Boing Boing 

Is American invention at risk?

Comedian, commercial director and documentarian Jordan Brady hosts a great podcast on commercial filmmaking called Respect The Process. He recently interviewed Ryan Berman, Chief Creative Officer for San Diego ad agency I.D.E.A. The interview is a smart casual conversation between old colleagues about the modern advertising agency, the challenges of staying forward-thinking, and keeping your team fresh and energized.

Late in the podcast (14m30s), the talk turns to Berman's own documentary film on the current state of U.S. patent law, Inventing To Nowhere, which recently screened at SXSW. Though Berman is quick to point out this was a sponsored project for The Innovation Alliance, a tech-industry lobbying group, it is not branded content. The doc is an impassioned plea for inventor protection under whatever patent reform comes from congress.

The Innovation Alliance website SaveTheInventor.com features a petition declaring:

...we oppose efforts by some multinational companies in Washington, DC to weaken patents and make it harder for inventors and start-ups like us to live out our dream of creating something and calling it our own. With our ideas, willingness to take risks, and hard work, we have just as much right to succeed as they have.
On a lighter note: also check out the hilarious PSA Brady directed, Scooter The Neutered Cat which he made for animal protection group GiveThemTen.org

Head shots of hand models (with banana for scale)

Federico

Ad executive Alex Holder teamed with photographer Oli Kellett to show the faces behind prominent hand models. Federico Hewson (above) said:

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Air puppets: their strange past and stranger future

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Over at Re:form, Sam Dean tells the fascinating history of air puppets, from their invention and 1990s golden era to the laws that banned them in urban locales to their rebirth as scarecrows.

Video statement from woman in Burger King "Blowjob" ad

The woman who was surprised to find her photo used in the above Burger King ad campaign in Singapore five years ago posted a new video called "Burger King Raped My Face." (via copyranter)

Alien Autopsy: William Barker on Schwa, two decades later

Twenty years ago, William Barker's Schwa artwork revealed a world of alien abductions, stick figure insanity, conspiratorial crazy, and a hyper-branded surveillance state. It's now more relevant than ever. Read the rest

The Internet With a Human Face: Maciej Cegłowski on the things we need to fix


Maciej Cegłowski's latest talk, The Internet With A Human Face, is a perfect companion to both his Our Comrade the Electron and Peter Watts's Scorched Earth Society: A Suicide Bomber's Guide to Online Privacy: a narrative that explains how the Internet of liberation became the Internet of inhuman and total surveillance. Increasingly, I'm heartened by the people who understand that the right debate to have is "How do we make the Internet a better place for human habitation?" and not "Is the Internet good or bad for us?" I'm also heartened to see the growth of the view that aggregated personal data is a kind of immortal toxic waste and that the best way to prevent spills is to not collect it in the first place.

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Unless companies pay, their Facebook updates reach 6 percent of followers

Facebook continues to tighten the screws on the businesses that use the service to market to their customers. Independent research shows that new updates from businesses reach about six percent of the people who follow those businesses. It is rumored that Facebook intends to reduce this number to "between one and two percent" over time. Businesses that want to reach the people who follow them at higher rates will have to pay Facebook to reach them through paid advertisements.

If you're building your business's marketing and customer relations strategy atop Facebook, take note -- and remember that if you have a real website, all your readers see your posts, even if you don't pay Facebook!

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Pow!, the fourth Rice Krispie elf… from space

Snap! Crackle! and Pop! are the embodiment of Rice Krispies cereal. They were born in 1928 when artist Vernon Grant was inspired by a Rice Krispies radio jingle describing how the puffed grains "merrily snap, crackle and pop in a bowl of milk," so he drew the three elves and sent them off to Kellogg's ad agency of record. But for a few short years in the 1950s, there was a fourth elf. A space elf! His name? Pow! If not for the Internet, Pow! would be lost to time. He appeared in two TV commercials. "Pow means power and power's nice! Rice Krispies power from whole grain rice!” said the announcer... "Now Pow doesn't say much...he just goes ahead and does things...like putting power into every...lightweight spoonful of Kellogg's Rice Krispies!"

