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   Undertoad  Monday Jun 30 11:43 AM

6/30/2003: Deceptive ads



This was caught by Consumer Reports for their hilarious Selling It column. Both these ads appeared in the same issue of Men's Fitness. Same guy gaining 28 pounds and losing 30 pounds with the same before and after bodies. It looks like losing weight is a better deal as you also get a shirt, a girlfriend, and a more pleasant environment.

I believe that, in the US, we are on the verge of going over the edge in fraud and deception. About half the ads on radio these days are frauds, and the number of television is increasing bit by bit as well. It seems alarming, although one wonders if there's really anything anyone could do about it.

I'm fascinated by ads for "natural male enhancement" that visually suggest their product increases genital size while the actual product description says no such thing. Even the phrase "male enhancement" is part of the deception; the seller can claim that even placebo effects are an "enhancement" for the user. Without question, this is not just fraud but very carefully constructed fraud, and everyone involved to understand that the product actually does nothing.

On the other hand, much of the same could be said for every advertisement everywhere...



joydriven  Monday Jun 30 12:00 PM

credibility

and the same guy--james sterling--offers the two 'unique' testimonials?



hot_pastrami  Monday Jun 30 12:51 PM

This kind of crap is one of the reasons I avoid mass media like the plague. I don't watch TV anymore, I don't listen to the radio anymore, and I don't read magazines. And I won't browse the Internet without Mozilla's popup blocking and image manager stopping most of the ads. Now if only Mozilla would add the ability to block plug-ins on a per-site basis, it's be complete freedom from all ads, including Flash-based. Ahh.

So much of what is marketed right now is lies. So many companies are profiting on peoples' insecurities... weight loss, weight gain, sexual enhancement, penis/breast enlargement... not to mention financial insecurities. My own grandmother gave her life saving away to various sweepstakes before anybody realized that she was doing it. Tens of thousands of dollars, gone.

Not to try to hijack the thread, but I'm curious... do you guys think it's wrong to visit a website but block the ads, which are a site's source of revenue? Some argue that it is immoral to block ads, but I liken it to ripping all of the ads out of a magazine before reading it. It's the risk of the publisher to hope that the reader decides to view the ads, and to respond to them. But if the reader does not do so, they have not acted immorally. But that's just my opinion.



dave  Monday Jun 30 01:15 PM

But see, it's not the same as ripping ads out of a magazine. It's the same as ripping ads out of a free magazine. And even then, at least you kinda glance at it.

I don't like ads either, but let's not make them something they're not. On the web, you're getting content for free. You're free to block the ads, too, but when that site isn't making enough revenue to stay afloat, understand that <b>this is partly your fault</b>.

Personally, I prefer sites that have ads but they can be removed with a reasonable subscription ($10-25/year is reasonable). Popup ads are a no-go, and I obviously have those blocked. But in-line ads, I don't mind as much. These places have to support themselves somehow, and if it's ads, okay. I even click them sometimes, and on a very rare occasion I'll buy something.

I wouldn't say that it's wrong to block all ads, but you may be doing yourself a disservice by doing so.



Bitman  Monday Jun 30 01:29 PM

Re: 6/30/2003: Deceptive ads

Quote:
Originally posted by Undertoad
we are on the verge of going over the edge in fraud and deception
You make it sound like advertisers have traditionally been an honest bunch. That's completely false; advertisers have been desperately trying to lie to us ever since humans came to this planet. All we have here is one (probably the same) company being particularly stupid about their choice of models and timing.

As for the advertising thing, I block pop-ups, but make it a point to allow in-line ads. I don't mind people trying to make a buck, but popups are just stupid.

As for being off topic, I just noticed this guy has a single front tooth.


SteveDallas  Monday Jun 30 01:29 PM

But these days most ads are paid according to click-throughs, not page hits, right? Does that mean there's no moral difference between blocking the ads altogether and simply not clicking on them? Compare and contrast this to the TV executive who said people who didn't watch TV commercials were thieves.

You know, as much as I ignore advertising, I have to wonder how effective it really is.



mitch  Monday Jun 30 01:31 PM

For the most part I agree with dave. I'm a proponent of the free-market mentality -- those places with content worth viewing will get traffic, and if it's worth money to pay for that content, they'll pay according to the perceived value. I pay a small yearly or lifetime subscription fee to those sites that I believe are worth my money.

