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Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

A cautionary tale for brands selling social justice.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

It’s a divisive time in America. There are many emotionally charged social and political issues that are constantly being discussed and debated. As demonstrated by Pepsi’s recent protest ad and almost every 2017 Super Bowl commercial, it can be tempting for brands to jump on the bandwagon and join the conversation and benefit with sales – but should they?

Using a social movement to sell potato chips or soda often is seen as an insincere move by marketers. It tends to trivialize issues that are highly meaningful to people. Saturday Night Live hilariously exemplifies and exaggerates this “absurdity of causes as commerce” in a Cheetos ad-pitch comedy sketch. The comedians or ‘Cheetos ad executives’ discuss potential advertising spots centered on current social issues like immigration and transgender issues. They also poke fun at how disconnected these executives are from the issues they’re discussing. When the executives are questioned about using transgender issues just to sell Cheetos one of them exclaims, “We care about that issue because there is a guy in our office whose son is transgendered!” Then she turns to her colleague and questions, “Or wait, is he trans or adopted?” to which the colleague replies, “Uh, he’s adopted.” She then says, “That’s right, because we don’t know anyone trans, and THAT is the problem.”

And that fake Cheetos executive is exactly right; a lack of understanding and connection to audiences is precisely the problem. Often these brands are not only using important social issues to sell products, but the higher-ups creating the ads are totally out of touch with the issues and target audience. This was clearly the case in the absurdly offensive Pepsi ad, where a can of soda delivered by model and reality TV star Kendall Jenner cheerfully ends a protest that’s reminiscent of recent Black Lives Matter protests. If only the marginalized people of America thought to bring a can of Pepsi to their protest; then all of their issues would be solved and the protest would have turned into a happy moment of unity and cheering – please

Social issues can represent an opportunity to really connect with a target audience if marketers are smart about how they do it… Clearly, Pepsi (and their ad agency) didn’t check in with anyone who was actually at any of those protests before airing the ad and it’s unlikely that there was a diverse team of any kind making these creative decisions. The lesson is simple and should be basic knowledge for any advertising, marketing or PR professional – know your audience.

Unhealthy Advertising

Thursday, May 14th, 2015


(via Alternet)

Go. Slow. Whoa. These are the food-grading scales for evaluating the kinds of food advertised to kids. As can be expected by their categorization, the best foods to eat can be found in the “Go” group and the “Whoa” group contains foods that should only be eaten on certain occasions. An analysis taken in 2013 found that 75% of food ads targeted towards children, “promoted products in the poorest nutritional category.”

In 2006, a number of food companies including many of the biggest names in the industry like Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Kellogg and The Coca-Cola Company, formed the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. The initiative pledges to cut back on marketing unhealthy foods to children under 12. Despite the efforts, it appears (and not only via waistlines) that the initiative hasn’t been particularly successful.

The initiative demands that advertising is limited to foods with 10 grams of sugar or less, which means many food companies are taking advantage of promoting “lower sugar” or “better-for-you” options, rather than fruits and vegetables which should be making up 50% of kids diets – and therefore, ads.

Is there any chance for healthy to triumph? In a world where marketers spend their entire careers developing campaign strategies incorporating key messaging and other creative elements…will they ever be able to excite kids to eat healthy? While food companies are trying to adjust, health hasn’t seemed to sell amongst their target consumer. Should corporations be responsible for forcing products customers should be having, at the risk of a decrease in sales – or should they provide customers what they want, and then reap the financial rewards? When it comes to marketing, this is a challenge not just across food companies, but multiple industries that are trying to help the underdog – and the “right” dog – to come on top.

Ann Keeling says:

While food companies should be applauded for their efforts to provide education and steer kids (and their parents) towards healthy food choices, nothing is really going to change until root causes are addressed. Many people in our country, whether kids or adults, are complacent. They don’t see the true value in leading an active life and how changing eating patterns play into that. Until they do, we’ll continue to be a very overweight and unhealthy country.

Growing Pains

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Public relations employment has increased 9.2% from January 2014 to January 2015; that’s approximately 5,000 new workers in the field in the US. This growth correlates to the decreasing area of print — magazines and newspapers. Magazines saw a 5% decrease in employment from the year before, falling below 100,000 employees.

While public relations was once focused on getting the attention of editors, writers and broadcasters, PR has become multi-faceted encompassing a variety of responsibilities. Since the traditional media environment is changing so rapidly, public relations has been forced to do the same. This means public relations not only has to embrace digital channels, such as blogs, social media, webinars, etc. and strategize accordingly – but also become content creators. Public relations teams not only pitch the story, but often develop the content as newsrooms diminish in size.

