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Man Bites Panda
A drunken tourist climbed in with Gu Gu the panda at Beijing zoo. When the startled panda bit him, he bit it back.
"I bit the panda on its back but its fur was too thick," Mr Zhang recalled.
He went on: "No one ever said they would bite people. I just wanted to touch it."

Jerusalem - There's No Such City!
According to a mistranslated sightseeing brochure, at least. The pamphlet, translated from Hebrew, should have read "Jerusalem - there's no city like it!".

Dog With Knicker Obsession Gets Surgery
Deefer, a Bull Mastiff has eaten at least ten pairs of knickers over the last year. Embarrassing surgery was required recently when the last two pairs became lodged in Deefer's intestine, costing his owners more than £1,000.

Sudanese Man is Forced to 'Marry' Goat
When Mr Tombe was caught having sex with his neighbour's goat, he was taken to a council of elders, who ordered him to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars, and gave him the goat. The neighbour is quoted as saying "They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife."

(Thanks, Accipiter.)
Categories: Advertising, Animals, Places
Posted by Flora on Fri Sep 22, 2006
Comments (17)
image Outside a William Ashley store in downtown Toronto a Lamborghini Gallardo has been posed on top of four china cups. Autoblog writes: "The Gallardo was hoisted up with a crane and delicately set atop four tea cups beneath each wheel. There's literally nothing holding up this car's curb weight of 3,153 lbs. except four tiny tea cups." Is this real? Can four tea cups really support the weight of a car? After all, that's 788 lbs of pressure per cup. I'd feel a little nervous standing on top of a tea cup, and I only weigh 180 lbs. I understand that ceramic has very high compressive strength, but I didn't realize that the design of a teacup would maximize that strength. This seems like an experiment for the Mythbusters.

image image image
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 21, 2006
Comments (34)
image Alex from Colombia sent me this picture. He writes:
This is supposed to be a PAKISTAN AIRLINES ad, posted on the newspaper LE POINT on March 19, 1979. It announced nonstop voyages from Pakistan to New York. I saw it on this page. Interesting coincidence.
This image has been circulating widely around the internet during the past week. For instance, it appeared on Digg four days ago. The question is, is the image really an ad from 1979? Following the link chain back, you soon arrive at 11sep.info, where they have a larger scan (see below) of the entire page of the March 19, 1979 edition of Le Point in which the ad is said to have appeared. The scan looks legitimate, and I see no reason to doubt that it's real. But I also don't think the image is surprising or meaningful in any conspiracy-theory kind of way. Images of the World Trade Center appeared in many ads, and were a common symbol of New York. So it's not surprising that an airline combined an image of them with airplane imagery.
image

Update: The advertisement is definitely real. This has been verified by a reference librarian at UCLA's Charles E. Young Research Library (which, apparently, is the only library in America that has back copies of Le Point). The advertisement appeared on p.143 of the March 19, 1979 issue, #339. The ad also ran in other issues, such as April 2, 1979, p.163. (Thanks to J Fontane for tracking down and verifying the authenticity of the ad.)
Categories: Advertising, Conspiracy Theories, Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 18, 2006
Comments (14)
The Animus Cult has been spreading posters and sigils around Adelaide, South Australia, recently. These posters proclaim ‘Animus is coming’, and some also contain a link to the website.

They talk about Animus: So who is Animus? Why he is here and what is his purpose? His purpose is very simple. The Wicked are the disease. Animus is the cure. So now I must show you the truth. The strength of Animus lies in the Will of Man. Animus is here because the will of man is to rid itself of the wicked."

They have a few pictures of 'Animus in action' on the website, all of which are incredibly blurry shots of a figure in shadow, and a video which is much the same.
There's an option of 'joining the cult', which I tried, but there's been not even one email as yet, so I'm unsure of the purpose of it.

Needless to say, I'm unconvinced of the existence of a supernatural figure who's coming to rid Adelaide of evil-doers.

