Olympic Advertising May Be a Cause for Concern

Well the past few weeks have been a picnic for advertisers due to the Grammys, the Super Bowl, and now the Winter Olympics in Sochi. While many advertisers have brought out the big guns as far as advertising content, there has also been a fair share of controversy among companies that embrace diversity like Coca-Cola’s “America is Beautiful” campaign or Chevrolet’s “The New Us” campaign.

These advertisements have been met with both high praise and extreme criticism by some Americans. Although racial tension is involved in the controversy, the hot button issue for Sochi is homosexuality. This year’s Winter Olympics seems super charged between advertisers and viewers alike due to the sensitive condition of Russia socially and politically. With the law in Russia banning “homosexual propaganda”, friction between activists all around the world could be a threat to Olympic revelries. As this advertising season in the United States has become an indication that social change is occurring in favor of the LGBT community, the policies in Russia have not followed suit. Due to cultural ideological differences, it makes sense that certain views don’t align amongst countries. But the polarizing effect of the issue could be a source of conflict in the coming days. Advertisers are concerned about these differences, but feel confident that the nature of the Olympics will be enough to prevent any major negativity towards the Olympics. The event is made to bring people together and the strong emotions surrounding the events will not affect Olympic ratings. It is the hope of many advertisers that controversial topics do not seep into the public’s mind and lead them away from tuning in to the Olympics and wasting tons of money on exclusive rights and time slots. Maybe the world can set aside social issues for a few weeks, but this makes me wonder if companies showing these ads are like a raspberry in the face of Sochi. The advertising ideas do appeal to a lot of Americans in a positive way, but how does Russia feel about being connected to ads that they would most likely find inappropriate for viewing by their citizens? While this is far from a huge international crisis, I find it interesting that the United States is on the horizon of accepting diversity while Russia seems to act rather the opposite.


Stuart, E. (2014, February 6). Fingers crossed, marketers count on olympic gold. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/07/business/media/fingers-crossed-marketers-count-on-olympic-gold.html?_r=0

How much is too much?

For the 2014 Super Bowl, Butterfinger released a particularly suggestive teaser for their ad (see above) that compared the combination of various candy and food flavors to the experience of being in couples therapy. It features a couple, as chocolate and peanut butter, waiting in the waiting room of “Edible Couples Therapy”. It features suggestive imaging in terms of the couples and especially the couple of Crackers and Cheese. This brings up the question of how far is too far in terms of advertising? Although the message of the commercial is clear, is it worth the backlash that the company could potentially receive? 

I leads one to explore the boundaries of advertising and wonder if a suggestive of sex appeal can lead to a higher frequency of views – and, if these views are worth the potential detrimental effect the ad could have on the company’s reputation. In terms of this commercial, I believe the limit was pushed too far. Butterfinger is a company that has been active for many years and cultivates a generally family friendly reputation based simply on the product it sells. Candy bars appeal to a wide audience and includes children and adults. However, this commercial is specifically tailored to adults, a demographic that may not be as interested in candy as their younger counterparts. Therefore, I do not believe that this suggestive ad is particularly worth the backlash it could receive.

In an article titled, “Is Butterfinger Super Bowl ad too rauncy?”, the Detroit Free Press examines if in fact the new Super Bowl ad is too suggestive. The article quotes Barbara Lippert, a critic and columnist, who claims “You can’t shock people any more with nudity or foul language… Instead, you have to create these visual things that you wouldn’t ever have put together in your own mind.” (Detroit Free Press). This brings up an interesting point – while the ad is suggestive, it also culminates an idea that is very unique and creative. It is something that generally would not be thought of when thinking of Butterfinger candy. Therefore, is the ad too much or simply a fresh insight? It is question to ponder when looking at all advertising, and something to remember when looking at ad that push the limit. 

