Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Facebook pulls "threatening" testicular cancer ad

The ad Facebook won't allow.

Facebook pulls plug on ‘threatening’ testicular cancer ad

September 10, 2010Robert Cribb

Amid the countless racy images posted on Facebook, you will not find a Toronto Public Health ad warning of the dangers of testicular cancer.

The wildly popular social network website has censored the public service announcement for being a “threat” to its online audience.

When health officials recently attempted to place an ad on the website urging men to “check your package” for signs of the disease, Facebook officials took exception.

The advertisement, which features a male midsection alongside text urging men aged 18 to 35 to do monthly self exams, was deemed distasteful and “threatening” by Facebook officials, according to emails obtained by the Star.

“It is disappointing that Facebook, many of whose clients we want to reach, doesn’t see the importance of providing them with clear and effective communication,” said Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s medical officer of health.

“We can’t afford to be squeamish about an important health problem.”

In a written response, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said that while it supports “creative and compelling” ad campaigns, “we must ensure that the nature of each campaign adheres to the policies and guidelines that we have set out.”

Testicular cancer is most common in young men, with about 900 cases a year in Canada and 30 deaths. With incidents on the rise, early self-detection is a vital message, said McKeown.

The city had hoped Facebook, with its vast and youthful subscriber base of more than 500 million people, would provide a cost-effective way to heighten awareness around the shadowy public health issue.

Toronto Public Health designed several different versions of the ad and tested the results in focus groups comprised of male university students.

The “Check Your Package” headline and image was the clear favourite, says Mary Margaret Crapper, a Toronto Public Health spokesperson.

So, the city made a $10,000 ad buy for a four-week Facebook campaign.

But once Facebook’s advertising department examined the ad package, the deal got sacked.

“Just got feedback from the policy guys — looks like ‘check your package’ won’t fly,” wrote Facebook ad operations employee Roger Lu in an Aug. 27 email to city staff.

“And we’ll need an image change. Is there anything else we can use?”

City staff pushed back in an email response saying, “That might be an issue on our end since this entire campaign is called Check Your Package and has the same exact image. Is there absolutely no way we can push this through?”

In a Sept. 1 email, Lu advised the city that following an internal “escalation,” the ad simply gave Facebook officials the willies.

The image “must not focus on a specific body part, particularly a man’s crotch” and the “Check Your Package” headline was “unacceptable,” the email reads.

Facebook also objected to the words “Men 18-35 are at risk” as being “threatening to the user and we don’t allow age callouts under any circumstance.”

In its written response, Facebook officials said they “worked closely with the Toronto Public Health officers to come up with alternatives and encourage them to advertise on Facebook to support their important cause.”

That included substituting the man-in-underwear image with a far less intriguing logo of the Canadian Testicular Cancer Association, replacing “Check Your Package” with the words “Be Aware” and making a complete rewrite of the copy.

“Please keep in mind that it is not our intention to change the content/message of your campaign, but to take steps to contribute towards the overall success of the campaign,” reads the email from Lu to city staff. Lu declined comment to the Star.

Those efforts at compromise undermined the agency’s carefully crafted message, said McKeown.

“We feel we’ve already done the work required to identify an effective campaign and that’s our business. Clearly, Facebook’s policies are a barrier to effective public health education.”

I am reprinting this from the Toronto Star's HealthZone section and am shocked that Facebook pulled rank and felt they had the right to dictate creative content for a Public Service Campaign. Firstly, this ad was well tested in the marketplace before it was ever placed in media. But the audacity of Facebook to deem this creative as being "threatening" is ridiculous and ludicrous. Especially when you see some of the Facebook user's own pages that have almost pornographic photos and sexually explicit content.

This juvenile site has no concept what constitutes good advertising yet alone a great idea, which I think this little ad is. Here is a not for profit agency trying to caution young men about a very serious cancer by speaking to them in their own language and using a smart tactical placement in Facebook where a huge target market would see it. It should have been a slam dunk.

What is alarming to me is the fact that the very generation who came up with the premise for social networking is completely blind to clever, meaningful communication. The youth of today is overfraught with "political correctness" to the overkill degree. Obsessive political correctness has snuffed out even the smallest glimmer of the ability to interpret and discern messaging that is creatively presented to them. Their world has been encouraged to be dull and dependent on others for creative enlightenment. The emphasis has been on social awareness to the extreme. Political correctness is a form of repression. And these kids grew up with it. It is all they have ever known. And now it shows.

My worry is this is just the tip of the iceberg. These kids believe social networks liberate them from not having to watch their every move or worry about uber-protective parents hovering over their every thought. But it is those very things that have stunted their abilities to think outside the box. Hence, great creative appears threatening because they weren't allowed to develop the cognative power to understand those kinds of messages.

