Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ethical Tweet

It’s really hard to determine if an ad is misleading because standards and laws have not agreed on a definition. How do we protect ourselves?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Ethical Standards in Advertising

It is really hard to determine if an ad is misleading. Even with the use of laws, standards and academic research there is still a lack of understanding and an agreed upon definition which could be used to identify it. With this being said, if the definition of a misleading ad is so broad how are consumers expected to be able to identify it?

What might we assume to be a misleading ad if it is so hard to determine it?

Three types of false advertising
  1. Fraud
Fraud deliberately creates false beliefs about a product. When fraud is done in an ad it is usually because the advertisers intent does not take into account the wellbeing of the consumer. The problem with these types of ads is that it is hard to take action against it because you would have to proved that the claims made are fraudulent.
  1. Falsity
When an ad is falsified it usually refers to the idea that the ad is claiming something and there is a discrepancy in the claimed facts. An example of a falsified ad is when an ad states something such as a reduced price but then in the store the price is not reduced.
  1. Misleading

A misleading ad really focuses on the belief of the consumer in combination with the exposure of an ad. In this situation, there is a discrepancy between the belief of the consumer and the facts presented in an ad.

So now we have a good understanding of what a misleading ad is, how does this played out in an actually campaigns? When a company has stepped over that fine line, how much does it cost them? For the company, we have to question if they are willing to change their policies to provide accurate information to the consumer or are they only interested in their profits?

Lets look at three companies to answer these questions.

Activia Yogurt (Falsified information)

The brand Dannon falsified information about their product by stating that the health benefits of their yogurt were superior to the competitors. The company used such words as clinically and scientifically proven to drive this falsified belief in their campaigns.

This information was incorrect because the nutritional value of the yogurt was exactly the same as any other yogurt. Over time, some consumers started to question this claim and they ended up bringing the company to court. In the end Dannon was force to setting a pay up to $45 million in damage to its consumers.

Olay Definity Eye Cream (Misleading)

In 2009, Olay used the model Twiggy in their ad campaign to promote an eye cream. In this ad Twiggy was shown with no wrinkles. They claimed that the eye cream would remove wrinkles so you can look younger. Twiggy, at the time the ad was released, was in her early 60s and that the images were excessively retouched. In some areas of the world, such as Britain, the ad was deemed as misleading and could potentially have a negative impact on the body image of individuals. In the end, the ad was pulled.

Hyundai and KIA vehicles (Fraud)

In 2001, the Korean Ministry of Construction and Transportation found out that the two car company tolds their consumers that their cars had 9.6% more horsepower than the cars actually had.

When consumers received their car they were extremely disappointed to find out that the car they were expected was not what they got. As a result, comsumers in California took a class action lawsuit claiming that the company was able to sell more cars at higher prices because of the fraudulent claims made in their ads. They settled the lawsuit for something between $75 million and $125 million.

Even if determining if an ad is making a false claim, as a consumer we have to make wise decisions based on prior research and our own judgement. Yes, at times this is hard to do. With that being said, with the tools and the knowledge in your hands you will be able to determine if an ad is making a false claim. Furthermore, with these tools you can stand up for yourself and over time with enough people making claims, companies will be forced to change even if they do not care too.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Our Attention Spans is not the Issue

Over the last 10 years, TV commercials have dropped much of its airing time. When television was first invented and became commonplace in the average consumers household, the average commercial lasted approximately 60 seconds. In 2014, the average commercial was a mix of 15 seconds to 30 seconds in length. This is the result of the emergence of digital venues such as YouTube and Facebook.

So are shorter ads the way to go when a company is trying to grab the attention of its viewers? The answer to this question is yes and no.

The average commercial lasts more than 15 to 30 it will lose the viewers attention if it does not have any value to them. With that being said, if the commercial has value and a good story then the possibility of the a viewer to watch the whole ad will increase.

What is Good about Shorter Ads?

