Monday, 28 June 2010

Caution: Always Remember to Eat and Drink

Product : KFC iTwist
Slogan : 1 Megabyte of Flavour!
Suggested Alternative : Comes in a Bakelite Box with a Free VHS of the latest Care Bear Movie.

Well, these sure took a long time to come out.  I say that because I was focus-grouped about this product almost a year ago.  Unfortunately they only asked me about flavours, rather than marketing, or perhaps they wouldn't have come out with this doozy of a slogan.

I propose that the slogan was invented by someone of at least sixty years of age.  I imagine that this is the only age group who (may) still consider one megabyte to be large or impressive.  Even a gigabyte is somewhat passe among the young, trendy people at whom this advertising campaign is no doubt directed (remember, kids: lower case 'i' makes everything cool!).  Perhaps Terabyte is going a little too far for mass marketing even now, but megabytes?  This slogan sounds like something I vaguely remember being associated with a Pizza company in the late 80's or early 90's.

Actually, I'm wondering if Apple could claim copyright infringement here.  The association with iProducts, as well as the quoted storage capacity is clearly a reference to them.  It's just a chicken wrap, after all.  Except, of course, for the fact that a 1Mb iPod could hold about a minute and a half of music.

Product: Tango (Again)
Slogan: "Tango Made My Stalk Shrivel".
Suggested Alternative : I suggest they borrow the one from the cigarette packet.

So, I noticed this on a can of Tango yesterday and thought it best to do an update.  Don't worry - Tango may cause you to black out and try to engage in sexual congress with animals, but it'll also make sure you can't go through with it.

Product : Budweiser
Slogan : Responsibility Matters
Suggested Alternative : Only Consume Under Strict Medical Supervision and Once All of Your Affairs Are In Order.

A beer company with an advert purely based on drinking responsibly?  Has the world gone mad?

Well, yes.  Long ago.  But this is suspicious.  Is it a double irony?  I'm stuck.  It reminds me a little of those warnings you always get on DVDs insisting you don't pirate them.  "You wouldn't steal a handbag!"  Actually, some people would.

That's why I don't trust this advert.  They KNOW they can't make 'drinking responsibly' cool.  This is the company that brought us the annoying, but undeniably memorable bullfrog advert after all.

I'm not going to rant on about stupid warnings here, but it is getting silly.  'Drink responsibly' and such.  I am a fan of Twining's Tea, but I was gravely disturbed to find "Enjoy Twinings as Part of a balanced, varied diet and a healthy lifestyle" written on the packet.  Leave me alone!  If I want to send myself to an early grave never doing anything but sitting in an armchair swigging camomile tea, that's up to me.  Ok, I guess I did rant about it.

Besides, this is Budweiser.  You can probably drink 17 of them without getting drunk anyway, so you're probably more at risk of drowning than ending up in a hit-and-run.

Goodnight.  And stay safe, or else.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Odds and Ends

I have not posted here in some time, so I thought I'd put up a few entries that a wrote some time ago and forgot about.  New entries soon!

Product : Shampoo (Unknown brand.  I can't remember, the adverts are all alike.)
Slogan : "Leaves your scalp up to 100% flake free!"
Suggested Alternative : "Statistically This Shampoo May Cause Severe Dandruff."

Up to 100%.  UP TO 100%!  Do they think we're stupid, or is this some kind of joke or error on the part of the advertising department?  Everyone's scalp is already up to 100% flake free, unless their head is 100% flakes, which is too gross to even contemplate, and probably  beyond the help of mere shampoo.  This slogan does not even imply that the product will have any effect whatsoever, and could indeed mean that the shampoo will leave you with more dandruff than you started with.  Possibly the most hilarious slogan I have come across yet.

Product : Tango
Slogan : I Drank Too Much Tango and Sucked A Bull's Udder
Suggested Alternative : Warning; May Cause Homosexual Bestiality

I was shocked to see this prominently displayed on a bus-shelter poster.  I'm not into over-censoring things, but I think this is going too far.  Besides the searing of deviant sexual imagery onto the minds of the very young, I am also unsure as to what quality of the beverage this advert is extolling.  Essentially, it seems to be implying that it gets you drunk, which is a bizarre claim.  Many non-alcoholic drinks marketed to adults advertise themselves based on the fact that they can be drunk on an evening out without impairing judgement; perhaps this is intended to be an ironic take on those brands.  If so, it must be noted that even the manufacturers of the most downmarket alcoholic beverages know better than to market their product based on the horrific mistakes you might make whilst inebriated.

