WikiLeaks is at the cutting edge of irony

From Glenn Greenwald’s piece in Salon:

WikiLeaks suggested the “other source” was Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former WikiLeaks associate who WikiLeaks claims took, without authorization, many WikiLeaks files when he left.

I am a fan of what WikiLeaks does but not so much of Julian Assange.

I’m sure he’s very upset about this.

penguin-seal

Analtech wants public input on whether they should rename the company

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What’s in a name?

We’ve talked with a few experts in the field of marketing, branding, etc. and here’s the general consensus:
   1. Analtech is a brand name known and trusted by the academic and science communities worldwide
   2. Under normal circumstances, such a branding after nearly 50 years would be considered a huge success
   3. Analtech faces certain challenges because of the "juvenile" humor that has developed in the past few decades and current web filters that may block the company name

What do you think?

We’re turning to you, our friends and customers, to see what you think.
Please
click here for a simple, two question survey.

Uranustech?

flukeFor the record: Fluke has never even thought about it and they are doing just fine.

iPhone apps are the bleeding edge of marketing mistakes

app storeThe iPhone’s apps have been a marketing problem for Apple pretty much since they debuted. The problem is really that Apple wants to approve of all apps before they go on the store. This would be fine, if there was a consistent or even coherent policy guiding what goes in and what doesn’t.

This week’s examples:

Apple has removed an iPhone app from its online store created by Exodus International, an anti-gay religious organization that promotes the idea that homosexuality can be “cured.” … The app, launched in mid-February, initially received a 4+ approval rating from Apple, meaning it did not contain any “objectionable material.” … The app provided users with an event calendar, podcasts, video, “real answers,” “real stories” and links to Twitter and Facebook, and was designed to “be a useful resource for men, women, parents, students and ministry leaders.” … “We removed the Exodus International app from the app store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people,” Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr told FoxNews.com.

SOMEONE APPROVED THIS? Are they hiring from the Westboro Baptist Church? Possible explanation: There is either a very stupid algorithm or person responsible for vetting these apps. And Apple takes the hit for it because they make it clear they are control freaks who get final OK. Google, however, says we will take something down if we get told about it: “While Google does not intend, and does not undertake, to monitor the Products or their content, if Google is notified …” Because Apple’s guidelines for what is acceptable in an app are  basically, “It depends,” they are guaranteed to continue to run into this problem.

Which leads us to example #2:

Senators: DUI checkpoint apps are “harmful to public safety” … The apps in question range from those that try to put DUI checkpoints on a map in real time to those that help users alert one another about police on the prowl for drunk drivers. One app that we found in the iOS App Store called “Checkpointer” specifically advertises its $4.99 offering as being able to save you “thousands of dollars by helping you avoid an arrest for a DUI.” (The company that sells Checkpointer also offers bail bonds, so it’s clear which demographic this company is catering to.) Another app called “Buzzed” says it will alert you when a DUI checkpoint shows up or is planned for your area, though it also offers a “call a cab” service based on your GPS location.

SOMEONE APPROVED THIS?

Meanwhile, those two having already been approved, Steve Jobs himself killed an app for detecting radiation – created by cell phones: “Tawkon, makers of a mobile application that measures cellular radiation, have been blocked from releasing their app for iPhone. In response, the company on Wednesday released the tawkon app for iPhone via the Cydia jailbreak.” Is there an app that turns the iPhone into a general-use Geiger counter? If so I know at least one major market for it.

For those of   you not keeping score, a few of Apples other app mistakes:

 

Dove ad makes a big before-and-after mistake

 

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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.

I hope you don’t see an ad more offensive than this today

The always-brilliant website Sociological Images found this appalling ad for an Australian “luxury” real estate development. My first response after “This has got to be a hoax,” was how unsafe these places are when you have a resident scared out of her wits tied to a chair and calling the cops. This doesn’t make me want to live there, it makes me want to live anywhere BUT there.

Nothing says great living quite like the threat of rape.

First Galliano, now Japanese boy band causes a Führer

You would think by now everyone would have figure out the rule that No Nazis is Good Nazis. While this is universally true it seems the business world in particular has a problem remembering it.

Although former Dior designer John Galliano’s besotted ode to Herr Schicklgruber has captured the most headlines, he isn’t the only public figure with a swastika issue. In Japan (no slouch itself when it comes to fascist World War II atrocities):

Sony Music Artists Inc. apologized Wednesday on behalf of its popular boy-band Kishidan, after the group performed on MTV Japan in outfits that Jewish groups said looked like Nazi uniforms.

That description makes the whole thing sound like an acute case of oversensitivity, but if you watch the group’s video for its song Kira Kira! you see that Kishidan is astoundingly clueless in its use of imagery.

No Nazis is Good Nazis

First we have the band – with haircuts that would make Flock of Seagulls blush and outfits that are definitely inspired by The You Know Who – being faux gunned down by someone wearing Soviet-like army garb. (As you will recall, Commies were one of the other groups the National Socialists were going to save Germany from. How’d that work out, anyway?) This is followed by the band members being beaten up by

  1. Someone in metallic Japanese feudal armor
  2. A dominatrix who has definitely seen The Night Porter too many times
  3. The Russian, again; and
  4. A zombie. Don’t ask me why. (It’s time to let the whole zombie thing go. Either that or someone needs to tell a story from the Zombie’s point of view. Sparkly Zombies!)

Finally a virtuous and seemingly virginal Japanese school girl held captive by a sadistic robo-teacher takes a bullet for the band. This is easily the most incomprehensible Japanese film I’ve seen since Gegege no Kitaro and not 1/100th as entertaining.

