Contortionists and fire-breathers perfect for that potato-chip ad

Posted on Tue Mar 3 2009

It's always fun when a mundane product like potato chips gets an absurdly lavish TV commercial. That's the case here, as London's AMV BBDO introduces new Walkers Sensations Thai Sweet Chili chips. This isn't just a snack; it's "a journey through flavor." And it's dramatized in the spot by contortionists crab-walking around in red body suits, a flower-haired vixen pouring honey, and bare-chested daredevils breathing fire. According to the press materials: "Shot in Bangkok, Thailand, the ad explores flavor through performance and takes the viewer through each stage of their taste journey, from the spicy tingling of chili and basil, to the mellow sweetness and culminating in a building heat. Combining traditional Thai performance with a modern twist, the ad features a beautiful Thai dancer, expert fire-breathers and amazing contortionists, and ends in a spectacular explosion of color." Available at your corner store for a modest 99p.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

It could get messy as Ryanair threatens to charge for the toilet

Posted on Mon Mar 2 2009

Paytoilet2

People don't like it, but it's hard to begrudge airlines, given their financial state, for asking people to pay for things like meals and extra checked bags. It gets a little more ridiculous when they start charging for stuff like pillows and blankets. But now Ryanair is ready to truly test consumers' patience (not to mention their bladders and their bowels), as the low-cost Irish airline is considering charging for the on-board toilet. CEO Michael O'Leary said Friday that he's thinking of "putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future." He's not worried about the obvious. "I don't think there is anybody in history that has got on board a Ryanair aircraft with less than a pound," he says. Of course, O'Leary could be joking. This is a guy who once said Ryanair passengers could expect "beds and blow jobs" in business class. Still, a Consumerist reader is worried enough to whip up a mock safety instruction manual indicating what Ryanair might charge for next.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Coke, not Pepsi, reportedly the choice of Obama administration

Posted on Fri Feb 27 2009

Obama-soda

Pepsi is the one that's gone ga-ga for Barack Obama, with its similar logo and call for a refreshed and renewed America. But according to Time magazine's White House correspondent, Michael Scherer, who has his finger on the pulse, it's Coke, not Pepsi, that's the choice of this new administration.
  Obama himself doesn't care much for either beverage. (He prefers Honest Tea, apparently.) But as Scherer reports, his advisers tend to prefer Coke. "Several senior Administration officials are committed cola drinkers, and without fail they spend their days sipping from a can of Diet Coke, a product of Pepsi's chief competitor, Coca-Cola," Scherer writes. Devotees include Larry Summers, Obama's top economic adviser, who "rarely walks anywhere in the White House complex without a can of Diet Coke in his hand. He is well known for interrupting conversations to take another swig."
  Scherer asked another White House official, who had a can of Diet Coke on his desk, whether the Obama administration had a clear bias for Coke over Pepsi. The official, who was granted anonymity, perhaps because he wasn't authorized to discuss such a sensitive topic in public, replied, "I think that's true. Don't most Americans?"

—Posted by Tim Nudd

As the rest of us get poorer, Suze Orman gets a whole lot richer

Posted on Wed Feb 25 2009

Orman-got-milk

Suze Orman, who's in white-hot demand these days, walks a fine line when it comes to paid commercial endorsements. On the one hand, doing ads can create a perceived conflict of interest for someone who claims to offer independent financial advice. On the other hand, turning down ad opportunities is clearly a dumb financial move (at least in the short term), and she's supposed to be smarter than that.
  Her solution: She does what she thinks she can away with. That means no bank ads, but stuff like "Got milk?" is fine. Here's her page on the WhyMilk.com Web site. In the video, she says this about her sellout-ishness: "Here's what everybody needs to understand about me. I've been asked to do many ads. I've been asked to do many endorsements. And I very, very seldom say yes, because I would never lend my face and my beliefs to just anything. I would do it because I believed in it and I thought it was a great value. So today, as I sit here, I don't actually think about all the other celebrities that have done ['Got milk?'], and what it feels like to be one of them. I think about how important what I'm doing really is."

—Posted by Tim Nudd

A regular blanket is too confusing for you? Try the WTF Blanket!

