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Status: Probably photoshopped
image These pictures doing the rounds supposedly show a "guerilla marketing component from a campaign designed to gain public support in an effort to reduce the pollution released by particular powerplants in Chicago. The shape and text was created by power-washing filthy sidewalks using a large stencil form."

It would be a clever idea for an anti-pollution campaign, except that these photos look photoshopped. The border of the image seems a bit too well-defined, as do the lines of the text. Plus, if you're going to do this, where do you get the water and power source for the washer? (Unless you have a mobile washer hooked up to a van.) (via ads of the world)
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Mon May 08, 2006
Comments (11)
Status: Not an official ad
An amusing monster-truck-style radio commercial for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Birmingham is doing the rounds. "This Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! It's a sacramental showdown at St. Andrew's Episcopal..." It's not a real ad, in the sense that it's never been aired. Nor was it created by the church. As Church Marketing Sucks reports, it was created by Mike McKenzie, who's a St. Andrew's parishioner:

"It wasn't with the intention of making a commercial--I was just goofying around," says McKenzie. "The idea hit me right after 10:30 mass--it's high mass, very formal liturgy. What would happen if you took formal liturgy and combined it with a monster truck rally?"

McKenzie then shared his creation with the church leaders, and from there it started doing the rounds. But it sounds like St. Andrews likes the ad, and may actually use it sometime in the future. At which point it would become a real ad. (via Julie's News from New York)
Categories: Advertising, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue May 02, 2006
Comments (3)
Status: Hoax
You may feel that you need to scrub your eyeballs after seeing this supposed ad for Breyers ice cream, so if you click on the link don't say I didn't warn you. (The ad is disturbing for what it suggests, not for what it actually shows.) However, the ad definitely isn't real, which is obvious if you read the text on the right-hand side of it. I don't know who created it, but it wasn't Breyers. Unfortunately the image is now circulating around the internet in a reduced size that makes the text hard to read, leading some people to think that it might actually be a real ad.
Categories: Advertising, Gross
Posted by Alex on Tue May 02, 2006
Comments (75)
Status: Undetermined (but probably real)
imageThis outdoor advertisement transforming a New York City manhole into a steaming cup of coffee was apparently created by Saatchi & Saatchi for their client Folgers. The question is: was this actually done in real life (i.e. were vinyl covers placed on top of manholes), or has the picture simply been photoshopped? The picture itself seems to have been first posted at coloribus.com, and someone has posted a comment there claiming to be from Saatchi & Saatchi and confirming that the coffee-manhole campaign was real. But I can't find anything official from Saatchi & Saatchi in which they take credit for the campaign. Still, my hunch is that it's real.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 26, 2006
Comments (17)
Status: Fake
image This photo of a London bus displaying Google Adsense ads was posted on the Digital Point Forums on April 2nd. It since has been making its way around the internet. It's definitely photoshopped. The white google ads show no variation in color or shadowing. It was probably some kind of late April Fool's Day joke. Still, it would be a clever form of outdoor advertising. (via Fresh Creation)
Categories: Advertising, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 25, 2006
Comments (4)
Status: Strange guerrilla marketing campaign
image Brussels Airlines has been experimenting with a bizarre campaign to raise awareness about the threat of getting pickpocketed in airports. Their agents have been covertly slipping plastic hands into the bags of people who aren't paying enough attention to what's going on around them. Imagine opening up your bag and finding a hand in there. I think I'd freak out. The campaign was created for Brussels Airlines by the agency LG&F. (via Coolzor)
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 24, 2006
Comments (19)
Status: advertising disguised as news
image In Hippo Eats Dwarf I discuss Video News Releases (VNRs) and how their use means that a lot of the news we see on TV is either advertising or propaganda in disguise. (VNRs are video segments created by corporations or the government, that are then aired on TV news, often without their true source ever being revealed). RAW STORY reports that "over a ten month span, 77 television stations from all across the nation aired video news releases without informing their viewers even once that the reports were actually sponsored content."

The article cites a VNR created by GM as a particularly egregious example of fake news. GM created a VNR that discussed how the internet has changed how people shop for cars, in which the claim was made that GM "introduced the first manufacturer web site in 1996." That's totally wrong, states the Center for Media and Democracy. GM did no such thing. Nevertheless, the complete unchanged VNR was aired on TV stations, without any indication being given to viewers that what they were seeing was a piece of corporate pr. On the prwatch website you can compare the original GM VNR with the almost identical version of it that aired on KSLA TV (in Shreveport, Louisiana).
Categories: Advertising, Journalism
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 06, 2006
Comments (2)
Status: Highly possible
image The debate over the identity of Mr. Six, that crazy old guy who used to dance around in the commercials for Six Flags (Six Flags no longer uses him), has raged on for quite a while. Many were convinced it was Jaleel White, the actor who played Urkel on Family Matters. Others thought Mr. Six was played by a woman. But no one really had any clue, and Six Flags certainly wasn't telling. Now, at last, the mystery seems like it might have been solved. Paul Davidson has posted on his blog that Mr. Six was Danny Teeson, an actor who now appears on Queer Eye for the Straight Girl:

the confirmation came to WFME [Davidson's blog] just recently when a source who had worked with individuals that had helped film the Six Flags commercials let the identity of Mr. Six (assuming it was OK since the campaign was now over) slip. Six Flags, of course, still has no comment — and continues to deny the true identity even now that the floodgates are poised to open.

