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Patriotic advertising: selling with war


Sociological Images has a nice gallery up called "United We Buy," showcasing the use of war and patriotism in advertising from WWII up to the present day. That's some weird-ass WD-40.

United We Buy: Using Patriotism and War to Sell Products

Public papercraft ponies

Dry the River - No Rest: 3D paper-crafted horses.jpeg A U.K. ad agency created these 3D papercraft ponies to stand out from the usual flyposted fare. [Ads of the World]

God Watches Mad Men

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One might be tempted to ask: Can God make a signboard so big that even He can't illuminate it? Spotted in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, otherwise known as the Center of the Universe.

I am the photographer, and I approve this use of my image.

Soviet brochure from Expo '58: "Come Visit the USSR! Soviet Women! Sputniks and Rockets!"

Here's a neat bit of paper ephemera: A brochure of the Soviet pavilion at Expo 58, also known as the Brussels World Fair—which was the first World Fair after World War II. The Soviet pavillion brochure includes period-perfect illustrations, a neat map, and promises of love 'n' leisure in the land of the Reds: "Sputniks and Rockets! Soviet Women!"

Scanned and published to Flickr by user Jericl Cat

(via BB Submitterator, via metkere.com)

Vintage-style ads for Facebook, Skype and YouTube

500x_0805_ads_skype.jpg Brazil's Moma ad agency created a set of ads for newfangled tech companies in a mid-century style. [Ads of the World via Gawker]

Jamiroquai: Where's he now? Pimpin' instant ramen in Japan

Well, I suppose we all have to pay the rent. In the Japanese television commercial embedded above, Jamiroquai's Jay Kay sings an alternate version of the band's '90s funkyraver smash hit "Virtual Insanity" in which the lyrics have been changed to praise the noodly goodness of Cup Noodle instant ramen (known in the USA as "Cup Noodles").

Virtual insanity, indeed! Here is the official Cup Noodle campaign site. (via watashi no tokyo, via Gavin Purcell)

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1977 commercial for the IBM5100

This 1970s commercial for the IBM5100 is really funny.

[via AllThingsD]

Awkward Stock Photos

awkwardstockphotos.jpg awkwardstockphotos.com (via William Gibson).

If alien life exists, we have probably weirded it out by now

From Arecibo, to the sound of vaginal contractions, to an ad for Doritos—a short history of Earthlings' attempts to communicate with the cosmos. The vaginal sounds recording reached Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti in the late 1990s. New Scientist says, "It is unclear what sort of reply we should expect."

Pharmaceutical company funds documentary about over-eating

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GlaxoSmithKline is financing a documentary about over-eating, in the hopes that it will boost sales of Alli—their over-the-counter drug that blocks your body from absorbing some of the fat you eat. (Fun game: Read the recent Science Question from a Toddler on poop and see if you can guess what the common side-effects are.)

Glaxo says they won't have control over the content of the film and won't even be pushing to make sure Alli gets mentioned. They simply want to educate Americans about the fact that they eat too much.

The partners say they hope to emulate "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's celebrated 2006 documentary on climate change. It cost an estimated $1.5 million to produce and sold $50 million in tickets worldwide. Ms. Ferdinando summarized the film as "the 'Inconvenient Truth' of mindless eating," with the story taking a "behind-closed-doors, fly-on-the-wall" approach that highlights unhealthy relationships people have with food.

Artistically, the problem I see here is that successful documentaries—and really documentaries in general—are usually about challenging popular perception and either making a case for a viewpoint that's counter to "common-sense" or informing people about a situation that's mostly being ignored. The thesis "Fat People Eat Too Much" does not exactly fit into that mold.

New York Times: Glaxo, diet drug maker, to pay for film on eating

Image courtesy Flickr user yukariryu, via CC

What "Kills 99.9% of germs" really means

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Shocker: Advertising health claims are often misleading. In this case, it looks like most of the products that tout near-perfect germ-killing abilities are getting those results in trials that aren't exactly designed to mimic real-world conditions. When a University of Ottawa microbiologist ran a more realistic demonstration for Canadian schoolchildren, he turned up VERY different results.

Three popular sanitizers killed between 46% and 60% of microbes on the students' hands, far short of 99.99%. Bugs that aren't killed by sanitizers aren't necessarily more dangerous than those that are. But the more that remain, the greater the chance of infection, doctors say.

The ad writers also benefit from regulations that allow them to claim 99.9% effectiveness without actually killing 99.9% of all germs, all the time. Instead, representative samples can stand in, and there's room for do-overs in the lab, if the first test doesn't work.

Wall Street Journal: Kills 99.9% of Germs—Sometimes

Image courtesy Flickr user If you dream it..., via CC

Elevator mural casts you as Adam on the Sistine Chapel's ceiling

Scanned from an unknown source, a mural near the elevator in a plastic surgeon's office that casts the rider in the role of Adam on the Sistine Chapel.

