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The Most and Least Responsible Super Bowl ads

Once again, the Super Bowl was indeed super, but how about the ads? A few ads brought sustained belly laughs, others brought groans. But which were responsible, and which weren’t? For review, visit my Super Bowl XVIII ads page. Cast up to five votes in following polls. If you’d like to weigh in on any […]

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Decaf in the afternoon? Not at Starbucks

I had a Twilight Zone moment this afternoon at my local Starbucks when I ordered my decaf drip coffee and was told the Seattle-based coffee chain no longer brews decaf in the afternoons. You read that right: A coffee shop that doesn’t offer decaf in the afternoon—the largest coffee shop chain in the world, mind […]

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Behold, the Facebook Friend Spamming tool

It was bound to happen. With a little help from the programmers and usability gurus at Facebook, I spammed my friends, colleagues, business associates, people who’ve considered hiring Outsource Marketing, and everyone else in my Gmail address book that didn’t have a Facebook account yet. I’m not talking about Facebook application developers making it next […]

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I’m lovin’ it? McDonald’s buys love; fesses up

With some fanfare, on December 23rd McDonald’s launched a new concept store in Japan called Quarter Pounder, a restaurant selling—you guessed it—only Quarter Pounders. Here’s an amateur video of the opening taken by a customer that was there: 15,000 people attended the store’s record-setting opening, but not all of them were there for the artery-clogging […]

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Responsible or not? Using the dead to sell

On Christmas Day, John Lennon returned from the dead. Well, his image and voice were resurrected to help the One Laptop Per Child Foundation “OLPCF” and it’s raised a few eyebrows (and hackles). If you haven’t heard about the OLPCF, here’s a summary: It’s an education project, not a laptop project. Inexpensive, durable, networked laptops […]

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Pepsi uses suicide to sell soda pop

One is the loneliest number, and since Pepsi Max only has one calorie, maybe that little calorie should just take its own life, right? The following three ads were created by BBDO in Düsseldorf, Germany: +enlarge +enlarge +enlarge Breaking through requires creative bravery. But did Pepsi take it too far by having a cartoon character […]

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Responsible or not? Burger King’s Whopper Virgins

The idea is simple, really. Since everyone in America has heard of or tried a Whopper and the Big Mac, conduct taste tests in locations that have never even heard of Burger King or McDonald’s signature products. And that’s what Burger King did—took their taste tests to remote locations in Romania, Greenland and Thailand. Here’s […]

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Responsible or not? Doritos marketing to kids

Doritos provided the following word search bookmark in school cafeterias: At the top, it says “Find the seven words hidden below that can lead you to a healthy day.” There are actually eight words, the first word on the list is “Doritos.” Three questions: Is Doritos telling kids that their product is part of a […]

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Is Whistler-Blackcomb email marketing responsible?

On Monday, I received a message from Whistler Blackcomb to inform me of the open dates for each of the mountains. I don’t recall signing up to receive these notifications, but I was there last season and might have provided my email address somewhere to someone. No matter. I didn’t mind receiving the message, and […]

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Responsible or not? Shockvertising

Trendhunter did my homework for me today and compiled a four minute collection of shocking ads that will leave you asking the question, “How far is too far?” You won’t want to view this in front of small children or your boss. It features fake lesbians, phony murder scenes, employees getting punched in the face […]

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Responsible or not? Club Libby Lu

My daughter turned four in August, but she’s already becoming aware of fashion and brands. She’s visited Club Libby Lu once or twice for lip gloss (more like lip balm). While there, she’s seen the five and six year old girls at princess parties, getting makeovers and their hair done. For the uninitiated, Club Libby […]

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Personnel Concepts’ marketing:
Out of compliance?

I don’t like receiving upsetting letters. Nobody does. But here’s an envelope I received in the mail yesterday: +enlarge Why would I receive a letter from The Compliance Service Department at PCI marked “Important – Open Immediately?” I didn’t know who PCI was, but I was afraid it may have something to do with our […]

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Responsible or not? FreeCreditReport.com

FreeCreditReport.com has done a great job with their marketing—it’s hard to come up with a company that’s created more memorable ads recently. People are paying attention to their ads, sharing them on social sites and singing along. View this video on YouTube The problem is, the credit reports aren’t free at all. When you get […]

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Responsible or not? Advertising adultery

Ashley Madison is a social networking/dating service—for married people. Although the company isn’t breaking any laws by helping facilitate adultery (soon they’ll have a money back guarantee if you don’t successfully have an affair), they aren’t breaking any laws. Still, their billboard only lasted three days in Times Square, an ad they produced for ESPN […]

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Responsible or not? Ringling Brothers Circus

I was surprised how excited I was to take my kids to “The Greatest Show on Earth,” on Saturday. The last time I’d been to The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was at least 30 years ago, and I knew my four and five year old kids would be captivated by the show. […]

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Responsible or not? Biker Babe Marketing

As marketers, we’re always looking for creative ways to break through. Biker Babe Marketing is doing just that by putting babes on Harleys, then having them drive around with their client’s ads on signs attached to their bikes. Hey, sex sells and this surely has people talking. But since the medium is the message, it’s […]

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Responsible or not? Visa’s Olympic sponsorship

If you watched the Olympics, you’ve seen Visa’s pervasive Go World ads. Morgan Freeman‘s distinctive voice always grabs me, but the relevance and timeliness of the ads have kept my attention. Here’s the ad Visa ran immediately after Michael Phelps won his unprecedented 8th Gold Medal. View this video on YouTube. Impressive. Each Visa ad […]

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Responsible or not: Emotional manipulation

A vast sector of modern advertising… does not appeal to reason but to emotion; like any other kind of hypnoid suggestion, it tries to impress its objects emotionally and then make them submit intellectually. ~ Erich Fromm Would you rather make women feel better about themselves or about your brand? In a recent study inspired […]

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Responsible or not? “Get Some Nuts” with Snickers

As the best selling candy bar of all time with annual sales of over $2 billion, Snickers has nothing to prove. The Mars family introduced the brand in 1929 or 1930, depending upon which source you believe. Either way, Snickers is pushing 80—but you’d never know it by its advertising. To reach their target audience […]

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Responsible or not? Stripping for charity

Using social media to create social good is a good thing. But it’s never quite that easy, is it? Strip2Clothe is a new Virgin Mobile promotion where anyone can submit “fun by not salacious” videos of themselves stripping in order to help clothe homeless youth. From the Virgin Mobile YouTube channel: Strip2Clothe is Virgin Mobile’s […]

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