Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

Here in the watch-dog offices of The Curmudgeon, we love to expose misleading and downright criminal advertising.  For example, when a soup ad shows a vegetable soup in a bowl that appears to be packed to nearly overflowing, which then turns out to be because they put marbles in the bowl first so the vegetables would be pushed to the top.  Makes a pretty, appetizing picture, but unfortunately, a crock.  And it’s not a crock of soup.  But the “it” it is a crock of also begins with the letter “S.”

So my curiosity was peaked when I learned that Universal Pictures had airbrushed out the two black actors who appeared in the movie out of the posters which were used in Europe, whereas the American posters clearly have the black actors in them (albeit way in the back).  At first, I was surprised at Europe and wondered why they would find this necessary.  But it was Universal Studios who made the decision.

The movie is Couples Retreat, which doesn’t look all that good to me anyway, and the black actors are Faizon Love and Kali Hawk.  They have remained mum on the subject as far as I can tell, but they’re actors.  They have to work in that tinsel town.  They ain’t rocking any boats, not if they know what’s good for their careers, and who wants to hear them bitch anyway?  Not me.

It’s odd and unfortunate but what is to be done about it?  Nothing, and here’s why:  Universal owns this property and it is their right to market it any way they want.  For some reason, they have decided that the movie will do better in Europe without the African American actors on it.  Movie studios spend millions and millions figuring out this marketing stuff and you can bet they know what they are doing.  The studio claims that the revised advertisement aimed “to simplify the poster to actors who are most recognizable in international markets.” (Huffington Post, Nov. 16, 2009)   Mmm…otay.  I can just hear them:  “Hey, those marbles are showing, get them out of the bowl.

So, it says more about the attitude of Europe toward blacks than it does about Universal’s view of them, unless the story about the “recognizable” actors is true, and perhaps it is, except I don’t recognize all of the actors in the poster.  Do you?

Maybe the reason is much more complicated, and not as simple as merely saying it’s racist.  I just don’t know and I don’t have time to devote hours to developing an understanding of the onion-like layers of race issues among people of the world.  People go to war over crap like this.

And maybe that’s the problem.

We don’t have time to reason, but plenty of time for killing.

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Model Filippa Hamilton.  Somebody give that girl a hamburger.

Model Filippa Hamilton. Somebody give that girl a hamburger.

Here in the fashionable offices of The Curmudgeon, the ladies are tres chic and the men dress sharp, everyone except me of course.  I’m more of a worn bluejeans and sweatshirt guy, more ratty than natty.  Lots of magazines devoted to attire come in the mail, and these contain lots and lots of advertisements.  In fact, it’s fairly obvious that these periodicals are little more than vehicles for pushing the latest products and clothing designer crap down our throats.  But they push something else down our throats too, namely, an impossible image of women.  Thin as breath with rice paper skin.

The debate has raged for years over this promotion of the “ideal” woman and its negative impact on young girls, and has been cited as major contributer to rampant anorexia and worse.  The advertisers, seemingly realizing their culpability, promise to stop glorifying the woman as waif.   “We’ll never do it again,” they cry, but they are lying.  They don’t change a thing, and in recent years the new controversy of photoshopping their ads to make the women appear even thinner, less wrinkly, and less…hungry?…has joined the fray.

Enter Ralph Lauren.  A Lauren advertisement (see above) was recently posted on the sites Photoshop Disasters, and  Boing Boing, who added the caption, “Dude, her head’s bigger than her pelvis.”  Ralphie didn’t like this blatant criticism and filed a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) against the two sites, claiming their use was copyright infringement and fell outside of “Fair use” laws.

Photoshop Disasters caved (spineless) and removed the image, but Boing Boing did not, and it’s well-worth reprinting their response:

“Copyright law doesn’t give you the right to threaten your critics for pointing out the problems with your offerings. You should know better. And every time you threaten to sue us over
stuff like this, we will:

  • a) Reproduce the original criticism, making damned sure that all our readers get a good, long look at it, and;
  • b) Publish your spurious legal threat along with copious mockery, so that it becomes highly ranked in search engines where other people you threaten can find it and take heart; and
  • c)Offer nourishing soup and sandwiches to your models.”

Take that, Ralphie boy.  You gotta love those guys.  The controversy isn’t exclusive to the U.S.  In Britain parliament recently proposed outlawing retouched advertising aimed at teens. Seems there was an uproar of an ad with legendary 59 year old skinny chick Twiggy, where she appeared with her wrinkles magically erased.

One thing I’ll say about photoshopped images is at least models can fake it and don’t actually have to have their lower ribs removed like women reportedly did in the 19th century (except that they didn’t.  According to Snopes, the myth was likely started by Florence Ziegfeld to promote actress Anna Held, and subsequently was attached to any famous woman who was very thin.  In the Victorian era, even the simplest of surgeries, not to mention anesthesia, was a complicated matter and many died.)

Anyway, the featured model’s waist is smaller than her head.  I hope she doesn’t get pregnant.  Where would she put the baby?

So I say to all you young women who are starving yourselves to achieve this sick (and unattractive) ideal, go eat a couple of hamburgers for crissake.