Smithsonian has the full story: "The Untold Tale of Pow!, the Fourth Rice Krispies Elf."

Devil Baby Attack: scary prank viral marketing video

Funny viral video of a scary prank in NYC promoting the new horror film Devil's Due. (Thanks, Kelly Sparks!)

AirAsia goes Goatse

AirAsia WowChina

An enticing ad spotted by my IFTF colleague Jake Dunagan. Click to see larger.

You Can Do It! Clean the kitchen, that is.

Heather spotted this remarkably sad ad from Swiffer, aping Westinghouse Electric's classic wartime poster, We Can Do It! Adds Jason: "I love the clear tribute to an important historical image done in such a way as to piss on its legacy."

Billboard: "Gay Marriage = Gay Clutter"

Gayclutter

"It's funny cause it's true," says my pal Jason Tester who posted the photo to his Instagram feed @guerrillafutures.

Nintendo claims ownership over gamer fanvids on YouTube

Alan Wexelblat comment on the news that Nintendo has claimed "monetization rights" to fan videos on YouTube that feature tips on playing its games. Some of these videos are incredibly popular, and while their use of Nintendo's creations are often fair use, Nintendo gets to use YouTube's monetization system to advertise on all the videos:

The basic idea is that if someone makes a video of themselves playing a Nintendo game and uploads it to YouTube any ads shown with that video will be of Nintendo's choosing and revenue from it will flow to Nintendo. Ads may appear beside the videos or actually be inserted before and after the video when people go to play it.

The problem here is that "Let's Play" style videos are a pervasive form of information and sharing throughout the industry. I did a quick YouTube search for "let's play" for this blog post and got back over 9.1 million hits. People create these videos to show off their skills, to highlight interesting things they've seen such as game "easter eggs", to provide guides or walk-throughs, or just to share a bit of fun with friends. There are a few professional or semi-professional games writers who use this style of video to promote themselves or their channels, but they are a tiny minority of that nine million.

Nintendo has positioned its action as a gentler approach; rather than trying to ban content related to Nintendo games, they just want to make money off it by changing the video that an individual uploaded. Yeah, um, guys that's not a whole lot better. It also comes across as cheap and lazy - rather than creating content for YouTube that fans and players would want to watch, Nintendo is just taking over other peoples' content.

Nintendo Decides It Can Own Fans' YouTube Content

Apple's man behind the camera

Peter Belanger reveals the technical complexity behind Cupertino's cooly minimalist advertising. [Michael Shane at The Verge]

Allan Sherman's Mad-Man-style comedy song: "When I Was a Lad"

This shuffled into my music player this morning, and delighted me as it ever does: Allan Sherman's When I was a Lad, a lovely bit of Mad Man-style period parody from the album My Son, the Celebrity. You probably know Sherman's work from "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah," but it's well worth exploring his whole catalog -- especially since there's a fabulous box set.

When I Was A Lad - Allan Sherman

Memorex, a 50-minute odyssey through the VHS generation

"The sequel to Smash TV's critically acclaimed "Skinemax", Memorex is a 50 minute VJ odyssey, a tribute to an entire generation who grew up with only a TV and a VCR for a babysitter. Sourced from over forty hours of 80s commercials pulled from warped VHS tapes, Memorex is a deep exploration of nostalgia and the fading cultural values of an era of excess. It's a re-contextualization of ads - cultural detritus, the lowest of the low - into something altogether more profound, humorous, and at times, even beautiful." [Vimeo]

The champagne of national unity

According to a survey of 200,000 Americans, Miller High Life is the most bi-partisan of beers. Republicans favor Samuel Adams and, apparently, there are a lot of Democrats drinking Heineken. (Although one might argue that these results are heavily skewed, as the survey did not include either microbrews or microparties. God only knows what the Libertarians are drinking.) There's a chart. Yay, charts! (Via Kevin Zelnio)

New Nike ad features overweight 12-year-old boy

[Video Link]. Wieden+Kennedy's new ad for Nike is provocative stuff. Nike isn't sponsoring the Olympics this year, but the ad is timed accordingly. The star of this spot, Nathan, is 12 years old and lives in London, Ohio. He tells Business Insider he puked in a ditch while filming takes. I like this kid.