The site features a countdown to Friday, October 13th which, according to someone on this site, is when the independent film 'Animus Cometh' (filmed in Adelaide) is released.
Seems plausible to me.

(Thanks, Joshua.)
Categories: Advertising, Websites
Posted by Flora on Mon Sep 04, 2006
Comments (16)
imageHorse-riding Dog
Children are flocking to see Freddie the dog and his friend Daisy, a Shetland pony.

Give The Dog A Bone
Sharp-eyed readers of the IKEA catalogue have noticed something odd about one of the pictures. IKEA claim the suspect area shows nothing more than the dog's leg...

Woman Crashes Car Whilst Teaching Her Dog to Drive
There's not much to say about this that hasn't been said here on the forum.
Categories: Advertising, Animals
Posted by Flora on Mon Sep 04, 2006
Comments (5)
Following on from the woman who auctioned the rights to name her baby - leading to a child named Golden Palace Benedetto - and the sudden fads for offering bodies as billboards, comes buyjake.com.

Traci Hogg has decided that her son is cute enough to be used as a billboard. For a certain fee ($100,000 if you want a year long contract), she will dress him in logoed clothes. As she says herself: "When I'm taking him places, everyone seems to notice him and notice what he's wearing. They always say he wears the cutest outfits, and I thought, someone should be paying me to put their logo on him. He gets so much attention."

Jake must be pretty used to this sort of thing by now - his mother auctioned him off for commercial work on Ebay when he was 5 months old. Critics say that Traci seems eager for fame, an opinion she vehemently denies.

Well, he's a cute enough kid, but will this work?
Prices are pretty high for this and, with only one offer (far below asking price) for one month's advertising, it doesn't seem too hopeful just yet.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Flora on Mon Aug 07, 2006
Comments (15)
Status: Hoax
image The Butter Trough, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a great concept for a restaurant. First of all, the menu is simple. They only serve bread, butter, and sweet tea. But best of all, it's all free! It's the world's first advertiser-supported restaurant:
The Butter Trough is the world's FIRST 100% advertisement supported restaraunt. Come down to our Atlanta Facility to enjoy food and fun with friends and family all for free. We are able to bring this great value to YOU, the consumer, through the use of directed advertisements from corporate sponsors. This means that while you are enjoying your bread, butter, and tea you will softly hear advertisements playing in the background via the tabletop speakers, multipatron television sets, and the butter trough multimedia displays scattered throughout the establishment.
Is this place real? I don't think so. Clues that it's fake include the google ads on the website (though this would make sense given that the restaurant is advertiser supported), and the obligatory CafePress t-shirts they're selling. But the biggest clue is the address: 6346 Lynch Avenue, Atlanta GA. There doesn't appear to be such a place. At least, nothing comes up on Google Maps when I type in that address.

I'm guessing that the Butter Trough site was created by Joseph Donaldson, because a) Joseph Donaldson's homepage is hosted on the same server as The Butter Trough site and b) he links to the Butter Trough. A few other sites (all of which link to the Butter Trough as well) hosted on that server include: Circus of the Damned, and the Just Ducky Guild. (Thanks to Doug Nelson for the link)
Categories: Advertising, Food, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 31, 2006
Comments (10)
Status: Useful stuff to know if you're buying a car
Florida businessman Earl Stewart has started a blog, Earl Stewart On Cars, that's full of useful insights about the auto industry. Some of his observations about auto dealer scams and deceptive sales tactics are particularly interesting. Here's a few of them:
• The “Big Sale Event”. If you look in today’s newspaper, you will find that most car dealers in your area are having a sale of some kind. It may be because of a current holiday, “too large an inventory” of cars, to “reduce their taxes”, “the manager is out of town”, or some other nefarious lure... If you don’t buy a car during the tight time constraints of a phony sales event, you can negotiate just as good a price the next day.

“The Price I’m giving you is only good for today”. If a salesman or sales manager tells you that, it is probably only a tactic to push you into buying the car.

