Archive for the 'Advertising' Category

Aug 14 2008

Olympics News Flash: Chinese Gymnasts Are 16, Just Starving

Despite substantial suggestions that some of China’s female Olympic gymnasts are younger than the required 16 years of age, Chinese apparatchi – uh – spokespeople insist that previous Chinese state-controlled news reports that showed them as being younger were erroneous.

According to the Associated Press:

Just nine months before the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government’s news agency, Xinhua, reported that gymnast He Kexin was 13, which would have made her ineligible to be on the team that won a gold medal this week…. In its report Nov. 3, Xinhua identified He as one of “10 big new stars” who made a splash at China’s Cities Games. It gave her age as 13 and reported that she beat Yang Yilin on the uneven bars at those games.

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May 30 2008

CNN’s News Innovation: Stupid Headline T-Shirts

Having never been a fan of CNN’s headline-writing nonability, it’s truly amazing to me that someone thought that people would like any headline on CNN.com enough to put it on a freakin’ t-shirt. If you go to the CNN.com home page, several story headlines have a tiny little t-shirt graphic next to them — clicking on the graphic takes you to a page that “lets” you buy a t-shirt with that headline on it.

That’s right — you can now pay to put a CNN headline on a t-shirt. A mere $19.99! Such a bargain! Plus, the t-shirt contains ever-so-subtle CNN advertising — following the headline, there’s a tagline that says “I just saw it on CNN.com [time/date stamp]”. Check out this example, with the earth-shattering headline of “Man bikes 42 miles to work each day.” Now there’s something I want to have plastered on my chest while I’m walking around!

Paying for logo-ized apparel has always struck me as absurd (“Hey, Harry, think people would be stupid enough to pay us for the privilege of advertising for us?” “Sure! They watch Survivor, don’t they?”), but this truly qualifies as a significant “get a life” moment, combined with an extra smattering of WTF?-ness.

And the really worrisome thing is that, considering the amount of programming and the marketing/editorial review work that must have gone into it, CNN has got to have focus-grouped this enough to believe that this will actually generate some revenue.

By the way, on a completely unrelated note, stay tuned for the Mindscalpel.com apparel shop, coming soon!

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Apr 29 2008

Lace Up Your Boots — We’re Going Banking!

So how depressing is this? I walk by a Citi (CitiBank? CitiFinancial? Why is an enormous financial institution named with a misspelled word, anyway?) location, and they’ve got these colorful advertisements for their Citi-Online service (an online-banking service), with pictures of people doing various activities and cutesy questions like “Our place? Or yours?”, the implication being that your life would be ever so much more fulfilling if only you could bank anyplace you happened to find yourself.

And what the heck do they mean when they use bank as a verb, anyway? It really makes no sense in this context.

I want very few things from my bank — I want them to pay me for the privilege of holding my vast fortune, to give it to me when I want it, and to give it to whoever else I (and only I!) tell them to. That’s it. So, basically, with a cell phone, I can’t get my money, so the only thing I could be doing with my money is paying bills.

Whee! I can pay bills anywhere!

What’s really setting me off here is one particular ad — a picture of a guy at a beautiful campsite, silhouetted against a fabulous sunset, working — banking? — on a laptop.

How freaking depressing! This is supposed to attract me to your institution? The possibility of being so shackled to my bills and financial life that I’ve got to haul my laptop to a campground?

Now, granted, I’m a high-tech camper. I probably tote more batteries than food when I’m camping. But I’m not hauling stuff to a mountaintop so I can pay my bills.

I know! Let’s advertise more mutually incompatible activities as if they weren’t completely insane!

  • Netflix: “Watch our DVDs — while you drive!”
  • Nintendo: “Play video games — while you’re mountain biking!”
  • Michael’s Craft Stores: “Knit a sweater — scuba diving!”
  • Research In Motion: “Check your email on your BlackBerry — while watching your kid’s school play!”

Wait a minute. I see people doing that last one all the time.

Maybe Citi’s on to something….

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Mar 21 2008

New Class Action Lawsuit Opportunity!

