Big Industrial Ag pretends to go organic. PC behemoths mimic Apple products. Barack Obama goes to the right of the Republicans on civil liberties. Mitt Romney suddenly portrays himself as a left-leaning moderate on immigration. It seems no matter the arena, the most cliched move in corporate and political combat is to co-opt an opponent’s message, expecting nobody to notice or care.
But as inured as we are to this banality, it’s still shocking to see Corporate America transform the message of organized labor into a sales pitch for … Corporate America. Yes, according to The New York Times last month, that’s what’s happening, as new ads are “tapping into a sense of frustration among workers to sell products.”
One spot for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (read: the casinos) shows a woman climbing onto her desk to demand a vacation. Another for McDonald’s implores us to fight back against employers and “overthrow the working lunch.” Still another for a Coca-Cola subsidiary seizes on the stress of harsh working conditions to create buzz for a branded “Take the Year Off” contest.
Curt Hopkins compares the discovery that a company’s logo lights up the same brain regions in fans of that company that religious iconographic lights up in followers of the religion.
Anyway, the public (well, at least the free, male, moneyed public) that took such a hands-on role in shaping the policy of the Republic was displaced by an Imperial government that consolidated power in one man, whose will was carried out by a bureaucracy. When that happened, the formerly most influential elements of the society turned away from public life to “mystery religions”: Mithraism, the worship of Isis and of course Christianity.
In the same way, it feels that we’ve lost something in turn. I’m not sure what it is – religious faith, political will, tribal affiliation? – but I can feel it. With the loss of that thing, people have turned to brands, particularly to tech brands, with their promise of connection, amplification, justification, belonging. The promise of salvation and relevance.
The Los Angeles Times will begin selling e-commerce links in selected stories and blog posts — but not in news stories or columns — as “both a reader service and a revenue opportunity for the company,” editor Russ Stanton announced to the newsroom in a memo this morning. The ads disguised as links will be marked in green, to distinguish them from editorial content links, and the articles where they appear will carry disclaimers.
Soon you’ll be able to watch a tiny screen with these people silently dicking around while being bombarded with a commercial for crap you don’t want. Or you can just keep skipping the commercials with your DVR.
Act of desperation or brilliant new strategy? Me, I can’t imagine this helping.
TV viewers by now are accustomed to seeing product placement in their favorite shows. But how will they react upon seeing “program placement” in their commercials?
On John King’s new early-evening news show on CNN, every commercial runs with a small window at the bottom of the screen offering a live view of the show’s set. That’s right — the show, “John King, USA,” in a sense continues into the commercials, with viewers able to see activity between producers and talent as well as a broader graphic offering news and tidbits from around the nation.
In a lawsuit filed Sept. 28 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Amber Duick claims she had difficulty eating, sleeping and going to work during March and April of last year after she received e-mails for five days from a fictitious man called Sebastian Bowler, from England, who said he was on the run from the law, knew her and where she lived, and was coming to her home to hide from the police. [...]
It turns out the prank was actually part of a marketing effort executed by the Los Angeles division of global marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi, which created the campaign to promote the Toyota Matrix, a new model launched in 2008. [...]
Her attorney, Nick Tepper, said the Matrix campaign was similar to “Punk’d” a former MTV show starring Ashton Kutcher that featured celebrities being set up by their friends for elaborate pranks. Toyota’s marketers used the Internet to find people who wanted to set up friends to be “punked,” and Duick was set up by a friend of hers, he said.
Apparently it has something to do with this:
Saatchi & Saatchi’s lawyers are claiming she “opted-in” to the campaign with written consent. Her lawyer claims that “written consent” consisted agreeing to the fine print of an online personality test she took.
It’s long been known that color has powerful effects. Red light measurably raises metabolism and increases grip strength. Blue calms and cools. In advertising, blue corporate logos are generally used to convey stability and trustworthiness, while red is used to convey energy and power.
A new study from the University of British Columbia now finds that blue promotes creativity and red aids attention to detail.
To test alternative explanations for the findings, Zhu’s team showed that neither red nor blue influenced mood. Test subjects also spent the same amount of time on their tasks, suggesting that neither color affected their motivation.
The colors appeared to enhance performance, but not to impair it. Red- and white-primed students had similar creativity scores, while blue- and white-primed students were equal on attention tasks.
Asked about the implications, Zhu suggested that people engaged in creative tasks surround themselves with blue, and with red when trying to focus.
An article in Wired by Brandon Keim can be found here. The results are published in the current issue of Science: “Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Task Performances.” By Ravi Mehta and Juliet Zhu. Science, Vol. 324, Issue 5915, Feb. 5, 2009.
Increasingly, small cameras are being embedded in video screens in malls, health clubs, and grocery stores both to determine who is watching and to customize what is displayed to the audience.
Small cameras can now be embedded in the screen or hidden around it, tracking who looks at the screen and for how long. The makers of the tracking systems say the software can determine the viewer’s gender, approximate age range and, in some cases, ethnicity — and can change the ads accordingly.
That could mean razor ads for men, cosmetics ads for women and video-game ads for teens.
And even if the ads don’t shift based on which people are watching, the technology’s ability to determine the viewers’ demographics is golden for advertisers who want to know how effectively they’re reaching their target audience.
While the technology remains in limited use for now, advertising industry analysts say it is finally beginning to live up to its promise. The manufacturers say their systems can accurately determine gender 85 to 90 percent of the time, while accuracy for the other measures continues to be refined.
The full article can be found here, but I was most interested by the links at the bottom of the article showing the players in this area:
As you may have noticed, I’ve been running Google ads for the past couple months, and have added some Amazon affliate links recently as well. I’m still undecided as to whether these ads are worth the money they make. Traffic has only increased since I started running the ads. Probably because I’ve been better about posting. But I wanted to give you, dear reader, the chance to let me know what you think about this advertising business.
1. Do you mind the ads on Technoccult?
2. Do you read Technoccult on the web or entirely in your feedreader?
3. Do you prefer to read whole feeds in your feedreader, or do you prefer only excerpts?
4. Would you prefer an ad-free exceprt feed to a ad supported full feed?
5. Would you pay a small fee (say, $1 – 5 a year) for an ad-free full feed?
6. If you use a feedreader, which one do you use? (The Cabal counts).
Canadian Spiced Whisky has been placing ads in urinals that show up when people piss on them. People dig ‘em so much that they’ve been known to steal the nets from urinals.
The ads actually appear as black patches on urinal nets until guys start doing their, uh, thing, at which point special heat sensitive ink transforms into zany branded massages like “Man who pee on electric fence receive shocking news” and “Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.” Once the ink cools the text goes back to black. [...]
The concept has, in fact, been so successful that guys are actually stealing the nets from the urinals, Phillips reports. “That’s actually a sign of success, if you ask me – The truest indicator of success.”