Now we are talking about a generation who is handicapped.

© Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Vintage Old Spice Commercial - 1957

Old Brand Gets Face Lift

Old Spice is one of those brands that just keeps staying afloat. It has been around forever. My Dad used to have a bottle of this stuff on his dresser. And this year, it has swept the Cannes Award show with Best in Show for its new campaign that shows a hot guy in nothing but a towel and some fancy blue screen tricks visually that take him from shower to shore. So what makes this so different for the brand? One word ATTITUDE. The writing is strong and creates a kind of he-man listen to me do as I say girl approach. He commands you; literally when he says: "look at me now look at your man, now back to me" where he is in complete control of your imagination. It is some of the best writing I have heard in 30 seconds for a long time. It also helps that the casting was absolutely right on for this spokesperson. He is handsome, built and real eye candy for women. And he comes across as the kind of man every woman dreams would take control of her lacklustre life. He is literally telling her what to do; but in a great non-condescending, non-threatening very sexy way. It isn't a new idea having a spokesperson to revitalize a brand...that idea is as old as the hills. What is new is the ATTITUDE. And it really works. Look at the difference from an early Old Spice TV spot to the one currently running; The two spots are to the right in the archive area for this posting. Click on an old one and then view the new one by clicking on it to see just how far this brand has evolved.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where did all the Art Directing Go?

I was schlepping into a meeting on the subway. And of course, checking out all the bad ads. Why is it that the worse ads are always in the subway cars? It's the one place where you have literally a captured audience and it truly is wasted. If I were a big brand, I would seriously think about doing some great ads in the subway cars.
Honda tried to do this with a used car poster. While the headline was good, the Art Direction was absolutely horrible. It was a photoshop nightmare to my eye. I want to believe that the poor Art Director who got this assignment, also got no budget. And therefore had to find a stock background shot to marry a stock car shot into. I cannot rationalize this any other way. Because, to my Art Directing eye I couldn't help but cringe when I saw that the light sources were completely wrong. One was for the background and the other for the car and both were totally different. And whoever the bozo AD was or photoshop person was, didn't know the difference. What has happened to the CRAFT of Art Directing? I see this more and more as so many ads use stock shots that are composited rather than spending what it takes to achieve the idea.

This isn't Joe's used cars. It's HONDA. HONDA has a standard that is set by its international advertising. But it was absent in this ad. It had the HONDA tone of voice but not the HONDA visual standards. Now maybe just maybe this ad was relegated to the junior art director/writer team.

That being said, where was the CD who approved this?

The art of great, tight, every element counts crafted Art Directing seems to be going out the window. So many ideas go flat because an element is wrong or there's too much or the layout is wonky or any number of a million things are off. And I wonder where these folks studied to be Art Directors.

And who is mentoring and guiding them...or is anyone?

In these tight times the trend is to not invest in seasoned creative people who can teach the younger ones the tricks and fine tuning it takes for an ad to go from yuck to brilliant. And in this case, the headline was a great idea, but it was ruined by the art directing or lack thereof.

I was lucky. I had two fabulous mentors. Both crazy and wild and full of passion about the biz. Both very different in personalities but totally the same when it came to teaching the skills, the way to think and look at how you generate ideas, the way to execute those ideas to be as good as they can be and lastly the way to present and sell those ideas to a client. That can never be taught in a school or through a computer program. It is invaluable. And it becomes the DNA that really makes or breaks you as a creative person.

This is advertising for a great brand, done fast and on the cheap. And it shows. Pity.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Death of Depth: Less and less of more and more...

Tony Schwartz a contributor at the Huffington Post has a most interesting article today. "The
death of depth: Less and less of more and more."

It so speaks to the onslaught of sound and word bytes we in advertising want to flock to for our brands. It becomes just so much oil slick on an already crowded ocean of bad advertising. We always have had bad ads. The vast majority are bad. Now an additional layer of Tweets and YouTube wannagovirals, banners and popups (which are far far more annoying to me than any insert in a magazine), junk emails, and the list goes on and on....of just too much vacuous information that crowds and clamours for a nanosecond of your attention. It is no wonder NONE of this stuff works.

I have to agree with Schwartz there is no real meat in most of the new media. It's like Chinese food, you can stuff yourself and an hour later you are starving. It leaves a bad unsatisfying feeling that there has to be something better, richer, deeper and longer lasting.

He talks of our innate inability to have a long attention span to any one thing. Well it is like anything, if it isn't there, if we have lost the connection to that part of us, we need to retrain, and reintroduce it back into our lives.

Can advertising campaigns reinvent themself into a deeper relationship with a consumer?

