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Sunday, December 27, 2020

love and money
In the video for her latest hit, “Bad Romance”, Lady GaGa has upped the ante for pop-music product placement:

Lady GaGa is so beyond any kind of embarrassment that she’s made mercantilism its own aesthetic. In her previous video for “LoveGame,” a street tough swigs from a bottle of Campari as he watches Lady rut and grind (Campari, for when your evening plans call for rough sex on the subway). In the video for mega-hit “Poker Face,” the card table is emblazoned with the logo for Bwin.com. She quaffs Neuro sports drink in the “Paparazzi” video; sports a Baby G watch in “Eh Eh (Nothing I Can Say)”; and wears Beat headphones by Dr. Dre (including a version of her own design) in at least a couple of videos.

All was prelude, however, to the “Bad Romance” video, which features placements for no less than 10 products: a black iPod; Philippe Starck Parrot wireless speakers; Nemiroff vodka; GaGa-designed Heartbeats earphones (via Dr. Dre); Carrera sunglasses; Nintendo Wii handsets; Hewlett-Packard Envy computers; a Burberry coat; those crazy, hobbling Alexander McQueen hyper-heels; and enough La Perla lingerie to choke an ox.

This isn’t a music video so much as the QVC Channel you can dance to.

Of course, rap music has been in the for-sale lyric-dropping business for years, so Lady G isn’t blazing any trails here. Except perhaps in breaking down the double-standard that such music commercializing deals have carried: Urban acts get a pass for the seeming sell-out, while traditional pop/rock artists get a harder time over sullying the fabric of their songs with overt pay-for-play elements.

And yet, there is a subtle distinction with Lady GaGa: All the “Bad Romance” product placements are visuals, inserted into the music video. None of that exists in the song itself — the lyrics are generic enough, lacking any name-brand mentions. So if you don’t catch the video, and instead just hear the song on the radio or on your iPod, you aren’t aware of the overt selling job.

Does this mean it’s more acceptable for mainstream artists to sell advertising space within certain zones — the videos, concert sponsorships, etc. — as long as they keep the songs, i.e. the core products, “pure”? From a segmenting perspective, is there more value in exposing ad messaging to video viewers than to track listeners? Is there still a double-standard at play after all?

Lots to think about. I’ll do just that while I’m listening to the “Bad Romance (Chew Fu H1N1 Fix)” remix for the 31st time. Should be easy without all the in-video ads to dazzle my eyes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/27/2009 10:40am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Celebrity, Pop Culture
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Saturday, December 19, 2021


For all the attention that the Flip Video camera is getting for the user-generated clips it’s running on national television spots, I’m seeing a concurrent part of this marketing campaign that’s curious:

Many of the outdoor display ads, like this one (shown above), actually feature celebrities. The placements I’ve seen in New York City transit hubs prominently display recognizable faces like Tony Hawk and Sophia Bush alongside the mini-camcorders. This seems to run counter to the “grassroots” concept behind the TV ads, i.e. everyday people sending in slice-of-life “flippable moments”.

But if you think about it, this two-tiered content approach makes sense. The television ads, short as they are, are designed for an audience that is focused on the screen; the eyeballs are already paying attention to the ad. The outdoor ads, on the other hand, need to capture attention in a split-second; the surest way of doing that is by showing off a celebrity mug. Different bait for different fish, basically.

It’s a neat trick, because it’s still something of a contradictory marketing message, despite the presumed minimal crossover in audiences. I guess the ultimate goal is to present the Flip as such a universal product that it identifies with everyone, famous or anonymous.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/19/2009 05:46pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Photography, Tech
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Wednesday, December 16, 2021

Yes, there’s a level of irony in Tiger Woods losing his longstanding corporate endorsements just as his mistresses start picking up their own. It’s like the marketing ecosystem needs to achieve a fearful symmetry, adultery aside.

Not that said symmetry lines up dollar- or prestige-wise. Fact is, new BidHere.com “holiday spokesperson” Jamie Jungers ain’t quite hitting it out of the park:

She can’t even read the script off the screen, much less memorize it. And does BidHere.com not even have a real video camera?

