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October 2009

Advertising on flies: Is it clever, creepy, cruel or all of the above?

Posted on Fri Oct 30 2009

Ever wish you could be fly on a wall and listen in on a competing agency's strategy meetings? I doubt you will ever again after seeing what Jung von Matt came up with for Eichborn, a publishing company out in Germany. The agency claims to be (and I'm sure it is) the first in the world to use flies as a method of advertising. It attached tiny banners to the flies with a short waxy string, which eventually disintegrates. The paper was designed to be nearly weightless so the insect can still fly but at lower heights and a slower speed. They're also forced to rest more, often on or near people. I don't know whether this marketing ploy is creepy or clever, but seeing the people's reaction shows it does work. I wonder which other companies would dare to try this—perhaps perfume manufacturers who want to attract people that stink, or maybe some advocacy group that wants to grab people's attention about pollution, famine and disease. PETA always has disturbing marketing but I doubt this would fly (pun intended) with them. Is it animal cruelty? Perhaps a fly toting a banner would be less likely to get swatted, though. Watching the insects zig zag like a drunken sailor, I sincerely hope this method of marketing does not catch on. What's next, the revival of the carrier pigeon business?

—Posted by Phil Mathew

KFC's United Nations stunt, which sucked, somehow got worse

Posted on Fri Oct 30 2009

Kfc

There's viral marketing, and then there's being a dick. And KFC seems to have crossed the line. As previously reported here, the chicken chain sent a tongue-in-cheek letter to the United Nations Secretary General asking that "Grilled Nation" get a seat at the organization's table. OK. Ha ha. But now we learn that KFC has taken the joke a step further. An actor dressed as the late Col. Sanders somehow got into the U.N. this week and shook hands with Ali Treki, the new president of the General Assembly. The U.N. is now investigating how the man breached several layers of security to get in. If buzz was the goal, KFC has clearly got it through this stunt, but this Borat-style marketing is frankly embarrassing. Then again, maybe it's not KFC's fault. Rep Laurie Schalow, speaking to Slashfood,  blamed a confluence of events for the Colonel's appearance. "The KFC Colonel was in New York City for a Kentucky Grilled Chicken sampling event outside the United Nations," she said. "While serving free chicken on First Avenue, he was invited inside by a U.N. staff member, along with a photographer who was documenting the event." Added Schalow: "KFC has the utmost respect for the United Nations, and this lighthearted event in New York City was in no way meant to undermine the important work that the U.N. does around the world."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Casper the Friendly Ghost putting younger apparitions to shame

Posted on Fri Oct 30 2009

Casper1

Casper has turned 60. You wouldn't know it though. The friendly ghost has a new animated series, DVDs, comic books, greeting cards and even clothes. The new TV series, Casper's Scare School, currently airs on Cartoon Network in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America. It also airs in Germany, Canada and Brazil (beginning in March). Dark Horse Comics is releasing a hardcover graphic novel featuring a reprint of the first Casper comic, and Ardden Entertainment is debuting a new comic-book series called Casper and the Spectrals. He appears on shirts, sleepwear and Halloween cards from American Greetings. Lionel trains has even gotten in the act by creating a Casper-themed train car. Strangely enough (or not), Casper was the first comic book I ever bought back in the mid-'70s (no, it's not the one featured in the picture). The fact that I got hooked on the character 30 years after its debut and Casper is still going strong today is a testament to the franchise. Of course, it doesn't hurt that every generation is obsessed with ghosts—friendly or not—at some point.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

The Great Bernie's eye-care benefits will help you see the future

Posted on Fri Oct 30 2009

When you think of an eye-care benefits provider, a creepy fortune teller named Bernie may not be the first association that comes to mind. VSP Vision Care wanted to spice up its image with a new marketing push centered on a character named Bernard Johnson, aka The Great Bernie, who helps people see the future. In this video, The Great Bernie proclaims that he can help kids and grandmas, and that he loves dogs, among other things. "If you're breathing and know how to work a keyboard, please come visit," he pleads, as he points viewers to TheGreatBernie.com. Not sure if VSP meant to make the video look like it was made in a basement using no microphones or professional actors, but it sure has the feel of a cheap infomercial. So bad it's good? You be the judge. Bernie's other medium is Facebook, where he delivers fortunes to the social net's users.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Billy Mays tops list of brand-spokesman costumes for Halloween

Posted on Thu Oct 29 2009

Mays

Other than selling us a bunch of crap, infomercial king Billy Mays left an indelible impression on some us. So much so that he was voted the brand spokesman most likely to win a costume contest this year. The Geico caveman was second, and the Geico gecko was third, according to a poll from First Call, Octagon's celebrity and acquisition division. (As AdFreak mentioned earlier, Billy Mays's son will support you if you want to go as his dad. He even wants pictures.) Kayne West was voted the celebrity whose mistake could make him a popular costume this year. (One would assume a Taylor Swift would have to be in tow.) Second and third in that category were Michael Jackson and Jon and Kate Gosselin (in Jackson's case, that's a weird use of the word "mistake"). For the kids, Hannah Montana was voted the licensed character that will most likely be popular this year. Dora the Explorer and characters from Where the Wild Things Are were a distant second and third. Personally, I'm expecting a healthy dose of Balloon Boys and Bernie Madoffs. If you can think of any other good celebrity costumes, feel free to chime in.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

