Did someone say, “Bikinis with push-up tops for 8-year-olds?”

Abercrombie & Fitch is selling the ‘Ashley push-up triangle’ top  which features thick padding in the cup to give the illusion of a larger chest size. What’s news about that? It’s for girls 8 to 14.

Yes, for a mere $24.50 you too can pimp out your not-yet-tween girl and remind her that its all about the cup size.

Ambercrombie bikini

It’s good to see that old A&F (where my grandfather once went to kit-up for safaris) is keeping true to its newer brand promise of making money off the sexual exploitation of children. (If they’re going to do that shouldn’t they be a division of American Apparel? Here are the details on the latest in a long line of sex harassment suits against CEO Dov Charney.)

A few other things A&F has done to live up to its brand promise:

  • Ads that feature shop assistants in lieu of models, often posing semi-nude.
  • An ‘Impact Team’ to ensure all employees comply with its ‘look policy’.
  • Paid $2.2 million to settle a suit over allegations it forced its employees to buy and wear its clothes while on the job.
  • Paid $50 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought by pretty much every non-Caucasian who made the mistake of getting a job with A&F.
  • Paid $13K to an employee forced to work out of site of the public because she had a prosthetic arm

Is this the worst ad placement ever?

hanger

Probably not, but it’s still impressive.

It’s a winner!

penguin-seal

Dove ad makes a big before-and-after mistake

 

dove

Image via Sociological Images

Now clearly all the women in this ad from Oprah’s magazine are supposed to be showing off the wonderful “after” effect of using Dove soap. It’s just that the women (who are shaped like actual women – bravo, as usual, to Dove) are arranged by their skin’s melatonin content and therefore seems to say that the woman on the left … Well, you can see it for yourself obviously.

As the great blog Sociological Images notes:

I continue to be puzzled that multinational corporations with resources for large-scale marketing campaigns so often stumble in awkward ways when trying to include a range of racial/ethnic groups in their materials. This seems to occur by not sufficiently taking into account existing or historical cultural representations that may provide a background for the interpretation of images or phrases in the advertising. In this case, the arrangement of the models combined with the text above and below them unfortunately intersects with a cultural history in which White skin was seen as inherently “more beautiful” than non-White skin (not to mention thinner bodies as more beautiful than larger ones).

BTW, have I mentioned what a great blog Sociological Images is, lately? Have I urged you to read it daily, as I do? What’s that? I haven’t? Well, shame on me.

Round-up of the week’s odd marketing stories

  • Anti-Religion ad banned: Last month the South African Advertising Standards Authority banned an ad from a church for claiming miracles, this month UK’s ASA banned posters from the British Humanist Association asking people to check the “No Religion” box on census forms. The reason? They had the “potential to cause widespread and serious offence.”
  • 575-pound spokesman for Heart Attack Grill dies: ‘Heart Attack Grill is an unabashedly unhealthy restaurant – the menu consists of huge burgers, milkshakes and fries cooked in lard – and having such a big man as a spokesman was part of its tongue in cheek “glorification of obesity.”’
  • LA Clippers celebrate Black History month after Black History month ends: Not surprising really. As AdFreak points out “given [team owner Donald] Sterling’s standing as a poster boy for racial intolerance and bigotry, I’m amazed he missed it by only two days. By all accounts, this meathead is about as racially progressive as Archie Bunker. This is a guy who paid $2.73 million in 2009 to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed he discriminated against blacks and Hispanics when renting apartments in L.A.”
  • Del Monte unveils individually plastic wrapped …bananas. In case that wasn’t silly enough, the company claims the biodegradable wrappers are part of a “green initiative.”
  • Aussie schools sell booze for fundraising:  “The Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) has written to every school principal in the country asking them to reconsider the sale, use and promotion of alcohol products when raising money. In the open letter, chairman Dr John Herron said there were concerns students were being used as "couriers" between school and home for advertising material, forms and payments for alcohol as part of fundraising activities.”
  • Restaurant chain learns mass-murder doesn’t make for funny advertising

    drink the kool aidFor some reason The Hacienda restaurant chain thought an ironic reference to Jonestown was the basis for an ad. Billboards in South Bend, Ind., read “We’re like a cult with better Kool-Aid’ and ‘To die for.” (Did someone tell them South Bend is a hot-bed of irony? They were misinformed.)

    The ads were up for two weeks before the company finally got the message this wasn’t such a good idea.

    “Our role is not to be controversial or even edgy. We want to be noticed – and there’s a difference,”said Jeff Leslie, vice president of sales and marketing at Hacienda, which also owns the La Senorita restaurant chain in Michigan.