If there are further stunt-sponsorships to be had by Tiger’s 10 12 14 (and counting?) tigerettes, and we have to endure the video spectacle, then I’d say we all, truly, will have suffered from this affair.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/16/2009 09:29am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Celebrity, Other Sports
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Sunday, December 13, 2021

In an attempt to break through the music-media clutter, aspiring (and already-aspired) bands are using skin as an in, online:

Accordingly, the music video has reemerged as a powerful promotional tool and thanks to relaxed standards of the Internet — i.e., no standards whatsoever — a recent surge of music videos have included nudity to help bands reach new eyeballs.

But unlike the explicit pop, rap and metal videos that populated cable television in various blurry, censored incarnations over the years, these new videos have little hope of airing on traditional networks such as MTV or Fuse TV. Instead, they spread across the Web, tagged with four magical letters that serve as catnip for the bored and unsupervised: NSFW.

Nudity has helped recent videos from Yeasayer, Amazing Baby and Matt & Kim rack up page views…

I’ve got no problem with a not-safe-for-work trend sweeping through the cacophony that is indie rock. I’d suggest that, instead of the musicians stripping down to show off their non-vocal assets, they get models with nudity-optimized bods to do the full-frontal lifting. This is a numbers game, after all — a well-toned body artist will draw more eyeballs than some pale, scrawny warbler…

It’s a calculated ploy: Some percentage of the online audience will actually listen to the soundtrack, versus the majority who will flit onto YouTube and simply skip around to the nude scenes (ironically, with the audio muted because — irony again — they’ll be goofing off during working hours). Out of that, these acts will snare a couple of song/album/ticket sales. Typecasting worries over being “that naked band” can come after/if they’ve hit the big time.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/13/2009 06:06pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet, Pop Culture
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Saturday, December 12, 2021

The marketing war-of-words between AT&T and Verizon Wireless has been notably high-profile, thanks to the litigious route it took. More recently, I’ve noticed the beginnings of another aggressively-competitive campaign between big brands:

A case in point is a company that has been the object of a competitor’s recent less-than “on-brand” marketing behavior. For several years, Lexus has used an iconic big red bow to help promote its “December to Remember” campaign, created to make it easier for those with the means to surprise a loved one with the perfect gift, purchased at a merrily lower than usual price…

Feeling the intense pressure wrought by the economy, BMW, the competitor of note, is taking some sardonic swipes at its automotive colleague through an advertising campaign not quite in keeping with its cool and cordial brand character. Long known and recognized as a car brand of good breeding and exceptional engineering, BMW, from my point of view, is allowing the economic pinch to get the better of its good manners. While many consumers may find the Lexus big red bow annoying given the size of the average wallet, my belief is that BMW’s holiday campaign tactics are uncharacteristically below the belt, even one less tightened.

Additionally, it seems like Target is going “off-brand” from its traditional brand messaging, apparently in response to market-share loss to competitors like Kohl’s and Walmart.

All’s fair in love and retail, and it seems silly to criticize businesses for going after customers with added brio. But these are highly-polished brands that are supposedly operating on a perceptional plateau that obviates the need for bad-mouthing Brand X. That they’re engaging in a race to the bottom hints that the Great Recession has really taken a toll.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/12/2021 07:34pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, TV
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Monday, December 07, 2021


There have been so many naked-model ads for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that this latest one, featuring Joanna Krupa, really shouldn’t cause anyone to bat an eye.

Anyone other than the Catholic League, which objects to the whole ornate-cross-as-angelic-bikini imagery. For that matter, Krupa’s work here does inspire me to convert to Catholicism, animal activism, and blondes — almost.

As for that “Be an Angel for Animals” theme, the heavenly wings seem to be incongruent with PETA’s core values:

Is that angel’s wings made from real feathers???? Oh the horror!

Maybe PETA was so enamored of its takeoff on the Victoria’s Secret iconic Angels campaign that it overlooked bird byproducts (real or synthetic, doesn’t matter in terms of visual messaging) in an anti-cruelty ad. Or else avian suffering doesn’t make the ethical-treatment cut.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/07/2021 06:17pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Fashion, Political, Women
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Wednesday, November 25, 2021

Interestingly, beermaker Molson Canadian recently rolled out a low-calorie brewski called Molson 67. The number in the name refers to the calorie-count per bottle.