At the same time, I think that certain types of ads, particularly the invasive ones (pop-ups, phone solicitations, etc.) are NOT cool. In America today there are advertisements EVERYWHERE. I believe Americans coined the phrase "mindshare" with respect to products like Coke or Kleenex becoming household names for "soft-drink" and "tissue" -- what does that say about our mindset?

We have ads on busses, fronts/backs/inside cabs, and taco bell cups. I pay $7.50 to see a movie and get to see 15 minutes worth of ads before previews, not to mention the ads and "quiz games" (i.e. more ads) that cycle before they even roll the film.

I am fearful of what this country is becoming, especially in the hands of media giants such as Time-Warner and Viacom. My fear is really based around the fact that I feel this is still a great place to live, and I don't want to have to feel like I need to go to another country to "stop the insanity". Ads are necessary for awareness, but look back 50 or 60 years -- advertisement was NOTHING back then like it is now, and people and companies got along just fine (other than the whole WW2 thing).

I think you're right here -- people for the most part are being treated like cattle and mindless zombies that can't think for themselves. Rather than selling a product based on its features, quality, and usefulness, marketing makes/breaks a product before it even exists, in some cases.

That's my $0.02, I'm done for now. I'm going to go back and enjoy my "Coke" and cry my tears into my "Kleenex".



hot_pastrami  Monday Jun 30 01:34 PM

The only ads I block fervently are animated ads. I hate those. Bloody distracting.

I don't mind paying for a site's content, but so far most sites have really crappy subscription models. The ones I usually go for are those with a Paypal Donation link or similar, and I just drop $5 every once in a while, as long as the content is worthwhile.

I actually used to run an A+ Certification study website that got somewhat substantial traffic... 19,000 unique visitors per month... and managed to do so without ads. I did it at my own expense, and the retun on investment was a whole Internet full of sites which similarly offered free information, and an inbox full of thank-yous (aka good karma). To annoy visitors with banner ads wasn't worth the $12-$18 I could have gained per month.

As far as mass media goes, it's scary that the previously blurred lines between news, entertainment, and marketing are now pretty much gone in America. I shudder to think what it will be like ten years from now. Makes me think twice about having kids.



juju  Monday Jun 30 01:36 PM

Re: Re: 6/30/2003: Deceptive ads

Quote:
Originally posted by Bitman
You make it sound like advertisers have traditionally been an honest bunch. That's completely false; advertisers have been desperately trying to lie to us ever since humans came to this planet.
Well, there's a difference between telling people what your product does and lying about what it does. Lies are a matter of degree, though, and I don't think you can say the lies haven't been getting worse. They've been pushing it farther and farther. Advertisers are testing the limits and finding that they aren't being punished. So, they're drawing a new line in the sand.


mitch  Monday Jun 30 01:37 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by SteveDallas
But these days most ads are paid according to click-throughs, not page hits, right? Does that mean there's no moral difference between blocking the ads altogether and simply not clicking on them? Compare and contrast this to the TV executive who said people who didn't watch TV commercials were thieves.

You know, as much as I ignore advertising, I have to wonder how effective it really is.
You make an interesting point about blocking TV ads. I own a TiVo and don't watch ads anymore, although sometimes I'll click back to watch a movie preview or something.

Think about the large companies who rely on powerful marketing to sell a product (new cereal, kids toys, etc.) losing their capability to do what they've done for years because of a new technology. They're going to freak out and do what the RIAA is doing with MP3s and file sharing -- they're going to attack the technology and work the law to help them get what they want (the entertainment industry is going to help because it's their source of revenue).

The problem with this (obviously) is that it stifles creativity and invention -- the next TiVo might not be made because it isn't cost-effective to do so anymore. The giant corporations that have effective lobbies can shape law into their own desires -- CDs will have built-in copy-protection and TiVo's won't be allowed to skip ads.

I don't know the numbers myself, but certainly someone knows the average length of commercial breaks for a 1-hour television program 20-, 10-, 5-, and even 2 years ago compared to now. I bet the results are interesting.


juju  Monday Jun 30 01:42 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by mitch
We have ads on busses, fronts/backs/inside cabs, and taco bell cups. I pay $7.50 to see a movie and get to see 15 minutes worth of ads before previews, not to mention the ads and "quiz games" (i.e. more ads) that cycle before they even roll the film.
There's a Mexican restaurant here that has advertisements all over the tables. I think it's revolting, but unfortunately my wife and I really like their food, so we go there all the time.