Product : Marks & Spencer

Slogan : Christmas Wouldn't be Christmas Without YourM&S
Suggested Alternative : Something Evocative and Nostalgic.

Now hang on a minute... when did we stop saying Marks & Spencers?  I thought they were supposed to be upmarket.  Are we here witnessing the dumbing down of a well-respected brand to cast it's marketing net wider after the much maligned 'credit crunch'?
I' ve had to look up exactly what 'Your M&S' is.  I can only find marketing dross.  Apparently, it's an umbrella name for all the sections of Marks & Spencer, including their food shops, financial services and whatever the hell else they're up to these days.  Apparently it represents a 'handing back' of the brand to the British public, although I would imagine this requires something more than simply shoehorning the word 'your' into the name.
I'm fed up of needless abbreviation, and I thought a company like Marks & Spencer would be above it (yes, I see the irony, but the ampersand is part of the trademark, so poo to you  Apparently we're condemned to a future of cold, stupid acronymic brandnames.

As for Christmas, well, YourM&S was apparently introduced in 2004 (who knew?).  If Christmas has changed appreciably as a result, I haven't noticed.  Even if the slogan were talking about Marks & Spencer in general, I've managed to get through 25 years without having any particular involvement with the company during the holiday season, and I don't feel I've missed out terribly.  The thing is, even the highest quality commercial goods can't approach the quality of traditional, homemade fayre (or at least that's what us poor folks tell ourselves, and we're sticking to it).

Having said all this, I do quite like the adverts (they do have Stephen Fry in them after all).

Product: Hellman's Mayonaisse
Slogan: Hellman's; The Only Mayonaisse.

It demonstrably isn't.

Friday, 17 April 2009

The Fall of Walkers Sensations

The First Age

I remember the original release of Walkers Sensations crisps. It was an exciting new development, and I have fond memories (ok, one vague memory) of tasting the first few flavours during lunch time at school. They were awesome.
The range grew and grew, adding more and more unusual and adventurous flavours (the short lived mushroom and white wine flavour are particularly sadly missed). And they became my crisp of choice on all occasions. The delight of seeing a new flavour in the shops is something I fear I shall never relive.
Because then, they disappeared.

The Second Age

What a joy it was to see Sensations return to the shelves. After gasping in disbelief at the removal of many favourite flavours however, I became disillusioned. The oriental cracker and poppadom ranges were a small comfort, and the delicious szechuan spice flavour appeared all too late.
However, the remaining flavours were still of a high quality (albeit a little less imaginative), and my faith in the brand was fully restored when they released their range of deli-style corn chips. Both flavours were DELICIOUS.

This too shall pass.

The Third Age

Recently, Walkers Sensations were re-released for a second time. This time, even fewer flavours survived, and several particularly uninspired new ones were created. The downturn in quality this time was obvious. The packet art has deteriorated from sophisticated to tacky, the flavour list from tantalising to dull. If this does not mark the death of the brand... well, perhaps it would be kinder if it did.

The final nail in the coffin of this once-great brand? A single phrase. A slogan. Brazenly emblazoned across the inadvisibly redesigned packet art;

"100% Real Ingredients".

WHO LET THIS THROUGH? Anything in the packet is by definition an ingredient. So how can something BE an ingredient, and yet not be a 'real' ingredient?! Life is hard enough without having to worry about the ontological status of every damn thing I eat.

"Because the chairman of Walkers crisps has begun to embrace solipsism, we can no longer guarantee the existence of any of our ingredients. May contain: Tomatoes that are an illusion created by a malignant superbeing, lambs plagued by existential crises and traces of the purely abstract.

Warning: Made in a factory where the workers frequently imagine nuts."

Numerals are the New Letters. Word. I Mean... Integer.