    Kudos to Mr. Leslie for not taking the easy way out and throwing his agency under the bus.

    The article contains a great look at how this cluster frack came about:

    Every year, Leslie said company leaders look at their restaurants, the economy, their customers, and the competition to determine an idea or theme to use for advertising.

    This year, Hacienda decided to use “You belong.” You have a place at home, a place at work, and a place to dine, gather and celebrate at Hacienda. As they brainstormed about how people belong to clubs and teams, they discussed how an entity can develop a cult following of like-minded people.

    Some people may dress alike or eat the same food or visit the same restaurant or drink the same drink – like margaritas, Leslie said.

    “You start playing with headlines,” he said, “and that’s how we ended up with the outdoor board. But we are not getting the reaction we expected. It went the wrong direction, hit a nerve, and we have come to realize we should not have done this billboard. We lose the core message.”

    Remember: Anyone can make a mistake but to really screw up you need a committee.

    Bad week for Groupon – UK says ad exaggerated savings

    The Advertising Standards Authority STRIKES AGAIN!

    The ad on the Groupon MyCityDeal site offered customers a four-course meal for two with a bottle of wine, or two pints of any alcoholic or soft drink, at the Wagon and Horses restaurant for £24, rather than £92.

    Groupon claimed this was a 74% discount, however, one customer complained the number was exaggerated.

    In its defence, Groupon said the calculation of the offer price was made on the basis of the most expensive items on the menu at the time it signed the deal with the restaurant.

    The ad’s small print, which had been incorporated following a similar ASA adjudication last month, said the discount is based on "highest price".

    Church banned from advertising miracles

    No MiraclesSouth Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority has told The Christ Embassy Church to stop making claims on national television that it can treat diseases such as AIDS through faith healing. “The ruling came after the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), South Africa’s main HIV/AIDS lobby group, filed a complaint against the church, which has paid programming on the private e.tv channel featuring people recounting how they have been cured by Christ Embassy.”

    How would the ASA rule on other miracles? Can a church say that it will provide you eternal salvation? Forgive your sins? Make you one with the universe? Have interesting sermons? Once you get rid of miracles what else does a religion have to sell?

    Really, if the US stopped companies from advertising miracles it would kill the beer and diet commercials immediately. It wouldn’t stop there, either. Any number of film directors would no longer be able to claim their movies were “good.”

    The other fascinating thing in this is, “What is a commercial?” What if a religion simply broadcast religious services? This is a very germane question. Last year,

    the ASA ruled that the content of the Christ Embassy television show was not an advertisement, but sponsored programming, and it therefore did not have jurisdiction over its content. The TAC then appealed, which led to the ASA ruling that found the programme to be: an advertisement, as defined by ASA’s code; promoting faith as a means to cure illness or disease; promoting Christ Embassy as the place to seek this cure, and; violating ASA’s code because it offers a product to cure a disease for which it has not received Medicines Control Council registration.

    The church would be appealing on the grounds that the television programme was not an advertisement and that the church did not intend registering with the Medical and Dental Council. "The product is called faith," [Attorney Sean] Sim told the Mail & Guardian.

    Art by Nathan Coley

    It wasn’t just you: Ad Execs unimpressed by this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads

    I am now writing for CMO.com. Here’s my first story:

    This was one of those rare years when the Super Bowl game outshone the Super Bowl ads. While the Pittsburgh Steelers kept viewers interested by threatening a historic comeback, many of the TV spots felt like reruns, ad agency executives told CMO.com.

    “The advertising was OK. It was less impactful than in years past,” said Rob Scalea, CEO of the Americas for The Brand Union. “[The ads] can’t always be breakthrough—after a few years that runs its course.”

    Read the rest at CMO.com.

    Russians use insane squirrel as mascot for anti-alcohol campaign

    Trying to get Russians to stop drinking is one of the few things more doomed to failure than trying to get The Cubs to win the The World Series. Still, in both cases, you have to try – right? The Russians have purposefully turned this job over to one of the least appealing mascots ever – an insane squirrel with a terrifying case of mange. This is not as bizarre as it sounds. According to The Telegraph:

    In Russian slang, delirium tremens, the moment of inebriation when people start to get the shakes and to hallucinate, is known as “belochka” or “a little squirrel.” The squirrel in the video, who is red-eyed and bedraggled, is therefore shown ranting, singing, and delivering a nonsensical monologue.

    That’s kind of how I imagine Glenn Beck is when he first gets out of bed.