What do you think of the new Apple "genius" ads running during Olympics 2012 TV coverage?

The internets are a-flutter with critics of these new Apple ads. I'm not crazy about them. They feel like they're for Best Buy or something, not Apple. I do wish they'd just bring back John Hodgman. (via @nytjim)

Top 10 corporate theme songs

The first offering has lyrics by famous advertising copywriter Salman Rushdie. The second is a version of U2's One created for Bank of America, titled One Bank. By the time you get to The Gazprom Song, you will have already gone quite mad. [popbitch]

Plumber's butt, transcended

I challenge you to un-see this.

I asked photographer Markus Mueller about these hilarious and semi-disturbing shots on his website:

We shot these in different locations in berlin. one day three motives, three locations, a nice and very funny crew and work. we took the portrait pictures from the girls separately some days before. that are original prints on the t-shirts .....nothing with photoshop!

It was a ad campaign for the german client "Das Handwerk" (it is a German union for handcraft companies)
Agency: scholz&friends Berlin
Art Direction: Michael Johne

 

Gut gemacht gentlemen!

Women beat 18-34 men for tech adoption and purchasing power

An interesting piece from The Atlantic's Alex Madrigal points out that the coveted 18-34 male demographic is no longer the most important force in technology consumption and purchasing. He quotes Intel anthropologist and all-round awesomesauce dispenser Genevieve Bell's research, which shows that women lead tech adoption in "internet usage, mobile phone voice usage, mobile phone location-based services, text messaging, Skype, every social networking site aside from LinkedIn, all Internet-enabled devices, e-readers, health-care devices, and GPS. Also, because women still are the primary caretakers of children in many places, guess who controls which gadgets the young male and female members of the family get to purchase or even use?"

Of course, the neglect of women -- and other groups of systematically disenfranchised people, like gblt people and people of color -- is a recurring theme in the history of business. And periodically (generally in the midst of a recession that makes the previously unthinkable into the inevitable), some industry will figure out that there's a group of people whom they've ignored or held in contempt with a lot of money on their hands, and you get a new boom of targeted products, media and advertising. And exploitation, of course. Lots of exploitation.

Terry O'Reilly's "Age of Persuasion" podcast has done some good episodes on these turns in advertising history -- here's one on women, one on people of color, and one on gblt-targeted ads.

How can an industry get its market so wrong?

One huge reason is the relative lack of women at major venture capital firms, startups, electronics makers, and Internet companies. The other huge reason is the historical erasure of women's roles in the history of technology, as Xeni Jardin pointed out in response to a New York Times article that overemphasized the role men have played in the creation of the Internet. When you look around, it *seems* as if technology is by and for dudes, but the reality is much more complicated than that.

But even if you are the biggest sexist in Menlo Park, even if you believe that only men create technology, even if you are real-life Jack Donaghy hell bent on profits alone, you'd still want to change your approach to women as technology consumers. Follow the money and follow the users: you'll find yourself in a female-dominated landscape.

Bell concludes: "So it turns out if you want to find out what the future looks like, you should be asking women. And just before you think that means you should be asking 18-year-old women, it actually turns out the majority of technology users are women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. So if you wanted to know what the future looks like, those turn out to be the heaviest users of the most successful and most popular technologies on the planet as we speak."

Sorry, Young Man, You're Not the Most Important Demographic in Tech (via /.)

GM to end display ads on Facebook

The Wall Street Journal reports that General Motors will soon stop advertising on Facebook "after the auto maker's executives determined their paid ads had little impact on consumers' car purchases." GM will, however, engage in Facebook's "pages" that allow marketers to display promotional content at no cost. The news comes just days before Facebook's planned IPO.

Psychedelic ad for Peace Corps, 1968 (video)

Image Link. Boing Boing reader MewDeep, who has an awesome Flickr stream of '60s-'70s ad scans, points to this YouTube clip of a notable television commercial from 1968: it's a promo for the Peace Corps, set to "Age of Aquarius." As MewDeep excerpts here, the ad is mentioned in The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism, by Thomas Frank.