Nerds spend $2,000 and two years on iPhone Halloween outfits

Posted on Thu Oct 29 2009

So, what's the Halloween costume that all the well-dressed geeks will be wearing this time around? While many of the common folk will be drawn to tasteless dead-celebrity costumes, at least a couple of techies will be going as iPhones—functional ones that they like to call GuyPhones. In this video, two rabid fans, Reko Rivera and John Savio, parade their iPhone getups, which have actual working 42-inch displays. Alas, this costume is not for everyone. It weighs 85 pounds, for one thing, and has a battery life of only 1.5 hours. The two sank more than $2,000 and two years of work into this, so can't you give them 30 seconds of your time?

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Fox builds record-breaking ice squirrel for 'Ice Age' DVD release

Posted on Thu Oct 29 2009

Iceage

Instead of striving for record-breaking DVD sales, Twentieth Century Fox decided it would be more cost-efficient to break a record by building the tallest ice sculpture. The only requirements were 133,000 pounds of ice (from four states), 14 professional ice-sculptors and four days. Thinking hard about what it could offer to the lasting history of artistic endeavors and the Guinness Book of World Records, Fox decided, naturally, to sculpt the most majestic of creatures, the squirrel. The resulting Squirrel With Acorn work honors none other than the "loveable" Ice Age character Scrat. And seriously, what's there not to love about a 48-foot-8-inch ice squirrel? The sculpture was unveiled next to an outdoor ice rink in Santa Monica, Calif. Oh, and there was a promotional reason behind Scrat's formation. It corresponded with the launch of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs on Blu-ray and DVD, in case you missed it.

—Posted by Sarah Knapp

Try parental-control software that won't break your child's neck

Posted on Wed Oct 28 2009

Trend Micro wants parents to know there's an easier way to install Internet "parental controls" than resorting to extreme measures. In this video, which debuted last month, a boy secretly enters an adult-video site on his computer. As he watches with exhilaration, the monitor deploys an airbag, and the boy is ejected from his chair. It is then revealed that the "parental controls software" belongs to "McHorton's," a fictional company, whose tester appears in the boy's room when explicit content is detected. The video tells viewers, "There's a better way," and points them to Fearless Web, a Facebook page dedicated to Trend Micro's campaign raising awareness about Internet security. The video is part of a series. Two other ads present more comical scenarios of tech-savvy children trying to outsmart their parents. But Trend Micro saves the day and helps parents outsmart their children.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Asian-language advertising isn't just for Asian people anymore

Posted on Wed Oct 28 2009

Asia

Out-of-home media may be TiVo-proof, but it has the same clutter issues as other forms of advertising. But lately in New York, a couple of marketers have found a way to at least earn a second look from the city's jaded populace: by using Asian writing. This ad for Citizen Chrono-Time A-T collection, for instance, features the headline "To the world," but you'd only know that if you speak Japanese (or, like Brandweek's own Elaine Wong, are fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin and thus can decipher the kanji script) or read the fine print. A Citizen rep said the ad was developed for the Japanese market, and the model is a famous Japanese actor/singer who goes by the name Mr. Fukuyama. Meanwhile, Bristol-Meyers Squibb is running outdoor ads in New York well north of Chinatown featuring an Asian man in a black turtleneck who looks like he's about to be attacked by a snake. That headline is in Mandarin, and the goal is to raise awareness for Hepatitis B, which over-indexes to the Chinese population. "We believe that people are more likely to listen and act upon information if it is given to them in a culturally relevant format or in their native language," says a rep. True, but you'll also get the attention of non-Mandarin speakers wondering what's going on. 

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

The French don't hate McDonald's as much as you might expect

Posted on Wed Oct 28 2009

Louvre-mcdonalds

Mona Lisa, meet Ronald McDonald. The Golden Arches, in an effort to be absolutely everywhere, said earlier this month that it would open a location under the Louvre. This was met head on with cries of cultural heresy. It was immediately assumed by the American press that the French would hate the idea—after all, we assume the French hate everything, right? However, a recent New York Times article revealed that the French actually like their McDo, as they call it. (It sounds like "McDough" when you apply an Inspector Clouseau accent.) The fast-food giant's menu in France features Le Big Mac, which is the country's No.1 burger, and Le Royal Deluxe (sorry, Pulp Fiction fans, it's not a Royale with Cheese). It also offers Le Big Tasty chicken sandwich (which sounds like something Pepé Le Pew would be into), the Little Mozza salad and beer. No word on when the McBordeaux will be rolling out.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein


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