Homosexuality and Advertising

 

A couple of weeks ago, my group presented our advertising leadership project on the use of love stories in advertising. We covered conventional love between two people, animal love, family love, et cetera. One type of love story that has appeared in advertisements recently is gay love. The Tiffany advertisement we presented the other day showed a product which will be used mostly by the gay community. It was a great ad. Not only was the advertisement elegantly produced, but it also made us feel something. The following Canadian advertisement for Cheerios tells a touching story about two gay men and the daughter they adopted together.

Gay marriage is a hot topic in both America and Canada. While many believe that everyone should have the right to marry, some believe that the marriage of same sex couples is wrong. Oftentimes, those against gay marriage say that it ruins the meaning of family. This advertisement for cheerios seems to show the exact opposite, a growing family. General Mills, the company that owns Cheerios brand, appears to be taking a stance in favor of gay marriage with this advertisement. The Tiffany ad is different from the Cheerios advertisement because it sells a product for gay men to gay men whereas the Cheerios ad sells a traditional family product to a non-traditional family. Do you think that it is a smart move for General Mills to take a side in the gay marriage debate? Was it wise for them to choose the pro gay marriage side? What types of consequences do you think this decision will have for the company?

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Product Placement in Music Videos

Has anyone ever noticed how some music videos seem more like commercials? For example, in Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire” music video, he spends half the time in a Mini Cooper and the other half riding a Vespa. The video features Bruno Mars who rides in the Mini Cooper with Travie while they sing and smile driving down a sunny California highway with the top down. Later Travie gives this vehicle to a delighted stranger who is seen throughout the video wearing a Dakine backpack while searching for a ride. Another example is Ke$ha’s music video for “We R Who We R”. The music video includes various shots of Ke$ha and her glamourous friends drinking from a distinct blue bottle of Revolucion tequila. The video also features a shot of Ke$ha’s pink and black Baby-G watch (I do not know about you but I do not think I have worn a Baby-G watch since about the third grade). The most obvious promotion in the music video was for a dating website called PlentyofFish.com, the video shows Ke$ha scrolling though profiles of potentials in multiple shots which the web address prominently displayed at the top.

Another way that artists promote products is to include them in the very lyrics of the song. Many rap artists include Patron tequila in their songs. Is this because Patron is an easy word to rhyme or are the rappers actually endorsing the product? Some artists actually have the name of the product in the chorus! For example, Patron is featured in the chorus of “My Drink n’ My 2 Step” by American hip hop artist Cassidy. Hip hop singer and rapper Lil Mama clearly promotes MAC and L’Oreal cosmetics in her song (and music video) “Lip Gloss”.

Personally, I think some of these product placements are tasteless and tacky. It is very obvious to me that the artist is trying to sell something to the viewers and I find it to be annoying. I understand that the artists needs to raise money to create these music videos and it would be okay if artists could be more subtle with the promotion. I would even compromise and say that Katy Perry’s endorsement of the Nokia phone in her music video for the song “Roar” was tolerable. Product placement just tends to get out of hand and ruin the potential for the musician to create an interesting artistic music video. An example of product endorsement going too far is Lady GaGa’s nine-minute music video for her song “Telephone” featuring Beyoncé. In the comments below try to name all the products featured in the music video.

Shot in the dark

There’s a war raging right now and it’s fought with words and logic. The irony of it all is that while this war is being fought with words and logic, it’s about guns and ammo. Gun control or no gun control is a largely heated debate which has kicked up even more with more journalist reporting and social media being on top of so many different aspects of society today. The nation is truly divided and usually this rift comes between people who live in metropolitan areas versus people in more rural areas. Those in a metropolitan area are subject to more violent crimes because of disparity and class division whereas those in rural areas aren’t subjected to this as much and/or have more open areas with which to exercise their use, knowledge, and safety of guns.

A new advertisement is focusing on gun safety while using the 2nd amendment as a focus. For those who may have forgotten, the 2nd amendment is about the “Right to bear arms”. The ad shows the Founding Fathers discussing the Bill of Rights. One thinks the 2nd amendment is too long and doesn’t like addition of “…as long as people aren’t being dumbasses about it” (Evolve, Evolve – The Bill of Rights for Dumbasses).

 

The ad has “brought a few chuckles” which is a good first step toward opening conversation to such a sensitive subject in America (Barr, 2014). Of course, while intentions may be to bring about awareness, almost everything tends to turn political and head south quickly (just go to any article’s comment section for proof).