Undertoad  Monday Jun 30 01:50 PM

If the next TiVo won't skip ads, many people will quickly develop one that does.



mitch  Monday Jun 30 02:01 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by juju
There's a Mexican restaurant here that has advertisements all over the tables. I think it's revolting, but unfortunately my wife and I really like their food, so we go there all the time.
I almost don't mind that as much, though. I've been to places like that in several towns, and it's usually smaller businesses that do that sort of thing, shove business cards under the table or whatever. However, if I didn't like the food, I'd be *pissed*.


mitch  Monday Jun 30 02:02 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by Undertoad
If the next TiVo won't skip ads, many people will quickly develop one that does.
Yeap, long live open-source!


99 44/100% pure  Monday Jun 30 02:28 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by mitch
. . . In America today there are advertisements EVERYWHERE. . . We have ads on busses, fronts/backs/inside cabs, and taco bell cups. I pay $7.50 to see a movie and get to see 15 minutes worth of ads before previews, not to mention the ads and "quiz games" (i.e. more ads) that cycle before they even roll the film.
[RANT]Not to mention the "content" that we are trying to see while wading through all the obvious ads -- right from the start, television programming was understood by executive producers to be the stuff that keeps the viewers watching the ads. Now, more and more of the programs, movies, radio shows, etc. have so much advertising built into them, you may as well not make a distinction between the program and the ads.

In 1999-2000 I conducted a small study on the effect of consumer culture on school-age children. More than 40%* of the content of "programmed" materials seen by elementary-school age children (television, websites -- yes, even the 'educational' ones -- newspapers and other print media, and even textbooks) contain specific commercial messages. In addition, the more benign (non-product endorsing) content contains subtle consumer messages.

This is why I haven't had a TV for 11 years and listen primarily to public radio. I can't even tolerate the ads in the local paper anymore. Once you actively try to reduce your exposure to advertisement, you see that it really is EVERYWHERE. [/RANT]

*as a percentage of time viewed or column inches viewed


SteveDallas  Monday Jun 30 02:56 PM

And this from a woman who took her handle from an advertising slogan!



russotto  Monday Jun 30 04:19 PM

I like ads. I think it's great that people will pay to entertain me (not just with the ads, but with the movies, TV shows, etc, which go along with it) and I give them nothing in return. While they're milking all the suckers who WILL buy product because of an ad, I'm milking them.

Of course, if an ad is particularly annoying, it's likely to make me NOT want to buy the product or use the service. _Old Navy_ is still on my "do not shop" list due to the ads they once ran.



Jacque Strapp  Monday Jun 30 04:44 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by russotto
Of course, if an ad is particularly annoying, it's likely to make me NOT want to buy the product or use the service. _Old Navy_ is still on my "do not shop" list due to the ads they once ran.
Which were those? I happen to think their ads are pretty uninteresting, but I still shop there because their clothes are cheap, look good, and last a long time. So I patronize them in spite of their ads, not because of them.

The only time an ad has ever led me to buy something was when it made me aware of some product that I didn't know existed. The style of the ad doesn't matter, although of course some of them are entertaining.


xoxoxoBruce  Monday Jun 30 04:49 PM

Quote:
Of course, if an ad is particularly annoying, it's likely to make me NOT want to buy the product or use the service.
Bingo! Me too. Make a mental list of ads that annoy me and boycott those products.
I told a telephone solicitor I wouldn't buy anything from someone that phones me, even if I want it. He found that incredulous. We had a 5 minute conversation about my position. He wasn't trying to break down my resistance, just interested.
Great post UT.


99 44/100% pure  Monday Jun 30 06:39 PM

(sheepish)

Quote:
Originally posted by SteveDallas
And this from a woman who took her handle from an advertising slogan!
Yeah, I know -- it's not the first time I've gotten that response. The handle is from a private joke when I was stalking -- um, lurking around, trying to get a rise out of HB. I guess I should adopt a REAL handle now, but I've grown somewhat fond of this one. Besides, it's pretty accurate.

Re Old Navy, in addition to applauding those who try to avoid products with annoying ads,* I stay away from stuff like Old Navy because the product itself is an advertisement. As I noted in some earlier thread, if the company wants to turn my kids into walking billboards, they should be paying us.

