Saturday, November 26, 2005

Validate Me. Please.

A week or so, this ad popped up in Newsweek. It's a double-page ad from American Express touting their new card-product that deposits money into a savings acount every time the holder spends.

This ad illustrates the advertisers perspective on their customers - they are unable to control their lives.

Marketing-wise, the product is a dumb idea, but that's not the point of this post. This is about something dumber - the ad itself.

Poor mother - she wants to buy her kid everything he wants, but somehow can't. Perhaps she's not celebrity-rich. Perhaps she's a bad mother. Perhaps that damnable house payment is spoiling the fun.

And then there's the kid. He won't save. He just won't SAVE! Meds won't work...and there's that unstoppable force called TV...he'll die - yes, die - if he doesn't have all that glorious, life-giving "stuff."

This is called "Learned Helplessness" and its a tactic taught by advertisers world-wide. It's wrong, it's uncreative and it's harmful.

Notice the copy assumes the mother has no options. NO OPTIONS. The only solution is the Amex Card - which, ironically, will not teach her son to save, nor will it get her everything her son sees on television.

I hate this kind of junior-grade copy/creative and so should you.

Amex could have had an effective ad with a completely different take on the card. Since the "savings" is really the same rebate-crapola that Discover™ pioneered 15 years ago, call it what it is and tout the benefits:

How about this -

"Finally, a credit card that saves money. Literally!"

"Instead of racking up points, how about racking up dollars?"


"I just opened a savings account for my son while I was buying his school-clothes."


In the meantime, tell the kid to get a job.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

PeTA - The Meat & Bones under their Fruit & Nuts

PeTA are to be respected for their marketing genius - they're patient, clever and have a sound grasp of human nature. I remember handling the PR for a State-sponsored Fair when PeTA threatened to visit the sheep exhibits and splash red paint on the prize-winning animals. I can still remember the clatter of metaphorical pitchforks as the farmers and producers rattled their teeth in rage.

"Why, just let me get my hands on their tree-huggin' necks and I'll..." Silly farmers, hunters, and whoever else lets PeTA get under their skin...if the graphic above enrages you, it's simply doing its job.

The cartoon is not meant to convince kids, but to polarize adults. Once lines are drawn, the decision-making process for either side is rather simple - PeTA does nothing more than get people to love or hate them.

"Love or Hate" is an effective business model and it works in religion, politics and promoting social issues.

It's a case of "Three steps forward, two steps back" - a steady desensitization or marketing of a message until it (or a form of it) is acceptable.

PeTA will never "win" and they know that. But their donor base will be loyal, fervent and as a group, long-lived.

Solid work, PeTA!

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We're having Turkey, Ham, Stuffed Flounder and on Friday....STEAKS!


Monday, November 07, 2005

Break-back Marketing

Hollwood exploits to make a buck. This time, they're exploiting women AND guys at the same time. This time, it's called "Brokeback Mountain." It's about two gay cowboys in Wyoming and it's virulently anti-male. It's a chick-flick man-hater film from the get-go.

And judging by the trailer alone, it's brilliant. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. It's like selling touch-less faucets and anti-bacterial spray to the Obsessive-Compulsive. It's like calling a candy "fart" and selling it to 9 year olds boys. It's like putting the Viagra logo on a stock car. It's like...brilliant.

How do we know? (gong sound) Truth is in the marketing, young grasshopper!

The picture above are two stills taken from the Brokeback Mountain trailer and they're all the clues we need.

First - the shirt. Heath Ledger hugs the blue denim shirt left behind by his "buddy", Jake Glynwhatever. STRAIGHT GUYS DO NOT HUG SHIRTS. GAY GUYS DO NOT HUG DENIM. Who hugs clothing? WOMEN HUG CLOTHING. Women hug their clothes. Women covet their clothes. Women share their clothes. Women marry for clothes. Women steal clothes. Women wear clothes once, then pay $200 to put them in hermetically sealed boxes.

WOMEN HUG CLOTHES. Guys do not hug clothes.

Second - the scene where "some actress" says to her gay cowboy husband, "You're not up on that mountain fishin!". ALL GUYS HATE IT WHEN THEIR "WOMEN" COMPLAIN ABOUT THEIR ACTIVITIES.

Who hates fishing? WOMEN HATE FISHING... FOOTBALL... HUNTING... MAKING RADIO CONTROL AIRPLANES... WORKING ON THE 1969 Nova SS AND THE BLOWN 396... Women have been dying for a killer rejoinder to every man who ever said, "Hey hon, this Friday, me'n Gary'n Keith and Wilson are goin' (fishing, hunting, drinking, working on the car, etc.).

From here on out, when ANY guy wants to go do "X" with his buddies, all his "woman" will have to say is, "You're not going there to fish!" and BAM! The guy will reply, "Huh?! You're not - you're not thinkin'...NO WAY!" And next thing you know it, those wonderful Brookies are swimming safe while the guy is sweeping the garage, eyeing his fly-rod and muttering obscenities under his breath.

Men, do not let your women near this movie. It's a Trojan Horse wearing a dress.

And there IS something wrong with that.