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A few months ago, when Facebook rolled out its newest messaging app, its users were outraged. The new iPhone and Android app required users to download it in order to continue using Facebook’s messaging service. Facebook’s users were frustrated that the social media powerhouse was making them download a second application onto their phone in order to get as many downloads as possible. It’s possible that Facebook made this switch in order to make their messaging service seem more as a day-to-day messenger, to combat the popularity of WhatsApp, GroupMe, and iMessage. Regardless of the intent, the application made most of its users angry. All of the reviews for this Facebook messenger application average around one star on the Application Store on Apple.

In the middle of this controversy, Facebook has launched a large advertising campaign, pushing their new messaging system. You can see them all around the city of Chicago, on bus stops and traditional billboard types of media. It’s interesting that in the face of all of this controversy, Facebook pushed forward in getting their message out on a mass market. Facebook usually does not resort to this kind of media, there are very few print advertisements displaying Facebook’s social networking service. This approach for Facebook is a new one, using a heavy push of traditional, print media for advertising. Especially in this situation, where their application is already facing negative backlash, it is a new approach for Facebook.

Because Facebook is already having problems with this new application, then this is probably the reason for their change in advertising. Because they are used to having a high satisfactory rates with this customers, Facebook usually does not have to deal with bad press. In a combined public relations and advertising effort, it seems as though Facebook is combating this bad press with their mandatory application through new advertising strategies. This could be the resurgence of Facebook advertisements all over the city, because they have never had to use them before now.

How Far is Too Far?

In advertising the more attention that you can generate for your brand, the better. However, how much attention is too much attention? When is this attention detrimental? This past weekend in Moscow, Russia, there were over five hundred car accidents due to a provocative truck advertisement. The truck had a large image of a female chest, covered up barely by the slogan ‘They attract’. As the police got more and more complaints about the truck causing male drivers’ distraction, they asked the truck to go off the road or either cover up the advertisement. Some driver’s crashed head-on into oncoming traffic, and many drivers made complaints that their insurance was not going to give them any coverage for the accident. It was widely covered in Russia and gained bad publicity quickly, versus humorous coverage of an amusing advertisement. The advertising group behind the ad came out and made a statement, saying that they would offer some compensation to the drivers’ who were not covered by their insurance.

But how much is too much? At what point is advertising too distracting? The whole premise of billboards is distraction – if you are looking at a billboard, then you aren’t looking at the road. Ironically enough, another American billboard in 2013 was taken down by causing too many distractions while advertising for drivers’ to pay more attention to the road. Advertising has been the topic of hot discussion in recent years, claiming that subliminal messaging plays too strong of a role in advertising and that some messages are indeed too risky and too provocative. This past weekend in Russia, this was brought to a point.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 1.20.22 PMThe advertisement can be labeled as both distracting and sexist. It didn’t even last a full day on the road. So how far is too far? Is this advertisement a light-hearted joke? Or is it more offensive on deeper levels? Regardless of what your opinion is, there are enough insurance claims in Moscow right now to prove that something went wrong with this advertisement.

Facebook Fights the Ad Battle

Facebook has come under controversy by some of its users recently, for a variety of reasons. Millions of people use Facebook, and with the amount of personal data published online, it is a gold mine for potential advertisers. But its users get more frustrated the more advertisements they see, especially when they discovered that Facebook sometimes sells their information to third parties for advertisements. So when Facebook announced that it was going to be coming out with a new advertising program, its users paid attention. The Wall Street Journal originally came out with the information, and technological bloggers have been paying attention since the headline.

Atlas is the name of the new advertising program for Facebook, and it allows for advertisers to put their advertisements on Facebook more easily. It allows them to bid for space, pick and choose where they want their advertisements, and track the amount of engagement they are getting with their advertisements. The most important feature is the new tracking feature, that allows marketers and advertisers to see better information on how well their ads are doing on Facebook. This could be a double edged sword – while it attracts advertisers so they can see how good they are doing on Facebook, if they get poor performing data, then they may choose to leave Facebook as a medium.

Facebook advertisements bother its users, and as a result they tend to ignore the ads. When was the last time that you clicked on a banner ad on Facebook? Odds are, it wasn’t recently. We ignore the clutter on our news feeds, and scroll simply down the central column of the page to see our friend’s updates. As advertisers are now going to have a better idea of their engagement on Facebook, if they are not able to get the results they want, they might pull out. While Facebook isn’t going broke anytime soon, it could be a new chapter in advertising and social media.