Okay, this has been bugging me for aeons, and if someone has the time and patience to search for more archived videos of old Gillette shaving advertisements, I’m sure you’ll be able to retire rich off the money you’ll raise from this sure-fire class action lawsuit. For now, I’m avoiding the whole thing, because to research this post I had to search for terms like “shaving” and “video,” and if you’ve ever done something like that you know you’ll get results that would make you want to stick pins into your brain in the hope of destroying the synapses holding those visual memories.

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Mar 20 2008

Blogging — Who’s Really Making The Money?

Years ago, I received some deep wisdom from an extraordinary, modern-day Vietnamese philosopher. Oddly enough, this philosopher appeared on late-night television, surrounded by bikini-clad women, and was aggressively hawking his real estate seminars.

Nevertheless, I learned several important lessons from him, the most prominent among them (for me, at least) being the following (reproduced from memory):

“So I come to the United States, I tell people I want to be rich. They look at me and say ‘You crazy! You poor guy, you poor immigrant, you barely speak English, lots of other people smarter than you, they not rich, how you think you going to get rich? You crazy!'”

“You know what I say to these people? I say ‘You are a loser! Get out of my way! I make it somehow!‘”

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Mar 12 2008

Google AdSense Despises Me

Published by under Advertising,Technology

I’ve been trying to ignore the insults that Sergey Brin’s throwing at me via his little automated-ridicule-generator (also known as Google AdSense), but I’m beginning to take umbrage at the subjects of the ads appearing most frequently on this blog. A small sample, with comments (and the irony is that by listing these ads, I am driving up the likelihood that they’ll be displayed even more often):

  • Scalp Problems?” — THIS is the best this multi-billion-dollar internet juggernaut can do when confronted by the word “Scalpel”? We’re doomed, I tell you, doomed!
  • Relationship Counseling” — Yeah, I think I’ll get some counseling…ON THE INTERNET. That will work well.
  • Fix Your Marriage” — Doing just fine, thanks! All four of them! So far none of them’s found out about the others!
  • Inside a Boyfriend’s Mind” — Women always say they want to know what men are thinking. Trust me, they don’t. As Larry Miller says, if they did, they’d never stop slapping us.
  • Do Men Want Intimacy?” — Arrgh! No. We want food, big flat-screen televisions, and maybe private jets.

So trust me, Sergey — I’m keeping track, here. You’re on my list for when the Revolution comes, my friend.

But in the meantime, keep those checks coming.

And hey, all you readers — keep clicking on those ads!

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Feb 25 2008

Scanning Your Slides, or, 50 Ways to Love Your Liver


Technologists are eternal optimists, in that they blithely assume that their new products will never turn manifestly evil.

But of course, even the most innocuous inventions can misfire, even when one is not actively seeking to use them for harm (and don’t let any guy fool you — the first thing any normal guy thinks when he’s confronted with a new device or technology is “How could I break this?” Another part of him is only a step behind, thinking “How can I use this as a weapon?” A slightly lower layer, a sort of ever-present meta-theme permeating all guys’ thoughts, of course, is “How can I use this to attract the babes?” ).

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Jan 21 2008

World’s Most Horrific Piano Chord…

I know you’ve heard the commercials — you’re driving along, listening to the radio, and suddenly some guy says in an incredibly matter-of-fact voice “Hello, my name is Stan O’Hanlahan…”.

And then the hushed, minor-key Piano Chord from Hell plays: “*PLING*”

Stan O’Hanlahan then, incredibly matter-of-factly, spends the next thirty seconds describing an escalating odyssey into Disease Hell that begins with him talking about how he was a normal guy, just driving along listening to the radio, and segueing rapidly (but still incredibly matter-of-factly) into a series of health disasters, most always involving some form of cancer, and usually tossing in a tidbit of soul-crushing detail (“and then my eyes exploded” or “I tried to hug my daughter but my arms fell off”) that is clearly designed to freak you out, finally moving on to how the drug company selflessly developed a life-saving cure that brought him back to normal (with a realistic and lawyer-inspired note of caution, like “of course, this doesn’t work for everyone, and I still have no eyes/arms, but…”) while the music changes from the minor key to a major key, the joyous oboe kicks in, and some soothing woman comes on and breathes the drug company’s name gently into your ear a few times.
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