expectations.

Now, normally I'd only do one ad, but you've been such a good audience, I feel like an encore. Behold!

Yes, kids, if you've got penis, you need to balance that up with vagina. The question weighing on my mind here, of course, is what in hell is the connection between vaginas and bagels; vaginas being the delicious entryway to sexytime heaven, and bagels being the delicious bread that makes your lunch awesome. These things are not alike.

If this was a car ad, I can't help imagining it would say something like "Our cars are like deep grilled pizzas: what's not to love?" It would make as much sense.

...Now I'm imagining a pizza car. DAMN YOU BRAIN!

I searched Amazon for 'penis enlargement' and got this.

Yes, I laughed myself stupid over the name.

CJ, over and out
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today's Text-Based Disaster

You know, the nice thing about terrible advertising is that there's more of it than I could ever write about, even if I spent all my time writing. It's like malware, or that spam you get from Nigerian princes who want to help you enlarge your manly flesh rocket - the stuff is EVERYWHERE, constantly taunting me with its lameness.

This blog is therapy, I swear. It's this or go out with a paintbrush and start drawing mustaches on everything.

Anyway, back to business... Today's fail comes to us courtesy of Modern Mechanix, a delightfully steampunk-ish site chock full of random oldey timey stuff.

Needless to say, a headline that blatantly encourages your potential customers to go on a killing spree is not exactly the most sensible course of action if you want to make money. Again, maybe that's not your intention - I still haven't ruled out the Advertising Illuminati theory of world domination through shitty adverts.

Maybe they're focused on a very specific demographic, that of the Unreal-Tournament-playing bug fetishists? The mind boggles. (And google 'Unreal Tournament killing spree' if you don't get the reference - what am I, your mother?)

Anyhoo, here's another computer game all about men killing for money. Enjoy!

CJ, over and out
Friday, March 18, 2011

Breasts: Now in Advert Form!

Whoops, my pageviews are slipping again - that must mean that I should post another long, rambling rant on modern marketing! With more boobies!

So there's this game called Evony. It's some game online that I have never played, nor do I ever intend to. I prefer my games with one of two things in them: blood, guts, limbs, and the dismemberment thereof, or hawt women piloting hundred-foot-tall robot mechs. I do not play games like this:

From MMOHut.com, of course. They like this sort of thing.

Evony came to my attention because the makers seem to be having a bout of the crazies. See, that game up there, while fun for people who are not me, very clearly does not contain any boobies. You can bet that if it did, the boobies would be front and center and hopefully attached to a woman. Their advertising, however, seems to be suggesting something completely different:

The full story is on CodingHorror. Do you see the incongruity here?

  • Disembodied boobies do not appear in Evony.
  • Lacy bras do not appear in Evony.
  • That shade of hot porno pink does not appear in Evony.
  • They can call it free, but they apparently sell over-powered premium in-game items.
  • They can call it the best free web game, but their score of 2.5/5 on MMOHut says otherwise.
  • Play secretly?! Are they really trying to instill a sense of shame in their customer base?

The only things that are actually 100% true in this ad are the words 'Evony', 'Game', 'Play', 'Now', 'Web', and 'Secretly'. It's hard to imagine an advert even more misleading while still being legal. In fact, I'm surprised that the Evony headquarters haven't been ransacked by a legion of angry, horny nerds screaming about how they were promised boobies. And let's not even get into the problem of once again using a woman like a piece of meat on show - seriously, is this ever going to get old?! When the hell are we going to see large, burly men on show for our enjoym-

...Okay, that came out wrong. What I meant to say was, we should seriously think about ending this relentless and unjustified objectification of bodily parts. It's not right. Or something.

Yeah, I'm gonna go with that.

Here's some angry nerd bracelets. If you feel the need to play Evony, think about getting them instead. You might get more boobies out of it, and if you're very good, you might even get a real woman too!

CJ, over and out
Monday, March 14, 2011

Stay classy, Microsoft

I should just write a fucking manifesto on How to Advertise Without Looking Like a Total Douchebag. I think people would find it useful, you know? I would swear a lot. And make fun of stupid companies.

....Or I could just keep spewing out crap on INBT. That would be cool too, wouldn't it? Less effort involved.

Anyway, what with the horrible stuff happening over in Japan, I kinda thought I should just stay quiet for a few days. I know I'm totally distracting you guys with my wit and charm and dashing good looks. But a thing has been brought to my attention that cannot be allowed to pass without comment, or at least without some pointing and laughing.