Product: injurylawyers4u
Slogan: "100% Lawyers! 100% Compensation!"
Recommended Alternative: "WeSpendsoMuchTimeWrkingonyourKses,WeHavtoAbbrevi8Everythin WeWriteByondRecognition!"

This one by request of my sister, as we've laughed at it on television together many times.

Here's the offending advert:

Again, there's so much wrong here it's hard to know where to start. The fact that the guy in the advert feels the need to clarify that "They're real lawyers!" says an awful lot.

The biggest immediate problem is the name. injurylawyers4u contains a number of crass colloquialisms that are simply out of place in the name of a legal service company worthy of any respect. The obvious horror is the clumsy "4u" contraction, but not content with merely butchering the English language in this way, they also deign to remove all the spaces and capital letters. Phones4u can just about get away with this; it's still a pretty unpleasant way to write, but at least they are purveyors of mobile telephones, rather than (allegedly) qualified legal personell employed to help people through difficult and painful situations in their lives.
Seriously, would you trust these people to give you legal advice??

All this, and we've yet to even address the slogan. I'm sure I don't need to point out why this one is hilarious, but lets subject it to the usual over-analysis anyway...

"100% lawyers!" Not like all those other legal firms who make do with 80% lawyers and have to make up the numbers with zookeepers and sous chefs! So when you hire a lawyer, you're guaranteed to get a lawyer. Every time! One would have thought that trading standards would keep tabs on this sort of thing, but I suppose you can't be too careful.

"100% compensation!" I suppose this refers to comments on other similar advertisements where they say something like, "You get 100% of the compensation because we recover our costs from the other side". This clumsy rewording, though, retains the depressingly misleading spirit of that statement while also managing to crush the meaning out almost entirely.

I've often wondered what type of customer this kind of advertising approach is meant to attract. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence would dismiss them on the grounds of their appalling use of language, and everyone else would at least shop around for the best price. I think if we can ever find the type of person who is actually *attracted* to a company like this, we will have a far greater idea of what is wrong with the world.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Fruit and Nuts

Product: Lynx 'Instinct' Deodorant
Slogan: Unleash the Man Leather
Recommended Alternative: {censored}

Unleash the WHAT? The WHAT? I saw this on a few bus stops in town today, and I immediately knew I had to include it here.
The mind boggles at the phrase, though on first glance I thought it said "Man Lather", so I guess it could have been much worse. I wouldn't have put that past Lynx, though.
Leather doesn't do much when you unleash it. It just kind of sags and creaks. On the other hand, that equally applies to a lot of men I know, so they may be onto something.

Product: Fruit Sellers in Cardiff.
Slogan: "Two for a pound of strawberries!"
Recommended Alternative: Something that actually means what they're trying to say.

I must have heard this phrase ringing out across the streets of Cardiff thousands of times in my life. I suppose it's just because I was so used to hearing it, but I'd never really thought the phrase over until this weekend. I'm reasonably sure that it qualifies as an advertising slogan; it's a snappy phrase invented to alert consumers and attract them to a product, anyway.

Firstly, what is it supposed to mean? I can think of several equally valid interpretations;

1) 1lb of strawberries costs £2.
2) 2 strawberries cost £1.
3) 2 punnets of strawberries cost £1.
4) A service where 2 strawberries can be exchanged for 1lb of strawberries (stupid, but the most grammatically accurate interpretation I can come up with).

Well, I suppose it must either be 1) or 3), but neither really seems right, and annoyingly, depending on the size of a punnet, may be very similar. Hmm, maybe strawberries come in 1/4lb punnets, just to mess with our heads...

The weirdest part of all is that I remember them shouting exactly the same thing when I was a small boy. Hasn't inflation affected soft fruit prices at all?!

Monday, 29 December 2008

It's Water off a Duck's Back to Me.

Product: Evian Mineral Water
Slogan: "L'evian. Live Young"
Suggested Alternative: "As Good as Water Gets"

Bottled mineral water is probably the greatest scam of our time. It's difficult not to have respect for whoever is responsible for the marketing miracle of getting people to pay rather highly for something that they could quite easily obtain practically for free. Yes, there are things added to tap water, but you can always buy a water filter for your home if it bothers you that much. Bottled water should really only be necessary for emergency use, such as disaster relief and stocking nuclear bunkers.