*Market research shows that ads which supposedly annoy people are nearly as effective as those which are judged by consumers to be "funny" or "enjoyable." The point is to give their product "real estate" (akin to shelf space at the store) in your brain. Whether it's in a positive light or not doesn't matter to the advertiser -- they're money is on name recognition.


warch  Monday Jun 30 06:56 PM

Sweden bans all ads that target kids.

Bill Hicks didnt mince words. "By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing... kill yourself."



dave  Monday Jun 30 09:42 PM

I too don't shop at Old Navy because of their annoying ads. The ones with the old woman and that fucking dog, like when they were on the plane. And how many times has this been stuck in your head?

Old Navy, Old Navy, Old Navy performance fleece!

Fuck Old Navy. And fuck X10. Those are two companies whose products I will <b>never</b> buy.



Nothing But Net  Monday Jun 30 10:40 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by dave
Old Navy, Old Navy, Old Navy performance fleece!

Fuck Old Navy. And fuck X10. Those are two companies whose products I will <b>never</b> buy.
I am totally in agreement with you on that point, dave.

What a waste of a Morgan Fairchild!


Mav  Monday Jun 30 10:44 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by dave
I too don't shop at Old Navy because of their annoying ads. The ones with the old woman and that fucking dog, like when they were on the plane. And how many times has this been stuck in your head?

Old Navy, Old Navy, Old Navy performance fleece!

Fuck Old Navy. And fuck X10. Those are two companies whose products I will <b>never</b> buy.
Same here. The sad part is, most people will shop at Old Navy because of those ads. They target them at the mass majority who, 'go with the flow' so to speak, they'll believe an ad, and buy its product. No real judgement or individuality.

The companies realize "hey there are a select minority out there that no matter how stupid and simplified and comedic we make our commercials, no matter how repetitive and how often we play them, they won't buy our product". But they know its a minority. Whereas the majorty, are gullible. Hate to say it but its the truth. It's like designer stuff or fads. These days its cool to have the latest Doc Martin shoes or Aber Crombie and Fitch tshirt. The ads are dumb, waste of time yet people buy them (over priced might I add).


jaguar  Monday Jun 30 11:45 PM

I have a wired relationship with these things. On one hand I don't mind *some* ads. I don't mind a few ads in the paper, I don't mind sites using a couple of standard issue banner ads to help pay the bandwidth bills. What shits me is the attitude some advertisers take (particularly with sponsored events) that the event should be ENTIRELY about them, utterly pasting their crap on every flat surface, or those FUCKING ANNOYING flash ads that pop up all over the site you're trying to read, Iíll eat rusty nails before Iíll buy crap from companies that do that kind of thing. On the other side are companies I boycott for ethical reasons, Nike, adidas, nestle etc.

Ironically enough Iím now part of a team planning the launch of a new venture for a major IT manufacturing player in the Asia-Pacific region and part of that is marketing and advertising. As part of this effort we're buying banner ads on some appropriate websites and some 'branded' ventures. The philosophy we're trying to apply is one of getting a short, direct message across without being either distracting or annoying. On one hand it seems antithetical to the entire idea of marketing - on the other hand there is little to be gained by annoying your audience. We want to be seen to be promoting and supporting what matters to our target audience without attempting to blanket those things in our marketing crap and thus alienating people. Rather than doing a nike and attempting to co-opt and assimilate a culture and community we merely want to be acknowledged for supporting. Thoughts?



SteveDallas  Tuesday Jul 1 09:35 AM

Open-source "tivo"? Not exactly but.....

http://www.nexedi.com/en/news/pr2



Undertoad  Tuesday Jul 1 09:47 AM

Open source TiVo exactly:

Freevo

The name is unfortunate but the features are on their way.



bartman  Tuesday Jul 1 10:33 AM

We recently bought a house, and get, on average, at least one official-looking envelope a day that says

With regards to Mortgage Company loan #

You have not signed up for our mortgage protection plan. Do so immediately!

Once I read the small print, I found that the mortgage company is not sending this out, it's another company trying to make it look like it's them. No phone number to call and tell them "no thanks, fuckyouverymuch", and no way to find out where they are (other than a PO box number in some faraway city).

