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Status: Undetermined (but I'm guessing fake)
image 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.
Categories: Advertising, Photos/Videos, Sports
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 05, 2005
Comments (56)
Status: Marketing gimmick
Black 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

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, 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 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.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 02, 2005
Comments (9)
Status: Real (but possibly a publicity stunt)
image Breath Capture is a company that's selling air. Or more specifically, they're selling tubes. The customers themselves are supposed to provide the air by breathing into the tubes. They promote these tubes as a way to "Capture the breath of a loved one or friend and keep them close. Forever." So it's a gimmick, kind of like pet rocks, or buying land on the Moon. But what gets me is this claim the company makes on it site:

Breath Capture is a patent-pending method and apparatus for collecting human breath as a keepsake display.

They applied for a patent on this? It's just a tube into which you blow before putting the top on. How could this possibly be patentable? This made me suspicious enough to check out the site's registration info. Turns out it's registered to Thompson & Company, a Memphis-based marketing firm. So possibly Breath Capture is a stunt dreamed up by this marketing agency to prove that they can sell anything—even air. (Unless the Breath Capture company hired Thompson & Company to promote its product... but surely there can't be that much money in selling glass tubes that they could afford a fancy marketing agency.)
Categories: Advertising, Business/Finance
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 21, 2005
Comments (7)
Status: Commercial
image Someone emailed me a videoclip titled "Road Rage". It shows an old woman slowly crossing a road, as a guy in a sports car lays on the horn, trying to get her to hurry up. I won't ruin the ending, but it's pretty amusing. However, the video (in the version I received) appears to be an unscripted scene accidentally caught on video by an amateur. There's no identifying information to suggest otherwise. But since I was curious about whether the scene really was unstaged, I managed to find it on Google Video. Their version was a few seconds longer, preserving the ending in which it's revealed to be an ad for IKEA. So apparently the scene was staged. It's still funny. But, I have no clue how the scene is supposed to inspire anyone to shop at IKEA.
Categories: Advertising, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 08, 2005
Comments (16)
Status: Undetermined (but probably a hoax)
image Not many people like rats. But the members of the Great Pointed Archer Society do. As they proclaim on their very slick website: The immediate goal of this website is to replace the offensive name ‘rat’ with the untainted, and beautiful name Great Pointed Archer. By doing away with this all-to-common slur, we can begin to repair centuries of disrespect and hatred. After all, it’s not their fault they live in the sewer and eat trash.

It's not clear who's the creative force behind the Great Pointed Archer Society. It seems to be a little too well designed to actually be a society of rat lovers. For instance, compare it to the much less flashy (and therefore more obviously real) Rat Fan Club website. So almost everyone is guessing that it's a stealth advertising campaign whose ultimate object has yet to be revealed. The Great Pointed Archer Society is selling t-shirts (which is always a strong indicator of a hoax), but I can't believe that the entire site was created just to sell the shirts. (Thanks to S.M. Elliott for the link)
Categories: Advertising, Animals
Posted by Alex on Tue Oct 25, 2005
Comments (8)
Status: Hoax
It's been very widely reported in the past few days that singer Charlotte Church and Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher will be paired up in a new ad for Pepsi. According to the report:

the unlikely pair will head-up a lucrative advertising campaign, which will feature the OASIS frontman "teaching" Church how to trash hotel rooms and smash instruments while enjoying a selection of alcoholic drinks mixed with the cola beverage. A PepsiCo source tells British newspaper the Daily Star, "We've always got safe, family friendly stars to endorse Pepsi in the past, like BRITNEY SPEARS, BEYONCE KNOWLES, CINDY CRAWFORD and BLUE. But Pepsi is becoming more and more popular as a cocktail mixer at parties, so we want a wilder, more controversial image to go with that, and Liam and Charlotte are ideal. They both love their booze and between them they cover the gender demographics we're trying to target."

However, in today's New York Times Pepsi denies the whole thing: Richard Detweiler, a spokesman for the Pepsi-Cola International division of the Pepsi-Cola Company in Purchase, N.Y., says that the United States, Pepsi-Cola's biggest market, typically tends to have its own campaigns, with other ads running in major markets like Europe... Asked about the British newspaper reports, Mr. Detweiler says "there are no such plans" for the commercial they described. "I assumed it was tongue-in-cheek," he says, because of the implausibility that Pepsi would sell itself as a mixer with alcoholic beverages.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 24, 2005
Comments (4)
Status: Fake Person
imageHoax forum regulars are familiar with Cillit Bang (a brand of cleaner) and its over-the-top advertisements. Now it seems that Barry Scott, the fictional Cillit Bang spokesperson, has materialized in cyber space with his very own weblog. As if that wasn't enough, Barry Scott has also begun leaving comments on other people's weblogs. Tom Coates, of, reports that after he posted an entry about his father, whom he hasn't seen in over thirty years, Barry Scott left a comment (as well as a link to

