Archive for November, 2010


Just thought I should bring a couple things to your attention regarding an October ad campaign that your company is behind for your new, white, PSP model. Now, I am absolutely thrilled that your company is willing to branch out and make products in multiple colors (despite not seeing any valid purpose),¬† but don’t you think you could have portrayed the ads in a less…I don’t know…HATEFUL way?!?!? Take a look:

There are at least 18 things wrong with this billboard, and I’ll take time to go through a couple, because only complete tactlessness and ineptitude could have been behind the decision to approve this ad.

Before we get into the obvious racist undertones, I’ll first ask why the hell is this man inches away from being strangled? Perhaps you’re implying that the black modeled PSP’s are so shoddy that they’re worthy of physical harm? Shows how much faith you have in your product, sir. How’s this for a tagline: “The Black PSP. Choke one.” Sound good? No? Then why would you portray it visually?

And come on…why is this “pure” white figure conveying a look of utter disgust towards the black one as she’s punishing it? It’s as if she’s feeling justified in causing the poor man harm, perhaps a statement of superiority. Do we really need that horrible depiction? Why are you even portraying that it’s better? Can’t you sell PSP’s by just saying that it’s different? Good lord…

Worst of all, who do you think will be most perceptive to these ads? Do I need to say it? KIDS! You’re imposing this false ideal upon impressionable children in more ways than one that white is somehow superior to black, and most appallingly, you personified that through racial depictions. If this isn’t blatant racism, it’s a sheer lack of creativity and tact that goes all the way up and down your company’s food chain.

Just because you only see things in terms of black and white doesn’t mean that your consumers will.

Sincerely,

Angry (now Non-)Consumer

Not Yet Bored of the Flies

Regrettably, as a teenager, I never read too many novels. My head was usually immersed in music, sports, video games, or the clouds, as many would say. However, despite my non-literary interests, a book that I was assigned to read in 9th grade English class helped me grow in more ways than expected.

So how does a novel attract a laid back, short attention span-ed 14 year-old with no interest in literature? It would have to be fast-paced, straight to the point, and shocking. It’s really no surprise that from the second my teacher assigned the class Lord of the Flies, that I was hooked.

Previously, I had been assigned many flavorless novels and plays that I could never sink my teeth into as a teen. The schools mostly assigned historical non-fiction and mainstream classics, which were all fine pieces of work, but I was simply too young to relate to certain themes or appreciate the subtleties. Lord of the Flies was different. The excitement of uncertainty and dark, foreshadowing overtones are what initially kept the book in my hands, but the underlying themes are what keep my mind from straying too far from it, even years after I’ve read it.

Something that I won’t forget is when I told my Father, a man who I’m convinced has read literally every book known to man, that I had just finished the novel. My Father was an accomplished scholar, and an expert in philosophy, psychology, and theology, and being a teacher, he naturally engaged me in discussion upon hearing this. Together, we discussed how Golding’s novel transcended an exciting plot filled with conflict and thought-provoking character development, and enveloped the reader with allegorical themes such as nature vs. nurture. From there, Dad educated me on the perspectives of Hobbes, who valued society, with quotes such as “Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

The aforementioned quote is not the most agreeable or profound statement in philosophy, but it’s one I’ll always remember, and it’s one I’ll always link to Lord of the Flies. I think the reason it’s had such a deep impact on me is because it’s related to the first novel that truly engaged me. Now, I never look at anything one-dimensionally; every artistic or literary expression will most likely have a deeper, ambiguous meaning that we, as listeners, viewers, readers, and audiences alike can interpret.