On the ones that include pre-addressed envelopes to return the application, I usually fill them with coupons from stores, comics or obits from the newspaper, or even the applications (minus any identifying info) switched around between companies. If they want me to have to waste my time opening their shit, they're gonna get some shit in return. I have a whole pallet of leftover bricks in front of the house, so pretty soon I'm going to start packing bricks in boxes and pasting pre-paid envelopes on the boxes. It makes me feel better knowing that someone has to sit down, open the envelope, and say 'what the?!?!?!?!'



xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Jul 1 04:14 PM

Quote:
(minus any identifying info)
Why? If you don't let them know who you are, there's no chance of getting off the mailing list.



Jacque Strapp  Tuesday Jul 1 04:35 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by bartman
I have a whole pallet of leftover bricks in front of the house, so pretty soon I'm going to start packing bricks in boxes and pasting pre-paid envelopes on the boxes. It makes me feel better knowing that someone has to sit down, open the envelope, and say 'what the?!?!?!?!'
That doesn't work, the post office will just throw them away. It's been tried before. The prepaid envelopes don't cover that much weight.

I usually just rip out the identifying bits on the application and send it back, that wastes their money and time without taking too much of my time. If they have a 1-800 number and you're bored, you can call them up, that costs them more than postage, methinks. It also drives home your point a lot more effectively.


bartman  Tuesday Jul 1 04:41 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by xoxoxoBruce
Why? If you don't let them know who you are, there's no chance of getting off the mailing list.
Heh, the point is to make it too^H^H^Hmore expensive to spew their shit out.

Besides, they seem to think I am going to give personal info to a PO box. I don't think so.




SteveDallas  Tuesday Jul 1 04:53 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by Jacque Strapp

If they have a 1-800 number and you're bored, you can call them up, that costs them more than postage
At least where I work, when somebody calls the same 800 number, we pay the same per-minute long distance rates as a we would for an outgoing call of the same length. So (unless they have really sucky LD rates) you'd need to keep them busy for several minutes to equal the cost of first class postage. (Although I don't know how much postage they actually pay for business reply.)

That's true about the bricks, but according to The Straight Dope it wasn't always the case. Ahhh, for the good old days...


99 44/100% pure  Tuesday Jul 1 05:20 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by SteveDallas
. . . (Although I don't know how much postage they actually pay for business reply.) . . .
When first class postage was $.27, Business Reply was $.32 per item, so I got pleasure out of not only mailing their shit back to them, but costing them MORE than it would have cost me for a stamp.

NOW, however, there are two rates for Business Reply; $.40 for standard volume and about $.35 for 'High Volume' (I don't know how many pieces that entails). In addition, the company pays hefty accounting fees each quarter ($475 to $2275) plus a $150 annual permit fee. Hey, it keeps shoes on my mailman's kids' feet.

I can't wait till the nationwide telemarketing moratorium goes into effect. Telemarketers' kids don't deserve shoes.


xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Jul 1 05:49 PM

Quote:
Besides, they seem to think I am going to give personal info to a PO box. I don't think so.
They've got enough info to mail you the shit in the first place. There's no reason to remove what they already have.
PETA, sends me an envelope with a bunch of crap, a questionaire with loaded questions and a nickel. I fill out the questionaire with all the answers they don't want to hear and a note that says "thanks for the nickel". Put everything back in the envelope including the addressed envelope in came in and send it back. So in cost them a mailing, a return mailing and a nickel.
Two months later I get the same mailing and it cost them the same. Sooner or later they will wise up or I'll be up to my ass in nickels. Works for me.


CharlieG  Wednesday Jul 2 01:12 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by Jacque Strapp


That doesn't work, the post office will just throw them away. It's been tried before. The prepaid envelopes don't cover that much weight.

...snip...
Glitter is your friend! Go to the local hobby shop, and buy some sparkle glitter. Put about 1/2 oz in the envelope. When it goes through the opening machine (or is hand opened), it goes everywhere. It'll usually gum up the works on the opening machine


99 44/100% pure  Wednesday Jul 2 02:23 PM

Wow, I like your thinking! Inexpensive, creative, and gets the job done! Thanks!



BrianR  Wednesday Jul 2 07:57 PM

Beware you don't get the Homeland Security people on you for that little stunt. The Panic Button has gotten a LOT bigger of late. And lighted too.

Brian the Cautious



bjlhct  Wednesday Jul 2 09:37 PM

Ooh, how about starch? Or maybe dirt?