I find that interesting because, being a student of history, I instantly recognized that “67″ as a reference to 1867, the year that Canada’s nationhood was established. Invoking the year of independence, in whole or in part, is fairly recognizable as a patriotic gesture north of the border, exemplified by a storied junior hockey team in the Canadian capital. The parallel with America’s 1776 — Spirit of ‘76, 76er’s, etc. — is obvious.

It can’t be a coincidence. You have to believe that Molson purposely concocted this special beer with a caloric value that matches Canada’s birth-year, all for the subtle-but-inherent marketing value. What red-blooded Canuck wouldn’t want to knock back a couple of cold ones that suggest love of country merely when you ask the bartender for the brand?

And yet, a cursory search of the news mentions and corporate communication surrounding last month’s launch of Molson 67 doesn’t seem to mention the patriotism angle. They wouldn’t want to be overbearing with it, but I’m surprised it didn’t get at least a passing mention. Is it possible that this crucial part of the marketing message got diluted by the time the beer hit the market? Or are Canadians not sufficiently gung-ho enough about their history to care?

It’s amazing some U.S.-based brewer hasn’t thought of a similar 76-calorie beer for the American market. Molson, of course, is part of Molson Coors, which is headquartered in Denver. So I’m guessing that a red-white-and-blue festooned “Coors 76″ will appear on Stateside store shelves in the near future.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/25/2009 09:58pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Food, History, Society
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Saturday, November 07, 2021

It’s Web 2.0 gimmicky as all get-out, but who am I to argue with $85K for wearing a year’s worth of corporate swag?

Jason Sadler, 26, a former marketing professional from Florida, founded his own company, www.iwearyourshirt.com, in 2008 with the idea to wear a T-shirt supplied by any company and then use social media tools to promote the firm.

For his human billboard service, Sadler charges the “face value” of the day so January 1 costs $1, while December 31 costs $365.

Sadler said this may not sound like a lot but it adds up to $66,795 a year if he sells out every day, which he did this year. He also sells monthly sponsorships for $1,500, adding another $18,000 to his income.

The numbers certainly add up. And I commend Sadler for creatively linking the dollar amount with the day-of-year tally. I don’t know how much that’ll be undercut by his 2010 plan: Doubling the sponsorship fee for each day by adding a synchronized second t-shirt wearer in Los Angeles (Sadler’s in Jacksonville). Since the main exposure comes from posting photos online, versus the eyeballs that see the t-shirt on the street, I don’t see much advantage to having more than one person wear a shirt.

It’s working so far, though. And whenever the gimmick crashes and burns, at least these two guys will have a year’s supply of t-shirts to keep their wardrobes full.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/07/2021 06:01pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Fashion, Social Media Online
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Tuesday, November 03, 2021


If Kraft Foods Australia learned anything from the strident, New Coke-like public backlash to its recent name-that-foodstuff promotion, it’s this: Aussie are very touchy about their Vegemite.

It all began in July when jars of caramel-brown Vegemite mixed with cream cheese began appearing on supermarket shelves with brightly colored labels inviting consumers to “Name Me.” After weeks of secrecy, during which the company sold more than 3 million jars of the new product to a population of just 22 million people, Kraft took an expensive advertising slot during a nationally televised Australian-rules football final Sept. 26 to announce its winner: Vegemite iSnack 2.0.

The reaction was fierce. Vegemite-loving consumers took to the Internet to voice their collective indignation about the name. Thousands of Twitter posts, at least a dozen Facebook groups and a Web site dedicated to “Names that are better than iSnack 2.0” blasted American-owned Kraft for tampering with an Australian icon…

After four days, Kraft announced that it would put the name back to a vote. This time, it put forward six rather more conventional choices — including Vegemate, Snackmate and Vegemild — from which Cheesybite was elected through an online and telephone poll. The controversy quickly died away.