“Take the car home tonight and see how you like it”... there are two reasons the car salesman offers this. One is that you must leave the vehicle you might be trading in with the car dealer. This means that you cannot shop prices with other dealers. The second reason is the psychological impact of parking that new car in your driveway where your family and neighbors can see it. The slang expression for this is “the puppy dog”.

• The “really big” discount”... Federal law requires new cars to have a price sticker on the window named the Monroney label. A discount from this suggested retail price gives you a fair basis for comparison. Unfortunately, most car dealers today, increase the suggested retail price substantially with the use of an addendum to the Monroney sticker often referred to as a “Market Adjustment Addendum”. This “adjustment” can be several thousands of dollars. Be sure you know what the asking price is for the car when you have been offered a “big discount”.
In Hippo Eats Dwarf I noted an outrageous example of misleading advertising used by one car dealership. They had a "half-price sale" during which "The price you see is half the price you pay." Think about it.

Carl Sifakis has also cataloged a number of auto dealer scams in his book Hoaxes and Scams: A Compendium of Deceptions, Ruses and Swindles.

For instance, there's the practice (now illegal in many states) of "bird dogging" in which car dealers pay people who refer customers to them. Obviously someone getting paid for a referral might not be objective. Plus, as Sifakis notes, "car salesmen aren't about to give a customer referred by a bird dog an extra good deal." He then relates this story:
New car salesmen tell the standard story of the sharpie to whom a potential buyer was referred. The salesman promptly took him for almost list price, despite the fact that the customer had a trade-in that also netted the hustler an extra commission. The salesman also took the shopper for financing and insurance at very favorable terms—that is, for the car dealer. The kicker to the story showed up on the paperwork when the salesman filled in his contact for the sale. In the space naming the source, he'd written "Mother."
Then there's the practices of lowballing and highballing. In lowballing the salesman offers to sell a car for a ridiculously low price, only to reveal later that the manager hadn't approved the price, and that the real price is much higher. Many people will then buy the car anyway, because they've already got their mind around to the idea of buying it. Highballing is the same thing, but switched around so that the dealer will offer to buy a trade-in for a ridiculously high price, only to reveal later that the manager hadn't approved that price.
Categories: Advertising, Business/Finance, Con Artists
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 19, 2006
Comments (14)
Status: Viral Marketing Campaign
image I've received a few emails asking me for info about noscruf.org. It appears, on the surface, to be a site created by the NO SCRUF organization, which stands for "National Organization of Social Crusaders Repulsed by Unshaven Faces." It's supposedly a growing coalition of women who have vowed not to shave until men start shaving. Their website, which features lots of photos of hirsute models (obviously photoshopped, or using glue-on hair), proclaims: "Let's end the trend of prickly, scratchy, stubbly faces. We're not going to shave until men do." Last week a No Scruf protest rally was also held in New York's Herald Square featuring TV stars Kelly Monaco and Brooke Burke.

It's pretty easy to figure out that this isn't a real grassroots movement of stubble-hating women. It's a viral marketing campaign dreamed up by Gillette. I figured this out by doing a quick search for domain name info about noscruf.org. Turns out the site's name was registered by Procter & Gamble and the site itself is hosted on servers owned by Gillette. They didn't even try to hide this information.

As for No Scruf's message, I hate shaving, so despite Gillette's efforts to convince me otherwise, I'm keeping my stubble.
Categories: Advertising, Body Manipulation, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 14, 2006
Comments (19)
Status: Strange (but real) marketing campaign
image You see a large cockroach on your floor. If you don't scream and run the other way, you might try to kill it. But it won't squash like a normal roach. So you pick it up, and then you see the advertisement printed on the bottom of it: "See how easy it is to get into your house? D.D. Drin. Insect Elimination."

This scenario may happen to you, because fake slogan-bearing roaches are apparently being slipped beneath people's doors as part of a marketing campaign designed by Master Comunicacao, a Brazilian ad agency (as reported by AdArena). I don't know why the ad is in English if the agency is Brazilian.

