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Cars and Freedom [video]

Chrysler’s new ad men are doing a bang-up job. And no, I don’t care that the cars in the ad were actually made in Canada.

“Taxes will keep Democracy on the march!” [video]

A great video from 1943, when we were much better at making the argument that paying your taxes—particularly during a time of war—is patriotic. The end of the video is quite good.

(E-mail subscribers will need to click through for the video)

I also love this video for its sweeping statements about freedom and democracy. We need more of that.

KFC’s “Buckets for the Cure” ad [video]

KFC has released their first Buckets for the Cure ad. I tend to think they should have played up the “Why Race for the Cure when you can Eat for Cure?” angle, but oh well. The ad is still pretty good—and a bucket of KFC Original Recipe chicken is as delicious as ever.

Jesus wants you to fill out your Census form [ads]

I’m not sure if this Census poster printed by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials is completely amazing or totally misses the mark. Needless to say, some Christian leaders–particularly those encouraging Latinos to boycott the Census–are not happy about it.

What do you think? Is this poster more or less amazing than putting Census ads in fortune cookies?

Soda companies show a united front [ads]

At my high school, the senior class was given the Coke machine as a fundraising tool. Seniors were responsible for paying the Coke supplier and keeping the machine stocked. As compensation, they got to keep all of the profits for the class.

Needless to say it was a gold mine–even at a small school with only 350 kids from 6th-12th grade.

The reason it was so profitable was because we kept it stocked with drinks that people enjoy, like Coke, Cherry Coke, Dr. Pepper and Sprite. If I recall correctly we only had one “Diet” option and stopped stocking Dasani water because it was always the worst seller. Instead we used that slot for, you guessed, more Coke.

This is all by way of saying that I’m a little bit sad that in face of growing criticism from ‘health advocates,’ Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper announced they will stop selling full-calorie drinks in schools. Now it looks like everyone will have to drink “Diet Coke.” Back in my day, we only had one slot in the vending machine for that.

At least they put up a good “image ad” to tout the initiative.

“Rivals” TV Ad from American Beverage Association on Vimeo.

Marketing to Americans [travel]

Conrad Hilton was a visionary.

Not only did he build one of the world’s most famous hotel chains, but he also understood that the best way to make Paris and other European cities more appealing was, well, to make his hotels there more like America. This meant installing two things: air conditioning and steakhouses.

After all, just because you’re traveling in France doesn’t mean you have to sweat (and smell) like the French!

[Photo credit: lobstar28 via Slate]

Re-branding the University of Phoenix [ads]

I love advertizing the way some people love Christmas. When I see a devilishly clever ad, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And while the best—and most uniquely American—form of advertizing is the negative ad, corporate image ads come in a close second. These are the ads that don’t seek to sell a product, but rather to raise the public approval of a company. Needless to say, it is mostly the mega corporations like oil companies and health insurers who generate so much public ire that end up running these sorts of campaigns.

Earlier this evening I saw a great one for the University of Phoenix. It is no coincidence that they are up on the air with image ads a day after the New York Times ran a hard-hitting front-page story about their business practices.

I must say the ad is great. After all, it left me with very positive feelings about an institution that is essentially an elaborate scam.

Well done ad men!

Is the “Runaway Prius” the greatest marketing hoax ever?

Prius

It doesn't look so safe and reliable now...

As someone who grew up in the Detroit area, I’ll be the first to admit that I have been taking tremendous pleasure in the woes of Toyota recently. It is nice to see the idolized Toyota on the ropes for a change. And when I read about the Runaway Prius the other day, I simply thought “More good news for Ford!”

But my friend Kevin over at the blog America, Love It or Not makes the rather persuasive case that the runaway Prius incident in California could be an elaborate hoax.

Here are some of the facts he found that don’t seem to make sense:

  • He pressed the brake to the floor, but it didn’t slow down the car. Most cars with good brakes can lock up all four wheels at any speed. A Prius isn’t exactly a torque-machine. Its acceleration is pretty weak and should be easily overpowered by the brakes.
  • The car was accelerating for 20 minutes before it could be stopped. I don’t know if any of you have ever driven on a freeway with other cars before, but it is nearly impossible to go 90 MPH for 5 minutes – let alone 20 – without hitting traffic. Unless he was passing cars on the shoulder (unlikely), he would have definitely hit another vehicle in 20 minutes.
  • He called 911. If you were speeding along at 90 MPH and unable to stop, would you call 911 (if it wasn’t a hoax)? What is 911 going to tell you that you don’t already know? Wouldn’t you be scared to take a hand off the wheel when weaving in and out of traffic and passing on the shoulder?

You can read the rest of the post here.

If this is a hoax, it might be the finest corporate negative campaigning in American history. In the last 24-hours alone, there have been over 1,990 stories published about the incident according to Google News. This is the kind of negative publicity that money cannot buy. And it would suggest that the American business world (or some lone gunman) is finally embracing the rough and tumble tactics that are a hallmark of our elections.

Of course, being a native Michigander, I can’t help but think that a campaign this devious would be beyond the reach of Detroit’s marketers. It is quite frankly just too effective to have been the brainchild of an industry whose ads and messaging strategies have been almost universally horrible for decades. Which is why I’d bet that if it turns out to be a hoax–which I suspect it was–we’ll find out that it was the work of one or two enterprising fellows.

ABC wants your money to prop up Disney Land (or so says Cablevision)

In the world of corporate negative advertising,  it is usually cable and satellite companies that are the most hard-hitting. Comcast’s “Satellite TV is not all its dished up to be” ads were some of my personal favorites.

But a new ad out from Cablevision viciously attacking ABC might just set a new standard for corporate attack ads. Cablevision is in the midst of renegotiating a contract with ABC. But those talks don’t seem to be going well and are likely to get a bit harder since Cablevision is accusing ABC of extorting money from poor cable subscribers in order to:

  • line the pockets of fat cats
  • prop up failing theme parks
  • compensate for a failed business model

Ouch.

Here is the video.

Corporate attack ads: always entertaining.

[Via Consumerist]

The best and worst Olympic ads [Olympics]

Now that the Olympics are officially over, (we won! Go USA!) it is time to take a look at won the advertizing contest. Cutting an ad for the Olympics is kind of hard.  NBC insists on presenting the Olympics as a sort of kumbaya, brotherhood-of-man event instead of the epic content between nations that it is.

So advertisers try to focus on producing something upbeat by not jingoistic. Needless to say, not everyone pulls it off.

The honor for the worst ads of the Olympics goes to VISA. Their “GO WORLD” campaign consisted of about 20 different ad spots, each of which tried desperately to be sentimental or inspiring. None of them succeeded. Ever ad concluded with the tagline “GO WORLD.” Go world? These aren’t the intergalactic games. Cheering for everyone is about the least interesting thing possible. What happened to the old badass VISA who used to taunt American Express at every opportunity?

The second best ad campaign definitely goes to McDonald’s. They did bit of the Olympic brothood stuff in their McNuggests ads, but at least they pulled it off. Besides, any ad campaign that features a bobsled going through the drive-thru gets my vote.

By far the best ad spot of the Olympics was for Coca-Cola. Their “Ceremony” commercial managed to take the entire feel-good mood of the Olympics and make me feel like I made it possible—just by drinking Coke. Pure advertizing genius.

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