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|•||Happy Birthday, Hulitoons! 05/23/2013|
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Status: HoaxYou 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.
Status: Undetermined (but probably real)This 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.
Status: FakeThis 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)
Status: Strange guerrilla marketing campaignBrussels 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)
Status: advertising disguised as newsIn 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).
Status: Highly possibleThe 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?
Status: Update about advertising hoaxRemember 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)
Status: AdvertisementHere'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)
Status: PrankI'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.
Status: Faux-rilla marketing campaignIn 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.
Status: Undetermined (but I'm guessing fake)Nike has a new ad featuring Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho Gaucho. In the ad Ronaldinho puts on a pair of Nikes, juggles the ball a few times, and then kicks the ball towards the goal so that it hits the crossbar and bounces directly back to him. He does this four times in a row. And it's all shot in a single take. This has inspired a lot of discussion on the net, because it's hard to believe anyone could be skilled enough to do this. In an article posted on the BBC (in Portuguese... I read it via AltaVista Translate) Ronaldinho swears that the scene is real, although the reporters interviewing him refuse to believe him. Given that it's an ad, I would assume it's fake, since one should always assume that what you see in ads is bogus, unless it's proven otherwise.
Status: Marketing gimmickBlack Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when all the stores have their big sales. It's said to be the biggest shopping day of the year. Cyber Monday comes three days later, and (according to what I heard on many newsasts this year) is supposed to be the biggest day for online shopping, a phenomenon caused by millions of shoppers returning to work on Monday and looking for bargains online. But apparently Cyber Monday isn't the biggest online shopping day of the year. And the term itself is the very recent invention of marketers. Robert Hof debunks Cyber Monday in an article in BusinessWeek.com:
Contrary to what the recent blitz of media coverage implies, Cyber Monday isn't nearly the biggest online shopping or spending day of the year. It ranks only as the 12th-biggest day historically, according to market researcher comScore Networks. It's not even the first big day of the season. For most online retailers, the bigger spending day of the season to date was way back on Nov. 22, three days before Black Friday. What's more, most e-tailers say the season's top spending day comes much later, between around Dec. 5 and Dec. 15...
So what's up with this Cyber Monday idea? A little bit of reality and a whole lot of savvy marketing. It turns out that Shop.org, an association for retailers that sell online, dreamed up the term just days before putting out a Nov. 21 press release touting Cyber Monday as "one of the biggest online shopping days of the year." The idea was born when a few people at the organization were brainstorming about how to promote online shopping, says Shop.org Executive Director Scott Silverman... "It's not the biggest day," Silverman concedes. "But it was an opportunity to create some consumer excitement."
It's kind of sad to see how eagerly the media promoted this as if it was something real.