Posted on Thu Feb 12 2009

This blog is barely six weeks old, and we've already written about the Snuggie (also known as the Toasty Wrap) about 700 times. Still, we have to post this parody ad, in which the Snuggie is rechristened the What the F#%k Blanket. "Regular blankets are confusing. The WTF Blanket will cripple your social life! ... If your reading the obituary or viewing scrambled porn or clogging your arteries or telling a racist joke, you will look like a tool!" Completely awesome. Via American Copywriter.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Michelle Williams and Natalie Portman get greedy over perfume

Posted on Mon Feb 9 2009

Greed560

Perfume advertising is notoriously easy to parody. Still, this spoof commercial by the Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli is notable for the high-wattage talent involved: actresses Michelle Williams and Natalie Portman and director Roman Polanski. The fake perfume is called Greed, and the young honeys wordlessly wrestle over a bottle of it. Hair is pulled. Heads are thrown into floors. A gentleman caller arrives to resolve the dispute.
  According to Dazed Digital, Vezzoli "fully immersed himself into trying to answer the question of what it takes to attract people to a perfume and now to replicate the media build-up seen of a perfume campaign." Low-hanging fruit, but entertaining nonetheless.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Broken brand names now available at bargain-basement prices

Posted on Tue Jan 27 2009

Large_linens copy

One upside to this disastrous meltdown: If you have a few bucks lying around, you can snap up some formerly well-respected brand names.
  A venture called Hilco-Gordon Brothers has been doing just that. It recently bought the rights to the Bombay Co. furniture name and the Sharper Image moniker. And it just added the Linens 'n Things name to its portfolio with a $1 million bid at a bankruptcy auction.
  That's a pretty good price. As The Wall Street Journal points out, private-equity investors bought Linens 'N Things for $1.3 billion (with a b) in 2006. Yes, much of that value has evaporated. But surely the name—which can live, and even thrive, going forward—is worth more than 1/1,300th of the sale price of just three years ago.
  Bradley Snyder of Gordon Brothers tells the Journal: "This is a unique time and we intend in six months to a year to have a number of brand names. We see it as a completely opportunistic time. If not now, then when? We have virtually unlimited capital for this project."
  At least someone's doing well.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

A beer made for those who'd rather be doing heroin and cocaine

Posted on Thu Jan 22 2009

Speedball copy

Seems like every consumer beverage and his mother dreams of being a potentially fatal drug cocktail these days.
  First, there was Cocaine, the energy drink that boasted three and a half times the caffeine of Red Bull, and was pulled from store shelves by the FDA for being marketed "as an alternative to street drugs." Then there was Drank, the "relaxation drink" evidently modeled after purple drank, a notorious mixture of cough syrup and soda. And now we've got Speedball, a British beer whose name refers to the sometimes lethal combination of heroin and cocaine.
  Sure, these brands are leeching off the supposed glamour and street cred of illegal drug use. The trouble is, from a branding point of view, the names overpromise. Anyone who enjoys actual speedballing is likely to be underwhelmed by the brew's less potent mixture of guarana, Californian poppy, kola nut and Scottish heather honey.
  Not that they'll even get to try it. The brand is facing a sales ban for "profiteering from the scourge of illegal drugs, mocking the misery caused by misuse."

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Earth-friendly packaging is great, except when it doesn't work

Posted on Fri Jan 9 2009

Newton copy

Here's some funky athletic-shoe packaging by TDA in Denver for Newton Running. It's been getting lots of attention for its egg-carton-ish design, which would cut down on the amount of already Earth-friendly material being used. It's been featured on various design blogs, in Communication Arts and on Treehugger, where there was quite a bit of rejoicing. Unfortunately, it won't see the light of day.
  "We're a little late to the party here," a Newton rep says near the bottom of the Treehugger comments string, "but we were frankly surprised by all the media coverage of a box that we never actually produced. ... The shoebox featured in this story was designed by our advertising agency and submitted to several design competitions. We liked this design but after a lot of research we discovered it is not very sustainable for us to produce or ship the molded pulp shoe boxes."
  Newton goes into more detail on its own blog, where it shows off the shoebox it's chosen instead—a regular rectangular one that uses 100-percent post-consumer waste and soy-based inks. The other design? Not much more than a pretty package.
  Via @Takeoff and Lovely Package.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Segway scooters hit a new low as Kevin James climbs aboard

Posted on Tue Dec 30 2008

Mall-cop-segway-200

Has any brand in history fallen from such great heights to such ignominious depths as Segway? Dean Kamen's dream machine, introduced to great fanfare in December 2001, once seemed to embody the best of what the future had to offer: remarkable gravity-defying technology employed for the most practical purpose imaginable. Now, seven years later, it's the butt of a movie-length Kevin James joke. In the new film Mall Cop, James plays a shopping-mall security guard whose means of transport serves to underscore his emasculated, bumbling idiocy. The film, which reminds us yet again why police should never ride Segways, represents a new low in a series of progressively lower lows for the company, which suffered its first big PR fiasco in 2003, when George W. Bush fell off a Segway in Kennebunkport (immediately casting into doubt Kamen's dream that U.S. special ops would eventually ride Segways into battle). The problem, of course, is that even when people manage to stay atop their Segways, they look vaguely foolish riding them. As James admits: "I had driven a Segway for a promo for King of Queens, and I thought it was the funniest [vehicle] I had ever seen." Funny = perhaps not the greatest brand attribute for a scooter. Perhaps Segways will eventually have their day in the sun, but these days not even Ferrari can make them cool.

—Posted by Tim Nudd


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