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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!"

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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!)