Advertising / Be Born Again (via Geisha Asobi)

James Lipton in hilarious LG ad campaign: "Before You Text, Give it a Ponder"

giveitaponder.jpg These television spots for LG Mobile featuring "Actors Studio" host James Lipton really get the Funny job done. Post with background over at Laughing Squid. The campaign site is here (warning: Flash, auto-load sound). There's an article about the purpose of the campaign here. I'm guessing they were created by the same agency that did "Subservient Chicken" for Burger King? I'm told the agency was Young and Rubicam.

Above, my favorite spot in the "Ponder" campaign, which includes a unicorn reference.

Google puts a stop to tooth-whitening, belly-flattening scumbags

The Big Money reports that Google has made a "minor shift in its policy that has major implications." Instead of banning scammy ads for bogus teeth whiteners and stomach flatteners, Google will now ban the advertiser itself, "effectively neutering the advertiser's ability to shift from one ad and shell site to another."
Think of it like the struggle between the police and a graffiti vandal. Up until now Google has only been erasing the tags after they've been put up. Going forward, they're going to take away his spray cans and put a GPS collar on him, making sure he never does it again. It would be a principled stand by any company, but especially by Google because of its position in the market. I worry, though, that the rest of the industry won't pay attention. On this issue, Google might be a leader without any followers.
Google Does Non-Evil Thing: Bans White Teeth, Flat Stomachs

Just Thinking About the Charmin Bears Makes Me Cringe

According to this story on mental_floss, nothing is more American than Mom, apple pie, and the freedom to wipe your butt with commercially produced toilet paper.

How to avoid ads in Gmail (or not)

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

Someone called Joester is purporting to show us how to block out gmail ads by using magic words in email messages, such as 9/11 or "suicide."  In other words, the ads that appear when your email is catastrophe-free:
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...are gone when the email you receive contains trigger words:
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But it's not as easy as it sounds. Putting the key words in a signature file doesn't work; the ads return. Also, writes Joester:
If the message runs long google turns the ads back on. However, if you add another "sensitive" word they go off again. After extensive testing I've discovered you need 1 catastrophic event or tragedy for every 167 words in the rest of the email.
Questions remain. What are all the trigger words? How do you avoid scaring the people who receive your emails with your seemingly pointless references to incest and gang rape? More importantly, shouldn't this be more accurately described as a method for helping the people who you email who have gmail avoid ads?

Link (via Adlab)

Here's an index for our book, Ad Nauseam

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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It's a long (or, rather, uninteresting) story but our book, Ad Nauseam, doesn't have an index. I was hoping that Amazon's "search inside" feature could help fill that gap, but our publisher says it takes a while for Amazon to make it functional.

So I've gone ahead and made an index myself. I have no idea how to make an index, frankly, and there are no doubt a number of typos, but for those of you who have bought the book or are considering buying it, it's better than nothing. And if anyone wants to list typos in the comments, I'll update the index accordingly. Thanks.

Link (pdf)

Old Ad for Fake Guns

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

You know how hard it is to find that perfect gift for that special someone in your life who really wants to get killed by a cop, but doesn't want to actually endanger anybody? I think I may have the answer right here. All you need is $44.95 and probably a time machine back to 1977, because I can't imagine this is legal now.

This ad brings up so many questions: who is this targeted at? Even in a theater prop sort of context, I don't see how the weight and feel would matter. Is it for potential criminals, who want the intimidation of a gun but are hedging their bets if they get caught, it won't be with a deadly weapon? It does say "will fool experts," I bet especially if the "expert" is looking down the barrel of it.

The best line is, of course, "Decorate your den, office, rec-room." I can just imagine it. "Oh, your potpourri bowl artfully strewn with pistols is absolutely wonderful!" A few handguns tossed around in just the right spots really makes a rec-room, too.

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Top 10 Ironic Ads From History

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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Earlier this month, Jason and I guest blogged at Consumerist. Here's something I posted there that might interest you all as well:
Remember when you could buy barbiturates for the baby? Cover your house with asbestos? Or get heroin from the doctor? Okay, probably not, but thanks to the immortal beauty of advertising, you can take a trip back in time. Here's our pick of some of the most ironic ads in American history.
(with apologies to my writing partner, Torchinsky, who loves Corvairs)

Link

1972 ad promotes radiation

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

I found this 1972 Investor-Owned Electric Light and Power Companies ad in a Taschen collection.
Radioactivity. It's been in the family for generations. In fact, scientists can tell us just how old our remote ancestors are by measuring the radioactivity still in the bones of prehistoric cave dwellers.