OMG! David Beckham

In an age where we are over crowded with digital and print advertisements, it’s no secret that advertisers are constantly struggling to find the best way to get your attention. Our attention spans are shorter than ever, thanks to the Internet, and every advertiser wants a piece of your coveted focus. So what’s the best way to do that? With a celebrity, of course. Celebrity advertising campaigns have been some of the most successful advertising campaigns on the market. The infamous ‘Got Milk’ campaign, that defined advertising in the 1990s and early 200s, featured nothing but celebrities getting photographed drinking milk. Every tween in 2002 wanted a glass of milk when Britney Spears was drinking it.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 1.35.36 PM So what goes into making a celebrity advertising campaign? Picking a random popular celebrity isn’t going to make you millions of dollars. There have been plenty of failed endorsements, as well. Doublemint Gum dropped musician Chris Brown after he abused girlfriend Rhianna, and Lance Armstrong was stripped of his endorsements following the court ruling on his steroid usage. The perfect celebrity for a campaign is going to be admired by the advertising’s demographic. If you are selling women’s perfume, you are going to hire a young celebrity starlet, not an NFL quarterback. Picking the right celebrity is the biggest key point for an advertisement, as the wrong celebrity sends an entirely different message.

While advertisers try to stay as relevant as possible with their young markets, celebrities are the best way to do this. Celebrities, regardless of the industry, have reached a level of all-time popularity. They are revered almost as untouchable god-like figures in some cases, especially among the popular teenage market. Justin Bieber can make a fourteen year old buy three hundred dollars of his merchandise by smiling. These endorsements work out well for the celebrity, too. One of the most successful celebrity endorsers, David Beckham, signed a lifetime, $150 million deal with Adidas. With all of his endorsements combined, its alleged that Beckham makes $50,000 per day.

With celebrity obsession at an all-time high and our attention spans are at an all-time low, celebrity endorsed advertisements are all over advertising’s future. Celebrities’ are all getting on board. While movie ticket sales may go down, they can make big money doing endorsements. Keep a look out in magazines and advertisements, as the transition from movie star to advertisement mogul may be a fast one.

EW! The Scare Factor in Advertising

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2014 Buick Advertisement

Health companies have long relied on the scare factor in advertising, hoping that grave warnings and overly gruesome images will keep us from engaging in reckless behavior. (See anti-tobacco ads that feature individuals who have lost their teeth, their gums, need a respirator, etc). But these advertisements often have the adverse effect. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with gruesome images, at some point they begin to lose their effectiveness. The scare factor in advertising is no longer just a scary image. It has evolved to include the element of surprise, and to reflect a minimalistic design. One of the award winning advertising campaigns at Cannes this past year was designed for General Motors and Buick in Asia.


The advertising campaign consisted of several landscape shots, usually of vacant city streets, and an individual holding up a street sign. Upon first glance, there is nothing remarkable about them. But if you look for five seconds, you quickly realize that these average citizens are handicapped in some grotesque way – and holding the very street sign that an offender disregarded that resulted in their injuries. A woman, who has lost an arm, holds a speed limit sign. The tagline reads, “The signs are there for a reason.” Even the aforementioned anti-smoking advertisements I mentioned are changing. The current campaign running for anti-smoking includes a quiet monologue being read by again, what seems to be an average citizen. Until they have a quiet pause and reveal something about them – they have had throat surgery, have dentures, or were hiding a malady off screen.


These advertisements have been following this new trend – using the scare factor combined with the element of surprise. Because we have unfortunately grown numb to images of war and those of grotesque ailments, the ‘scare factor’ alone is not affective. Both of these two campaigns look ‘normal’ upon first glance, potentially what makes it so terrifying when we realize that something is not what it seems. It makes these two occurrences, tobacco related illness and reckless driving, seem as though it can happen to us. Because, those two average citizens had it happen to them! The scare factor has evolved, in advertising, to make these frightening occurrences even more shocking. They aim to frighten us through their normality, not their abnormality. Without a doubt the result of heavy market research, the scare campaign has changed to use quiet, psychological warfare – the boogieman is out of a job.