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image Peptalk seems to be positioning itself as the mobile phone service provider of choice for Dutch marijuana lovers. Check out its website,, where you can see that its corporate logo is a hemp plant. Marijuana is, of course, legal in Holland... and PePtalk is a Dutch company, but the weird thing is that beyond that PePtalk doesn't seem to have any rational connection to marijuana. It's as if they just liked the idea of being a pot-lover's phone company... without offering pot lovers any benefit from choosing their service over another. As this article at Strand Reports notes: PePtalk do not actually seem to express any views on cannabis on their website - other than their name and logo. And although they offer many premium rate SMS services, none of them seem to have anything to do with daily cannabis prices - or where you can locate your nearest cannabis coffee shop!  But maybe that is in the pipeline?
Categories: Advertising, Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Oct 13, 2004
Comments (5)
image Banner ads for JDate, the Israeli dating service, promise to match Jewish bachelors up with attractive Jewish women. For instance, one ad shows blonde-haired, 22-year-old Hila from Tel Aviv who's "looking for a single Jewish guy." Another shows 26-year-old Sharon who's looking for a Jewish husband. But as it turns out, there is no Hila from Tel Aviv. The woman in the picture is actually Hungarian porn star Kari Gold. And Sharon? She's really Devon Sweet, a bisexual model from the United States. Neither Kari Gold nor Devon Sweet are affiliated in any way with JDate (so no luck meeting them that way). Their pictures were just randomly collected on the internet. I guess this is another shocking reminder that advertisers sometimes bend (or completely disregard) the truth.
Categories: Advertising, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 26, 2004
Comments (4)
image From the Hoax Forum: Ever heard of Life With Skippy? It was an American television show that aired briefly in 1969 that featured "the misadventures of two small-town boys, the trouble-making Skippy and his sidekick Gummy." Unfortunately it got cancelled after only six episodes. Still don't remember it? Well, if you look around the internet you can find a surprising number of references to this hard-to-remember show. It's mentioned on message boards, there's a Yahoo Group devoted to its young star (who was later found dead in a brothel), there's a Life With Skippy website, and a website maintained by the actor Adam Felber who played Gummy. Plus, you can buy the hat worn by Skippy on eBay. Well, if you still can't remember the show the reason is that it never existed. It's the creation of a New York-based production company, Metropolis Entertainment, who are trying to promote a new sitcom they've developed called Life After Skippy, which is about the career of a down-on-his-luck former child actor (who once supposedly worked on Life With Skippy). Quite an elaborate guerrilla marketing campaign they've put together for this. You can view clips from the real show, Life After Skippy, on their site. Some of them are pretty funny.
Categories: Advertising, Entertainment, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 23, 2004
Comments (15)
At first glance, Manchurian Global looks like any other faceless corporation. Its website is full of corporate jargon about mission statements, international client bases, and holistic visions. But, of course, Manchurian Global isn't a real corporation. Its site is part of the advertising campaign for The Manchurian Candidate, which opens today. The illusion of reality that the site maintains is actually quite convincing. They've really made it look like a real company. Only until you dig far into the site do you arrive at suspicious stuff, such as a video showing one of their scientists, Dr. Atticus Noyle, talking about how they can control people's personalities at a genetic level. Paramount has been running an ad on my site for The Manchurian Candidate for the past two weeks, which I thought was pretty cool since I've always liked the original 1962 version of the movie starring Frank Sinatra. I'm hoping the new version can live up to the original.
Categories: Advertising, Entertainment, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 30, 2004
Comments (23)
A lot of people have the OnStar system in their car that lets them connect to an operator to get 24-hour roadside assistance. BlondeStar is the same thing, just designed specifically for blondes. More of a blonde joke (or spoof advertisement) than a hoax, but amusing anyway, unless you're incredibly offended by blonde jokes. (links to an mp3 file... click the download button)
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 22, 2004
Comments (1)
The Swedish anti-smoking activist group A Non Smoking Generation has plastered posters all over Stockholm that make claims such as 'smoking stunts penis growth,' 'cigarette filters are filled with mouse excrement,' and 'second-hand smoke kills birds.' The problem is that none of these claims are acually true. But the group figures that the outrageousness of the claims might entice a few people to visit their website to learn the real facts. This once again demonstrates one of the central principles upon which the advertising industry was founded: if you can't get their attention by telling the truth, then get it by telling a lie.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 20, 2004
Comments (6)
image Five years ago the Blair Witch Project became a multi-million dollar box-office sensation thanks to a clever marketing scheme that pretended the Blair Witch was real (and offered a spooky companion website filled with pseudo historical background about her). Ever since then movie marketers have latched onto the concept of promoting movies via hoaxes. So much so, that I think we should just begin referring to the practice of promoting movies by hoaxing the public as 'Blairwitching'. For instance, a sample sentence using this term might be: Failing to think of any original way to promote their movie, the marketing team simply decided to Blairwitch it.