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Toy company steals Beastie Boys song

By Matt Gillis

In order to make a name for themselves, companies are looking for anything that will perpetuate them into the marketplace. While many brands use controversial images that highlight themes of sex and drugs for example, other companies have resorted to copyright infringement to gain a little publicity.

GoldieBlox, a San Francisco start-up toy company, recently made headlines with the release of a commercial that features Beastie Boys’ 1986 song “Girls.” The GoldieBlox commercial, which has recently gone viral with over eight million YouTube views, acts as a parody to comment on the song. It highlights the company’s goals of breaking down gender stereotypes and empowering young girls to engage in intellectually stimulating activities in the male-dominated fields of science, math, engineering and technology.

However, the controversy surrounding the advertisement is not in the content of the commercial but reflects Goldieblox’s unauthorized use of the song. While the Beastie Boys have released statements admitting their approval of the advertisement’s message, they site Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch’s will, which states, “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes.”

John Seay, an entertainment and intellectual property lawyer of Atlanta’s The Seay Firm LLC, believes that GoldieBlox’s use of the song without the band’s permission may have been a calculated publicity move in order to reach a larger audience due to the potential lawsuits. Seay said, “Sure, they might have really believed that their use of the song was a fair use. Or, they might have figured that, worse case, they get sued, or threatened with a suit, and the press picks up on it and raises the profile of the company and gets the commercial seen by many more people.”

Whether or not the company knowingly used “Girls” despite the Beastie Boys’ approval, GoldieBlox has managed to successfully reach a larger amount of people than they would have without the surrounding controversy. However, I believe that the company’s looming lawsuits have the potential to hinder the brand’s success in the future. While the company supports a positive image of female empowerment, their actions in the marketplace reflect a negative image that counteracts their message.

Some people may believe that all publicity is good publicity, but negative image perception has the potential to steer consumers away from a company. This is especially true for start-up companies like GoldiebBlox, who do not have an established consumer base that will be willing to stick with them through possible controversy. I believe the company’s short-term goals of mass publicity may have hindered their ability to sustain long-lasting success.

Reference list:

–       Sterling, Scott T.. “Headlines.” Radiocom News. N.p., 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. <http://news.radio.com/2013/11/25/did-goldieblox-use-beastie-boys-girls-just-to-drum-up-controversy/&gt;.

Popcorn Protection Plan

This new piece of data will blow your minds away.

Here is an interesting new finding: eating popcorn in the movie theater makes people immune to advertising! A new study that was conducted by Cologne University has come to the conclusion that chewing makes advertising ineffective when sitting in the movie theater.

A researcher from Berlin has come out to say that “the mundane activity of eating popcorn made participants immune to the pervasive effects of advertising.”

I usually get irritated when I hear people munching and crunching on their popcorn, but apparently advertisers are beginning to get irritated as well.

The first thing that came to my mind when I was trying to process this study is how

scientists came up with this unique conclusion. A quick summary of the findings suggests that the reason why adverts have the ability to implant brand names into our brains is because our lips and tongues automatically stimulate the pronunciation of a new brand name when we first hear it.

Every time we see the name again, our mouth subconsciously practices the pronunciation of the name and that is how it manages to stick in our heads.

But chewing is disturbing this “inner speech” that advertisers have been using for so long to make us memorize the brand.

There was even an entire experiment where 50 people in a theater were given popcorn and 50 people were given nothing to eat during the show. I always snack on something when I watch previews in the movie theater and I never remember anything being commercialized.

At the end of the screening, there was a test and the study showed that the commercials had no effect on those who were munching on popcorn the entire time.

The man who created this study suggests that his research might in fact be the end of selling traditional popcorn in the movie theater. Any thoughts on that?

I personally think that it is a really out-of-the-box claim to say that popcorn is the reason why advertisements do not sink in our heads. However, I am not a psychology major, so I do not know the extent of this whole “inner speech” thing, but after reading the article in the Guardian I guess it makes sense.

Could food be the ultimate killer for all commercials?

Have advertisements found their ultimate weakness?