Ironically enough, given this campaign, in the advertising industry consumers themselves are sometimes referred to as roaches. Thus 'roach baiting' refers to the practice of hiring cool-looking people to hang out in public and visibly use a product. The cool-looking person is supposed to serve as a trendsetter who influences roaches (i.e. the consumers) to follow his or her lead.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 11, 2006
Comments (21)
Status: Urban Legend
image A recent ad for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes shows a blond-haired kid dancing around singing "They're going to taste great!" I think this is a British ad. At least, I've never seen it here in America. And all the references to it I've found occur in the British press. For instance, David Whitehouse writes in the Guardian:
Pity the poor Kellogg's marketing department... all they wanted to do was make an advert in which a chirpy young scamp would skip his way through the streets of a suburban town attracting other children like a Pied Piper with a silly ditty about his breakfast. So, they set out to hire an angelic young choirboy with a voice so beautiful it could shatter the beaks of songbirds. Then disaster struck. It appears that, on the way to the shoot, this choirboy's balls dropped with quite monstrous results. They wanted Aled Jones, but they got Mick Jones. And what we're left with is a jingle being sung by a boy at the exact moment his voice breaks, in a tone so monotonous it appears to be operating at a frequency which toys with people's bowels. It is, quite simply, the worst soundtrack to an advertisement ever. His voice is so oppressively dull that prolonged listening is like having every orifice systematically packed full of wet bread by a politician with no facial features.
Evidently this is the kind of ad that people love to hate. And this dislike has inspired a rumor that the kid in the ad is dead. (Google 'Frosties Kid' and you pull up page after page of rumors of his death.) There are two versions of the rumor:

1) That the kid committed suicide on account of the bullying he received since the ad aired.
2) That the kid was a cancer patient whose dying wish was to star in a Frosties ad.

I don't know who the Frosties Kid is in real life. So I can't prove that he's alive. But there's absolutely no evidence to support the claim that he's dead. Plus, the 'Frosties Kid Is Dead' rumor seems to be a new variation of the 'Death of Little Mikey' rumor (which alleged that Mikey, of the Life Cereal commercials, died after eating Pop Rocks). So I think it's safe to assume that the Frosties Kid is still alive. (Thanks to Dave Tolomy for telling me about the rumor.)

Update: As Dead-Eric noted in the comments, Scott Mills of BBC Radio 1 recently discussed the 'Frosties Kid Is Dead' rumor on his show. Mills received the following official statement from Kelloggs about the rumor:
"The current advertisement has been well received by the vast majority of our customers. We would also like to take this opportunity to confirm that the lead boy within the advertisement is well and continues to live in his native South Africa."
You can listen to an mp3 clip of this portion of the Scott Mills show here.
Categories: Advertising, Death, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 07, 2006
Comments (102)
Status: Hoax
image Yahoo News! reports on a hoax website, http://www.instoresnow.nl, created by a Dutch design student, Raoul Balai. It pretends to be an ad agency that offers advertising space on the bodies of prostitutes. It also offers to place ads on zoo animals. Big Gary points out that this is basically a variation on the old 'advertise on my forehead... or other body part' stunt. (Imagine brothel patrons or zoo goers having to wear body-ad blockers.) Yahoo News! reports:
"I was getting sick and tired of advertising everywhere," Balai told reporters. "But I don't want to preach, and I thought satire would work better." Far from taking his ideas as a joke, an Amsterdam zoo had its lawyer threaten Balai with a defamation suit after his website depicted fish from the zoo bearing the brand name of a frozen fish company. Prospective customers phoning his fake agency are kept on hold and bombarded with sales pitches until they give up.
I've been trying to check out Balai's site, but it won't load. The increased traffic from being mentioned on Yahoo News! must be the reason.
Categories: Advertising, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 05, 2006
Comments (4)
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