Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is it time to ban retouching in cosmetics ads?


The Dove Evolution spot does a great job showing that even two hours of hair and make-up isn’t enough to avoid who knows how many hours of retouching in order to create the perfect women we see in most beauty ads. Which begs the question, are these ads misleading?

Cosmetic companies have always taken the stance that beauty advertising is aspirational. And surely no normal woman thinks there are enough beauty products in the world to turn her into a supermodel. But is it fair to show a digitally enhanced result when product efficacy is a key selling point? Personally, I’ve held back on trying any number of new wrinkle creams because I don’t believe that they actually work. And showing me a photo of an abnormally beautiful women, retouched or not, doesn’t help convince me.

But, in the UK, advertising watchdogs are taking notice. This week comes word that L’Oreal has been forced to pull ad campaigns featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington due to complaints lodged with the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority). To quote the ASA: “on the basis of the evidence we had received we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve.” (Sweney, 2011)

So my question is why is the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), the US advertising watchdog, silent on this issue? Are we just assuming that people will exercise common sense when they view these ads? Or should we be holding advertisers to higher standards as they appear to be doing across the pond? What do you think?

Sweney, M. (2011, July 27). L’Oreal’s Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington ad campaigns banned. Retrieved July 27, 2011, from

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It’s 10:00 p.m. Do you know where your parents are?


Ok, I’ll admit it, the new Toyota Venza campaign from Saatchi and Saatchi L.A. cracks me up. I especially like the execution with the clueless Gen Y worrying about the fact that her parents only have 19 friends on Facebook, as she sits all alone with her computer, while they are actually out having a good time.

It captures my feelings about the superficiality of Facebook – for those who don’t already know, I refuse to go on it – perfectly. A different commercial includes a Gen Y who has moved back in with his parents – another current trend.

Interestingly, Russ Koble, advertising and planning manager for trucks and SUVs at Toyota, shared the fact that when Venza launched in 2008, they actually had two targets, Gen Y and their parents, so they positioned the brand to the younger target and hoped that they would get older buyers too. Ugh! (Greenberg, 2011)

I don’t remember those ads at all. But, by firmly deciding to target Boomers they have been able to create a campaign that clearly speaks to the target. Kudos to them and the Gen Y folks at the agency for having the guts to do it. And, I’m sure Boomers will react positively, but not so sure Gen Y will respond too, as they hope. What do you Gen Y’s out there think? Funny or insulting?

Greenberg, K. (2011, July 7) Toyota’s Venza Walks Line Between Boomers, Gen Y. Retrieved July 7, 2011, from

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One Life to Live…will live again!


Apparently I’m not the only one who thought it was foolish of ABC to dismiss All My Children and One Life to Live without considering other options. In my 5/5/11 column, I expressed concern that discounting the loyal Baby Boomers who watch these shows was a mistake. And that with a little creative thinking about product placements and internet/mobile distribution both shows could continue to be strong marketing vehicles for savvy advertisers.

This week comes word that Prospect Park agrees. The production company has licensed the shows from ABC with the intent of airing them on the Internet. Given that they paid Disney millions for the rights, they will explore not only product placements and sponsorships, but also online subscriptions. (Schechner, 2011)

How interesting. I can’t wait to see what happens. How about you?

Schechner, S. (2011, July 8) Canceled ABC Soaps Get a New Life on Web. Wall Street Journal, p B4

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Have you listened to a radio ad lately?


According to the latest Arbitron stats, radio’s reach has increased by 2 million people in the past year and the medium is reaching 74% of the U.S. population over 12. (Sass, 2011)

Additional research suggests that 92% of them stay tuned during commercials. What about you? Are you listening to radio commercials? If so, why? (Adweek, 2006)

Sass, E. (2011, July 5) Arbitron: Radio Ups Reach By 2 Million Listeners. Retrieved July 6, 2011, from

(2006, October 23). Radio Listeners Stay Tuned During Commercials. Adweek p1

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Are you a good candidate for Macsurance?


You may have seen some commercials over the past year for Kraft Mac & Cheese, based on the insight that adults love the stuff, but feel that they can’t make it for themselves, so they sneak bites when they make it for their kids. I have to say they reminded me of the old days when my dad would always tell me that he had to taste my French fries to make sure that they weren’t poisoned!

This summer Kraft is building on the campaign with a clever movie tie-in, offering insurance for kids that are in danger of having their mac & cheese stolen. The effort includes a pre-movie video, coupons and a macsurance certificate. The program will run in 13 of the summer’s PG rated blockbusters to reach moms and kids. And, fans over 18 can access the program through Facebook as well. (Lukovitz, 2011)

So what do you think? Are you a closet mac & cheese lover, or do you know one? Is this a good way to get kids to lobby their parents for more mac & cheese? Will you “like” the brand on Facebook even if you don’t have kids yet?

Lukovitz, K. (2011, June 20) Kraft Mac & Cheese Offers ‘Macsurance’. Retrieved June 29, 2011, from