Maybe, after all is said and done, after the smoke finally clears from hoping the silver bullet was Tweets, email blasts, virals and all the other short shorts the real answer was right in front of us all the time: and it is that very thing....time....time to grow a brand like a tree: plant the seed, water, sun, protection from the elements, planning on long term growth as the foundation with short term bursts... constant small steps and attention and it will become a fully viable, memorable, valuable product or service entrenched in a consumers mind and buying habits.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Perfect Storm

Facebook and Greenpeace have joined forces in beginning to make a huge statement about Nestle and their use of ruining the rainforest and endangering the orangutang by close cutting to obtain palm oil. In today's Marketing the article and ad which depicts a young corporate guy taking his midday snack with a Nestle chocolate bar is a grisly reminder of what we are doing to our planet.
The worse part is that Nestle and their p.r. department have taken a strict defensive attitude about the misuse of the wordmarks, products etc. onto Facebook....big mistake.

This battle could well be a real game changer for many brands. Right now Facebook and Greenpeace have Nestle on the run. And Nestle's true colors have been shown in their comments.

I have new respect for Facebook and its power.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Children see, children do.

This spot is still so great I want to move it up to be seen again. I t is a FABULOUS not for profit idea that is timeless.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A breath of fresh air in Detroit...

Detroit is certainly suffering from a mass exodus of manufacturing and the money it used to bring. The downtown seems to have a pulse. However, driving on the interstate you still see many boarded and abandoned houses and buildings, which is eerie. Poking up through the ruin are some hardy ad agencies. I am not talking about the big boys, the old car agencies like the Leo's and the BBDO's, the Y&R's oh no, they are just as much dinosaurs as the big 3 they used to represent. I am talking about a few independent small shops.

One in particular is in Ann Arbor; Perich Advertising.

They tout a respectable client list both local and regional. Not one ad in their portfolio is shabby. Everything they do is really smart. Perich has the kind of work that as a creative person you drool and say: Wish I had done that. I like their culture, approach and attitude in all they seem to do for their clients. The work is clean, intelligent, well thought out and memorable. The writing is simple, articulate and superb. The art directing is tastefully crafted with a mature, intelligent eye. The ideas are memorable. All seems balanced and focused and dare I

That's the good news.

The bad news is their website.

It is overly done, overly cute-sy, overly difficult to navigate and just plain tries too hard for my taste. It is the opposite of their work. I hate to ever use this word, especially since the portfolio is so great, but their website is .... corny. Just trying to manoeuvre through and around the corniness of it, not to mention the difficulty in really seeing what and who they are within it, leaves a bad impression. It is so out of keeping with all else they do. Because a website is usually your first impression of an agency these days, Perich needs to seriously address this and have the site reflect them in the same tone and manner as the work they do for others. If I were a client, or prospective client landing on this site, I would cringe at the thought that a meeting with them would mean a level of shtick comparable to whoopee cushions on the boardroom chairs, bad jokes and buzzers in their palms.

Put up with the site and check them out despite it at:

Friday, March 12, 2010

I've got a headace....

Poor e-trade....being sued by Lindsay Lohan...sheesh how feeble is that. Like we really know her as just "Lyndsay" ... not. She is the sad product of being a Disney kid star who had one unremarkable remake of the Parent Trap where she plays twins. Since then, her p.r. firm has been working quadruple time always throwing something, anything in the Metro or 24Hours using the tactic that "bad publicity is better than none." She was also just recently dropped by Ungaro or one of the fashion houses in Paris...and rightfully so. Lindsay should just fold her tent and gracefully fade from whatever scenes she tries to create. No one really cares. And her twitter "friends" sadly don't realize that again it is her p.r. machine that writes this crap and is the job d jour as I have said before, for all unemployed copywriters or wannabe copywriter/texterwannabees.
It's time for some Lydia Pinkham's vegetable compound tablets for Lindsay. She might do well to be the spokesperson for them.
On an even sadder note, I am sure it never even occured to Lohan to sue because originally she was bragging on her own site about e-trade using her name. So again, she is following her lawyers bad advice by pursuing a ridiculous suit against e-trade and forgetting that what is really going on is the shameless possibility that all everyone really wants from Lohan is her money.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What makes a great ad a great ad?

Canada's Marketing mag presented six tv spots featuring their products as sponsors for the winter olympics. Readers were asked to view and vote. One was for Tim Horton's about a family immigrating to Canada. One was for Canadian Tire where a dad dresses his little boy in hockey gear for his first skate. Molson's was an anthem piece about being Canadian as was HomeDepot although HD's was toned down considerably compared to Molson's. Bombardier's ad was about their having designed the Olympic Torch. And the sixth one I can't even recall. Oh Yes, it was for Air Canada, but I don't recall the spot.

