Monday, September 29, 2014

The 5 Worst American Iraqi War Operation Brand Names.

(not an official logo)

In July, Israel launched "Operation Protective Edge" against Hamas in Gaza. What does that mean, do you think? Why doesn't the press ask what it means? Because you know days were spent around conference room tables committee-ing that name to death. Why not "Operation Protect Israel"? Or, "Operation Protective Force"? "Edge", I guess, says that Israel wanted to convey that they are superior, both militarily and morally, to their foes. Fine.

America doesn't have a brand name yet, at least not publicly, for its new tactical bombing campaign against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. (How about "Operation IslamaBomb?)  But my search for the name sent me to Wikipedia and the brand names of past American actions, incursions, and whatnots in Iraq.

Here are the five worst.
(probably not the official logo)

1. "Operation Desert Fox"—Bombing of Iraq (1998).
This name probably caused German WWII Afrika Korps field marshal Erwin Rommel —nicknamed by the British "The Desert Fox"—to punch his coffin lid until he broke all his bony knuckles. And for good reason. How dare the American army brass besmirch Rommel's good name—he refused high command orders to round up Jews, treated POWs humanely, and committed suicide with a cyanide pill after being implicated in a late war plot to kill Hitler—in the name of a pathetic four-day air-bombing operation aimed at destroying Iraq's nonexistent WMDs? Fuck you, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and fuck you President Clinton for not making him change the unoriginal, tacky name.

2."Operation Planet X"—night raid in search of Ba'ath party members and militants (2003). The name came from the cartoon Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century. "Ba'ath season, fire!" If I was Warner Bros., I would have sued the fuck out of the Pentagon.

3. "Operation Slim Shady"—Counterinsurgency operation designed to cripple the resources of Muqtada al-Sadr's militia (2004). The press release gives no reason why Eminem's alter ego was used as the code name, nor if Marshall Mathers gave legal permission to use the name.

4. "Operation William Wallace"—Counterinsurgency mission to destroy al-Qaeda elements in the Abu Tina area (2006). The Americans, rather disrespectfully, chose not to wear kilts and Scottish face paint during the operation. Kilts, combined with a hockey goalie iron cup jockstrap, would be an ideal desert battle outfit.

5."Operation Half Nelson"—An attempt to build trust with Iraqi civilians and eliminate terrorists (2006). Hm. Uh. Well.

NOTE: The Allied invasion of Normandy, France, D-Day, was dubbed—Operation Overlord. Now THAT was a war brand name. Majestic, with a can't-fail overtone. WE ARE THE SUPREME POWER, krauts. Bravo.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

More Awful Stock Photos Turned Into Awful Ads.

If you spend more than a normal amount of time online, you've probably noticed more and more "professional" bloggers turning to stock photos for quick stupid posts. This movement really picked up momentum about four years ago with the "women laughing alone with salad" post on The Hairpin.

Lazy bloggers subsequently said to themselves: "Hey, I'll just type some stupid phrase into Getty, post the photos without comment, and reap traffic rewards!

I say fuck all you newbie stock photo abusers. As I wrote in my first "awful stock photos turned into awful ads" post, us ad creatives of a certain age have been forced to use shit-awful stock photos since before they were online. My psychological stock photo wounds are deep and numerous.

So, yeah. Here's some more.

Click Ads To Enlarge.

Lacoste is of course known for their stupid ad creative linchpin of "models jumping". Why jumping? Because in-house fashion creative directors wouldn't know a good conceptual idea if it fucked them in the ass. I think Lacoste should transition into a "crocodile wrestling" linchpin direction.

The "business teamwork" stock collections feature some of the most terribly conceived ideas ever snapped. I couldn't decide which of these made the worst Cisco ad, so you get em both.

I actually think this is a pretty good ad for Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast targeting the "chai latte hipster" demo.

GET IT? "Blue" Nun?

Not as bad/good as the Cialis ad from the first batch (2nd ad down), but it does/doesn't work pretty well.

If I was MixedLuv's CEO, I'd run this ad full-page double-truck in the Wall Street Journal tomorrow.

I'm sure all you New Yorkers are dying to know what Dr. Z's secret is.
Getty title of this photo is: "Young Woman Portrait".

The Thinkstock title of this photo is: "Angry Old Man".
He is me.

It's business time.

I did a Monster ad last time, too.
I think this one is worse/better.

Ello, the hot new social network doesn't even have a logo yet, let alone advertising. I, and stock photos, got you firestarter entrepreneurs covered, though.

What the fuck else am I supposed to do with a turkey shitting stuffing?

Goldman, famous for their female-friendly work environment, recently launched this bullshit 10,000 Women program to supposedly support lady-owned small businesses.

Title" "Dead Woman". That's it, that's all it said.
So, since business magazines are dying...

