Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Jewellery billboard thinks stoning women is funny



My colleague Katie sent me this abomination of a billboard, via Fast Company, with a simple comment: "ugh."

Spicer Greene Jewelers has already taken a beating/earned hordes of free media for this, so at the risk of helping them sell more rings to people without souls, I'll just add the following:

Death by stoning is still practised in several countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, whether legally or illegally. Women are frequently sentenced to stoning for offences against puritanical sexuality laws and customs.

Here's an infographic by the Thompson Reuters Foundation, to help this sink in:



But hey, let's make light of violence against women to sell jewellery to men.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

President Shill? Trump as Brand Influencer


I took a little break from blogging, and look what happens. The United States elects a man who knows nothing but self promotion, and profiting off the backs of others, to their highest office.

Trump is not yet in office, but is using his very big soap box to manipulate stock prices as a bully tactic to tell aerospace companies and automakers where to put their factories. (Although the corporations themselves say it's a coincidence.)

How is this a matter for "The Ethical Adman"? Look above. The PEOTUS is literally telling his followers to buy certain brands, as if he is a paid shill. Is this also "unpresidented"?

Welcome to the United States of America in the reality television era, where someone like Kylie Jenner can make up to $300,000 per post as a paid "brand influencer" on Instagram. Trump is part of this world — a world television viewers and social media users created — and he seems to think it's his job as future leader of the "free world" to punish and reward brands depending on whether they support him politically or not.

The most worrisome part of this phenomenon is Trump's open hostility towards certain media outlets. He used his first press conference since the election to call BuzzFeed a "failing pile of garbage" and CNN a "fake news site" from a position of ultimate power.

And that's not all:


Advertising, entertainment, politics, and the personal vendettas of a singularly unqualified president-elect: it's all one big stinking mess in 2017.

UPDATE: JC tells me that LL Bean has already stated it doesn't want Trump's endorsement.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Skater brands denounce gay-hating fans #toplovesall



A couple of young men from Western Quebec have drawn the ire of the social media shame machine for their violently anti-gay shirts and statements.

One of them (I won't repeat their names here) was photographed wearing a shirt with the name of his gamer group, along with the words "If you are gay, don't approch [sic] me I'll kill you," to a popular Halloween event in Ottawa. Once identified, the man and a friend spoke to media defending their group's message, even though it might be considered hate speech in Canada.

These guys don't deserve any more infamy than they're already getting, however local skater store Top Of The World's reaction is interesting from a branding point of view.


Recognizing RVCA and other subculture brands on the offenders, Top Of The World posted the above captioned picture with the words, "I'm sure you've seen these fellas in the news or on social media. If not check it out. We wanted to make ourselves clear when it comes to this kind of garbage. #ottawa #toplovesall"

In recent years, many brands have struggled with the polarizing issue of LGBT equality, such as in the pasta wars of 2013. But with gay rights in the mainstream consciousness, in more progressive parts of the world brands have more to gain (and less to lose) by being LGBT allies than in courting homophobic customers. 

Top Of The World and RVCA picked the smart side in this one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mexican soft drink places undocumented migrants in America's great immigration story


In The Journey, Mexican soft drink brand Jarritos shows a group of Latin Americans walking determinedly through the desert, then follows it with a grand montage of how immigrants have made the United States what it is today.

I doubt anyone watching, whatever their views on immigration, would miss the implied message. The group on foot are making an undocumented crossing into the USA, but once there they will work hard and contribute the way all other groups of "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" have done.

It's a bold statement, in the face of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump's "Bad Hombres" rhetoric and armed, vigilante citizen "border patrols."

Latino Rebels asks, "Are you proud big brands are celebrating the immigrant legacy or is it just commercial exploitation to sell more soda?"

I'd say that it's doing both. Jarritos has a strong presence in the USA, especially among Latino communities. The iconic bottles make a cameo appearance around the 45 second mark:


Yes, it's here to sell. But I think the politics are pretty clear as well. Jarritos has made supporting Mexican immigrants, and appealing to other recent immigrant groups, an essential part of its brand DNA. And by taking sides, it will probably deepen its cultural connection with existing customers.

Watch the video here, in English and Spanish:




Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This eel-farming video would make a (not-so-) great PETA ad


According to The Irish Times, this video was made to promote the Japanese city of Shibushi, to promote its local eel farmers.
The male narrator... describes how he had vowed to do all he could to nurture her. “I fed her delicious food until she was full, and allowed her to get plenty of sleep,” he says.
Seconds later viewers are treated to a close-up of eel being cooked on a barbecue grill. “We take great care when farming our eels,” says the narrator.
Indeed! The video has since been withdrawn by authorities, but not before it caused an uproar online.



Well-founded accusations of sexism aside, I find it ironic. The concept of anthropomorphizing animals we eat is a common tactic used by PETA:


Either way, the image of women as pieces of meat is pretty unpalatable.

Thanks to KP for the tip!