Now, who wants ice cream?

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PETA Save the Whales

Here in the lush digs of The Crusty Curmudgeon, all staff must be an animal lover, and people are encouraged to bring their dogs with them.  There is doggie day-care, a dog park, and a dog agility course.  So you would think we would support PETA.  Sometimes, we do, and other times we want to pick PETA up by the collar and slap them silly, saying, “What were you thinking?”  And now they’ve done it again.

In Jacksonville, Florida, PETA has erected billboards featuring a cartoon of a fat woman in a bikini on the beach with the slogan:  “Save the Whales.  Lose the blubber.  Go vegetarian.”  WTF?  This bothers me on many levels, not the least of which is I love my beef, pork, and chicken cooked about every way you can imagine.  Nor do I find eating meat as being “cruel” to animals.  Personally, I believe that plants feel as much as animals, and scream their bloody pulp out when we yank them from their home turf.   Except we can’t hear them due to some glitch in the “nature of things.”

This is not to say I approve of cruelty to animals.  I don’t, and have been known to weep during episodes of “Animal Cops.”  I guess what I’m thinking is PETA should teach and inspire rather than threaten and embarrass.   If you don’t change peoples hearts, you will never stop cruelty to animals.  Calling us fat doesn’t work for me.

And why specificaly target women?  Are they more susceptible to body image and public ridicule?  Are there no fat guys at the beach?

So come over here, PETA, and let me get a hold on your collar.  For those of you who want to get into the slapping line, it starts behind me.

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Paste up - London.  Photo by Dr. Case on flickr.

Paste up - London. Photo by Dr. Case on flickr.

Here in the comfortable confines of The Curmudgeon office, I may publicly state that I detest infomercials, but secretly I admire the “advertising business” side of them, the product ambush on your fears, insecurities, anxieties, too-small or too-large body parts, greed, hopes, and dreams.  I have been known to become mesmerized by a particularly good one, and have watched some more than once.  I never buy anything, but boy, do I ever want to.

And now comes the infomercial that was viewed as so offensive, it aired once and was pulled from the airways.  I speak of Doc Bottoms Aspray (pronounced ay-spray).  Apparently there was never a deodorant so strong, so smell-neutralizing, so safe, that it can be used on even your most intimate areas.

Aspray pic“Aspray goes where other deodorants can’t. Aspray your butt,” the announcer blusters. “Aspray under your arms. Aspray your feet. You can even Aspray your privates.”  Just in case you haven’t gotten the idea, a woman is shown in a tight shot of her pelvic area crossing her legs when her hand enters the frame holding the can of Aspray, enticingly close to her coochie.  (Of course, using the word “enticing” was a poor choice of words, knowing as we do that it has an odor problem.)

Were the producers serious?  It certainly looks like it’s played for comedy.  Let’s look at the included testimonial by “Larry F. ,” who tells us frankly that he’s “got odors in special places,” and after a bit of stuttering he clarifies: “My butt.”  Larry’s performance is less than believable.  In fact, it’s downright comedic, and suddenly we realize we are in an alternate universe where a Saturday Night Live parody has become reality, and the reality has become parody.

MSNBC aired the commercial once and removed it, but I am not offended by it.  I think it  is hysterically funny and entertaining, and now I have to buy some butt glue because I laughed my ass off.  No, I think it is marketing genius all the way down to its name.  Let’s face it, people aren’t going to call it ay-spray.  They’re going to call it ass-spray.  And there’s also the name “Doc Bottoms,” as in “your butt smells so bad you need a butt doctor.”  The commercial would have been talked about anyway, but they’ve hit the mother lode: removed from the airwaves due to offensive content and well on it’s way to going viral on youtube.

As we say in the ad biz, “You can’t buy that kind of advertising.”

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Tiger Woods is the first athlete in history to bank $100 million in a year. That’s a lot of balls. The astrological sum is thanks in part to a raise he finagled out of long-time endorser Nike. The deal is this: Nike gives Tiger up to $100 million to promote its products for a further five years in a deal thought to be the largest of its kind. That’s livin’ large.

The Curmudgeon wants to live large. I want it, I want it, I want it. So I say to all you “endorsees” out there, “the Crusty Curmudgeon is ready to shill for your agenda, service, software, hardware, vitamins, penis enlargers, maxi pads, cars, flowers, candies, beer, liquor, perfume, cologne, soap, shampoo, realpoo, cigarettes, cigars, airline, vacation spot, city, country, law office, bail bonds, erection pills, Spanish fly, fruit fly, pest control, website, building site, TV show, burlesque show, movie, theater, home repair service, escort service, secret service, etcetera, etcetera.”

In short, I’ll endorse almost anything. I left out porn because I wouldn’t do a thing like that (attn. porn purveyors: contact me on my private line). Granted, I am not Tiger Woods. Nike didn’t waste their money either. The pre-Tiger Nike golf division was a barely a blip on the screen and today they do $600 million annually. If Tiger got a piece of the pie I only need a crumb. Come on Old Spice. I can even whistle that song for you. How about you, Extense? I’ll “grow” with your company. Come deep pockets all. I am ready to shill.

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