Advertisements which utilize humor are common, but with gun safety being a hot button issue, this could resonate badly and further divide the country even more. Having grown up in an area of the country where guns can be common, I understand gun safety and find that it’s very rarely violated except by “dumbasses”. I did notice that it tried to appeal mostly to people with a logical point of view, hence the iteration of calling people who exercise poor to no gun safety, dumbasses.

I thought the ad was humorous and showcased some basic gun safety points, but I think it needs to go further in explaining where people should look for gun safety classes in their area. Perhaps tell them to check out a local firing range, their local NRA chapter, or even any local areas which put on gun safety courses. While I enjoyed the ad and understood where it’s coming from and what it’s trying to promote, some people say it’s cavalier for so serious a subject (Barr, 2014).

After viewing the advertisement, what does everyone else think? Is the advertisement on point and make sense? Does the advertisement create more polar opposites? Is it effective? Sound off in the comments below and let me know how it makes you feel.

References

Barr, A. (Writer) (2014). In Advertisement uses humor to talk about gun safety. Kansas City: KCTV 5 News. Retrieved from http://www.kctv5.com/story/24794821/advertisement-uses-humor-to-talk-about-gun-safety

Evolve. (Producer). (2014, February 13). Evolve – The Bill of Rights for Dumbasses [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/6yeF-qNp8Ns

Bitstrip: A New Way of Personal Storytelling

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The latest trend to sweep Facebook is a new and innovative way for consumers to share their personal stories with friends. Avatar culture has been elevated to a new level: cartoon depictions of your life. Bitstrip is a new cartoon generator on Facebook that allows consumers to create personalized cartoon strips with tailored captions, scenes, and by including friends (Elfring, Comicvine). Bitstrip users can create an avatar that represents them as well as avatars to represent their friends. These cartoons are easily shared on Facebook and depict various storylines from the lives of Bitstrip users (Kurwa, NPR). For example, I will share a personal Bitstrip of mine.

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As seen in the picture above, Bitstrips are completely customizable. Users can search a library of 1,000+ cartoons and customize them. One’s avatar is used. The avatars can be specifically tailored to look like the users. One can change everything from eye color to nose shape to clothing choice (Donna Hamer, Bitstrip Tutorial). The cartoon avatars can later be manipulated into different positions and customized text can be added as a thought bubble or as a caption (Elfring, Comicvine).

Above one can see an example of a Bitstrip with a friend. Taylor-Anne is a cat aficionado in the real world. She genuinely thinks that her friend, Deena, would be a great companion if she were a cat! She is able to share this interest with her Facebook friends by creating a comedic cartoon featuring her friend, Deena. This is a way of engaging the Bitstrip population and creating a story as a way of conveying friendship and a sense of humor. Similarly to storytelling in advertisements, Taylor is using a vehicle to create her own story.

Although Bitstrip was created in January of 2013, it is now becoming popular (De Hoyos, News92fm). Servers were not able to support the mass amount of new users for a few days, with over 5 million hits on Facebook alone. After introducing the mobile app, the app experienced crashes from such high volume visits.

What does this mean to Bitstrip users and how does this relate to Advertising? Bitstrip users offer a new, unique niche to tap into for consumers. This cartoon generator offers a new and exciting way for social network users to share their life stories with their friends. Similar to brand storytelling, consumers can use their personal avatars to express their moods and expand their experiences by including their friends. Because these cartoons are easily accessible to see on social media sites, they are spreading at a viral rate.

Bitstrips offer a unique way for consumers to participate in storytelling. In a way, they are advertising themselves to their friends by adding a multi-dimensional element tot their social network page. With statuses becoming more and more mundane, Bitstrips offer a more interesting platform for personal storytelling. While this application is merely a way for consumers to share their own personal stories, marketers and advertising companies could find a way to sponsor cartoon strip pictures. Because Bitstrips is a method of personal storytelling, advertisers could use this to their advantage by inserting products or services into the already customized cartoon strips. For example, a subtle product placement or the promotion of a certain brand in a cartoon would be an excellent way for an advertising company to reach their audience. Furthermore, an entire network of Facebook users, if shared, would view these cartoon strips. This would both increase brand exposure as well as awareness. This would allow the advertisements to seem natural and would introduce a new platform for reaching users. Because more and more people have become averse to reading traditional forms of advertisement on Facebook, Bitstrip cartoons that are funny yet promoting a product would be shared and enjoyed by social network fans worldwide.

Below is a link to a YouTube tutorial on how to create a Bitstrip. What story will you tell?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeYWS7WsSek

PEPSI AD FAIL

PEPSI

 

 

Before reading what the blog post wrote about this ad, I saw it and was really confused and shocked that Pepsi would place this ad so largely for the public to see. The photo was publicized on Monday and is an Ad for Pepsi’s partnership with the popular clothing company from Japan, Bathing Ape. The line is called AAPE, but as seen on the ad it reads as “rape.”