The latest movie to be Blairwitched is the Sci-Fi Channel's documentary about filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan (The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan) that aired last night. The Sci-Fi Channel's marketing team promoted the movie by promising that it was going to reveal a secret buried in Shyamalan's past, a secret that had driven him towards his obsession with the supernatural. Supposedly Shyamalan didn't want this secret exposed, which caused him to stop cooperating with the documentary team. This conflict between Shyamalan and his biographers managed to garner a fair bit of press. But then yesterday, when the documentary aired, the Sci-Fi Channel admitted that they simply invented Shymalan's buried secret as well as Shyamalan's disagreement with them (the big secret was supposed to be that he once witnessed a drowning).

I like the line in this article about the hoax campaign where NBC executives (NBC owns the Sci-Fi Channel) apologize, saying that "We would never intend to offend the public or the press and value our relationship with both." Yeah, right. Meanwhile, they're happy to accept all the publicity that the hoax generated (including having people like me write about it on their weblogs). And oh yeah, the hoax itself and the documentary were ultimately all big advertisements for Shyamalan's upcoming movie The Village, which actually looks kind of cool. (Thanks to Terry in the hoax forum for giving a heads up about this)
Categories: Advertising, Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 19, 2004
Comments (13)
image This question comes from the hoax forum, where it's sparked quite a debate: what's the deal with that guy in the Six Flags ads? You know the one. The 'old dude' who looks like he's about 90-years-old but dances around maniacally like a 19-year-old. Is he really an old man? Or is he a young professional dancer dressed up as an old man? If you're not familiar with 'Mr. Six', then you can check out the commercials starring him at Six Flags' website. Apparently Six Flags is being swamped by requests to reveal the true identity of Mr. Six, but so far they're staying mum, evidently hoping to milk the interest in him for all it's worth. So here's a poll so that the public can vote on who they think Mr. Six really is:
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 14, 2004
Comments (91)
image A trailer for Paramount's new movie The Stepford Wives (which is about housewives being transformed into mindless, but beautiful robots) contains some controversial scenes. One shot shows an image of a sexy-looking Condoleeza Rice naked from the waist up (arms covering her chest), and another scene shows Hillary Clinton morphing into a buxom homemaker bearing a tray of cookies. But if you blink you'd miss these scenes because they literally flash across the screen in less than a second. As a result, most people never noticed them when the trailer aired on tv last week. But Rebecca Reynolds, a 'sharp-eyed' resident of Kansas City, Missouri noticed them, and she immediately called up her local tv station to complain about what she felt were the shocking and offensive images. The station aired a story about Rebecca's discovery, and soon word of the trailer's hidden content had spread all across the country.

Media coverage of this story has focused on the scenes from the trailer, but what makes me suspicious is the role played by the outraged midwesterner, Rebecca Reynolds. It seems awfully convenient that she happened to notice what was in the trailer and felt compelled to contact the media about it, thereby generating great free publicity for Paramount. Could she actually be in cahoots with Paramount? After all, Paramount knew exactly what was in the trailer, but they needed someone to complain in order to create a story the media would cover.

I can't prove anything, but I am suspicious since this is one of the oldest publicity tricks in the book: the pseudo-controversy generated by phony complaints made to the media. P.T. Barnum used this strategy again and again throughout his career. For instance, at the beginning of his career he was exhibiting Joice Heth, an elderly black woman who, so he claimed, was 161-years-old (she was probably in her 80s). When public interest in her began to taper off, Barnum wrote an anonymous letter to a local paper alleging that Joice Heth was a fake. But he complained that not only was Heth not as old as advertised, but that she was also not even human, being a "curiously constructed automaton, made up of whalebone, India-rubber, and numberless springs." This letter, and the controversy it created, helped revive public interest in Joice Heth and thereby substantially fattened Barnum's wallet.

Barnum's Joice-Heth publicity stunt occurred about 170 years ago, but it's odd how parallel it is to Paramount's Stepford-Wives stunt, since they both involve the suggestion of women really being robots in disguise. Weird. But probably a coincidence.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 16, 2004
Comments (0)
image Nokia offers a product they call the 'Walk and Talk Hoax Caller.' Their ad copy describes it as a hands-free voice changer for your mobile phone. "Prank call Anonymous Calls Winding up your mates and enemies. The fun really begins when you plug in the Hoax Caller and switch the unit on." Yeah, buy this product and you too can be just like the creepy-looking loser in their ad making obscene phone calls to young teenage girls. I wonder what marketing genius picked out this sinister scenario to sell the product? (via Red Ferret Journal)
Categories: Advertising, Technology
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 11, 2004
Comments (10)
image The Society for the Protection of Plants wants you to know that cutting or injuring plants in any way is Murder. So stop mowing the lawn or walking across the grass, for crying out loud. This anti-vegetarianism ad was created by Max over at Maxigumee Land. And yes, of course, it's a spoof. He has a full gallery of these anti-vegetarianism ads. (via Adrants)

Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 11, 2004
Comments (7)
image First there was head-vertising. Now there's ass-vertising, which appears to be just as real as headvertising was (which means that, as odd as it seems, it actually is real). The concept behind assvertising is pretty simple. Slap an ad on an attractive woman's ass. I guess men are looking there anyway, so some advertiser (Night Agency, to be specific) had the brilliant idea to put the ads where the eyes are focused. Even though assvertising is real, tADoos (which are corporate-sponsored tattoos) remain a hoax. (via Adrants)
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 02, 2004
Comments (0)
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