I’m extremely skeptical about this chain of events. I’d bet anything that Kraft orchestrated this controversy by choosing a “winning” name that they knew would incite negative reaction. I mean, come on — “iSnack 2.0″?? Even the most insular corporate groupthink wouldn’t deem that worthy. The quick turnaround in rolling out a backup name is another tipoff. This was an in-house guerrilla marketing stunt, all the way. It succeeded by overblowing what would have otherwise been a so-what product launch, Vegemite fervor notwithstanding.

I wonder how the photo above, which I snapped a year ago near 1st and 1st in the East Village, would look with jars of Cheesybite interspersed among the straight-yeast flavor. Probably not as visually appealing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/03/2021 10:17pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food, Photography
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Wednesday, October 28, 2021

There is a spectre haunting your supermarket aisle — the spectre of “simple”:

The new marketing code word being used to boast about fewer ingredients: simple. From 2005 to 2008, there’s been a 64.7% increase in new products using the words “simple” or “simply” in the product or brand name, reports researcher Datamonitor.

In 2010, products that tout simplified labels will be more sought after than those clinging to the formerly hot buzzwords “organic” or “natural,” says [trends guru Lynn] Dornblaser.

At its simplest, simple sells.

“The food business has always been ingenious at turning any criticism into a new way to sell food to us,” says Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. The best-selling book popularized the notion of buying only foods with five or fewer ingredients. “As soon as you stress fewer ingredients, you’re implying that the food is healthy.”

Strength in fewer numbers, so to speak. There’s also the sense of transparency in your foodstuff. The typical run-on sentence of chemical additives found in processed foods is countered by this stripped-down simplicity.

But what good is it? Plenty of fatty foods are just as “simple”, and no less unhealthy due to the lack of preservatives. As usual, it’s purely perceptional:

At [a consumer focus group] gathering in San Francisco, one of Häagen-Dazs’ strongest markets, a panelist mentioned that when he shopped recently, he found himself comparing a bag of potato chips that had 20 ingredients with a bag that had three. He said the bag with the short list was the obvious choice.

Just another trend. Although I’m intrigued by how the further deconstruction of our munchies will manifest next. Will we soon be buying bags of mixed-together protein strands and vitamins? Bring it on…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/28/2009 11:03pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food
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Tuesday, October 13, 2021

If the idea of getting impregnated by some anonymous seed from a sperm bank leaves you cold, perhaps you’ll warm up to sperm from a celebrity look-alike donor:

Donor Look-a-Likes helps answer the would-be clients’ most frequently asked question about their donors, which is who do they look like, said California Cryobank’s communications manager, Scott Brown.

“The goal was not to say you can have a baby that looks like Bob Saget,” Brown said. “The goal was to say this donor happens to resemble this celebrity.”

The site offers a search function with donors who sperm bank staff believe resemble actors such as Aaron Eckhart, Jake Gyllenhaal, Errol Flynn and a “young” Russell Crowe (versus the current Russell Crowe, who is 45). Donor Look-a-Likes are not limited to thespians — the sperm bank’s vast Web search includes Tom Brokaw, Tiger Woods, Stephen Colbert, Lance Bass and Adam Carolla.

Only in Southern California could aspirational star-fucking become womb-filling reality. And here’s the celebrity-guided procreational urge in action:

One prospective mom told NBC that the process of selecting a donor had been mind-numbing for her. “I’m flipping through the catalog with a friend of mine, feeling like I was about to recruit a basketball team, because it was just all stats.” And while she whittled down her list, the Cryobank couldn’t show her a picture of the donor — but it could tell her one of her finalists resembled Freddie Prinze Jr.

“For me, that clinched it right then and there,” she said. “I’ve always found him attractive!”

I see a wave of fake paternity suits in about five years’ time, thanks to the resulting resemblances. Given how some Hollywood celebs can’t account for where their penises end up on any given weekend, some mommy’s going to cash in out-of-court — and only she and her fertility doctor will know for sure…

If you’re one of those people who can’t resist giving a Web-based search database a whirl, have at it. God help you if you look for a Jaleel “Urkel” White stand-in sperm.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/13/2009 09:05am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Celebrity, Science, Society
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Monday, October 05, 2021

The previously-announced Federal Trade Commission plans to combat blog-delivered stealth marketing were more clearly delineated today, perhaps too abruptly for some:

Some marketing groups fought the changes. “If a product is provided to bloggers, the F.T.C. will consider that, in most cases, to be a material connection even if the advertiser has no control over the content of the blogs,” said Linda Goldstein, a partner at Manatt Phelps & Phillips, a law firm that represents three marketing groups, the Electronic Retailing Association, the Promotion Marketing Association and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. “In terms of the real world blogging community, that’s a seismic shift.”

