Tag Archives: ads

Taco Bell Bites Back with Ad Aimed at Hungry Attorneys

Taco Bell asks attorneys for an apology. Not that they really expect to get one. After all, that would mean admitting they were wrong.

Where’s the beef” was an ad slogan for Wendy’s back in 1984. But lately it’s been a charge leveled at Taco Bell by a law firm out to pick the fast food giant’s deep pockets.

Alabama-based law firm Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles (now there’s a mouthful) claimed that Taco Bell’s mystery meat was comprised of only 35 percent beef, based on an unspecified test by an unnamed analyst. Taco Bell insisted their beef was 88 percent beef, 12 percent “Secret Recipe.”

Taco Bell fought back with hard-hitting ads in January that said: “Thank you for suing us. Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef…”

Obviously someone smelled a meal ticket. As USA Today reported, “With annual sales pushing $7 billion, Taco Bell ranks as the nation’s sixth-largest fast-food company, according to the 2009 findings from the research firm Technomic. Continue reading

The Truth About Santa Claus, Coke Pusher

Did Coke create the modern Santa Claus? If so, artist Haddon Sundblom was the man behind the beard. Here he models for himself as Santa Claus.

Instead of complaining about the commercialization of Christmas, let’s celebrate one of the finest and longest-running advertising campaigns centered around the season.

Did Coca-Cola Really Create the Modern Image of Santa Claus?

Technically, no. If you check Snopes, that claim is marked “false.” The myth-busting site does give Coke partial credit, however. And according to the soft-drink maker’s own website, “Coca-Cola® advertising actually helped shape this modern-day image of Santa.” Not much argument there.

Did Coke Choose the Color of Santa’s Suit?

In 1862, Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper’s Weekly as a small elf-like Union supporter. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, along the way changing the coat from tan to red. So Santa’s red suit came from Nast’s vision of St. Nick, not Coke’s corporate color.

Thomas Nast's Santa Claus for Harper's.

Winter Wasn’t Always Coke Weather

Back in the day (the Roaring ‘20s), people thought of Coca-Cola as a drink for warm weather only. To rectify that perception, the company began running ads in 1922 with the slogan “Thirst Knows No Season,” then followed up with a campaign connecting the beverage with Santa Claus to lend it some cold-weather cred.

Sundblom’s Santa

The most famous version of the man with all the toys is the one created by illustrator Haddon Sundblom. Coke credits its advertising agency for the vision: “Archie Lee, the D’Arcy Advertising Agency executive working with The Coca-Cola Company, wanted the next campaign to show a wholesome Santa as both realistic and symbolic.” So in 1931, Sundblom got the gig to develop advertising art using Santa Claus, with a twist: the images would depict the actual Santa, not a man dressed as Santa.  Continue reading

Axe vs Old Spice vs Grover – Smells Like a Monster

Axe stakes its claim as "Canada's #1 Men's Deodorant" with a billboard that reads: "For men who'd rather be with a woman than on a horse."

Smells like…

Competition! Old Spice has been on the receiving end of a few potshots lately, which is to be expected after being on a roll (or on a horse) for a while.

To start with, the company’s shirtless spokesman, Isaiah Mustafa, went moonlighting away from his regular gig as The Man Your Man Could Smell Like for Old Spice. He did basically the same shtick for someone else, but on the other side of the world and without all the props. Maybe he just needed a break from the bathroom. He went all the way to Australia to disrobe for… Continue reading

The “Inception” Ad Deception

Inception: The Dream Is Real. So is the marketing.

Inception” is a powerful, original film filled with deceptions. Both the special-effects kind and the plot-driven mental kind. There are also larger themes running through it. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry. No plot points will be revealed.

This is Not Another Review

Critics were sworn to silence before it opened. If you still care what critics are saying after a “dreamy” $62.8 million opening weekend and a cumulative $143 million for the first 10 days, a collection of choice review excerpts can be found at the WSJ Speakeasy blog.

As a fan of both film and advertising (see 101 Ad-Movies in 99 Years), I want to highlight some of the ads and how well they tied in with the story themes. The multichannel marketing campaign consisted of traditional TV spots along with Facebook fan pages with social games, mobile apps, and an online comic book to create fanboy engagement and spur strong word of mouth. Continue reading

Starbucks Keeps It Simple

Starbucks hops on the "simple" bandwagon with "real food." Were they faking it before?

Simply coincidence?

Less than a week after writing about how Simple-Minded Marketing Works, I stopped in at a Starbucks and couldn’t help noticing the screaming all-caps headline on a previously blank napkin.

The coffeehouse that recently brought you free wi-fi, but selectively discourages loitering (not every store has a sign posted), has hopped on the simplified ingredients bandwagon. Now Starbucks is offering “real food” that’s “simply delicious.” This raises some questions: Was it all artificial and fake before? Continue reading

Old Spice Guy Spends Two Days In Bathroom, Blows Up YouTube

Isaiah Mustafa as the Old Spice Guy, the hardest working man in the bathroom.