Getty title: "Senior Woman Soaring Through Sky".
They left out TO HER DEATH.

Previously: Awful Stock Photos Turned Into Awful Ads, Part 1.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Starbucks Ads Target "Complete Moron" Demographic.


This is the no-duh sign-off line of new commercials via the $15 billion chain. These ads are what's called a "soft sell", as opposed to your local screaming car dealership commercials, which are "hard sell". Starbucks is soft-selling "getting together". Then, their logo oh-so-very-subtly suggests "getting together" at one of their impersonal cookie cutter building holes, as opposed to a billion other better places, including caves, highway rest stops, or if you need a cup of coffee (for free), "connect" at an AA meeting or the aforementioned local car dealership (just look at a couple of cars, grab some coffee, sit down, start connecting, and ignore the salesman, he won't kick you out).

The creative linchpin of the ads is this: show text conversations with v/o of the texters holding the same conversation in person, which shows HOW MUCH BETTER it is to communicate face-to-face. Well fuck me in the ass and call it Christmas, THANK YOU, Starbucks.

To the spots.


BOYFRIEND: "I know that look...I should get you some flowers, or something..."

Who wrote this dogshit (apparently Dana Stalker, senior copywriter, BBDO NYC)? Great conversation! Great connection! The scenario perpetuates the infuriating stereotype of coy women making stupid men guess whether they're mad at them, and if so, what they're mad at them about. Fucking wonderful.
I could write three (3) better "apology" ads right the fuck now, in the next hour (No, I'm not doing it, I don't work for fucking free).
This spot makes me want to go to—not Starbucks—but a shitty bar and drink several shots of whiskey—which Starbucks might soon offer.

Wait. Maybe this campaign is smarter than I think?


Another fucking cliched boilerplate conversation, this time between goofy girlfriends: 
What was he like?!?
You like him!!!!!
No I don't!!!!
Yes you do!!!!
Shut -up!!!!
No you shut-up!!!!

But then, the spots do feature "text messaging", so maybe you Millennials are enthralled to watch "text messages" that you yourself haven't written. The drama. And heck, AdWeek, the world's leading ad critique website, according to themselves, called the ads "clever".

I can't believe this is the best BBDO could come up with. Just, sad. They used to be a pretty good agency, for a fucking behemoth. What the hell happened, David Lubars?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

On EXTREME Copywriting.

 (2010 billboard. A phone is a bucket. With knuckles. Filled with female deer.)

At some point, in the last seven years or so, advertising copywriters started an EXTREME headline movement—in your face, provocative ads that make absolutely zero sense. Why this movement is happening now, and didn't happen back in the Xtreme 1990s, I don't know.

 This type of phenomenon happens often in our industry: the same creative linchpin pops up nearly simultaneously, all over the world. Sure sometimes it's just blatant idea larceny by shameless creative directors, or idiotic clients who say something like "Did you see that dancing babies ad? I want dancing babies in my ads."

But often, it's just an unexplained karmic mystery where copywriters/art directors have the same idea at the same time. Veteran ad creatives know what I'm talking about.

Anyway: the current main executor of this EXTREME headline movement is Wrigley's 5Gum, and their Chicago ad agency, Energy BBDO. But at about the same time that 5Gum launched, Ruffles and Cheetos (both PepsiCo brands) also started putting out EXTREME ads. Soon, several other brands also jumped on the EXTREME train.

But I think, if you're going to go EXTREME, than why not go FULL FUCKING RETARD EXTREME? Therefore, I've rewritten—pushed the envelope, we call it the creative department—some of these recent EXTREME ads.


(click to enlarge)

A couple of months ago, I stepped into an A train car that had been taken over by a new Trident campaign. This poster, in particular, made me gape. Chewy nunchucks? Nunchucks are unwieldy. I think my EXTREME Islamic take makes for a more explosive, targeted ad.

(click to enlarge)

If you're going anthropomorphize cavities as passive-aggressive stalkers, well then I say make them felonious terrorists.

(click to enlarge)
What the fuck is a mouth office?
Why not be proactive, instead of anthropomorphizing your gum sticks as passive "guards"? Make them armed-to-the-teeth (sorry) aggressive killers!

Ruffles & Cheetos

(click to enlarge)

These two PepsiCo snacks went violently EXTREME to hawk spicy sub-products. But again, especially when considering the Bro Demographic target, I don't think they pushed it enough.

(click to enlarge)
That's better.


(click to enlarge)

From 2007, this (L) was the first 5Gum ad I noticed (scanned from ESPN Magazine). 5Gum is so named because it supposedly appeals to all five senses. How does it appeal to sound? It's not bubble gum. No matter. First of all, you'd have to be Gulliver on Lilliput to be able lie on 1,000 cell phones. But fuck logic: this is EXTREME copywriting.

