Monday, January 26, 2015

Similac makes fun of the "Mommy Wars" and it's pretty apalling

So, Similac, a company that stands to benefit from as few women breastfeeding (and breastfeeding women doing it as little as possible) has decided to position itself as the great peacemaker in the angry crossfire of deeply personal judgements of other peoples' parenting choices known as the "Mommy Wars."

I'm a big advocate of breastfeeding, when it works for the mother. But I also believe that women's bodies are theirs to do with as they choose. If they choose not to nurse, nobody gets to police them.

The problem I have with this ad is that by stereotyping the various conflicts between parent trends (including stay-at-home dads), then resolving with a message that none of it really matters, they are negating the very real and important discussions happening about these issues. The nursers feeling forced to cover up, working women with inadequate maternal leave or work flexibility, the challenges faced by lesbian moms? These are presented as no different than the arguments about diapers, baby wearing, and yoga for moms.

By positioning itself as the teller of this tale, Similac very sneakily invalidates lactivist criticisms of its product and marketing. Yeah, I saw what you did there!

But, you know, it's an American commercial. So the warring parties rally around a really bad example of parental neglect and hug it out.

H/T Adfreak

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Selling higher education with library sex

University and college marketing are a challenge. When you approach the subject, you tend to either focus on the benefits (graduates getting jobs, making a difference) or you focus on creative a more emotively attractive brand for youth.

This recruitment ad for the French-language Université de Moncton is definitely the latter:

According to the CBC, student reactions to the video are mixed.

Simon Paulin told them, "​I can understand how they are trying to bring popularity to it because young people think about it a lot. But still I don't think they should focus on that. It's not really professional, cause we're here to learn."

Another, Sebastien Mallet, said "I thought that's awesome. I really enjoyed it. I think that's what young students want to see. There is some controversy over the little kiss in the library, but its not the point of the publicity."

Oddly, the only woman interviewed was from the faculty (she hated it).

It's certainly not a particularly academic approach, but the strategy is clearly to position the university as one that belongs to francophones in the Maritimes. ("À l'Université de Moncton, notre langue c'est le français. Et nous en sommes fiers." means "At the University of Moncton, our language is French. And we're proud of [it].")

Francophone Maritimers, the Acadians, have a unique, tragic, and inspirational history in Canada. Unlike Quebec, which was incorporated into Canada (following English conquest) with its language, Civil Law and religion more-or-less intact, the Acadians were forced to either pledge loyalty to their English conquerors or flee. Many went south to Louisiana (to become Cajuns) while others resettled in the sparsely-populated edges of the eastern colony. Today, however, their communities thrive in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. New Brunswick is Canada's only officialy bilingual province.

Acadian pride makes sense as a brand foundation for U Moncton, especially since Maritimers have been moving away to make a living in Canada's western oil patch for a generation. Now that oil prices are down, young Maritimers might be more apt to pursue a life closer to home.

Yes, with all the talk about campus rape perhaps focussing on sex is questionable for university advertising. But perhaps this ad, going so far as to make a pun on the shared word for "language" and "tongue," is purposely distancing itself from the conservative, English-dominated, universities in New Brunswick and its neighbouring Atlantic provinces.

Besides, that kiss looked pretty consensual.

I'd like to hear some feedback from French-speaking readers on this. Too commercial? Too sexy? Or people taking things too seriously?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

100 robotic humans vs. 100 humanoid robots

First off, I want to mention how ultimately icky this Flavorstone frying pan ad is. (By  Dentsu, Tokyo, via Ads of The World.)

I mean, the choreography is impressive, but 100 young women in short-skirted maid outfits, all working to satisfy some old guy's weird fetish? Not exactly progressive:

And then, coincidentally, Mashable just recently posted this:

So there you have it: 100 humans vs. 100 robots, battling for your viral attention. The humans have sexual objectification on their side. But then again, the robots do not.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Theatrical ad banned from London Underground over bare man bum

My Night With Reg is a 1994 play about gay men in London during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. This poster, for the current revival revived at the Donmar Warehouse (and now the Apollo Theatre) was rejected by Transport for London for "male nudity," according to Pink News.

The poster, with a nude man holding the best rock album ever recorded, is a direct adaptation of the first edition cover of its book version.

In the past, Transport for London has been the subject of ridicule for its prudish advertising standards, once banning a poster for an exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts for showing a 16th century female nude by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Using tired "beer goggles" clichés to sell taxi service

Via Daily Mail 

You know, we advertising practitioners really should adopt something like the popular conception of the Hippocratic Oath, starting with the words, "First, do no harm."

We're here to represent our clients, but we are also contributing to the language and imagery of popular culture and media. When we create something that gets attention by promoting stereotypes — or worse — unearned scorn towards our fellow humans, then we are being irresponsible.

Via Daily Mail 

These bar ads, by West Quay Cars taxi company of Southampton, UK, are an example of this. They use the hackneyed old idea of beer goggles to imply that this large woman and tacky man are unworthy of love.

Note the difference. The man is a cartoonish stereotype of a disco-era lounge lizard. The woman, on the other hand, is mostly implied to be unattractive because she is fat.

The Southampton University Feminist Society wrote an open letter to the advertiser, stating:
This advert is a form of body policing and an example of fatphobia. It is making fun of someone because of the way they look. This objectifying, judging lens is something we are well aware of in the media, for both genders, but especially for women. Therefore seeing the female version of this advert by itself, as it first was, some members branded it sexist. It was only later that the male version was posted. Members immediately voiced their dislike of the male version also, noting again that it was an unacceptable form of body-policing.

The company issued the standard non-apology:
"We apologise for any offence that may have been caused by either of the posters,” manager Lee Haynes told The Tab. 
"We recognised that the campaign may be controversial, but in our opinion, our obligation to try to reduce the amount of lives devastated by drink or drug drivers ever year was overriding. 
"We refute the claim that either our advertising or West Quay cars as a company is sexist or discriminatory in anyway.
They mentioned that 16 of their staff of 22 are women.

I'm sure that some of their best friends are also Black.

Related: The goggles do nothing (