Public relations isn’t the only field adapting to a changing print industry; other major changes in media and communications include growth in both advertising and graphic design. In 2013, advertising employment surpassed printing employment for the first time in history. Media, as we know it, is transforming in front of our eyes. Being part of the industry means adapting to and staying ahead of all of the changes and trends to ensure that you are not only providing the best services, but protecting your company and career. 

Ann Keeling says:

PR today requires that anyone who works in the field can do it all – strategize, write/develop content and be great at media relations. Long gone are specialist positions. Most client budgets just don’t allow for it. If you are currently on the media side and seek to move to the PR side, being prepared to for ‘baptism by fire’ is critical.

Oscar Worthy Commercials

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015


It was prom night in Hollywood over the weekend at the 87th Annual Academy Awards. Arguably just as exciting as the red carpet entrance and gold statues, were the commercials. It might be surprising to learn that the Oscars are the second highest rated telecast of the year (Nielsen). The Super Bowl saw :30 advertising spots at an average of $4.5 million with 114.4 million watching, whereas the Oscars averaged $1.95 million for :30 with an audience of 43 million viewers.

Even with a lower viewership than the Super Bowl, Oscar ad space continues to go for a premium, with consistent placement from J.C. Penney, Hyundai, Samsung, Coca-Cola and American Express. For advertisers looking to link their brands to luxury, fame and beauty, it’s difficult to tell how well Oscar campaigns are leading to buying behavior. Many wonder is if spending so much on ads is really worth it,

American Express promoted a popular ad “The Unlikely Leading Lady” that utilized The Mindy Project star, Mindy Kalig, going from the sitcom side-kick friend in The Office to the leading lady of her own TV show. The core message is around being a brand that’s there for you during the adventure, regardless of the destination. The ad saw a very positive response from a “new generation” of customers. It was a powerful reminder of acceptance or ‘being who you are’ in order to succeed. Most would agree $2 million for :30 seconds was money well spent to create a bond with new customers.

Another highly anticipated Oscar commercial was Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” campaign. With the help of their new agency, Publicis, Cadillac reworked their approach to be more distinctive. Cadillac incorporated Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” speech as a voiceover from the perspective of a car’s view. The response for the ad was mixed. This was Cadillac’s first step towards luxury prominence, as a brand that is reinventing itself and targeting new segments of the market.

As the lines between television entertainment and commercial advertising blur, will consumers continue to connect to such ads? And will the high cost of advertising be worth the investment for brands?

Ann Keeling says:

Whether it’s the Super Bowl or The Academy Awards, marketers are advertising as an investment in their brand’s equity. While many ads are high on entertainment value, those that remember why they are there in the first place will win with consumers.


The Most Gluttonous Day of the Year

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Although you might not be joining the 4,000 partiers at the Bud Light Hotel, there are no shortage of events to ring in February with a highly caloric intake of beer, chips and dip, wings, pizza, and more beer. Winter can be a grueling season to get through, especially when the North Pole seems to have lost its way home, but thanks to awards season and the Super Bowl, the winter blues become a bit more bearable. The Super Bowl often takes the prize for the nation’s favorite, because drunken revelry with all-you-can-eat artichoke dip is an obvious choice over feeling guilty that you don’t look like Charlize Theron or Brad Pitt.

There are 100 million households that turn their TVs to the Super Bowl on the first Sunday of February. But about 10 million viewers admit that they only watch the Super Bowl to see the commercials. Watching the Super Bowl for commercials is nothing new, but this year viewers have the ability to watch the sought-after clips before the game. The Super Bowl has always been the advertising event of the year, and many of this year’s full-length commercials have already been uploaded to YouTube. But that’s not going to deter viewers. Beyond the advertising aficionados, there are many other Super Bowl fans tuning in for a lot more than football.

The USDA confirms that the Super Bowl is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving. The average game-watcher will eat 1,200 calories in snacks alone. Americans will eat 30 million pounds of snacks, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, and 4.3 million pounds of pretzels. The pizza delivery business increases six-fold, churning out a week’s worth of food for one day. Super Bowl parties spill over onto the web, with dozens of finger food recipes making a snack lover’s dreams come true.

For the die-hard fans and elite partiers alike, the Super Bowl has turned into Super Bowl party week, with a host of events leading up to the big game. Sports fans travel across the country for the game, this year right outside of the Big Apple at Meadowland Stadium. There are 500,000 travelers expected to arrive in New York for the game, and the city is preparing for the pre-party. For travelers, what happens on the field is just the climax of the excitement and pomp that lead up to the annual event.

Whether you’ll be cheering on your favorite team or munching in the other room, party hosts only request one thing: Just try not to act like any of these guests.