The message here is "tingling". Why not get tingled to death (R)?

(click to enlarge)

5Gum spearmint is so powerful, it takes over your body (very believable). And it lasts so long, if you chew a piece for a week, the flavor replaces your blood, eventually turning you into a refreshing zombie.

(click to enlarge)

The marketing geniuses at 5Gum decided to name their wintergreen product "Cobalt". Forgetting that if you tried "speed skating on dry ice," you'd break your neck, let's focus instead on Cobalt (chemical element "Co", atomic number 27). Cobalt is highly toxic, and "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen", according to the CDC. Now that's EXTREME.

This is a still from one of 5Gum's equally bombastic TV spots.
The copy is added.

(click to enlarge)

Another one.
Needed more electrifyingness.

(click to enlarge)

No, I've never tried that (L) because I'd be dead.
Let's call a tidal wave what it is, and provoke more FEARFUL fun.

(click to enlarge)

 These two ads were art only, so I added EXTREME headlines.

(click to enlarge)

More recent executions have been creepily sexually anthropomorphic.
Fuck 1st base, let's go hard to 3rd base, baby.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

BREAKDOWN! Why David Fincher's New GAP Ads Are Fucking Terrible.

BREAKDOWN! is a new semi-regular bullshit clickbait copyranter feature where I "break down" why popular new ads that most people like are in fact "Fucking Terrible".

GAP hired Fincher, Hollywood hero to both faux-tough misogynistic MRM douchebags (Fight Club) and passive-aggressive noodle-armed misogynistic tech douchebags (The Social Network), to shoot its new Fall denim commercials.

And man, are they bad.

What's usually not clear when a brand/ad agency brings in a big shot film director is how much of the resulting work was the agency's idea and how much was the director's. But I'm guessing since it's motherfucking Fincher, GAP/Wieden & Kennedy NYC gave him the freedom to shoot whatever the Hell he wanted as long it was good-looking Gen Y's/Gen Z's wearing denim.

Fincher's goal with these "films" was to create "positive anxiety", according to GAP's poetic press release. Huh. The feeling they evoke in me is more "negative nothingness". Watch and see what you feel.


"The uniform of rebellion and conformity".

Uniform. Rebellion. Conformity. Ying-Yang-ish soaked beautiful girl removes her wet GAP jeans in car and carelessly, rebelliously throws them in the front seat between a beautiful GAP-wearing couple (Not her parents, I guess. Woman is too young.) Not-as-beautiful-as-the-other-three backseat friend is not amused. Bearded man is resigned. Woman is very concerned. What acting! Note that woman is driving some kind of vintage car. The vintage music is "L'amour la Mort" (love death) by French jazz pianist Martial Solal from the 1960 Jean-Luc Godard film "Breathless". The car and music are meant to invoke "timelessness".

What mystery! What positive anxiety! What pointlessness! But, that's the point, you see. Life is pointless. And dark. And normal. So, Dress Normal. Or something. Fuck narrative, and fuck you, consumer.

Do you now, finally, want to wear GAP clothes?
I didn't think so.


"Let your actions speak louder than your clothes".

So, don't dress like this, I guess.

Presumably this is a couple: smoking (Or is it a toothpick? Such dark mystery.) skinny jeans-wearing anti-golfer golfer; bored, Capri jeans-wearing dancer. Oh my GOD, it's like a scene from a David not-Fincher but Lynch film! Is the hipster golfer going to kill and dismember his annoying girlfriend? I know this much: I wouldn't leave his vintage BMW sitting there with the keys in it, stupid dancing soon-to-be-murdered girlie.

Music: "Wait A Minute Girl" by The Newday, for those of you who care about such things.


"Dress like no one's watching".

Eh, what the fuck does that mean?

Anyway. Three men. Two of them, bearded (hipster golfer may have stubble, hard to tell). Though, this man's beard is actually a spray-on beard, because his real beard was destroying the actress's face from having to do so many takes for asshole Fincher (true story).

Wonder if the 4th spot will feature a bearded man?
This is about the only thing dramatic or "anxious" about this campaign.


"Simple clothes for you to complicate".

He's a swarthy, fast-moving man, so it's a bit hard to discern, but yes—he has a beard. He is running up the steps to presumably snog/shag the hot-assed white girl, which we can also presume he starts doing right there on the stairs since his white shirt comes floating down. Well, at least "something" happened here. But again, the sign off line is meaningless fucking drivel posing as Important.