Ms. Goldstein added, “We would have preferred the F.T.C. to work closer with the industry to learn how viral marketing works.”

Translation: “We would have preferred spending a few more months sandbagging the FTC while we squeezed the last few drops of juice out of this unregulated channel.”

I guess the unmarketing folks will just have to fast-track their migration to Twitter and other post-blogging platforms. It’s a nomadic pursuit, of course — you exploit the new territory for as long as you can before regulation comes in to spoil the party. Left in the wake are the party favors and a lot of noise.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/05/2021 11:50pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Politics, Social Media Online
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Sunday, October 04, 2021


As much as I deplore zombie culture, I deplore those non-stop Subway commercials even more. I’m glad someone else picked up on the built-in wordplay in the sandwich shop’s former “Subway — Eat Fresh!” tagline, which I bastardized to “Subway — Eat FLESH!” long ago, out of disgust. Re-dubbing the brand as “Zombway” is a little much, but I’ll allow it.

Admit it: You can totally see Jared as a drooling, shuffling undead. Let’s see him keep those pounds off with a steady diet of brainssssssss…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/04/2021 06:06pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Comedy, Food, Pop Culture
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Thursday, October 01, 2021

With the strictly-segregated 30-second spot losing relevance, and old-fashioned product-placement not breaking through the mindshare clutter, advertising now is insinuating itself right into the scripts of televisions shows:

During the [commercial] short, which was crafted by ["Desperate Housewives"] staffers, romantic tension erupts among a married couple, with Sprint’s Palm Pre playing a central role in the proceedings. In the next seven weeks, viewers will see seven more vignettes featuring the couple, who find that Sprint products help them learn more about infidelity, betrayal and justice than they ever might have imagined. A few weeks down the road, the two characters should show up in subtle fashion in the actual show “Desperate Housewives.”

Basically a show-within-an-ad-within-a-show. The idea is a seamless viewing experience, where everything counts as one overarching storyline — including what’s usually (or formerly?) a commercial “break”.

Or, on the flipside, you could now regard everything to be one long commercial, including the story content. Considering some of the creative discontent over this approach, that’s both the current assessment and the view to the future:

Peter Horton, executive producer of the short-lived NBC drama “The Philanthropist,” said he would hesitate to have another such ad on one of his shows. He said a dramatized vignette featuring the assistant and bodyguard of the show’s main character using Microsoft Corp.’s Bing search engine to look up things online was confusing to viewers because it sometimes introduced a competing plot line.

“I understand the desire financially by networks and producers,” Horton said. “I do think it’s at the expense of the viewing experience, I really do.”

It’s not hard to figure that the pressure will be to follow the dollars, and that these “dramatized ads” will eventually overtake the pure creative content. The question is whether or not anyone will still be watching the boob tube by then.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/01/2021 11:06pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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Tuesday, September 29, 2021

I strictly adhere to the correct notion that World Wrestling Federation Entertainment’s televised spectacles are not, despite surface appearances and trappings, sporting events. (Therefore, I’m not slotting this post under my Other Sports category.) Accordant with that acknowledgment comes a general disdain for WWE and all such related fake-sports spectacles — a disdain forged from years of enduring the rants from rasslin’ fans who insisted upon major metropolitan newspaper coverage in the Sports section (as if).

That said, I like the ring of WWE “Hell in a Cell”. Strictly for the wordplay. It’s a snappy brand, and nicely captures the malevolent melee spirit that it’s trying to sell (despite the staged phoniness of the whole thing).