Davidson's strongest evidence, besides the anonymous source, is that a special-effects company listed Teeson on its website as an actor in the Six Flags commercial, before pulling the reference. But the reference lived on in the Google cache. Personally, I think it's a decent theory. And Teeson does kind of look like Mr. Six. But to be absolutely certain, we'll have to wait and see if either Teeson himself or Six Flags ever confirms this theory.

Previous posts about Mr. Six:
June 26, 2004: Mr. Six (in the old Hoax Forum)
July 14, 2004: Who is Mr. Six?
Categories: Advertising, Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 07, 2006
Comments (5)
Status: Update about advertising hoax
image Remember this racy PUMA ad? It was circulating around the internet back in early 2003. The rumor was that it had appeared in the Brazilian version of Maxim, but PUMA officials soon denied this, and further stated that their company was not responsible for it in any way. PUMA then threatened to sue anyone who posted it. (No one ever got sued.) This led many bloggers to speculate that PUMA was, in fact, the creator of it, and had spread it as a subviral advertisement (i.e. a viral ad secretly produced by a company, which the company denies any knowledge of... allowing them to experiment with more controversial forms of marketing). But despite this speculation, the question of who created the image remained unresolved, until now. Peter Kim, former PUMA International Marketing Manager, has disclosed the inside story on his blog:

What really happened - a small Eastern European agency affiliated with Saatchi & Saatchi created the ads on spec, trying to win business with a PUMA subsidiary. They got nothing and emailed the ads to friends; from that point it snowballed. As you can guess, when the PUMA powers-that-be decided to get all corporate on the blogosphere, the whole thing exploded. Poor Pete M.'s (PUMA GC in the US) email inbox exploded with junk after that, with his name being on the cease and desist. No "Brazilian Maxim", no evil master plan (they're real but we'll say they're fake), but online store sales were up like CRAZY for a couple of weeks. Too bad we didn't even have the shoes in the ads in stock!

This is bad news for me, because I describe the fake PUMA ad in Hippo Eats Dwarf, but I leave the story about it open ended, stating that no one knows (or is admitting) who created it. Unfortunately it's too late to revise what I wrote because the book is already rolling off the presses. I guess that's the danger of writing about recent events. You risk getting outdated. (via Adrants)
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 01, 2006
Comments (11)
Status: Advertisement
Here's an ad for McDonalds featuring the Loch Ness Monster (or one of her cousins). I think the language they're speaking is Polish. (via Ceticismo Aberto)
image
Categories: Advertising, Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Sun Jan 08, 2006
Comments (3)
Status: Prank
image I'm about five days late posting this, but better late than never. An advertisement for an "Extra Virgin Mary Statue" slipped by the editors of the conservative Catholic magazine, America. The advertisement offered "a stunning ... statue of the Virgin Mary standing atop a serpent wearing a delicate veil of latex." The "delicate veil of latex" was a blue condom. America's editors didn't examine the accompanying photo closely enough to realize this. And so the ad ran in the December 5 edition. People who contacted the seller were told the ad was meant "as an assault on Catholic faith and devotion." I don't know who the artist was who created the ad. Maybe it was Banksy.
Categories: Advertising, Art, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 28, 2005
Comments (11)
Status: Faux-rilla marketing campaign
image In order to promote its new handheld game player, Sony is paying artists to spray paint fake graffiti on buildings in major cities. (They're also paying the building owners for the right to spray paint the graffiti, which consists of images of spaced-out kids playing with the new handheld device.) But according to an article in Wired, the fake graffiti has provoked the anger of some city residents, who have spray painted over the images messages such as "Get out of my city," and "Fony." The Wired article points out that this isn't the first time advertisers have created fake graffiti: "In 2001, IBM paid Chicago and San Francisco more than $120,000 in fines and clean-up costs after its advertising agency spray-painted Linux advertisements on the cities' sidewalks." In Hippo Eats Dwarf I also briefly discuss how The Gap once spray-painted fake graffiti on its store windows. The phenomenon is called faux-rilla marketing (i.e. guerrilla marketing that relies on fake elements).

But I wouldn't put it past Sony to have stage-managed this entire controversy. In other words, Sony could have paid the people who spray-painted the angry messages over the original images. After all, the Sony marketers would have to know that fake graffiti, on its own, isn't much of a story. In fact, most people would never even notice it. But fake graffiti that provokes an angry response is likely to get media attention. This theory occurs to me because the Sony spokeswoman quoted in the article, Molly Smith, sounds a bit too pleased by the angry response the graffiti is provoking:

When asked about the criticism, Smith countered that art is subjective and that both the content and the medium dovetailed with Sony's belief that the PSP is a "disrupter product" that lets people play games, surf the internet and watch movies wherever they want.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 06, 2005
Comments (8)
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