Was this really reassuring? All of the dead people you've ever heard about are radioactive! Why not: "Radiation: because EVERYTHING causes cancer!"

radioactivity-nuclear-ad.jpg

Free online archive of vintage TV commercials

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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The Hartman Center at Duke University has just launched AdViews, a collection of thousands of TV commercials from the 1950s-1980s, all from the archives of ad agency D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles. Early spots for IBM computers, Hasbro, Squibb, and a bunch of others are here. I especially enjoyed the Pampers spots; the narrative in them is so hilariously forced, it's almost porn-like. These ads don't promote a brand so much as the concept of disposability -- still a new idea at the time.

Unfortunately, the videos aren't nearly as accessible as the print ads in the other Duke/Hartman archives--they're on an iTunes channel, which allows for downloading but not much else. The archive is still a work in progress, though, and greater accessibility is planned for the future.

(Thanks, Skip!)


Ads as Soulcatchers

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

So my wife Sally saw this ad on her Facebook page:
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Now, this is confusing for many reasons. Most obviously, why does that gothed-out hotula want me to advertise my church so badly? I swear, she's looking right at me. When you click the ad, you end up here, which is a part of Truth Advertising, a direct-mail marketing company that specializes in churches.

I'm sure the churches that use this have noble intentions, but there's just something profoundly creepy about it all. The strange meshing of religion and corporate-type business never sits well-- and this works both ways, both when religion is infused with corporate culture or when corporate culture becomes quasi-religious, like some of those Steven Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People weirdos I've met.

Plus, and I can't put my finger on exactly what it is, but there's some overdone quality about almost everything that tries to mesh religion and mainstream commercial culture that makes things look just a bit off. Maybe it's too many Photoshop filters. I bet, given a lineup of these ads with their copy blocked out, you could pick out the ones for a church and the ones for a godless business.

Maybe I'll try praying at a Staples for a while and see how it goes.

If Advertisers Were Supervillains, or Vice Versa

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

If you were a mad scientist evil genius who happened to only be interested in advertising, it would make sense for you to come up with this: a way to brand the moon with a giant ad. You'd call the UN, get on that big screen, and blackmail the world into caving into your demands, otherwise you were going to deface the moon with a colossal ad for Gold Bond Foot Powder or Cool Ranch Doritos.

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This idea has been around a while, and I have no doubt it's possible. The only way I think this could be justified is if the advertiser paid each and every moon-gazing person some amount to do this, since the visual image of the moon in the night sky can be thought of as public property; you can't legally throw a billboard up on land that you don't own, so I don't see how this is different. But, if someone wants to rent the moon from the collected people of Earth, who knows? Feel free to make us an offer; someone's almost always here.

Great Ad, seen in Popular Science October 1976

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

How can there be so much goodness packed into so little space? From the moment your eye is grabbed, slapped, and dragged to the ad by the headline "LASER" you know you're in for a hell of a ride. Complete plans for a laser or phaser (whatever that means, exactly) pistol, $2.75! Invisible force fields, moon men robots, two bucks a piece-- why hadn't this Jack Ford just taken over the world with his army of laser-equipped, invisi-shielded moon men bots, all built for less than the cost of a used Hyundai?

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Maybe it has something to do with the fact that his horoscopes cost more than his Moon Man robots or lasers.

Painfully Inane Adwatch: The Twix "Need a Moment" Campaign

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

(Poster's note: in reading the comments, I realized I probably wasn't clear with my criticisms here. I do certainly understand that ads are not to be taken literally, and advertising hasn't been about the actual qualities of the product for decades. We talk about that in the book, even. I was more taken by this particular approach itself, and how I found the conceit itself inane. That said, most of the comments that advertising is not about the product is right on the money, and that right there is a good thing to keep in mind.) Since our book is about advertising, let's talk about some ads. Some awful ads.

If you could find someone totally unaware of what a Twix bar was (friendly alien, unfrozen pilgrim, etc.) and showed them these current crop of Twix ads, and then asked them what Twix bars were, I bet you'd get an answer like "Twix bars? Aren't they those crunch-activated time-stopping rods?"



And that assessment would be totally justified, based on these ads. They're relying on the tenuous idea that we're all not drooling idiots to take this literally, because the only qualities of a Twix bar demonstrated in these commercials are the ability of the Twix bar to stop time. There's nothing mentioned of the taste, the crunch, the dubious energy benefit-- all the usual candy bar selling points-- just the bold suggestion that these crunchy little logs have colossal power over the time-space continuum. I know no one really thinks they can do that, and this is just an advertising conceit, but it's strange when the big marketing appeal of your product is the freedom it gives you to be a jackass.

Before we get anything further, I should make it very clear that they can't stop time. I've said some truly awful, offensive things to people, and when I've tried to use a Twix bar in the demonstrated manner, I've just come off looking even more like an idiot, but this time an idiot with a dripping mouthful of half-masticated candy and a panicked, confused look in his eye.

Read the rest