What doesn’t help: That the latest edition of this cagefighting series is being sponsored by the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles videogame. Kinda takes the edge off, money aside. If they’re going to take that route, why not spin off a truly kid-friendly sidebar event, and call it “Heck in a Sec”? Might as well work all the angles.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/29/2009 08:59am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture, TV, Videogames
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Thursday, September 24, 2021

In light of the recent introduction of mood-setting perfume oils based on H.P. Lovecraft themes, now’s probably the right time for this public service announcement against Internet chats with primordial demi-gods:
internet safety
The SEO-friendlier rendition:

Stacy Griffith, 15, liked frequenting chat rooms online. One day, she met a funny, goofy boy who was deep and intelligent. They talked all the time and eventually, they decided they were going to meet up at a mall in Stacy’s home town.

Only when they met, Stacy realized he was no boy.

It was a motherfucking Cthulhu. Holy fucking shit.

DON’T TRUST ANYONE YOU MEET ONLINE. YOU COULD REGRET IT.

5,000 American girls lose their sanity to Cthulhu each year. Stop online predation from Great Old Ones before it can start. Educate your children about Cthulhu today. [Ad Council]

Honestly, it had me at “a motherfucking Cthulhu” — like there’s, y’know, any other kind. Who knew the high priest of non-Euclidean madness could lay down the smooth-talking Web smack?

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/24/2009 08:59am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Comedy, Internet, Society
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Saturday, September 19, 2021

It’s laudable of Mercedes-Benz to come up with Attention Assist, an automotive sensor system that kicks in when a driver starts dozing off and loses control of the car.

I think they could have come up with a better way to illustrate its benefits, though. This TV commercial about the E-Class Sedan, while spotlighting Attention Assist, puts MB in an overall bad light:

Let’s review the rapid-fire driving-time mayhem, according to the voiceover:

A car that can:

- help awaken its driver if he begins to doze [cut to eyelids behind the wheel, struggling to stay open];

- keep him in his lane if he starts to wander [cut to shot of frightened-looking children in the next car as they're seemingly about to get swiped];

- even stop itself if he becomes distracted [cut to a hazardous brake-inducing tanker truck].

Assuming those three brushes with death occurred in real-time and involved the same driver/car — and maybe we’re not supposed to assume that, but the way this spot is cut, it sure seems that way — you’ve got a vehicular-homicide menace representin’ as a typical Mercedes-Benz customer. This clown doesn’t need a $50-thousand luxury car, he needs a bus pass so he can take his road-time nap without killing someone.

Plus, it’s questionable just how this display is supposed to make for an appealing purchase. Nobody recognizes themselves as being such irresponsible drivers, even if they really are. This isn’t the type of car you want to own — it’s the type of car you want the other guy to own, so he won’t crash into you. Some sales pitch.

Nice marketing messaging, MB. For your next safety innovation, show off how great your airbags work after this same drowsy dope rams his E-Class into a tree…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/19/2009 01:07pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Society
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Sunday, September 13, 2021

EA has been letting it rip with the shock-value stunts to promote upcoming title “Dante’s Inferno”. Following incitements to commit “acts of lust”, fake religious protesters, and gluttony-inspired cakes in the shape of severed limbs, the guerilla marketing machine is moving on to bribery, in the form of $200 checks sent to gaming journalists.

They are being thoughtfully creative within the Divine Comedy theme, though:

[T]he checks arrived in presentation boxes accompanied by a note reading:

“In Dante’s Inferno, Greed is a two-headed beast. Hoarding wealth feeds on beast and squandering it satiates the other. By cashing this check you succumb to avarice by hoarding filthy lucre, but by not cashing it, you waste it, and thereby surrender to prodigality. Make your choice and suffer the consequence for your sin. And scoff not, for consequences are imminent.”

Because of this talented output on display, I actually don’t have a problem with this tactic. Nor with any of the preceding trickery, for that matter. My only criticism is that, if anything, all this build-up will heighten expectations too much. If “Inferno” doesn’t deliver an amped-up gameplaying experience, the promotional trickery will have backfired, and EA will be (pun intended) burned.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/13/2009 12:31pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Videogames
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Thursday, September 10, 2021


I was already aware of the female-oriented messaging in the marketing of penis-pill Cialis. I didn’t realize that that messaging extended to the drug’s advertising imagery, with bathroom fixtures subbing for the other gender’s genitalia:

I guess since my academic research was in semiotics, what always popped into my head when seeing those bathtubs was that they represent female sex organs. Where many of the other commercials for erectile dysfunction drugs show phallic representations, reflecting how they are aimed more at men than women, Cialis is trying to appeal to the decision-maker of the household: the woman.

