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!"
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").
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.
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.
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.
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:
...are gone when the email you receive contains trigger words:
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?
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.
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.
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)
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!"