It puzzles me to no end that ads work.



xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Jul 2 11:33 PM

Glitter or those shiny sequins shouldn't leak out of the envelope at the post office. Dirt, talcum powder, starch and anthrax brings black helicopters.



arz  Monday Jul 7 12:00 PM

Quote:
Two months later I get the same mailing and it cost them the same. Sooner or later they will wise up or I'll be up to my ass in nickels.
The "negative" contribution is always entertaining. I decided to do that to the "opposing" political party after they sent me some crap mailing that made me mad.

I sent them $5. They've sent me what must amount to five times that (labor and materials) in response so far. Hee.


headsplice  Monday Jul 7 03:58 PM

You people rock. You give me hope in this world of crass consumerism and greedy bastards. I'm going to have to try all of these wonderful little jokes.
But, on advertising:
[Devil's Advocate]
Does anyone watch these things for their pure entertainment value? Somewhat to my dismay, these are the things that are going to be most remembered by The Future (our equivalent of Homer and Plato? Future Generations are going to hate us). What's been one of the biggest draws of the Super Bowl? It sure as hell hasn't been the halftime show. It's the commercials. Obviously, they are trying to sell you something and to do that they are probably connoting other messages that are, in general, not healthy for us as a society.
However, there is a great deal of enjoyment to be taken out of watching commercials (be it from the sheer stupidity of them, deconstructing the messages contained therein, or just appreciating the slickness of the slimeballs that created them).
[/Devil's Advocate]



Legalady  Monday Jul 7 04:02 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by headsplice
Does anyone watch these things for their pure entertainment value?
When I was a kid, I would *just* watch commercials. I'd go channel-surfing and watch commercial after commercial. Ask me any jingle or tag-line; I'll know it.
I still enjoy commercials, in general. Some are pretty good.


xoxoxoBruce  Monday Jul 7 04:26 PM

Quote:
in general, not healthy for us as a society.
What's not healthy about a clothes ripping cat fight in the beer garden?


Undertoad  Monday Jul 7 05:01 PM

HS, I love deconstructing commercials.

(I also read Bob Garfield's Ad Age column, but I'm strange.)

I love it! Deconstruct enough of them and they don't work on you -- at least not in the way they were intended to. They used that font because they want us to think they're inexpensive. You start to notice things you normally take for granted. That car ad says there's room for dogs, but of course they mean room for children. The layers peel away. They want us to feel good about banking at a big impersonal bank by suggesting that the bank has quirky customers with personality. The nonsense becomes obvious. "Professional Grade" is a meaningless phrase.

It only gets worse over time Wachovia's name change hasn't given them a clue about marketing when you start considering the broader implications AOL's "Wow" ads are so strong they may rescue the company of individual companies Dell's interns aren't as good as the original Steven character, but no other PC maker is close anyway.



Torrere  Monday Jul 7 09:47 PM

Wow, UT. That would be fun, and (scarily) that actually may inspire me to watch TV.

In my opinion, ads have many purposes, but the purpose that I least appreicate is to cause people to make decisions in their favor without thinking. If you make the choice and favor the advertised product without realizing that you made a choice (or why), then the advertiser has won.



Undertoad  Monday Jul 7 10:53 PM

Have you seen the AOL ad with their feature to pop up a message when you're getting a call? (I assume they're really intercepting call-waiting) (surely they can't do this with all modems)

They chose to put two teenage girls in danger.

I like to think what the ad writers were thinking.

Let's see, we could go over the top and put some menacing figure in the background. That would really put them in danger! But even if they got through to dad, he wouldn't get there in time. Or we could have them in a car wreck - ditto. No, we have to put them in danger-light, something that puts a parent into concern but not "real" danger, which complicates the ad and steals the spotlight from the product message. So we put them outside a mall with car trouble.

Already the ad is chock-full of message, and we're only three seconds in. This is an important aspect of the modern TV commercial. A TON of information has to be packed into 30 seconds. You do have to be entertained and intrigued and remain an active viewer. So the ad producer can't waste any part of the frame or the audio, and it all has to boil down to the perfect pitch.

To put the girls in a tougher situation, in that first three seconds you'll pick up a wolf howl. Not wasting bandwidth, they pack a little bit of information into the audio to reinforce the idea that it's late at night, the girls are alone, and there are scary monsters in the dark.