All of these ads, except one, are variations on a hackneyed theme. Yes, the music is different, yes, the cinematography is different, yes, the creative team is undoubtedly different. All of them try to be tear jerkers or make you want to place your hand over your heart, however, they are all big budgets, over art directed, written with a heavy hand and with little content. More importantly all these themes are beyond worn out. They are dated in their thinking and thus the corporations they represent. And this is important because over time and over many creative teams, the corporate spots the agencies are generating are just knockoffs of previous ideas. One could argue that it is the idea of repetition that is going on here, but surely if that is the case, all the more reason not to repeat the same scenarios. It is one thing to stick with a positioning line for a corporation, quite another to just repeat the same scenarios over and over, which sadly with one exception, all these other spots do.

Again, the one gem among them is the Bombardier spot. I mentioned this tv ad in an earlier post but it is worth mentioning again because it contains all the right stuff to me. It takes place on a windy mountainside someplace in south america where llamas are herded, candles are lit and the men still smoke. It's a fun idea about fire going out each time someone tries to light a match and how they could use an Olympic torch. The music sets the tone, the art directing and writing is perfect and the one line is delivered in Spanish, but you don't need to know the lingo to get what is being said.
In a few words; It is charming. It is memorable. It is recallable. It makes you smile and feel good. And most important of all, it has the rare distinction of being an ORIGINAL IDEA.

It's called "Keep the Flame Burning" check in out on Youtube.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sweet Spot

Bombardier has a sweet spot for its design of the Olympic Torch.

Handled by Taxi, it is simple, direct and touchingly human. I love an ad that makes you smile at the end. To me that is the ultimate connection. And the ad speaks volumes about a company without having to be boring or corporate.

Good job Taxi.

I also noticed my friend, "Little Salty" is back. This time he is a real loser, trying to hold up a jewelry store or something, not quite sure what...but obviously driven to the edge by rejection. Well as I said in an earlier post and as I now see "Little Salty" is now available as a promotional send in two boxtops kinda thing and get your own "Little Salty" to come and grace my or your we can add the salt that is missing to whoever is advertising the soup that "Little Salty" is missing from....come on in "Little Salty" make your self at home.....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

SuperBowl Sunday

SuperBowl Sunday used to be the day everyone anticipated the new ads as much as the game.
It was the one time that advertising had a chance to really shine and reach consumers in the most creative best foot forward.
Unfortunately, it has now been dampened by previews, pre-previews, pre-pre-previews and on and on so everyone has already seen the ads long ago. This year in particular there has been hype with one of the football players being a schill for family values vs. a gay dating ad that was rejected for SB on air time, supposedly because of its cheap production values. Again, controversy always sparks curiosity but in this case it has nothing to do with the advertising itself; we already know what the guy is going to talk about.

The culprits are of course UTube, Twitter and all things social. My theory is these venues because they cannot find a way to make themselves profitable yet, are doing anything and everything to find a place in the consumer psyche. Kind of like the couple that crashed the Obama dinner party, these social venues will crash and reveal everything just to be there and say they did it.

Well in my opinion, this has dampened the spirit and lessened the anticipation for the ads and has left me feeling like, I have already seen the bride before she walked down the aisle.

There is something to be said for anticipation, for not knowing what is going to be shown, for waiting. It ranks up there with shaking christmas packages, preparing for a first date, and encourages the very thing that we are losing: the MAGIC of the moment, the payoff for all the waiting and imagining what was in the box, what the date would be like, the wonder, the awe factor....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy New year

The other day I was reading a local free paper called Metro. In it there appeared an ad asking for an 'Angel'... saying it was looking for a liver donor. It went into some detail about how difficult and long the wait was for this person who needed a liver transplant within 3 months. It was an appeal for a stranger to come forward to freely offer 1/3 of their liver to save this fellow named "Rick". Something about this ad disturbed me, but I wasn't able to put my finger on it.
I showed it to several other people and all of them said it was sad and really upsetting. My feeling was different. Something about this appeal wasn't right. So of course I googled the email address that was on the ad and sure enough; it was a scam. This email address sent me to a music rapper's site. It was a bait and switch with no connection to liver donation than the man in the moon. This qualifies in my book as false advertising. I have not seen the ad since. And I am not sure if Metro got called about it but I have yet to see it run again. I have yet to see Metro run a disclaimer either. I don't know who came up with this shameless idea. I hope it wasn't anyone in the ad industry because if it was they should be shot. Accountability is really important in this arena. It is so difficult with the new media being rampantly unaccountable that a new standard or should I say, substandard, is set for everyone else to accept similar charlatanism just to maintain ad revenues. Shocking.