I’m staring at those yellow-backdropped silhouettes above, and for the life of me, I can’t discern any recognizable naughty bits. Perhaps I lack the academic research. Or else I’m short a bathtub.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/10/2021 11:41pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Science, Women
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Thursday, September 03, 2021

Odds are you’ve walked out of the supermarket or drugstore lately with a veritable kite-tail of a paper receipt, laden with everything from coupons to product-recall announcements. Length is key now that the proof-of-purchase has become a point-of-sale direct marketing piece.

Not without some grousing, from both customers and merchants:

The purchase of a pack of gum from a Duane Reade Inc. store in New York generated a foot-long receipt. Single-item buys made recently at RadioShack Corp. stores around the country each yielded 19 inches of paper. The purchase of a Hula Hoop at a Chicago Kmart produced a receipt two-and-a-half feet long.

Receipts for a family of four’s weekly grocery haul can run to three-feet long. CVS cashiers sometimes jokingly ask customers if they would like shopping bags to tote their receipts. Many retailers’ receipts are half an inch longer because of lines urging shoppers to keep their receipts…

Nobody tracks receipt lengths, but retailers, consultants and makers of receipt printers all agree the tallies have gotten longer. Burt Flickinger III, a retailing consultant with Strategic Resource Group Inc. in New York, said store managers and retail executives recently have been complaining about running out of receipt paper and having printers break down more often.

It is absurd, and yet I can see how effective it is. The price-scans that go into the register ideally conjure up a relevant coupon for that customer — for instance, a family buying the week’s supply of catfood should get a coupon for kitty litter at checkout. The conversion rates have to be sky-high when the paper offers are being placed directly into the consumers’ palms, right when they’re already in shopping mode. That certainly beats out direct mail or print/online advertising, which has to vie for your attention.

I admit this works on me, and I’m one of those people who can’t be bothered with traditional clip-and-save coupons. I’ll actually pay attention to the receipt-delivered offer — coupon, online survey invitation, etc. — instead of idly tossing it. I don’t always go for it, but it’s got me looking, and that’s half the battle.

Of course, size matters — in the opposite direction. The longer the sales slip is, the more likely it is to repel customers and get tossed instantly. Instead of jam-packing everything they can onto the paper record, stores need to be judicious in what they promote in this channel. Instead of going long, the goal should be the keep the receipts at a reasonable length, with relevant messaging.

But retailing overkill is overwhelming, so merchants will continue to push the long-tail of the tape. Might was well include a universal coupon for a kite purchase, so people can get actual good use out of that excess ribbon.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/03/2021 11:06pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business
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Wednesday, September 02, 2021


Building off those body-decay anti-smoking ads from a few years back, New York City is applying the gross-out warning to sugar-packed soft drinks, in the form of a too-detailed visual representation of human fat.

The ads — which cost about $277,000 to develop over three fiscal years, including money for creative work and focus groups — will run in 1,500 subway cars for three months. (The $90,000 cost of the subway advertisement comes through a private donor, the Fund for Public Health in New York.)

Cathy Nonas, a dietitian who directs physical activity and nutrition programs at the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which developed the ad, said that officials concluded, after conducting focus groups, that a graphic, in-your-face approach worked…

“We had to make sure it looked like real human fat,” said Ms. Nonas, of the health department. “We did want those little blood vessels and things like that.”

“Pouring on the pounds” and “don’t drink yourself fat” provide the textual subtlety to counterbalance those cascading globs of sugar-spawned lard. Mentally hitting the straphanger high and low, I suppose.

High time that Gotham lashed out at the sugarwater scourge. I’m sure these tactics will be just as effective in stamping out sweetener-spiked beverages as they were in eliminating ciggies — because you can’t find anyone lighting up in New York anymore, right?

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/02/2021 08:50am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food, New Yorkin', Society
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