When asked the Huffington Post reached out to Pepsi to ask about their interesting font choice, the spokesperson verified that the advertisement ran in Hong Kong. He wrote, “we regret any misunderstanding caused by the font used and we apologize to anyone who was offended. We will not use this design in the future.”

Although the banner was only placed in Japan, it still portrays Pepsi in a very negative light, because people traveling can understand English and misinterpret the four-letter word. I am familiar with the Bathing Ape brand and have always respected the quality and detail to their products. Whether it was Pepsi or Bathing Ape’s idea for the font style, I think that it was extremely poor taste in whoever decided that the font was the best option.

This is a great example of how bad the outcomes can be if you are careless with advertising. Anything as simple as font choice can change a good ad into a horrible misinterpretation. I think that other than the font, the ad is a great image: it has a simple color combination and clearly shows the icon for Pepsi, as well as the monkey icon for Bathing Ape. Also, the can is clearly portrayed in the image with the design of the iconic AAPE pattern. However, no one will remember these little details when they pass by, because they will all be too distracted with the big and bold word that looks like “rape.” Since the ad is running in Japan and everyone in the country is familiar with the brand Bathing Ape, maybe they will be able to decipher the true meaning of the word. However, I know that many Americans have never heard of the brand. Because of this, they will see what word they do know that pops up into their head, which is rape.

Not only does this make Pepsi look bad, it also gives people a bad first impression of the Japanese clothing brand. A Bathing Ape has always been a trendsetter in the hottest and best quality fashion, but when people see that they are a part of this horrible advertisement, they might be forever traumatized and never shop there again.

Apple Lives On *UPDATED

On September 10, 2013 Apple will host its highly anticipated annual release event in Cupertino, California. Here they will introduce new products into the market. This years speculations are that two new iPhones will be introduced. The first being the iPhone 5C which according to leaked images and rumors will be offered in a variety of colors as well as be built with plastic materials which will lower the price. The second iPhone, which is expected to be called the iPhone 5S, will feature a faster processor, better camera, and fingerprint sensor for the home button. The iPhone 5S is also rumored to be available in a gold color. Third rumor for the apple event is the release of a possible new Apple TV. The much-anticipated iOS7 is also expected to finally make its appearance to the public.  

With all this new technology expected to be released, Apple has done its usual secretive yet suggestive advertising, which spawns the many rumors behind the event. Apple events are always some of the most highly anticipated and covered technological events. This means Apple receives a lot of advertising whether it is intentional or not. For example, many technology websites have been continually writing about the possible releases which in turn sends users to the Apple website to research more. Thus, the coverage Apple receives whether it is negative or positive generates a steady stream of talk and advertisement for the company.

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One of the more creative ways Apple has advertised their event on September 10th is by releasing an image of the Apple logo in front of what appears to be bubbles in all sorts of colors, with the caption reading “This should brighten everyone’s day.” Simple yet elegant advertisements like these rile up Apple fanatics because it implies that something is to be released that will surely satisfy those waiting.  Yet, because the advertisement does not have any specifics as to what exactly will brighten up consumer’s days, Apple consumers become more eager to purchase or at least watch the event. 

In the past, Apple ads have always included simple, sentimental teasers that give the illusion that the product is a one of a kind that cannot be competed with. Even though Apple ads tend to be simple, they are all meant to sell the consumer a product.  Colors, music, captions, and logos all play a part in attracting the consumer into paying closer attention to the ad and falling in “love” with the product. For example, a recent T.V. ad for apple shows a variety of different people of all ages and ethnicities, doing everyday things all while a simple tune is played in the background and ending with the narrator of the commercial stating that the “signature” of Apple is everything. Ads like these tend to hit an emotional side for the consumer; the commercials goal is to relate to the consumer in every way. In this commercial, it almost feels as though everyone with an Apple product is a family, everyone is connected in some sort of way. With Ads like these, Apple has created a loyal fan base that remains true to their preferred company.

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http://youtu.be/Zr1s_B0zqX0

 

 

References

Stern, J. (03, September 13). iphone 5s and 5c? apple event scheduled for sept. 10. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/apple-iphone-5s-5c-event-set-september-10/story?id=20140770

 

Guglielmo, C. (03, September 13). Apple to host special event sept. 10 with invite hinting at colorful new iphones. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/connieguglielmo/2013/09/03/apple-to-host-special-event-sept-10-with-invite-hinting-at-colorful-new-iphones/