"Hi Tom, Always remember one thing. Life is very, very short and nothing is worth limiting yourself from seeing the ones you love. I hadn't seen my father in 15 years until 2 years ago. I was apprehensive but I kept telling myself that no matter how estranged we'd become there was no river to wide to cross. Drop me a line if I can be of any more help. Cheers, Barry"

Seems like an oddly personal message for a faux person... and a very elaborate form of comment spam. Cillit Bang, Scott's creators, later apologized for the comment. But not before Barry left another message:

What the f***? Can't a viral advertiser be human, have a father he hasn't seen in 15 years, or make a non-job-related personal post on another website?
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 10, 2005
Comments (15)
New Scientist has flagged a product whose promoters are guilty of making a few misleading claims. It's Neaclear facial cream, and it's advertised as containing a "powerful combination of liquid oxygen, vitamins C & E, sage, chamomile, seaweed and rosemary, coconut oil, sweet almond oil and hydroquinone." The company even boasts that they're the first company "to combine stabilised liquid oxygen into all of its products." New Scientist notes that "We have certainly never heard of a skin cream that contains liquid oxygen, the temperature of which is normally somewhere below -183 °C."
Categories: Advertising, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 09, 2005
Comments (15)
John Camm, writing for the BBC, has compiled a long list of ways in which life as it's portrayed in advertisements differs from real life. For instance, in advertisements:
  • Men are obsessed with sex but will forego sex in order to watch football or drink beer.
  • Any act of male stupidity (e.g. walking across a clean floor in muddy boots, putting the dog in the dishwasher, etc.) will be met with a wry smile, not genuine annoyance/anger.
  • If you work for the emergency services, you are a better person than the general population.
  • Elderly relatives NEVER suffer from senile dementia.
  • Scandinavians are, without exception, blonde and beautiful.
  • Women have jobs they never do in real life, e.g. dockworker (who looks like a model).
  • Men are inherently lazy/slobbish; women are the reverse.
  • Chocolate, however, will cause women to immediately fall into the languor of the opium eater.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 05, 2005
Comments (10)
A movement is underfoot to undermine news sites that require registration in order to read their content by submitting fake registrations en masse:

We, the undersigned, wish to demonstrate the pointless nature of forced web site registration schemes and the dubious demographic data they collect.
On November 13th we will each register an account using fake details at one or more of these top 10 offending sites:

While sympathizing with the sentiment, I see a couple of problems with this. First, even if you submit fake details, you still need to submit a valid email address (there are ways around this, but I bet most of the people participating will give their real email). Second, when you visit their site they'll know your ip address, from which they can get some demographic info (such as what city you're in). In other words, it's hard to give them completely misleading information, so they may still end up benefitting from fake registrations. (via J-Walk)
Categories: Advertising, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 25, 2005
Comments (15)
Here's a good idea: Google Content Blocker. It allows you to block all that annoying content, so you only have to see the ads:

Google's mission is to organize the world's advertising for maximum exposure to Web users. Unfortunately, annoying Web content often overwhelms the page, causing many users to become distracted and overlook the ads. That's where Google Content Blocker comes in. It effectively blocks all Web site content, leaving only the advertisements...
After you install Google Content Block, just surf the Web as you normally do. When we find a site that has content, we will block that content so you see only the ads. It all happens automatically, with no effort on your part.

Brought to you by John Walkenback of J-Walk, who has also brought us the Nigerian Email Conference and the WiFi Speed Spray.
Categories: Advertising, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri May 13, 2005
Comments (5)
There's an interesting Q&A in today's Stuart Elliott column in the NY Times:

A Reader Asks: I have a question regarding Wal-Mart's advertising. Do you know if Wal-Mart actually uses employees in its ads or does it hire actors?

I've wondered about this myself. Are there really all these happy people working at Wal-Mart? Elliott's response:

The people appearing in the television commercials and print advertisements for Wal-Mart Stores are actual employees, according to Wal-Mart and its agencies. Such ads have been appearing more frequently as part of efforts by Wal-Mart to counter critics who charge the company does not offer its employees adequate health care or other benefits.

So they're really employees. But I'm still not buying that Wal-Mart is such a great place to work.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Alex on Tue May 10, 2005
Comments (41)
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