Nov 21

I hate to be cynical about a commercial that is so sweet (okay – that’s a lie… I love being cynical) but there’s a reason why McCain has to make up a fairy tale about the creation of their fries – or more specifically, their smiley faces.¬† Would any mother want to buy from a company if they showed minimum wage workers dropping tons potato slices stamped with happy faces into massive vats of boiling canola oil?¬†Duh, nope. Bring on the potato dusters and affectionate oven mitts.

The reality is that I actually do enjoy McCain’s spot.¬† Heck, I watched the entire 60 seconds, which is pretty lengthy for a fry commercial.¬† Certainly, my younger boys will asking for those greasey grinners as soon as they see this ad because they’ll no sooner doubt the authenticity of the commercial than question the existence of Santa Claus (particularly around Christmas time.)¬† Typically, I keep away from any fried potato products, preferring to purchase a kilogram of PEI spuds for two bucks and, over the course of a month, peel, mash, bake, slice the versatile orbs for frequent dinner side dishes.¬†

Yet, does McCain get what it wants from the commercial? That is: will I buy a pack of frozen smiley faces next time my kids stand by the freezer section of the grocery store, nose pushed against the glass, begging “Ple-e-e-e-e-ease.¬† Can. We. Have. Smiles?”¬†
Well…¬† All right. I’ll get them.¬† But just ONCE.¬† Okay, maybe twice.

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A Twitter for Brand Marketing?

May 19

Where any two people are gathered in my name, there am I.¬† While this phrase would be familiar to anyone who¬†knows the Bible, it could just as easily be translated as a quote from any brand marketer.¬† That’s because the constant gathering of voices and opinions on the internet has opened up a deluge of possibilities for marketers to push their brand.¬† While three people chatting in a living room don’t have reason to worry that anyone is eavesdropping or that a “spy” is among them dropping hints about the best new coffee to hit North America, those same three people cannot be so certain of their privacy if their “chat”¬†moves online.¬† Companies and their marketers are on the prowl for every opportunity to re-enforce a brand’s¬†image¬†that is meant to¬†convince people they need to buy it.¬† Don’t believe me?¬† Consider newly launched social networking site .

According to Advertising Age, this new social networking site, launched by Glam Media,¬†has been created to help companies market their brands.¬† It is based on the same premise as Twitter (did you catch the similarity in name?), but instead of following people, Tinker “is¬†the place to go see what events people are twittering about” According to Glam Media’s¬†.¬†¬†The site sells itself to users as a place to chat about events and places.¬† However, it is actually a serious marketing tool¬†for companies who wish to get their brand in front of those consumers that are most likely to be interested in their product.¬† Companies can go so far as to filter what is being said about events to ensure the conversation¬†keeps the brand shining bright, including any mention of competitors.¬† Doesn’t sound like free speech to me…

In a video clip shown on Advertising Age, Joe Lagani goes on to explain to leading marketers why Glam Media developed Tinker:

“If this were your brand and your brand is being discussed out there and you were able to assemble this ongoing positive conversation about your brand or about events that you wanted your brand to be associated with how can you get that in front of your consumer.”¬†

If you didn’t notice – he said brand four times in that one sentence.¬†

There’s nothing wrong with companies trying to sell their product.¬† This is what drives their profits.¬† But people chatting online need to be¬†aware of the potential to be¬†manipulated by companies who are interested in one thing – getting their money.¬† Kids especially need to be made aware of the possibility that their conversations are being monitored by corporations.¬† They’ve embraced the digital chat rooms with little concern for who is listening and how that may effect them.¬† So, next time you or your children chat online, listen very, very carefully – because you may discover someone else is listening.

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Marketing Kids to Nag Mom and Dad

Feb 04

Ever wonder why the marketers have so much power to sway your child’s preferences?¬† Well, watch this video and you’ll see for yourself.¬† It’s the perfect David versus Goliath scenario.¬† Mom and Dad’s voices cannot possibly compete with the omnipresence of a multibillion dollar investment in advertising and marketing research devoted to children.¬† The following video is quite long (about 10 minutes) but worth the time.¬†

What can parents do to offset the effects of advertising? 

  1. Do not take part in marketing research of any kids. 
  2. Help your kids understand that the advertisements they see have only one purpose in mind Рto make money.  Other than making a profit, they have no interest in the well-being of the children to whom they market. 
  3. Voice your concerns, as a parent.  Visit this web site http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org  to stay apprised of what is happening in the advertising industry, and look for opportunities to sign petitions or write letters to corporations that you believe are undermining your job as a parent.

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Canadian Tire Pulls Maxim Magazines

Jan 27

A few days ago I complained to the head office for Canadian Tire about their display of Maxim Magazines at the cash register.¬† As I explained in this blog, I felt that type of publication was inappropriate for a retailer that markets and sells to families.¬† Today, I am happy to report that the head of Corporate Social Responsibility called me to apologize for the magazine display and has ensured that all Maxim magazines have been pulled from any stores that sold them.¬† She explained that not every store included this publication on the magazine rack, but those that did, no longer will do so.¬† This is a win for all women and parents of young children and a welcome reminder that it’s better to voice your dissent than turn a blind eye and mutter under your breath.¬† Thanks to any of you who emailed Canadian Tire to rectify this situation.

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Feeling Down? Watch Commercials.

Jan 21

Some people go to church.¬† Some people go for a run.¬†¬†Some will¬†shun the newspaper.¬† While others will bake a cake.¬†¬†Whatever it is that¬†smooths the worry wrinkles on our brows¬†- we all need an opportunity to feel happy when times are bringing¬†us down.¬† Today, it’s not very hard¬†to descend into despair in the midst of a dreary, cold winter with an economy in the tank and¬†no end in sight¬†to the constant threat of terrorism and war, courtesy of the Middle East.¬†¬†North Americans are seeking a glimmer of hope in whatever, or whomever, they can.¬† And where there’s a demand, there’s a marketing strategy.¬†¬†

Pepsi is among the first companies to sell hope, er, soda, uh…¬†I mean, optimism in a can?¬†¬†Their latest ad campaign is a feel-good montage of bright colours and happy words.¬† The kids will love it, for¬†the catchy tune is certain to get their legs jumping and hands clapping.¬†¬†But, lest you think¬†the¬†sole purpose of the ad is put a smile on your gloomy face, there are not-so-subtle allusions to the Pepsi brand throughout.¬†¬†So, if you think slurping fizzy sugar drinks will wash away your sadness, buy some Pepsi.¬† Otherwise, snap your fingers and tap your toes for the 30 second break in your¬†TV show, then try not to think about your grocery bills, job security,¬†kids’ lessons, or mortgage, and¬†for goodness sake… don’t get cynical about huge corporations trying to promise you happiness if you buy their goods!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDix0VvrV1g

The kids will be dancing to this one.  And asking for more pop?  Perhaps.

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