That rant over, on to the slogan. Firstly, I'm not really sure about the use of a thick French accent to try to make the name of the product to sound like 'live young'; it sounds forced and extremely cheesy.

It's also difficult to make an association between youth and the consumption of mineral water. Personally, I'd associate youth with alcohol and fizzy pop, and mineral water with middle-aged health nuts. I guess I have a grudge against the health-conscious, since frankly I'd rather enjoy my food and drink than live a life of miserable blandness, but try explaining that to the self-righteous pastel-coloured-tracksuit brigade, and you'll get naught but a patronising look and a selection of chickpea recipes for your trouble.

For the conspiracy theorists, have you ever noticed that "Evian" spelt backwards is "Naive"? I'd love to believe that the name was chosen because of this, as an homage to the sort of people who waste their money on this stuff, but sadly it actually derives from its purported place of origin.

So yes... annoying product, annoying slogan, annoying consumers. I'm off to re-fill my glass of tap water.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Slogans Are Good For You!

Product: Vicks VapoRub
Slogan: "People Not Symptoms"
Suggested Alternative: N/A. I need to figure out what this means before I can make any attempt to correct it.

So... what? It doesn't cure the symptoms? They aren't important any more? The symptoms are the reason people buy this stuff, guys.

I have struggled over this one over the last half hour or so, trying to work out what it's really meant to imply. It strikes me that there are a few words missing from the beginning of the sentence, but I can't think of anything satisfactory to fit. "We cure people not symptoms" makes no sense, as if you cure the person but leave the symptoms intact, you can barely be said to have done anything at all. "We care about people not symptoms" would clearly be biting the hands that feed them, since they only make any money thanks to disease-causing organisms. "Our products benefit people not symptoms" just seems too obvious to bother with.

Having just checked the Vicks website for the correct format of this slogan, I realised that they couldn't even be bothered to put a comma in it. Every punctuation mark you leave out of a slogan is another nail in your coffins as far as I'm concerned.

Product: Dolmio
Slogan: "When'sa Your Dolmio Day?"
Suggested Alternative: "Pseudo-Italian Name, Pseudo-Italian Taste!"

Yes, that's right, they actually write it like that. It seems inconceivable to me that such a blatant (albeit mild) racial slur can find its way into the world of advertising these days, but there it is. Dolmio are obviously very brave. This is further substantiated by the fact that they put the phrase "best ever" in quotation marks three times on the frontpage of their website. If there's anything to make me suspicious about a product, it's the claim that it features it's 'best ever' taste.

The same page also claims that Dolmio products are made from "100% Good Honest Ingredients". So you can rest assured that none of those shipments of contraband tomatoes we keep hearing about are finding their way into these pasta sauces.

So, when is your Dolmio day? Does anyone actually have a day on which they religiously consume only Dolmio products? We're also expected to believe that a family of food-loving Italians do this. If so, I think that their Dolmio day consists of what can only be called "slumming it".

Their website also, for some reason, features a page of "tips for looking young", including the following:

"Here's a handy exercise tip – workout without even knowing it. When you're shopping, walk up the escalator instead of just standing there. It'll keep you fitter and give you even more shopping time!"

Ah, I see! So all of those people pushing their way past me on the escalators weren't being rude, they were taking an admirable responsibility for their health and well being!

"Dip into your fridge for facial cleansers if you run out. Buttermilk, yogurt and even cream are gentle, natural skin cleansers."

Yes, go ahead and smear your body with dairy products. Serves you right for taking beauty advice from bloody DOLMIO. At least they aren't advocating rubbing a tomato and basil sauce into your skin.

And in their self-promoting, but admittedly more orthodox cooking tips section:

"DOLMIO® Stir-In sauces are perfect for turning an average meal for two into a great one."

Assuming that the "average meal for two" consists of plain boiled pasta, then yes!

If your little ones love sweet food, why not add grapes or sultanas to their favourite DOLMIO® sauce instead of olives or peppers?"

Because they will hate you forever. Mmmm, grape puttanesca!

(By the way, "Dolmio" is an entirely meaningless word made up to 'sound italian'. Make of this what you will.)