The girls are not pretty; these are intended to be precisely typical teens. The ad has to appeal to both the teenage AOL addict and the alarmed adult parent. The lead girl is prepared with a cell phone. She annouces the key dramatic message "neither... does... dad" with pinpoint precision. That probably took 100 takes. The authoritative teenaged girl has a car, a phone, a friend and a shopping trip... everything but a responsive dad. Thus the teen appeal.

Dad is not pretty either. This stuff doesn't happen by accident, it's casting. Dad is web surfing and has found the dumbest site on earth and is pleased. The site has an animation of a fish or something, and a caption "get your lure on". If you look really quickly and closely you find that the site's name is a-lure.com. The quickie message, the one you got but didn't think about, is that without AOL, Dad is stuck surfing the stupidest sites known. The hidden message, the one that is so tiny it should be considered subliminal, is that Dad's worst fear has come about: he was surfing porn and forgot about the kids.

AOL can't make that statement; it would be highly inappropriate of them to make that statement. But in a produced ad, there's not a single frame that hasn't been considered in incredible depth. So they don't make the statement; they just do, in a way that nobody could possibly suggest would be AOL making a statement. In the end, it's just a little tidbit that draws you into the ad and keeps you looking at it for the 30th time you've seen it.

And the final audio cue - without saying anything, the last moment of the ad has a thunderclap. All that stuff in 30 seconds, it's really remarkable if you think about it.

This ad has a ton going for it. But there's a problem. At the very same time, AOL is "repackaging" itself with that AOL Broadband campaign. So now they've got all these "Wow" ads running at the same time as the older-style, less-slick ads featuring non-pretty people. ("Wow" was introduced with Sharon Stone. Looking very pretty.) This ad highlights a clumsy feature of dialup AOL.

You know they had to pay Ms. Stone a ton, so it's not clear why they want to spoil their bright new wowwy wow-wow campaign with this old spot featuring old clunky technologies and a fearsome tale. Get AOL, or the girl gets eaten by a wolf. Your choice.



wolf  Tuesday Jul 8 02:10 AM

I'm also a big fan of advertising. (I once worked for an advertising sales company, and entertained dreams of working for a copywriter. As you all know, I now work in a nuthouse)

I watch the Super Bowl religiously for the ads. The game usually isn't that interesting, but boy, I sure look forward to finding out what the e-trade monkey is going to do, or if there's going to be any standout ads that I'll love during the superbowl, but come to hate over the next six months of incessant repetition.

(I STILL love the Budwiser 9-11 tribute ad with the 12 horse hitching bowing down to the NYC skyline)

I suppose part of it is that I love to be entertained, even while I'm being sold to, and the more clever the ad the better.



xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Jul 8 12:19 PM

Quote:
(I once worked for an advertising sales company, and entertained dreams of working for a copywriter. As you all know, I now work in a nuthouse)
And the difference is....?


wolf  Tuesday Jul 8 01:13 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by xoxoxoBruce
And the difference is....?
$$$


xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Jul 8 01:15 PM




Tobiasly  Wednesday Jul 9 08:20 AM

Pretty interesting stuff UT.

I always love the ads (whether TV or radio) where they try to make it sound like they are interviewing random people on the street. Like the one for shampoo or something (shows how well the ad worked on me) where the guy was running around with a sink and getting people to let him wash their hair. Geez, gimme a break already. I wonder how many people these sorts of ads actually fool.



wolf  Wednesday Jul 9 02:26 PM

Enough that it's frightening to consider.



xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Jul 9 03:55 PM

Quote:
wonder how many people these sorts of ads actually fool.
I don't think they care if you're fooled or not as long as they get your attention.


russotto  Wednesday Jul 9 03:59 PM

So if deconstructing ads make them not work on you, what DOES work on someone so hardened? Take a look at Ad Age --- the answer, it seems, is sex, or at least pictures of attractive women.



Undertoad  Wednesday Jul 9 07:27 PM

What works on me, more than anything else, is a well-designed, easy-to-use web site with good information.

What works on you?



xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Jul 9 07:50 PM

Quote:
well-designed, easy-to-use web site with good information.
Hey, we got two out of three.


Undertoad  Wednesday Jul 9 07:58 PM

Why, I oughta!



xoxoxoBruce  Thursday Jul 10 12:30 AM

You can't, because you only control two out of three.:p



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