Best quote in the story is from Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center who “said he thinks the incidents reflect a hole in Japan’s education of World War II. “

“Generally my experience has been in speaking with young people they don’t necessarily know very much other than that Hitler was a strong leader or that aesthetically this is very striking and interesting. For a lot of young Japanese they don’t even understand. When these controversies come up their initial reaction is ‘what’s the controversy? What did we do wrong here? What did Nazi Germany do?’”

The war is a bit of a touchy subject in Japan. Almost as touchy as it is for the Chinese, Koreans, Philippinos, Allied vets and others the Japanese visited themselves upon.

I don’t think this band is pro-Nazi as much as they are idiots. Reminds me of Walter Sobchak’s line from The Big Lebowski: “Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”

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.

Illegal immigration + video game = stupid

Smuggle truckYou’d think the formula would be self-evident but … noooo. Last year Spain’s Popular Party put up a game that let players bomb illegal immigrants. This year we have Smuggle Truck a game for iPod and iPad from Boston’s own Owlchemy Labs.The aim of the game is to keep immigrants in the bed of a truck as they speed through the border lands. Hit a bump or jump a canyon and men, women or kids fall off.

No sooner was the game announced then controversial hijinks ensued. No surprise that many immigrant rights groups found it offensive. Well, no surprise to you and me. Owlchemy said in a post on its website:

"Smuggle Truck was inspired by the frustration our friends have experienced in trying to immigrate to the United States. With such a troublesome issue being largely avoided in popular media, especially video games, we felt the best way to criticize it was with an interactive satire."

“Such a troublesome issue being largely avoided in popular media, especially video games”??? Ah yes, video games – always my first source for satirical commentary on the news.

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".

Kenneth Cole is early favorite in Biggest Marketing Mistakes of 2011 competition

kenneth-cole

Really? You really thought this was funny? Really? Actual humor would have been, “Anderson Cooper was beaten up because people thought he was our new spring collection.” No, wait… I wasn’t intending to make light of a serious situation. Why is it I can’t put “Anderson Cooper” and “serious situation” in the same sentence with a straight face?

Disney puts straw in exactly the wrong place on this Princess™® sippy cup

princess-pecker

I’d ask “What were they thinking?”,  but I’m pretty sure thinking wasn’t involved in the process. Or, as Mrs. CollateralDamage put it over at her widely read blog BrokeHoedown

I do not even know how to caption this. I found it difficult enough to just write the alt text for the image.

Wow.

Is DiGiorno Pizza’s “Wyngz” the WORST product name ever?

wyngzWell, probably not. But it’s up there, that’s for sure. As Steven Colbert explains, the name is the result of a horrible combination of Federal regulation and Kraft’s desire for something trademarkable™. According to the Feds, if a “wing-shaped” or “bite-size appetizer product” doesn’t contain any “wing meat” it cannot be labeled as a “chicken wing.” And Pizza and Nuggets sounds like a kids meal. Memo to the fine folks at Kraft’s marketing department: You really didn’t need to ™, ®, or © the name. No one else will ever use it.

Here’s another issue: How do you order one of these? (We’ll leave the question of why for another day.) Is it a Wyng™? Or is Wyngz™ itself the singular and the plural is Wyngzes™? Also, these are described as “boneless Wyngz™.” Does that mean there is a version with a Wyngz™ bone still in it?

Taco Bell goes retro with “Where’s the beef?” defense

Want to know when you’ve lost the PR battle? When you get headlines like this:

Taco Bell Defends Beef, Calls Suit ‘Bogus’

tacobellTaco Bell’s real problem is that this lawsuit doesn’t sound that outlandish. It just confirms a lot of people’s secret suspicions – whether true or not. Taco Bell’s brand promise is cheap, pseudo-Mexican-themed food. Nobody looks at them and thinks, “Good food.” They think, “Inexpensive, filling and no I don’t really want to know what’s in it.” Even the company’s defense plays into this. Chihuahua HQ has put out a press release saying,

Our seasoned beef recipe contains 88% quality USDA-inspected beef and 12% seasonings, spices, water and other ingredients that provide taste, texture and moisture.

“88% of our meat is actually meat. No, really.” You’re not going to win a lot of hearts and minds with that one guys.

What the company needs to do is go with this instead of fighting it. How about an ad campaign with a Lenten theme – “Taco Bell, perfect for meatless Fridays.” Or, “Taco Bell – Fast food for vegetarians.”

FDA announces recall of “Toxic Waste® brand Nuclear Sludge® Chew Bars”

2699393_370

NOMINITAVE DETERMINISM IN ACTION!

There’s really nothing you could possibly add to that headline but if you want to read the FDA announcement go here.

Vogue’s hot, new fashion trend: Sexually exploiting children for fun and profit

Here’s what Xeni Jardin said at BoingBoing and I can’t do better (click here if you want to see one of the pictures.):

The December issue of French Vogue, edited by Tom Ford, features an extensive spread of child models presented more or less like whores. The girl above is 6. Lemme spell that for you: s-i-x! I’m a big Tom Ford fan. Or, well, was. Artistic freedom and everything, and no, this shouldn’t be made illegal—but I believe this is Totally Not Cool.

Apparently French Vogue is where they run all the most appalling stuff. They managed to hit #5 on 2009’s list of Top 10 Marketing Blunders with a salute to black-face featuring a photo spread of the very Caucasian Lara Stone painted head-to-toe in dark make-up. Keep up the good work gang! It’s going to take a lot of work to keep them out of 2011’s Top 10.