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There's an interesting Q&A in today's Stuart Elliott column in the NY Times:

A Reader Asks: I have a question regarding Wal-Mart's advertising. Do you know if Wal-Mart actually uses employees in its ads or does it hire actors?

I've wondered about this myself. Are there really all these happy people working at Wal-Mart? Elliott's response:

The people appearing in the television commercials and print advertisements for Wal-Mart Stores are actual employees, according to Wal-Mart and its agencies. Such ads have been appearing more frequently as part of efforts by Wal-Mart to counter critics who charge the company does not offer its employees adequate health care or other benefits.

So they're really employees. But I'm still not buying that Wal-Mart is such a great place to work.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue May 10, 2005
Comments (41)
image The TV commercials for a new chocolate bar called M'azing show people doing amazing things in order to earn a bar of M'azing chocolate. In one commercial a guy balances a washing machine on his jaw. In another one a girl twists her legs all the way around her body in a way that really doesn't look possible. You can see all the ads here (quicktime and wmv format). Someone wrote in to Stuart Elliott's advertising column in the NY Times asking if the movie with the girl doing the thing with her legs was real. Elliott says it is. This is his exact response:

Stuart Elliott: The gymnast in the commercial is really performing what you see on screen, according to the Masterfoods division of Mars in Hackettstown, N.J., which markets the new M'azing line of candy. The spot, called "Mystic Pixie," is indicative of the direction of the campaign, which is to celebrate people whose talents enable them to perform feats that are truly amazing. The performers are, of course, meant to personify the amazing taste of M'azing. The campaign is created by the flagship New York office of BBDO Worldwide, part of the Omnicom Group.
Categories: Advertising, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 13, 2005
Comments (33)
This craigslist ad posted by a man searching for a roommate has been doing the rounds. The man starts off sounding kind of weird when he describes himself as a Beverly Hills plastic surgeons whose staff "is somewhat dubious of my methods", but then he progressively begins to sound weirder and weirder as he lists the rules that his "perfect housemate" must follow: "You must brush your teeth at least twice a day", "On every third-Tuesday of the month I request that you vacate the house between the hours of 4 pm - 11:45 pm while I upholster various pieces of antique furniture", "No newspapers or magazines", "if you speak either French, Urdu, or Afrikaans, I kindly request that you not speak them in my vicinity", "Please do not purchase fruits or vegetables and bring them home". It's impossible to know if this is a joke (it's not even on craigslist anymore; it's mirrored on someone else's site), but I have heard roommate horror stories involving housemates that were as bizarre as this, so it could definitely be real.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 11, 2005
Comments (11)
The cows are plotting something. They're meeting in secret COWncils. They're even keeping blogs. I'm not sure what it's all about, but it seems that 05.05.05 is the date when the cows will show their hand (or hoof, as it may be). (via Metafilter)
Categories: Advertising, Animals
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 08, 2005
Comments (57)
A few of you have noticed the strange ad that is now running on my site (in the left-hand column) for a company called 'Last Resort Retrieval' that claims to specialize in recovering stolen art. Yes it is a hoax site, or rather it's part of a marketing campaign for a product other than a company that recovers stolen art. But that's about all I can say about it, because I'm supposed to keep the secret (since they're paying me to put the ad there).

The thing is, I really don't think it would be easy to guess what product they're marketing, though I think the ads are going to develop over time and offer more clues. If you go to the site and click on the 'login' screen, you'll discover it's possible to login without a username or password.

p.s. I don't get any extra money if you click on the ad. They pay a flat fee to put the ad there. I just thought it was worth pointing out the strangeness of a hoax ad running on a site about hoaxes.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 03, 2005
Comments (12)
If you've seen those commercials with Steve Wynn standing on top of his hotel in Las Vegas you might find this interesting. I had assumed the shot was fake, but apparently it's not. Stuart Elliott has provided some info about this in his NY Times advertising column (I get the column sent to me by email, and I don't think it appears on the Times website, so I've pasted it below):

A Reader Asks: In the new commercial for his eponymous hotel, Steve Wynn is shown atop it. Was he really up there, or is it just computer-generated?

Stuart Elliott: That is indeed Mr. Wynn atop the tower of the Wynn Las Vegas mega-resort, which is scheduled to open on April 28. The commercial was created by Korey Kay & Partners in New York. Newspapers in Las Vegas have covered the commercial extensively; one article, from The Las Vegas Sun, even began this way: "Yes, Steve Wynn really was on top of his Wynn Las Vegas hotel when the resort's new television commercial was filmed." Mr. Wynn was attached by a web belt and a rope to a pipe hidden behind his leg while a camera crew circled the site in a helicopter.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 22, 2005
Comments (2)
I received this email from 'Kurto': i have been a frequent visitor of your site for some time now. Recently this bombardment of advertisements about "The Catch" has been bothering me. The ad's contain figures stating million of Canadians have the Catch, and there's no cure. I'm curious to what exactly they're referring to. The website they encourage people to visit is http://curethecatch.com i have doubts to the validity of this so called disease. See if you can dig up any dirt on this.