Microsoft have once again shoved their proverbial foot into it. Here's the story, courtesy of The Stranger:

Yeah, they didn't think this one through at all. You have to admire their evilness, though. Let's dissect this, shall we?
  • They're using a hideous catastrophe in what looks like a cheap ploy to get retweets.
  • They've imposed an upper limit on their donation.
  • The limit isn't even pocket change for them.
I'm not sure what else to say. There's a level of stupid associated with this that makes me think their marketing department took the day off and gave the intern the Twitter password. But it doesn't stop there, oh no. This is Microsoft, kids - they don't do small.

The follow up apology kind of thing said that they were 'sorry that the tweet was negatively perceived'. So, on top of looking like self-serving douchebags, they also apologize in a half-assed, we're-not-really-responsible kind of way. Not sorry for the tweet - sorry for the reaction. Newsflash: that kinda makes you look like a spineless little shit on top of being a douchebag, no matter how much you donate.

I can't believe I need to keep saying this, but your intentions mean NOTHING in marketing. Oh, you're sorry that someone took that ad the wrong way? You never intended to make yourself look like a total douchebag? Tough. You did. Time to put on your big boy pants and make a real apology, and that starts with taking responsibility.

The point of all this is that whatever goodwill they've saved up from Bill Gates' philanthropic work has just taken a major knock. And it doesn't matter that this is just one division of Microsoft - public perception doesn't distinguish between them. It just sees one big corporate entity.

I'm hoping they'll learn from this, but it's not likely.

I'd like to add something funny from Amazon, but in light of the fact that Japan's taken a beating, I think I should add this instead. If you're going to donate to anyone, make it Doctors Without Borders. I'm leaving a button in the sidebar for easy access.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oh Intel, is it time we put you in a nursing home?

I did say even the biggest and oldest companies are capable of major goofs. Today, we have Intel to thank for our chuckles, courtesy of one very odd slogan as captured by Paul Adams on Flickr.

Behold the head-scratching glory!

Oh, Intel. I know you're still insisting that your eyesight is okay, and that smell coming from your adult diaper isn't urine, but really... we know. It's alright to ask for help. There, there. I'll call some nice men in white coats, and they'll bring you to a lovely place where you can sit outside in the sun and chat to the other giant corporations who are also going senile. You would get along so well.

See, there's this thing about reality as we know it. If the future loses its lead to you (as this ad suggests), then you are ahead of the future. This means you are traveling forward in time. Into the future. Which has more future ahead of it that you still haven't caught up to yet. At this point, all normal physics unravels as you try to infinitely jump ahead of whatever future is still in front of you, and, as we all know, there is no insurance in the universe that will cover that particular mess.

I'm afraid I have to call bullshit on that, my friend. You are clearly blowing smoke up our collective asses, or you're blowing a much more fun kind of smoke through your lungs right now. I'm not judging you; I'm just saying, is all. Maybe, just maybe, you should take a step back and think for a while before you get stoned and play Corporate Buzzword Bingo before a serious marketing session.

I could suggest a few snappy slogans, you know. Maybe something like, "Intel: Have You Ever Looked At Your Hand, I Mean REALLY Looked At Your Hand, Dude?"

Do you know they make FUTURE memory for computers?! IT'S BETTER BECAUSE IT'S IN THE FUTURE, DAMMIT!

CJ, over and out
Saturday, March 5, 2011

A new look!

And why not? If I'm going to do this blog, I might as well go nuts.

I'm hoping that it looks as annoying as it was to make. I mean, really eye-watering crap like this doesn't just happen, you know. It takes time, and effort, and some major skills with Photoshop.
Friday, March 4, 2011

Remember what I said about being controversial?

The ultimate irony, kids, is when an advertising company puts out its own ads, and they turn out to be so unbelievably horrible they make you want to vomit all over your nice new shoes. Today, irony, thy name is Virtus Communications from New Zealand.

The image comes courtesy of Seth B. Larsen's blog, which may or may not be dead.

I am struggling - STRUGGLING - to work out where the hell the dead body fits in to a successful campaign. What is it about ad agencies and dead women?! Is this really a selling point? TELL ME YOU SEE THIS TOO.

  • She looks dead. Is she dead? Did he just try to cut something out of her? So. Many. Questions!
  • Those look like hedge cutters in his hand. I didn't realize hedge cutters could make such a clean incision without leaving, oh, a bloody mess for example.
  • I don't get the apron. Or is that a T-shirt? Why is there so little blood on it? Is that a magic wound?
  • Blood isn't yellow, or orange, or whatever color is soaking into the thing she's lying on. 