Loud, raging festivals are not of rare occurrence these days, but for one to be successful by drawing masses of people, it helps to have a combination of any of the following elements:

1) Alcohol

2) Good food

3) Music

4) Obscure, “semi”-celebrities

5) Offensively colossal contraptions jettisoning projectiles over half of a mile into the stratosphere

When my girlfriend informed me that every November there was an event which incorporated all five of these aspects, I almost hopped in my car immediately to drive to Punkin Chunkin. Punkin Chunkin is a 25 year-old competition-turned-festival that gathers drinking and barbecuing spectators to a massive field that holds a unique competition for bored engineers, mad scientists, and frustrated demolitionists. There, they determine who’s catapult, trebuchet, or cannon (yes, cannon) can hurl a discarded Halloween pumpkin the furthest. After Halloween, I usually just throw my pumpkins in the garbage, but hey, to each his own…

Once the day of launching¬† came, my group of friends and I drove through the sticks of Delaware, and were introduced to the ridiculousness that would surely continue throughout the day. On the way over, we passed a house with a hand-written advertisement which read “Helicopter rides- 2 for $50”. Surely enough, in his backyard rested the most out-of-context helicopter we had ever seen. When we were approaching the venue, alongside our car was an ATV pulling a wagon full of hay, and sitting on individual bales were what I could only assume was the driver’s family. All I could conclude from this is that there are no laws whatsoever in Delaware.

Once we could set aside the culture shock, we entered a circus of projectile throwing monstrosities, stages of cover bands, and campsites with no shortage of convivial drunks. Amidst the chaos, I made an observation, and then had a conversation which I’m sure was repeated thousands of times throughout the day:

Me:  Hey, look, on that hydraulic lift up there!

Friend: Who is that?

Me: It’s the dude from Mythbusters!

Friend: Which one?

Me: I don’t know, the flamboyant, quirky one?

Friend: Which one?

Me : The one with the facial hair.

Friend: Which one?

Me: The one that doesn’t wear a beret.

Friend: Oh yeah! That guy.

So, who we later determined to be Adam Savage the Discover Channel’s Mythbusters had made a public appearance at Punkin Chunkin, and sparked a world of buzz among some 40,000 attendees. It made me think about how great the impact can be from the presence of one appropriately placed B-list celebrity. If only 10% of the people had even mentioned Adam to one non-attending friend, then that is 4,000 new people made aware of Punkin Chunkin. I, for example, have told numerous friends of my ridiculous experience, and am blogging about it for anyone to see. If the first step to growth is awareness, then Punkin Chunkin continues to grow exponentially, mostly via word of mouth. Because there are few events like this, I can absolutely see Punkin Chunkin reaching further levels of immense success.

By now, you have undoubtedly seen this groundbreaking ad. But just in case you’re not responsible for one of the 23 million views this has had on YouTube alone, then click below:

Old Spice has revolutionized the advertising world with this widely recognized series of manly commercials. The widely received campaign has not only garnered huge reactions from television ads, but has had success virally as well. Old Spice took their campaign to the next level by engaging fans via social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The moderators of their Facebook page assume the personality of the now famous Old Spice spokesperson, and update statuses frequently in his unmistakable, outlandish, tone.

That wasn’t all though. Old Spice quickly and hilariously responded to user comments from their pages with video replies starring said spokesperson. My personal favorite is this one, where a commenter has a monumental favor to ask:

I really hope that girl said yes. But wedding bells or not, Old Spice’s viral campaign continued to grow by appealing to niche crowds as well as the masses. They employed the cult comedy team Tim and Eric to direct a series of absurd, viral commercials. Again, the ads were well-received.

It didn’t stop there, either. Another branch off of this constantly growing idea tree extended when they hired future NFL hall-of-famer Ray Lewis to do a series of television commercials. The most notable is one where he delivers his pitch, crawls out a window, and onto a rocket-powered raven that flies away and blows up Saturn using lasers from its eyes. Now, on Facebook, fans can send in pictures of themselves that will be photo-shopped onto the planet-destroying bird.

All in all, we’re enjoying wildly entertaining and unique advertisements that continue to obtain massive success. And if any out there disagree, I will remind you that this is a company that makes deodorant. A company that sells a product that you wipe onto your armpits has captivated millions of viewers with a campaign that has no bounds. And with that in mind, I will leave you with this: