Brands Aren’t Teenage Girls

Selfie is now a word most often heard out of the mouths of marketing execs, the ones who call youth marketing agencies and say, “Let’s do something with selfies!” “I hear that all the time,” says Gregg Witt, chief engagement officer of Immersive Youth Marketing. “They’re either a full poseur or someone who wants to fit in. Man, it’s like 50 days late and a million dollars short to say that.” As the selfie makes its final duck face, let’s consider this last chapter of its legacy: Trend chasing in the Internet era is desperate and lazy. And bad for business.

I guess narcissism is only acceptable when attractive girls do it?

Nobody likes you, Erin

Well, maybe some people do. Probably too much.

Early Esurance commercials were animated featuring a pink-haired female spy named Erin Esurance, who posed as an auto-insurance agent. The goal was to juxtapose a widely disliked business, insurance, with a popular superhero archetype. In her first three years, the character was used in over 30 commercials. The character was also used on an episode of Who Wants to be a Superhero?. Esurance stopped prominently using the character in its advertising in June 2010 because the character was unpopular in surveys compared to the average for other corporate mascots such as Microsoft’s Clippy, with the exception of her top score in the “sexiness” category. Despite the unpopularity, in an example of Rule 34, pornographic fan art of the character—”some with a remarkable degree of verisimilitude to the real thing”, according to CBS News—appeared frequently in results for Internet searches of “Erin Esurance”, also likely contributing to the decision.

Good news everyone! Smoking is cool again!

On the Mad Men / Lucky Strike cigarette connection:

While Lucky Strike-branded cigarettes dominate Mad Men’s fictional universe, it’s possible that Mad Men dominates Lucky strike’s brand in the real world. The cigarette industry has historically traded on one of the most ethereal concepts known to man: “coolness”. But since the mid-2000s, this feeling (as well as any other) has been firmly outside the reach of the brands themselves. Not only are the majority of cigarette cartons overwhelmed by health advisories, tobacco marketing and advertising is prohibited in more than 175 countries, including the entire European Union and United States. In Mad Men, BAT had a show that epitomized “cool” masculinity and virility and positioned cigarettes as an anytime activity – all without running afoul of a single regulation or ban. This isn’t to say that Mad Men overcame tobacco or cancer stigmas, but it likely helped Lucky Strike become their cigarette of choice among new and high potential smokers. Demographic data seems to conform to this hypothesis: BAT boasts that over 60% of Lucky Strike customers are under 30, suggesting the majority of the brand’s recent growth has come from new smokers.

Facebook Ad Targeting About To Get More Specific

This Mailchimp post talks about their latest feature: advertising to your mailing list subscribers directly on Facebook. Facebook will soon let you create advertising campaigns targeting specific people by email address. So if you have an email list, you can have a campaign where you send an email, create a Facebook ad, and generally make it so that your subscribers will see your message multiple times.

As a marketer, this is pretty cool and useful. As a regular person who uses Facebook, I feel like pulling out my teeth and living off the grid.

“Groceries Become a Guy Thing”

On how food marketers are now targeting dudes. In short, how do we get guys to buy things that have been marketed for the past 100 years to appeal to housewives?

In a June survey of 900 meat-eating men ages 18 to 64, 47% were deemed “manfluencers” by Midan Marketing LLC, a Chicago market research group focused on the meat industry. Manfluencers are responsible for at least half of the grocery shopping and meal preparation for their households.

“Manfluencer”? cringe.

I Look At Ads: Christian Mingle


INT: Offices of Christian Mingle. Meeting room. Executives are in the middle of prayer

Exec 1: And Lord, please bless the offices of Christian Mingle and this strategy meeting, for us to better spread your love and your word. Amen.
All: Amen.
Exec 1: Brothers in Christ, allow me to introduce this new face at our table. This is brother Gregory.
All: (Nice to meet you, Gregory / Hi Gregory / Such a pleasure to have you here, Gregory)
Gregory: Uh, yeah – hi everyone. Please just call me Greg.
Exec 2: We are blessed to have brother Gregory join us at Christian Mingle. Gregory comes to us from Zynga, the Sodom and Gomorrah of Internet companies.
Gregory: Yeah, I guess you could say I was lost, but now I’m found, right?