After two days and two hundred kajillion personalized videos, even the Old Spice Guy has to take a break and come out of the bathroom.

Please forgive the link overload here, but after spending the last 48 hours or so in front of a camera, the Old Spice Guy (Isaiah Mustafa in real life) has been overwhelming social media channels by tweeting links to customized videos made for fans with his bare hands.

The suave smelling dude responded directly to ordinary average fans from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, gave shout-outs to corporate pals like Starbucks, GQ and sister company Gillette, nods to influential blogger fans like Perez Hilton and Guy Kawasaki (“Is there a Girl Kawasaki?”!), props to celebrity friends like Ellen Degeneres, Ryan Seacrest, Apolo Anton Ohno, and Ashton Kutcher. He wowed Mrs. Kutcher by bashing a pirate piñata, courted Alyssa Milano with roses, wooed Rose McGowan, successfully proposed marriage on behalf of fan JS Beals, and admitted he’s only human and will eventually die someday. He even responded to himself (Isaiah Mustafa). Continue reading

Celebrating Freedom of Choice with Devo

Exercising Freedom of Choice with Devo at Hollywood Park, July 1, 2010.

I saw Devo in concert for $7, thanks to a Facebook ad.

Everyone loves to have freedom of choice, not to mention a good deal. So when I found out I could see Devo live for $7—no, that’s not a typo—instead the usual $70+ fee that most concerts charge these days for tickets (plus service charge, convenience fee, etc., etc.), I was all over it. It became a family outing. And best of all, kids were free.

Funny anecdote: When trying to look up the band online before attending the show, my teenage daughter had to ask, “How do you spell ‘Devo’?” Continue reading

Up In Smoke: Vintage Cigarette Ads

"Do You Inhale?" never worked as a pick-up line for sea captains. But Lucky Strike wants you to think "how important it is to be certain your cigarette smoke is pure and clean."

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em

Just for kicks (’cause kicks just keep getting harder to find), let’s return to those carefree days before smoking was banned from bars and beaches and the public airwaves. Back when LS/MFT stood for “Luck Strike Means Fine Tobacco” and ABC meant “Always Buy Chesterfields.”

Hard as it is to imagine now, cigarette advertising used to be everywhere. Thirty years ago, who would’ve imagined that vintage cigarette ads would become expensive collectibles? All manner of cigarette ads used to feature a galaxy of movie and sports stars (including a future president) puffing away, enjoying pure smoking satisfaction.

A whole series could be written on Leo Burnett’s iconic Marlboro campaign alone, but for now let’s just take a few puffs and savor a sampling of tobacco campaigns of yore. Alternately poignant and pathetic, cool and comical, they’re like a window back in time. Back when smoking was KOOL. Continue reading

Taco Bell Wants More $2 Bills. Grammarians Want Accuracy!

Next time you're at Taco Bell, ask the cashier to give you change in $2 bills. See what happens.

Taco Bell sez, “Yo quiero… dos dólares.”

The fast food chain recently ran an ad in USA Today with an open letter addressed to the Federal Reserve. Taco Bell is asking the Fed to circulate more $2 bills for its new $2 meal deals: “We want to make sure there are enough $2 bills in circulation to meet the pending demand.”

Taco Bell's ad in USA Today: "Hey Fed, We’re Gonna Need A Lot More $2 Bills."

The Washington Post snarkily comments, “concerned or bored customers may also sign a petition of support on Facebook (how predictable).”

A Facebook petition can get Betty White on Saturday Night Live, but it probably won’t motivate the Federal Reserve. Is it enough to motivate you?

Be careful what you advertise.

The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics columnist, Sudeep Reddy, wryly implies that Taco Bell should be careful what it wishes. Since the demand for currency circulation largely comes through transactions (not Facebook petitions), Reddy concludes, “That means people need to request more $2 bills from their banks—or, say, from a local fast food restaurant—if they want more in circulation. Perhaps Taco Bell can complicate the lives of its cashiers and store managers by forcing them to use $2 bills more often. That should put an end to this marketing campaign fairly quickly.”

Perhaps coincidentally, there’s an email urban legend about a Taco Bell customer who had trouble using a $2 bill at the restaurant. Continue reading

Are you man enough to blog as a “Super Woman”?

Are you a Super Woman?

Alicia Keys is Hiring.

That’s the headline of a full-page advertisement in today’s local paper. It’s an ad for a different kind of job that didn’t exist until just a few years ago: The pop diva is looking for a full-time blogger.

Less than one week remains to apply. According to the ad, “Alicia is looking for a head blogger to help spread her voice beyond music on IAAS.com, the new destination for super women everywhere.”

“IAAS” is short for “I Am A Super Woman.” But unfortunately, as the LA Times Ministry of Gossip notes, the complete initials were already taken by another group of party people. (No word on whether they’re hiring.)

I looked over the necessary skills and qualifications listed at Alicia’s Monster.com page. Then I looked again. Continue reading