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Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock, claims his company offers such a high level of identity-theft protection that he's willing to advertise his own social-security number. (It's 457-55-5462.) He's that sure no one is going to be able to steal his identity. Many criminals are quite happy to take him up on the challenge. From Yahoo! News:

Davis acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that his stunt has led to at least 87 instances in which people have tried to steal his identity, and one succeeded: a guy in Texas who duped an online payday loan operation last year into giving him $500 using Davis' Social Security number.

Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear was recently involved in a similar situation. He published his bank account code, claiming it was impossible for people to use it to steal money from him. Someone promptly used it to create a direct debit from his account.

The bigger issue, says attorney David Paris who's participating in a class-action suit against Lifelock, is that the company charges people $120 a year for an ineffective service: "Paris noted that LifeLock charges $10 a month to set fraud alerts with credit bureaus, even though consumers can do it themselves for free."

I get a couple calls a month from my credit card company trying to sell me their identity theft service. The last time they called (about two days ago) the telemarketer launched into her sales pitch and then suddenly yawned loudly in my ear. I appreciated the sentiment but hung up on her. I always hang up on telemarketers. Anyway, it seems to me that identity-theft services are a waste of money. I'd rather be careful and hope nothing happens, rather than guarantee I'll lose money by paying it to a protection company while still being at risk of identity theft.
Categories: Advertising, Scams
Posted by Alex on Thu May 22, 2008
Comments (11)
The models in Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign (whose tagline was "we believe real beauty comes in many shapes, sizes and ages") may have benefitted from some "digital plastic surgery." From The Telegraph:

Pascal Dangin, a celebrated retoucher of fashion pictures, claimed the Dove women were far from au naturel. In an interview with New Yorker magazine, Mr Dangin, who runs Box Studios in New York, a company which retouches photographs and does regular work for Vogue, and the fashion companies Dior and Balenciaga, said that he had manipulated the photographs heavily. When asked about the four-year-old campaign, he said: "Do you know how much retouching was on that? But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive."

Dove's ad agency is denying it, insisting that they have no record of Dangin working on that campaign.
Categories: Advertising, Body Manipulation
Posted by Alex on Mon May 12, 2008
Comments (25)
From the Wired music blog: "It appears that the company [Ticketmaster] hired someone or something to create fake Facebook friends in order to look more popular to other Facebook users."

I can understand why Ticketmaster would need to create fake friends. I recently bought tickets to see The Cure. After paying $35 for each ticket, I found out I also had to pay a $20 "convenience charge" to Ticketmaster, which didn't make me feel very friendly toward them.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 22, 2008
Comments (9)
The German website pundo3000.com has assembled a collection of 100 food products and compared what each one looks like, as shown on the packaging, to the actual product. In the majority of cases the difference is quite dramatic. But a few of the food products hold up pretty well in real life. For instance, the Milka chocolate bar looks almost exactly the same as it does on the packaging. But the roll (shown below) looks pretty unappetizing.

Funtasticus.com has collected all the images together into an easier-to-view format.

Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 25, 2008
Comments (12)
The following video shows kids (maybe in Brazil, I'm guessing) performing extreme freestyle soccer tricks. The tricks are pretty cool, but of course they're fake. The flips may be real, but the soccer ball must have been digitally inserted into the shots. The video is a viral ad for a new playstation game, FIFA Street 3. It reminds me of that Nike ad featuring Ronaldinho that was going around two years ago.

Categories: Advertising, Photos/Videos, Sports
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 25, 2008
Comments (19)
Recently strange ads for a drug called "Obay" began appearing around Toronto. The ads were pretty obviously satirical, but who was responsible for them? The Church of Scientology was an early suspect, since they're well known for their anti-psychiatry stance. But it turned out they had nothing to do with the ad campaign.

The Torontoist tracked down the real culprit. It's an advocacy group called Colleges Ontario, which represents twenty-four colleges in Ontario. The Torontoist writes:

Rob Savage, Colleges Ontario's Director of Communications, called Torontoist moments ago to confirm that Colleges Ontario is indeed behind the ads, and the organization just sent out a press release with information about a media launch event next Monday at (fittingly) Centennial College that promises to reveal "the news behind Obay and its side effects on Ontario’s Post-secondary Education." Torontoist will be there.

Categories: Advertising, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 22, 2008
Comments (7)
This poster for "S. Watson's American Museum of Living Curiosities", which dates from 1885, can be found at the British Library site. All the exhibits seem like pretty standard stuff for a 19th-century museum: the stoutest lady in the world, the two-headed marvel, snake charmer, etc. It's the "Australians" exhibit that puzzles me. They don't really look like Australians. Are those outfits something that Aussies often wear?

Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 20, 2008
Comments (10)
Here's an ad, apparently created by a Brazilian extermination company, that is placed inside pizza boxes. The ad shows a photo of a dead roach, but it's only revealed as the pizza is removed from the box.

I'm sure the ad would attract people's attention, but I find it surprising that a pizza company would agree to place an ad like this beneath their food.

No word on if it's a real ad campaign, or just a mock up. (via nulovka via adrants)



Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 14, 2008
Comments (9)
Cranky Media Guy sent me an interesting link to an article published last December in the New York Times about the artist Richard Prince. He's described as a pioneer of "appropriation art." What this means is that Prince takes photographs of other photographer's photographs, and then displays them as his own. For instance, he had an exhibit at the Guggenheim about cowboys, which basically consisted of photographs of Marlboro ads. The guy who actually took the images for the Marlboro ads, the photographer Jim Krantz, visited the exhibit and was like, "Hang on, those are my photographs!"

In the thumbnail, you can see Krantz's original photograph on top, and Prince's rephotograph of it on the bottom.

Prince doesn't try to hide what he does. And art critics love his work. According to the NY Times: "one of the Marlboro pictures set an auction record for a photograph in 2005, selling for $1.2 million." That's good money for a photograph of someone else's photograph.

It raises the question, is this really art, or is it just mindless copying? To which the answer, as always, is that art is whatever art critics say is art (and whatever the courts allow artists to get away with).

Generally I take a very liberal attitude about copyright. I think it's necessary that people are allowed to copy works of art in order to be able to comment upon them, criticize them, or develop them into something new and different. But what Prince is doing looks more to me like glorified scrapbooking than creating original art.

It also reminds me of the scam that art museums try to use to establish perpetual copyright to the works in their collection. They take photographs of all the paintings they own that have passed into public domain. Then they claim that, while the original might be in the public domain, their picture of it is copyrighted -- and then they demand exorbitant fees from anyone who wants to reproduce it.
Categories: Advertising, Art
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 05, 2008
Comments (26)
This ad, which has been running on digg, seems like a particularly egregious example of false advertising. Of course, if anyone would challenge the company in court they could say, "we never actually claimed our product could make an old lady look like a young model. That picture, as the disclaimer indicates, is merely simulated imagery."

The grammar cop in me also has to point out that it should be "fewer wrinkles," not "less wrinkles."

(via adrants)
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 30, 2008
Comments (6)
The image to the right shows what is supposedly a guerrilla marketing campaign by Jontex, a Brazilian brand of condoms owned by Johnson & Johnson. The campaign involves a cardboard cutout that can be positioned beneath the door of a bathroom stall. The Brazilian phrase translates to, "You do not know when it can be necessary."

But strangely, Johnson and Johnson is denying responsibility for the ad. Or, at least, the folks who run the Johnson and Johnson blog claim it's not their company's campaign:

By talking to some people at the Johnson & Johnson operating company in Brazil I discovered that the “ad” (which you can see here to the right) was not one of theirs, and was in fact a hoax.
My guess is that someone in Brazil developed these fake ads in an attempt to poke fun at the often racy nature of the advertising for prophylatics.


It seems like a lot of work for someone to create as a hoax. It could either be a subviral campaign (an ad campaign that a company creates but then denies responsibility for), or a "spec ad" (a speculative ad created by an agency to show a potential client what they're capable of).
Categories: Advertising, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 11, 2008
Comments (3)
If you've been to Starbucks in the past week or so, you've been at risk of finding yourself trapped in a "cheer chain." What this means is that the person in line in front of you pays for your drink, and in return you're supposed to pay for the drink of the person behind you. This goes on and on, ad nauseam. The Associated Press reported on one cheer chain that totaled 1,013 customers.

The question is, are these cheer chains a true spontaneous phenomenon, or are they a cynically created pr stunt? The phenomenon supposedly began when Arthur Rosenfeld offered to pay for the drink of the guy behind him in the drive-thru line who was honking and yelling. Rosenfeld is a tai-chi master, and he wanted to change the man's consciousness through a random act of kindness. The guy who was honking decided to pay for the car behind him, etc. etc.

But I'm in the camp of those who, like consumerist.com, believe they're a pr stunt. Consumerist points out that Starbucks is even issuing coupons to encourage the cheer chain movement, plus they've set up a website about it. (Thanks, Bob)

Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 23, 2007
Comments (16)
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