GAP's marketing guru Seth Farbman had this to say about his campaign:
"We want these films to get people talking. Each one features a confident woman at the center and tells a story of how liberating it is when you are being your most authentic self. We believe everyone who watches them will identify with one or more of the characters. We were thrilled to work with David Fincher, one of the greats of modern American cinema and a superb storyteller. His highly detailed and authentic style resonates with the Gap brand and these films truly bring to life what our 'Dress Normal' message means."
They're not films, Seth. They're ads. Bad ads, with no story.
But please, continue:
"In the fashion world, there's a trend and a conversation around this idea that's called normcore,' I'm sort of edified in a way to see that there's a fashion trend that is more extreme but recognizes this same truth. We're not normcore, but we're seeing this same truth."

Seth? Sethy? GAP is normcore to the fucking core.

GAP's global president Stephen Sunnucks added:
"The films (sigh) were inspired by the bold and honest spirit of the millennial generation. (note: do you want this man smooching your hot young asses, Gen Yers?). Their authenticity is what makes them stand apart in today’s complex world. Gap has always stood for individuality and being your most authentic self. By challenging the idea of what it means to dress normal, we hope to inspire confidence in everyone’s own personal style."
SUMMARY: So: the campaign is Positive Anxiety. Happy Noir. Safe Danger. Rebellious Conformity. Synthetic Authenticity. Thoughtless Ideation. Uncreative Creativity.

ADDENDUM:  I know, from ten years of doing this crap, that some of you out there will be silently asking me: "OK, douchebag, then why don't you show us what you think is a good denim commercial?"

Fine. Here you go, from 2006:

"News Story"

Well look at that. Narrative, and old boring product as hero.
Ad agency: BBH London. Directed by: Frank Budgen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

According to Advertising, the 1950s woman wanted to fuck her appliances.

 (detail from 1956 Monsanto ad featuring a Hoover vacuum that wasn't also a phone)

It was the salad baby-booming post-WWII days of this great country, when men were men and women were wives. Obedient wives. Obedient wives with sparkling dishware, spotless clothing that smelt of the ocean, perfectly organized spice racks, and tightly sealed leftovers. Obedient wives who put on their shiniest pair of fuck-me pumps and orgasmed whenever a new appliance arrived (but not in bed, unless it was a new bed with Tide®-fresh sheets).

The Advertising Creative Revolution of the 1960s swept aside this obscene objectophilia. But it created another one, for men, involving cars (future post). There's always another one. Today it's gadgets, right moronic Apple fanboys?

To the appliance porn.

Click images to enlarge.

Let's start small and work our way up to the bigger, thicker appliances. How to please a lady...a lady in love? A hot little Proctor toaster. What is the right lady wearing? An apron? A frilly corset?

Details from two 1950s Toastmaster ads. Left, a Christmas ad featuring the happiest lady in the history of humanity. Right, a lady seductively jabbing herself in a personal arousal spot with her sharp nail (and probably drawing an inward breath).

Alright, to the washers & dryers. Get comfortable, we're going to be here awhile.
Two ads from 1953. Be-pumped left lady is rubbing herself against a vibrating Thor. Right lady is reluctant to leave the laundry room after the thrilling performance she just experienced.

Details from 1954 Bendix ad and 1958 Hotpoint ad featuring two satisfied ladies sporting their post-O faces. Right lady is—oh my. She had to sit on the running dryer for several minutes afterwards.

There were two ways to satisfy a "seven-year itch" in the 50s.
The Marilyn way and the Maytag way.
Both blew plenty of hot air up your skirt.

Two very different housewives in heels in love: L—If even one of her carefully selected towels came out less than perfect, control-freak Dominatrix tortured her blue boy by repeatedly turning him on and off. R—Sweet Submissive gives her soft towel-making sex machines fresh flowers every day.

L—Have hot identical twins in fuck-me pumps ever stared at you like that?
R—"So long and thick and smooth. You can agitate my dirty panties anytime, Maytag."

OK, let's move on to sizzling steamy ovens.
Sure, Dad and Daughter are excited about the new range. But not nearly as hot and bothered as Wifey. She instantly feels an electric connection like she's never felt with her dorky husband.

Lady (again wearing fucking pumps) can't even stay in the kitchen with her Tappan range and it's hot pieces of meat, all she can do is look on with sex face. R—LOVE BEAUTIFUL ME, LOVE MY BEAUTIFUL RANGE.

Refrigerators. What drew the 1950s woman to their cold, cold hearts? Well, the International Harvester (L) was "femineered!"—which was enough for ladies to sit on their cold kitchen floors, dresses splayed wide open, picking the color of their future lovers. Speaking of lovers, As commanded, second lady has fallen in love with her big inanimate pink object.

L—Heaven, I'm in Appliance Heaven...

(Promotional image via Frigidaire, 1956)

Apparently starting around 1954, housewives all across America got together, covertly, at regional all-night appliance sex cult gatherings in warehouses. (Think: Eyes Wide Shut). They'd don evening gowns and long white gloves and chant Latin while making the above secret "half box" sign (representing half of an appliance). Then, the orgies commenced.