Category Archives: advertising

No Stars for You: Confessions of a Super-Bowl Ad Critic

PuppyMonkeyBabyThe Super Bowl is weird this year. It’s not that I couldn’t care any less about the Atlanta Falcons vs the New England Patriots. I watched the Panthers vs the Patriots in 2004, so I guess I’ll watch this.

But this is the first time in 16 years that I haven’t spent the three weeks leading up to the Super Bowl hyperventilating about the Super Bowl commercials. You see, I used to review Super Bowl ads. Some critics review movies and books. I reviewed incredibly expensive commercials.

Until December of last year, I worked at Advertising Age, the trade magazine that serves as the bible of the industry. It’s a pretty godless industry, but one of the High Holy Days is the Super Bowl. Companies across the spectrum, from beer to super glue to floor mats for cars, pay the hosting network insane amounts of money to run ads during the most-watched thing on TV. This year, Fox was raking in $5 million for 30 seconds of air time. That cost doesn’t include production of ads larded with special effects, CGI animals, celebrities and “humor.” Continue reading

Why Twitter Hearts Are Like Bull Nipples

twitterheartSo yesterday, I spent upwards of 45 minutes scheduling social-media posts to promote my novels. To say it’s not one of my favorite things to do is an understatement.

It’s boring and it also makes me feel cheap and desperate. “Please, please buy my books. Won’t someone please buy my books?!? They’re old but they’re still good!”

There are companies who provide these services. They charge money, of course. The money, however, isn’t the issue. It’s that these companies seem to be followed mostly by other desperate authors who number in the tens of thousands. And the social-media promotion these companies provide is basically: “Here’s a tweet of this author’s book and an off-center picture of the author and/or his book cover.” This tweet is immediately followed by similar tweets for about a hundred other authors. If I’m gonna get tied up with a pimp, I expect more than that. Continue reading

More Squirrel Goodness

Big week for squirrel and squirrel-flavored products. Walkers Crisps (that’s chips to Americans), as part of its Do Us a Flavour (that’s Flavor to Americans), has included a Cajun Squirrel flavor. MMMMMMmm. MM. Good eats.

According to the bloke what came up with the flavor, “This gentle Cajun flavouring will be delicious for the public and although the idea might sound bizarre, it really works. No squirrels were harmed in the making of these crisps!”

Santa and Satan

Odd day in advertising. Santa hits the pawn shops and Satan shills for prayer network.

Me to Second-Lifers: Drop dead

Hey, remember when we were given the list of Top Ten Reasons Brands Don’t Get Second Life? I sure do. I tried to explain that “not wanting it” and “not getting it” are two entirely different things. And the typical Web 3.5 (or whatever) boosters rushed into the breach to tell me how wrong I was. Even as the actual numbers were already slipping, they were telling me (in comments on this post) that “in 5 years, Gartner predicts 80% of people will have a Second Life of some sort.” How’d that work out for ya?

Wrap the MTA

For those living in New York, it should come as no surprise that just a year or so after declaring it had a surplus, the MTA is declaring a shortfall so severe that it will have to cut entire subway and bus lines while raising fares. This only confirms my suspicion that the Metropolitan Transit Authority allows a room full of monkeys pounding on random-number generators to determine the yearly budget.

No worries. I’ve got a solution.