Do you guys buy this new study?


Deceptive Food Ads vs. Reality



This is probably one of my favorite articles ever written because I always have seen commercials for McDonalds and Burger King, where the cheeseburgers look like masterpieces, but everyone knows that they come out looking flat and ugly. If you guys have time, watch the video I have attached to this post as well because it shows how much time is put into one picture to Photoshop the burger for McDonald’s to get your mouths watering when you are watching TV. I usually love advertisements and respect the fact that good advertisements have the power to make products and services look appealing to you to get your attention, however I will never support these types of ads. I really hope that people join together to stop these ads from airing!

These types of advertisements are such snakes because the companies blatantly lie to your face and hope that you will believe them and buy their burgers. I have NEVER seen a burger from McDonald’s or burrito from Taco Bell come out to look anywhere near what it looks like on billboards, bus stops, menus or commercials. I know that the old saying, “you get what you pay for” is still valid: a $2 burger should not be expected to look like the fancy, gourmet products that are pictured on the ad.

It is crazy to think that all of the huge fast food restaurants pay a special crew of food stylists, who actually paint the food (sobadsogood.com). These designers and photographers use up all of their energy to create the perfect fake meal to lure you to buy the product. This commercial that is attached is not surprising, because I already knew that it was not accurate to the actual burger you receive, however it is still really disappointing that the company spends millions of dollars to give a salary to people just to deceive the consumer.

I understand that chains like McDonald’s are really trying to drive sales and make the items look as mouth watering as possible, but I think that it is an example of the ugly side of advertising. They should be spending their money on actually improving the items, not improving the Photoshop in the ads! No one wants to feel like they are being fooled and because of that I think that some sort of legislation or law needs to be passed to stop this trickery from happening!


Deceitful Advertising

Advertising is a staple in making a product or brand name known. Advertising is defined as a form of communication used to encourage, persuade, or manipulate an audience. Although people do not generally like to be manipulated or deceived, it happens every day in the form of advertisements. For example, a popular advertisement for a weight loss pill promises results within a week. However, what the company does not tell you in their advertisements is that in order for these weight loss miracle pills to work the consumer must follow a strict diet and exercise plan. Many naïve consumers become convinced that by only taking the diet pill will help them lose weight. Which causes them to fall for the advertisement.

This is not new knowledge for consumers. We are all well aware that the constant messages we receive in advertisements are not completely truthful.  Recently in California, Tesla has received claims that it has violated advertising laws. Tesla has recently become a strong and leading brand in the market of electric vehicles.  The California New Car Dealers Association accuses Tesla of inflating the actual number of savings that might result from customers purchasing its vehicles. Things like this are not surprising. Car dealerships have always advertised their cars as being superior to what they actually are. In this case, as Tesla advertises prices that may or may not be true makes consumers uneasy. If Tesla is not truthful in its advertising, consumers might be discouraged to purchase these vehicles. Although advertising is a slight variation of the truth, it is essential that the company does not deceive the consumer in any major way. When allegations like this occur, it is more likely to give the company a negative image as opposed to the positive one it was striving to achieve. Negative reaction from advertising can be detrimental to a company who is just beginning to bloom. 

There are times when a company will purposely create an advertisement that is slightly deceitful in order to create a humorous reaction from the consumer. For example, in this Axe commercial for its “Excite” body spray, it states that “even angels will fall” insinuating that if you wear this particular body spray you will create an attraction so strong angels will fall from the heavens. As consumers we are able to see that although this commercial is deceiving, it is humorous and does a good job at keeping the attention of the viewer. 



Thus, as consumers we are well aware of the misleading messages in advertisements. Whether it is done for comedy purposes or if its done to particularly manipulate the consumer it is important to always do research on a product you are purchasing. 


Hirsh , J. (2013, September 13). California new car dealers claim tesla violates advertising laws. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-california-dealers-claim-tesla-violations-20130916,0,3708769.story