Greg nervously laughs

Exec 3: Yes Gregory, and we at Christian Mingle are fortunate to have found you.
Exec 2: We can’t wait to hear your ideas about how to increase new registrations this quarter.
Exec 1: We believe that to best spread the message of Christ there is no better alternative than…what shall we call it? …hmm. “Cultural Eugenics.”
Gregory: Yeah, ok. Well, why don’t we start by talking about why registration rates have been on a steady decline?
Exec 1: Of course, Gregory. This has been a conundrum for some time. Every night I pray, hoping that our Lord may help me find an answer to this question. But alas, he has provided me no insight.
Exec 2: It is as if our lord has forsaken us.
Exec 3 (angered): NO! Did he forsake Daniel in the lion’s den? Did he forsake Abraham? Did he forsake Noah?
Greg: …I don’t really know. I’m not reli—
Exec 1: Even bible scholars debate these questions today. I believe we have not been forsaken, for we now have the insight of brother Gregory.
Greg: Like I said before, “Greg” is fine—
Exec 3: Brother Gregory, what new perspectives do you bring?
Greg: Well, over the weekend I reviewed Christian Mingle’s branding and other outreach methods.
Exec 2: I suspect you found them all top-notch. We baptized the laptop we created the landing pages on.
Exec 1: But that broke it, so we had to dip into our venture funding and buy a new laptop.
Exec 3: Yes, the cleansing waters of God’s love are too strong for electronics, particularly ones involved with the sinful viewing of pornographic material.
Exec 2: I confessed my sin!
Greg: Gentlemen, have you ever thought of what makes a good dating site? Where did you meet your wives?
Exec 1: Well, CHURCH of course! The church raffle fundraiser.
Exec 3: As a priest I am not allowed to have relations with a woman. I think of this sacrifice every day of my life.
Exec 2: I am not married, but my born-again girlfriend and I have been engaged for seven years. She has been through a lot. Crack addiction, prostitution. But God’s everlasting love brought us together.
Exec 1: Indeed. This is blessed news.
Exec 2: Well, it has not been perfect. I wonder if God is testing me. We sometimes argue about why she pushes our marriage so far into the future, or why she only visits when she needs money. Honestly, I look forward to losing my virginity to her on our wedding night…But lust is a sin and the flesh can wait. I’ve been waiting seven years. I can wait seven more.

Greg opens his briefcase and removes some printouts, placing them on the conference table

Greg: Gentleme—BROTHERS! Have you ever looked at the banner ads we run?
Exec 1: Of course. We designed them ourselves.
Greg: I suggest we redesign them. I believe they are entirely inappropriate for a dating site.
Exec 3: But this is a CHRISTIAN dating site!
Exec 2: What better way to let people know that than with our current banner ads featuring imagery of Jesus on the cross?!
Greg: I don’t think that’s the right message to send. Not for a dating site.
Exec 1: Well, we do! Right off the bat! BOOM! Christian imagery. Christ on the cross.
Exec 3: And right underneath, copy that reads, “He died for your sins.”
Exec 2: Yeah. That tells people, “Click this for Jesus. He died for your sins, but he loves you and wants you to be happy with other Christians.”
Exec 3: But strictly for procreation!
Exec 1: Flirting isn’t a sin.
Greg: I think we need to do something different…we need to make the ads…sexier. Maybe feature some of our female members.
Exec 2: But then people will think—people will think this is a HOOKUP site! We may as well change the name of the company!
Exec 1: Our mission is to unite people in the pursuit of making more Christians.
Exec 2: Ok – COMPROMISE. We remove the image of Christ, but maybe we put up an image of some hooded monks or something.
Exec 3: That CHANT album from 20 years ago did that and they sold boatloads!
Exec 1: What about if we make the ad about the end result? Beautiful Christian children! We can put little halos atop their heads so people will know they’re Christians!
Greg: If we put up some female imagery we can attract some male clientele.
Exec 1: But then how will we know they’re Christians?
Greg: Simple. We ask them…right in the profile. And if they say they’re muslim, agnostic, or jewish or something else—
Exec 2: Like PAGAN?! Or WICCAN?
Greg: Especially Wiccan – then we simply don’t allow the registration process to continue.

Silence as the team thinks this through

Exec 1: …you know, this could work. Maybe a little message comes up saying, “Christ loves you, but not this much. Come back when you’re a Christian.
Exec 3: And then we cookie their computer, block it, and excommunicate them.
Greg: Yeah, okay, sure. But the main thing is we need to put up some sexy Christian women on the advertising…sexy, but tasteful. And we target men on Facebook.
Exec 1: And on the landing page we ask two questions. #1 – “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” And #2 – “Would you like to meet some Christian chicks?”

Exec 2 raises his hand

Exec 2: …what is the Church’s position on someone in a committed relationship signing up for the service?

How It Feels To Watch Mad Men Total Your Car Company

Speaking of Jaguar, here’s their PR guy talking about Mad Men last year on Jalopnik.

We are thrilled when Jaguar storyline re-enters the show when Pete informs colleagues that their agency is back in the running for their elusive car account, Jaguar. We try to pretend didn’t hear shots taken at Jaguar’s reliability in the 1960s.

He doesn’t directly address the dealer from Mad Men…let’s just chalk it up to the kinds of people involved in stealerships.

NY Safe Act / Stand and Fight

The governor was in the area recently and I saw protestors objecting to the NY Safe Act, a gun control act that was signed into law earlier this year after Sandy Hook.

Protesters had signs like this:


“Stand and Fight” messages don’t sit well when they’re coming from the NRA because they sound somewhat threatening in the same way those posters with crosshairs did.

In the meantime, the most persuasive criticism of New York’s SAFE Act comes from the Wikipedia page that clearly lists out the objections that protesters have a hard time conveying with street signs and banners. The objection, as I understand it, is that it’s legislation that was rushed through that didn’t consider other enforcement officers or the other repercussions it would have on the population and mentally ill, and would restrict lawful gun owners.

That’s hard to put on a sign.

The Price of Wine

Blind taste tests show most people can’t tell the difference between $10 and $100 bottles of wine. ~$10 bottles are sold based upon production and distribution costs. Get into the more expensive territory and it’s all about trying to get people to believe they are part of a very exclusive club that can not only taste the difference, but also afford it.

It’s very similar to the diamond trade and audiophile equipment.

Choice quote:

Owner Frank Franzia doesn’t bother with notions of terroir. All the wine is blended together, regardless of its origin. As of 2003, Bronco processed 300,000 tons of grapes to make 20 million cases of wine, of which a quarter are Charles Shaw wines. Asked how he sells wine for the same price as a bottle of water, Franzia responded, “They’re overcharging for the water. Don’t you get it?”

Related – I buy Yellow Tail all the time.

Facebook Home ads show Facebook at its worst

Facebook Home™ – Because most people would rather be someplace else right now.

Josh Elman:

…when I saw the actual ads for Facebook Home, I was appalled. The “Dinner” and “Launch Day” ads show Facebook at its worst. Rather than enjoying a family dinner, or Zuck talking to celebrate the team, we see people tuning out and being as distracted and un-present as possible. Ignoring your family to watch drumming at dinner seems fairly rude. A few minutes to celebrate a launch with your favorite CEO should be especially fun for a team rather than something to avoid and watch your friends’ videos. (Also why put the CEO in a commercial if you are going to make him look boring and let him drone on?) These distractions end up completely taking over the scene, which just doesn’t seem like the image Facebook would want.

The Facebook Home Commercial Isn’t That Bad, But It’s Not Facebook

I don’t think it’s as bad as people are saying it is.


The Facebook not-a-phone is targeted at people for whom Facebook is the primary purpose of the internet. If you’re one of those people, chances are you’re already okay with Facebook getting all up in your information in exchange for socially sorted communications and connections, I don’t know how this commercial helps make you feel good about giving them that level of trust. If you’re scared of Facebook and don’t want their tentacles anywhere near your life or loved ones, I don’t know how this commercial helps move you from that opinion.