Oh, I could go on. And on. And dear god, I'd never stop until someone took a set of shears to my back too. Like the trolley - who put bicycle wheels on a gurney? Are we not tired of seeing women being chopped up or killed just to sell us stuff?! Who finds this compelling, and when will they be sent off to the men in white coats?

I've said it before, and I'm saying it here again - you may think that you're being edgy and controversial, but what you're actually doing is spewing out stupid, offensive shit. And, quite frankly, calling you out on your stupid, offensive shit is a public service, because it's not good advertising, and we're never going to get anything better if you keep it up.

I am angry. Here, have a book.

CJ, over and out
Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Zombies and Soda: A Match Made in Heaven

You know, it's not just the little guys that make some planetary-body-sized mistakes in advertising. As a very smart man with wild hair once said, "Only two things are infinite - the universe, and human stupidity. And I'm not so sure about the universe."

(That was Einstein, by the way. Guy knew his shit.)

Today's delightfully weird example comes from Pepsi. We don't have a copy of the advert itself, but here's a picture of their logo at least. Now bear with me, dear reader - I am going somewhere with this.

Presumably that says 'Pepsi' in Chinese, but that's not important right now. You may have heard of this story, but let's recap: supposedly, when Pepsi wanted to expand into the Chinese market, they translated their famous 'Pepsi Generation' slogan in such a way that it turned into 'Pepsi: Brings your ancestors back from the dead', thus frightening the Chinese consumer market and crashing their sales until they took notice and changed it to something more kitschy and friendly.

Oh, the thought of waves of Chinese zombies guzzling Pepsi to keep going just fills my heart with bubbly happy feelings. It's such a huge shame that it's very, very likely to be total rubbish.


Well, of course big corporations make advertising mistakes - that's what I said at the start of this article. It's just not Pepsi in this case. Snopes has the whole story, and the probability that it's just a myth seems high. Pepsi never got their slogan wrong, and never mistakenly lead the people of China to believe their product could create zombies.

What really interests me about it, though, is that Pepsi haven't confirmed or denied it. They could certainly set the record straight any time they wanted, and if it were really hurting their business, you can bet your collective ass they would in a micro-second. Big corporations are like that, you know. They love their money, and not getting their money turns them into giant, whiny babies.

So, I have a theory. Pepsi haven't said anything yet because (and this will wreck your head) it's good, free advertising!

Think about it. It's a story that travels all on its own, without any effort from them. It doesn't really show their product in a bad light. It's goofy, and funny, and it gives people a 'hur, hur, dumb company' feeling without actually turning them against the company. Effective viral advertising is the pinnacle of marketing, and it's harder to nail than Cleopatra in a chastity belt, so my considered opinion here is that they would be completely INSANE to say a word about it. One mention from them that it's bogus, and all those sites and news blogs and whoever would probably stop repeating it.

Of course, there's the Snopes article, but they leave some wiggle room for it to be true. Personally, I think one of their Chinese staff noticed that the slogan could be translated that way when Pepsi were initially expanding into the market, and he said it to a friend, who said it to another friend, repeat ad infinitum, and the story found its way onto the net in the usual course of things.

...I've just realized that Pepsi may not like this article. If I stop posting, you may assume that their soda goons have found me and taken away my computer. In the meantime, I went looking for something on Amazon that can bring people back from the dead, but apparently they don't sell resurrection kits for humans. Here's one for plants instead.

CJ, over and out
Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bet you thought I'd disappeared...

Oh no, dear readers. It takes more than a month long vodka-fueled bender to keep this particular misanthrope down. I'm back - with a little more liver damage than usual, but still back!

Anyway. Back to the oh-so-serious business of shredding the dire examples of advertising that are thrown my way in lieu of actual money.

Today's lovely example comes to us courtesy of Paul Schreiber, a guy I don't know personally, but who was fortunate enough to snap one hell of a picture. Behold!

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Much as this ad appeals to my everlasting dislike of all other human beings, it fails pretty badly as an incentive to get people into the restaurant. Of course, I am making the assumption here that they want to appeal to customers other than psychopath serial killers, and I may be wrong about that.

So many questions... by 'date', do they mean the fruit or the person accompanying you? Why exactly do they encourage people to wait until after dinner, as if the time is somehow important? And what is with those kebabs - they look about as appetizing as a dead hooker OH WAIT.

Sigh. Please, oh you managers of restaurants everywhere - take heed of this example, and try to avoid references to grievous bodily harm when you're in the business of selling food. For everyone else, this was the first result when I searched Amazon for 'kebab'.

CJ, over and out

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