    He talks about “chasing spiders up the walls” and finishes up by offering to kill his neighbour’s wife because she is “the devil.” “Are you a boozer?” the deranged squirrel asks in the finale. “Then I am coming around to your place.”

    Just replace “spiders” with “Nazis” and “his Neighbor’s wife” with “Democrats,” and it’s practically a transcript of Mr. Beck’s show.

    Demon squirrel wants you!

    To say Russia has a severe problem with alcoholism is to dangerously understate the case

    Alcohol is to Russians what coals are to Newcastle. Russians drink more than 32 pints of pure alcohol per capita per year, more than double the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum. During the Cold War, the Soviet Army was constantly having to guard against its soldiers drinking the brake fluid from vehicles. In his great book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of The Soviet Empire, David Remnick expressed his total amazement at a Soviet general being sacked for drunkenness this way: “I’m not sure it is possible to describe just how hard it is to acquire a reputation as a drunk in Russia.” At the start of World War I, Czar Nicholas threw a bone to the serfs and got rid of the government tax on vodka. This cut the government’s budget in half.

    This ad campaign follows a decision to reduce the amount of alcohol permissible in motorists’ blood to 0 and the introduction of a minimum price for a half-litre bottle of vodka of 89 roubles ($2.80). To put the price issue into context consider that a Russian airline pilot has a net average monthly salary of $864 and a bus driver nets $242.

    It also suggests the Russian economy is doing better. In November 2008 stockpiles of Russia’s national drink were six times higher at the start of the month than the same time a year ago because factories were producing vodka faster than they could sell it.

    Calvin Klein ads banned for using gang-rape images to sell clothes

    stop_violence_against_womenDown in Aussie land the Advertising Standards Authority has banned a Calvin Klein ad campaign  because it was “suggestive of violence and rape.” And by “suggestive” they mean “depicts in a faux artsy way.” I’m not going to post the picture because the ASA is spot on about this. The not-usually shy Daily Mail describes it as featuring a model “posing with three male models in the controversial image. Her head is rested on the lap of one, while she is straddled by another.” Perhaps they were feeling demure because they did run the picture. Who knows?

    An ASA spokesman said, “The Board considered that whilst the act depicted could be consensual, the overall impact and most likely impression is that the scene is suggestive of violence and rape.The Board considered that the image was demeaning to women by suggesting that she is a plaything of these men.”

    I, for one, would like to see the ASA banning ALL ads that suggest women are a plaything for men. Of course, that would destroy the advertising business – so it’s a win/win!

    I’m moderate as Heck! Signs proposed for the Rally to Restore Sanity

     

    Huffington Post is inviting readers to create the sign they want to see at the Rally. Here’s a few of my faves:

    Mencken Sign ribs

    gun

    odonnel

    mad as hell

    moderate

    muslin

    homer

    cat sanity

    pinky image

    MSNBC leans forward until it falls on a really bad tagline

    MSNBC seems to be the network for people who are angry at other people for being angry at something in the first place. I think. This would at least explain their struggle to find an audience. To help them in their audience-finding effort they’ve unleashed a new tagline: Lean Forward. As in, “Lean forward but try not to fall asleep.”

    MSNBC All you have to do is compare that with Fox’s “We report, you decide” to see what an epic fail this is.

    The problem is that the tagline is in perfect keeping with the brand: It sums up the sort-of-but-not-quite-left-of-center liberals whom both the Right and the Left can’t stand. It’s like they really want to be for something, but not if it’s going to upset you. Lean forward, don’t actually move there. Which is really odd given that MSNBCs two most (only?) successful shows are Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow – neither of whom can be said to lack for fire. And one of whom, Maddow, is actually intelligent, too!

    Congrats to MSNBC on producing one of the three worst taglines currently in use. The other two:

    • Army strong. With a half-a-trillion dollar budget you’d think they could afford at least one verb.
    • Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. I still can’t believe someone got paid for coming up with that.

    Chevy harkens back to a time when women were things

    Chevy stupidity

    Chevy used the above last month as a billboard to celebrate last month’s Woodward Dream Cruise classic-car event. But if you missed it you can get your own copy at the company’s online store.

    Ah, yes. The good old days. Back before the voting rights act and when you could still legally pay women less for doing the same work. Also, there were more Polack jokes. It’s been so long since I heard one of those. And carmakers didn’t have to add all those pesky (and expensive!) car safety features like … seat belts.

    Can I get my money back from GM? And I don’t mean the bailout “repayment” they made by borrowing money from the US government to payback the US government.

    Via AdFreak