A little googling reveals that 'The Catch' is a new viral ad campaign dreamed up to promote Virgin Mobile pre-paid phones:

Virgin has started placing teaser ads for its first campaign on subways and buses, with the second phase expected to hit the airwaves after Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson visits Toronto on Tuesday to promote the company's new services. Mr. Rosenberg says the campaign is designed to capitalize on the frustration many consumers feel about the fine print in their current plans, such as long-term contracts and the monthly system access fee. The campaign, created by Toronto ad agency Lowe Roche, is designed to create a not-too-subtle parallel between those frustrations and a fictitious venereal disease called "the catch." Mr. Rosenberg says he doesn't think Canadians will be offended by the ads. And if they are? That's part of what makes Virgin different.

Now Kurto, you aren't a Virgin Mobile ad rep, are you?
Categories: Advertising, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 28, 2005
Comments (4)
Nobody Wants Your Film appears to be a site dedicated to promoting an independent film that's been unable to find a distributor. The site encourages people to register at the site (and tell their friends to register) so that the creator of the film can convince "investors & money men that this thing is really happening" and "that they'd better jump on board before it's too late". The weird thing is that the film has some pretty well-known actors in it (Steve Buscemi, for instance), so you wouldn't think that it would be that hard to get it distributed. However, the film itself is about "the making of an independent feature that nobody wants, at least that's what money man Alan Smithee thinks." So this independent film that can't find a distributor is about an independent film that can't find a distributor. Which suggests that the site is a viral hoax marketing campaign that plays upon the premise of the movie. Or maybe they really can't find a distributor. I don't know. Either way, I've allowed myself to be sucked into their publicity campaign.
Categories: Advertising, Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Sat Feb 26, 2005
Comments (9)
Shortly before Valentine's Day I, like many people, followed a link to the site Who Ordered Room Service, which was showing a video about a room-service waiter who shows up at a hotel room and proceeds to vomit all over the couple inside. You were supposed to return to the site on the 14th to find out 'who ordered room service'. I never bothered to return, because I really wasn't that intrigued. But apparently those who did return discovered that the site was a viral online promotion for Bryan Adams' new album, Room Service. Except that it wasn't. Bryan Adams' record company was quick to deny any knowledge of the site. And now it turns out that the site was actually an experiment in hoaxing created by two amateur filmmakers, Frank Lesser and Jason Woliner: The New York filmmaker Mr. Lesser, 25, said he and Mr. Parker [sic--I think he means Mr. Woliner] created the faux Bryan Adams ad as a sort of experiment to see whether people would be fooled and how big it could get. "We don't actually want to hurt anyone's feelings or get anyone upset," Mr. Lesser said in an interview. "I'm sort of hoping Bryan Adams will see humour in this if it is ever brought to his attention."
Categories: Advertising, Websites
Posted by Alex on Sat Feb 26, 2005
Comments (6)
image Axe2Grind.net documents "the string of bizarre occurrences that have recently taken place in many parts of the country. The young men in these incidents share one common thread: they have all used AXE Deodorant Bodyspray." It's obviously a viral advertising campaign for AXE Bodyspray, but it's pretty amusing. I especially like the tale of Paul who is trapped in a cabin in the woods, hiding from women who have been driven insane with desire by his scent. Kind of like a 'trapped by zombies' thing, but with bodyspray. The legal disclaimer at the bottom of the page is also worth reading. (Thanks to Kathy for the link)
Categories: Advertising, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 23, 2005
Comments (40)
image The Lincoln Fry Blog is supposed to be a journal kept by a couple, Mike and Liz, detailing their experiences after finding a french fry at McDonalds that looks a lot like Abe Lincoln. But none of it is real (not even the comments on the blog). The site is actually part of McDonald's latest ad campaign that was launched during the Superbowl, which focuses on this fictitious Lincoln Fry. The whole thing is supposed to be a parody of the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich mania. This marks the second time I've posted about an Abraham Lincoln-shaped potato. The first time occurred back in May 2004 when I linked to a Lincoln spud that was part of an advertising campaign for Anchor O'Reillys Potato Chips. Maybe the Lincoln Fry and the Lincoln Potato Chip should get together. That would be interesting.
Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 08, 2005
Comments (11)
image Speaking of truth in advertising (see post below), I'm not sure that it pays to be as truthful as this personal ad on Craigslist is:

Will marry girl who knits
Reply to: anon-54508796@craigslist.org
Date: Wed Jan 05 07:25:22 2005
I will buy you a ring and propose to you if you can make one of these for me. I want to look silly during the winter.


But then again, he may just find the girl of his dreams.
Categories: Advertising, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 08, 2005
Comments (8)
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