Short ads do not mean that the ad is lacking quality. Even when you are limited to say 15 seconds for a Facebook ad if the story behind the ad is really good the viewer will watch it. According to Heather Taylor vice-president at Ogilvy, “the short form is extremely valuable, because we want to consume quickly.” In many of these cases the point of a shorter ad is to just get the brands message across. Furthermore, Heather explains that shorter ads have a higher chance of being shared on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

A great example of this idea of a short ad is when General Electric paired their logo with the caption “Innovation starts at the drawing board.” This ad is effective because the main focus behind it was to get their brands message across. Every great thing the company does starts at a drawing board. This in reinforced by the illustration of a logo being drawing on graph paper implying that their brand was started at a drawing table.

Overall, due to our shorter attention spans, advertisers are now forced to create better content that is more entertaining, meaningful and relatable. They are forced advertisers to get to the point without losing value or details. They end up having to focus on the images, keeping the message short and having quick, interesting and clever headline.

The Case for Longer Ads

According to Kelly O’Keefe, a professor of creative brand management at Virginia Commonwealth University, “it is a myth that consumers reject long ads. They reject uninteresting ads, irrelevant ads or ads that insult their intelligence, and unfortunately these represent the majority of what consumer encounters.” For ads that use meaningful or insulting content “even 10 seconds is intolerable, so many viewers just skip them. But life isn't shaped by 30-second moments, and if a story is relevant, compelling and well told, consumers have proven that they are interested.”

In April 2014, Firestone released a 90 second commercial that did not emphasized the product but the story of two young lovers who run away from their parents in a flatbed truck to elope. Even though this is a great example of a longer ads being effective, it was not originally intended to be this long. The agency, Publicis Groupe, who created the ad, sent the company an unedited version of the commercial. The ad originally was suppose to be aired in 15-30 second slots. With that being said, the company felt that the full version elevated the brand and helped with increasing interesting in their product.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

It Sounds like sit!

What is wrong with swearing?

The main agenda of a brand is to attract as many possible costumers as possible so by using content that may be seen as inappropriate limits the companies reach on its audience. With that being said, there are situation where swearing could work and allow the company to identify with its audience.

Lets take bear as an example. If a company is trying to identify with 20-35 blue-collar workers who enjoy a beer after work, an ad that using swearing, like these guys probably do, it stands to reason to use taglines such as “this beer tastes f**king great! Probably not, but this goes to show that swearing when used in the right way can be very effective.

So, how does this sh*t work?

As Leo Burnett once said, “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”

In more then one way this quote really sums up the backbone of what a good ad should be like. With that being said, I feel there is one element that is missing which validates the use of swearing in ads. The final element is an ad needs to be clever. A clever ad is the key to making swearing work! If an ad is not clever the viewer will read right through it and just think you are swearing for swearing sake.

In terms of the world of advertising there seems to be only three ways in which swearing can be successful:
  •       The use of puns or double meaning.
  •       When swearing is implied but not actually said.
  •       Clever

Why do we want to incorporate swearing in our ads? The answer to this question is to create emotional impact and to grab the attention of the viewer. Swearing is an extreme use of language to imply something that is impactful. With that being said, swearing is really tricky in ads. In our society swearing is used to express frustrations, anger and to release tension in difficult situations. It is a way for us to communicate strong feelings and to get a strong response back.

It is very rare to see swearing in advertising because of the high possibility of offending somebody. This is why it is important to know who your demographic is and understand the possible implications of adding swearing into your ads. With that being said, if the benefits of using this tool outweigh the negatives there really is no reason to not use the tool but to remember to use it in a smart and creative way.

Are you being implicit?

So how can you jump on the bandwagon and incorporate swearing into your ads? Well the answer is rather simple. You tone it down and imply swearing instead of explicitly saying it.

A great example of implied swearing is used in the ad for Air Asia. In this ad the tagline reads “Cheap enough to say, Phuket I’ll go.” When we read the ad our interpretation of the word “Phuket” is influenced by the verbal composition of the ad but at the same time we see the rudeness of it. This vulgarity is really created in our heads and the use of phonetics used in the ad.

When words are used to imply swearing it really is important for the word to have purpose and integrity. They also need to be able to generate an awareness of words that might sound and feel familiar to the swear word.