Sad Schlitz Beer Clown is Sad (vintage ad)

Image Link. From the excellent Flickr collection of MewDeep (lots of '60s-'70s ad scans), via BB Flickr Pool.

Unraveling a baroque, snarled, multimillion-dollar porn-ad clickfraud scam


Panos Ipeirotis, who writes the aptly named "A Computer Scientist in a Business School" blog, describes how he made national news by unraveling a multimillion-dollar "clickfraud" enterprise that used hidden frames, pornographic traffic brokerages, clever misdirection and obfuscation techniques, traffic laundering, skimmed traffic, and other techniques from the shadier side of the Internet's ad-supported ecosystem to extract anywhere from $400K to $5M to date. The monetary losers were pornographic sites, but a number of high-profile "legit" sites were implicated, unwittingly used as "laundries" for the traffic. The scheme itself is awfully baroque, and Ipeirotis does an admirable job of laying it out, while introducing all these marvelously weird terms describing the modern practices of Internet grifters.

At this point, we now know how this person makes money. Clearly, there is click-fraud: the scammer is employing click-fraud services to click on the pay-per-click ads "displayed" in his parked domains. If some of the ads are also pay-per-impression, he may also get paid for these invisible impressions that happen within the 0x0 iframe.

Why the parked domains though? Why not doing the same directly within the porn site? The answer is simple: Traffic laundering.

What do I mean by "traffic laundering"? First, the ad networks are unlikely to place many ads within a porn site. On the other hand, they have ad-placement services for parked domains. Second, the publishers that get the traffic from the parked domains see in the referral URLs some legitimately-sounding domain names, not a porn site. Even if they go and check the site, they will only see an empty site full of ads. Nothing too suspicious. Hats off to the scammer. Clever scheme.

You think we are done? No. There is one more piece in the puzzle. How does the scammer attract visitors to the porn site?

The other interesting part: The porn website does not really contain porn! There are a few images but most of the links are to other porn website that actually host the video. In other words, the scammer does not even pay the cost of hosting porn!

Uncovering an advertising fraud scheme. Or "the Internet is for porn" (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

North Dakota tries to be cool, fails

We all probably had at least one friend who attempted to reinvent themselves after high-school in a way that was so not them that it just made you feel pity. You know what I'm talking about. Like the goody-goody who tried so hard to change their squeaky clean reputation, but would clearly never be a badass cool kid, no matter how many times they told you that they got "sooooo drunk" last weekend.

That's what this ad reminds me of.

Somehow, North Dakota has managed to create a tourism ad that is simultaneously offensively sleazy and desperately uncool. It's trying to make a wink-wink, "women are objects" lad mag joke. But it looks like your really dorky, incredibly square uncle's idea of a wink-wink, "women are objects" lad mag joke.

It's sleaze as designed by people who have no idea what sleaze is supposed to look like. They've just heard about it third-hand from someone who went to Vegas once.

Lego's old line of toys for girls

 

A couple of weeks ago, Mark told you about Lego's new line of products aimed at girls. It includes new minifigs that look more like dolls and cutesy playsets with names like Heartlake City. This week, Cory introduced you a little girl who is very frustrated with excessively gendered toys.

I played with a lot of Legos when I was a little girl. And, while I certainly liked dolls, that wasn't really what I used Legos for. (And, frankly, going shopping, playing house, and being "just like me" wasn't what I used dolls for. In my experience, games of playing house tend to involve a lot more violent interaction with pirates, Darth Vader, and Nazis than advertising to girls would lead you to suspect. First you put the baby to bed, then you defend her with your mad karate skills, right?) Ads like this old one from 1981 appeal to me a whole lot more than modern girlvertising. I've seen this ad passed around the Internet before. But the contrast with those recent reminders of who advertisers and toymakers think girls are strikes me as particularly timely. 

Thanks, L0!

TOM THE DANCING BUG: What Message Did We Receive From Outer Space??

Attention Earthlings: Visit the TOM THE DANCING BUG WEBSITE, and follow RUBEN BOLLING on TWITTER. End transmission.

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