This is not for the tech crowd. This is for normals. Watch how people use their phones. Any time there’s a lull in conversation, or a dull moment waiting in line for something, people pull out their phones. I do it all the time, although I try not to do it when with other people, because it annoys me when I’m with someone and they pull out their phones. When you take your phone out you are telling the world “I would rather be with my phone, and the people on my phone, than with you right now.” Even if just for a moment. It’s a bad feeling to be on the other end of that.

This commercial is about bringing your friends, family, and favorite corporate brands1 with you wherever you go, even if it’s inappropriate to do so.

Facebook Home brings us one step closer to that.2

The commercial is odd to me and you, perhaps, because our news feeds are filled with junk. Our news feeds aren’t at all like what we see in the commercial. Is that really a surprise? We’ve known for decades that fast food hamburgers always look better in the commercial than they do from the drive through. When I watch this commercial a part of me thinks, “I wish my Facebook was more like the one in this commercial” in the same way I might think “I wish my Whopper was more like than one in the commercial.”

Maybe we have the wrong friends. Maybe we need some of the friends that are in this commercial—the stock photo friends.

The Facebook in this commercial is not what Facebook really is. A lot of Facebook is “I need to let everyone know that I’m socially accepted and have value.” If this commercial represented Facebook in real-life the guy would be checking-in at the airport and hinting at how important he is that his company is sending him to a corporate meeting, or that he’s so caring because he’s going home to visit his family for Thanksgiving.

If there’s a criticism to be had here it’s that Facebook is selling itself as something that it really isn’t to a lot of people. The commercial isn’t representative of the real Facebook, because Facebook isn’t about “us” – it’s about “me.” It’s about me and this plate of sushi that was just served. It’s about me and this dumb joke I just made that should have gotten way more likes than it did. It’s about me and this party I’m going to go to Saturday night, and how I must be someone people like because I was even invited in the first place. Maybe that says way more about us than it does about Facebook.

  1. Gots to make money somehow. 

  2. Although I question how many Android users who fit into this target will be comfortable installing this on their phone – I don’t mean ethically, I mean comfortable going to Google Play and installing an app. 

Myth No. 53

Adobe Marketing Cloud ad

INT – Adobe marketing offices

Adobe exec 1: I love it! Gotta say, I love this new ad!
Adobe exec 2: Yeah – we named this one “Myth 53” – I wonder if people will try to find the other 52.
Adobe exec 1: Probably not, but it doesn’t matter, does it? It really GRABS you – ya know?
Adobe exec 2: You mean that headline?
Adobe exec 1: RIGHT! I mean, right above the fold – “YOU CAN’T TRUST MARKETERS!” Makes you stop and read it.
Adobe exec 2: Yeah, because it’s rooted in truth, right? People come to that page, read that headline and think, “FINALLY! A company that ACKNOWLEDGES that marketers are completely full of shit! It’s about time. I wanna do business with them!”
Adobe exec 1: Exactly! But then we say you CAN trust marketers!
Adobe exec 2: …but, I just thought we said we can’t.
Adobe exec 1: …uh, well—YOU CAN NOW is what I’m saying. Because of…er
Adobe exec 2: Metrics?
Adobe exec 1: Yeah – that stuff!
Adobe exec 2: So, when someone goes, “hey, did that ad work?” and then the marketing person says “No, it didn’t, and here’s how we know!” they’ll be pointing to the Adobe Marketing Cloud?
Adobe exec 1: Yuppers!
Adobe exec 2: …how are we measuring this ad?
Adobe exec 1: Whaddaya mean?
Adobe exec 2: Well, we want to prove the ad works, but there’s no special offer code or any sort of landing page for this ad. Just a twitter handle.
Adobe exec 1: Well, that’s easy – we just measure the increase in followers to that twitter handle!
Adobe exec 2: But how do we know THIS ad did that?
Adobe exec 1: Because…the – cloud. The cloud does it. Somehow.
Adobe exec 2: How?
Adobe exec 1: It just does.
Adobe exec 2: This isn’t the only ad we ran, is it?
Adobe exec 1: I don’t know – I’m not in marketing.