A great example is an ad done by Virgin Atlantic’s called “Sit, Shower, Shave.” This ad was created to promote the Virgin Atlantic’s upper class arrivals lounge. This ad is effective because it plays on words and it really is in the eye of the beholder to determine the contextual context of the ad itself.

Are you implying something?

Another tool is to imply swearing. For example when people swear on TV the swear word is implied by a bleeping. This notion was used in the Bud Light ad called “Swearing Jar.”

In the video, the bleeps only partly cover up with swearing and as a result, the context of the ad exposes the advertisers intent. The issue with this ad, is if it could work with other brands that are not as large as Bud is?

Be Bloody Clever!

Regardless of the ad shown in this post, they all have one thing in common. All of these ads are clever. The are able to cut through all of the clutter to grab the attention of the viewer long enough to create a challenge and a sense of discovery. It is a puzzle to solve and a reward for solving it. When the reader finally figures the ad out there is a sense of appreciation and a liking of the ad. People like and enjoy clever ads. They become memorable and this feeling is transferred over to the brand itself. 

Overall, when incorporating swearing into ads, it is important to avoid giving offence and being crude about it. It is more important to be smart and to use the tricks illustrated in this post.

I will leave you with two little gifts!

and last but not lease!

George Carlin – 7 Dirty Words

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Question of Cheating in Advertising

Advertising is a cutthroat industry and agencies and companies are always trying to undercut the leading competitor by encouraging the consumer to switch to their brand. Morally, is this really the right thing to do? In our society, we look down on people who cheat, so why is it right in advertising? In terms of promoting cheating between brands, there really is nothing wrong with it. Brands do not have feeling. They do not develop a mental or physically relationship with the consumer in the same way that one person builds a relationship with another person. Overall, the company's main purpose is to increase sales and to earn a profit. The more money they are able to invest the more power they will have in a given section of a market. 

With that being said, there is a fine line in which a company can promote cheating in an appropriate way and ads that promote cheating in a negative way. There have been ads that have published that promote cheating in an immoral manner. Some ads literally tell the viewer to cheat of their significant other in order to enjoy their brand more. These ads are completely inappropriate and should not be used.

Alright, so lets take a look at this concept for a minute:

In 2012, KFC release a campaign called “It does count if…” which targeted women who were dieting. Understanding that dieting is an uphill battle and that there are many reason or ways in which women can trick themselves into believing that they can eat bad food and have it go unnoticed. In the below video it hilariously shows how women disguise their cheating by a number of entertaining excuses. For example, in the opening shot two women are eating cupcakes and the voiceover says, “It doesn't count if it’s one of your five a day.”

Generally, this form of advertising is relatable and generally there is nothing wrong with it. Yes, when a woman cheat on their diet they might feel bad for it but quite frankly most people on a diet have cheat days or weeks. Where this ad fails is even though the video is funny because the view can relate to it, the consumer has no idea what brand is being promoted and if they were to cheat they don't know who they are going to be cheat with. There is no indication that the ad is promoting KFC.

Ok, so sometimes promoting cheating in ads is a good strategy. When is it bad? 

Reebok, in 2012, released an ad campaign that asked the consumer what was more important to them with the slogan: “Cheat on your girlfriend, not on your workout.” This ad was placed in male washroom at a number of gyms in Germany. Even though it was only ran in German gyms partnered with Reebok with the use of social media like YouTube the campaign went viral and made its way to North America.

The ad was pulled once consumers started complaining and threatened to boycott Reebok. As a result to this controversial ad, Reebok acknowledged that the ads were offensive. A spokesperson from Reebok in an interview with CBS stated:
 “We regret that some offensive Reebok materials were recently printed. The signs were removed as soon as we were made aware of them. I can assure you that Reebok does not condone this message or cheating in any way. We apologize for the offensive nature of theses materials, and are disappointed they they appeared at all."

Overall, this form of promoting cheating is completely inappropriate and does cross the line of what is morally right and what is wrong. It is a form of advertising that promoted dishonesty and disrespectfulness towards woman and shouldn’t have be printed in the first place.