Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

In The Political Brain•, Westen mentions that the Republicans are remarkably good at making their values appear to be the values of the majority of Americans when it comes to controversial issues, even though the polls consistently show that the Democratic positions are actually more similar. This is due to two things, Westen says. First, Democrats shy away from “controversial” issues, like abortion, guns, etc. because they are too worried about offending anybody, and by refusing to lay out a coherent, principled Democratic narrative on guns or reproductive rights or the environment or whatever, they allow Republicans to define the Democratic position in the public’s mind for them. Then, in the absence of any counter-narrative from the Dems, voters take Republicans at their word. They fail to realize the extremity of the Republican position on these issues (the official position on the Republican Party is that abortion should be outlawed in ALL circumstances, even those that are life-or-death for the mother, and that there should be absolutely no restrictions on gun purchases) while maintaining an exaggerated belief in the extremity of the Democratic position.

A good examples of this dichotomy, I think, is with birth control. Ninety-eight percent of women of reproductive age have used one or more methods of birth control, generally the pill or condoms. Things used by nearly all American women at some point in their lives cannot, by definition, be radical.

Although the RNC platform lists no specifics about birth control, Bush’s funding of abstinence only programs not just for teens but for low-income women and global health centers belies an administration that is obviously not to keen on condoms or birth control pills. Yet Bush has refused to ever specify his exact position on these. Why? Because it is at odds with all but 2 percent of American women.

And yet the Democrats rarely bring this up (when I say Democrats, I mean party leadership and politicians, as opposed to, say, left-wing bloggers, who bring this up all the time). Afraid of appearing soft on sex, Democrats fail to point out the extremity of the Republican position on contraception while simultaneously failing to put forth their own coherent narrative on the issue, which means Republicans can continue to get away with convincing voters that they represent the “middle class,” the “mainstream,” the “family values” position when it comes to family planning.

An excellent article in the Baltimore Sun today examines the way Mitt Romney and other Repub candidates have been speaking out of both sides of their mouths on birth control:

At National Right to Life’s conference this year, Mitt Romney set out to convince anti-abortion leaders he was their candidate. At the podium, he rattled off his qualifications. To a layman’s ears, it sounded pretty standard for abortion politics. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. He supports teaching only abstinence to teens.

But for those trained to hear the subtleties, Mr. Romney was acknowledging something more. He implied an opposition to the birth control pill and a willingness to join in their efforts to scale back access to contraception. There are code phrases to listen for – and for those keeping score, Mr. Romney nailed each one.

One code phrase is: “I fought to define life as beginning at conception rather than at the time of implantation.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines pregnancy as starting at implantation, the first moment a pregnancy can be known. Anti-abortion advocates want pregnancy to start at the unknown moment sperm and egg meet: fertilization. They’d also like you to believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that the birth control pill prevents that fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.

Mr. Romney’s code, deciphered, meant, “I, like you, hope to reclassify the most commonly used forms of contraceptives as abortions.” In fact, he told the crowd, he already had some practice redefining contraception: “I vetoed a so-called emergency contraception bill that gave young girls abortive drugs without prescription or parental consent.”

No matter that emergency contraception has the same mode of action as the birth control pill and every other hormonal method of birth control. To the anti-abortion movement, contraception is the ultimate corruptor. And so this year, the unspoken rule for candidates seeking the support of anti-abortion groups is that they must offer proof they’re anti-contraception too.

Being anti-contraception obviously will not fly with the majority of American voters. But Republican candidates have found a way to make their messages heard and not heard, an anti-contraceptive whistle that only fundies tuned to precisely the right frequency can hear. Yet Democrats being as they are, we are more likely to see Democratic candidates respond to the surface messages here when what they should be doing, every time they are given the opportunity, is pointing out the extremity of the Republican position on contraception.

This is what progressive and feminist bloggers have been saying for years. Most women who take the pill don’t know exactly how it works (many don’t even know that the “periods” had while on the pill aren’t even real), and men have no idea. If you keep letting conservatives associate contraception with abortion in the public’s mind, it is bound to stick on some level. As Westen would say, even if it doesn’t make sense rationally, unless there’s a prevailing counter-narrative to prime the public’s minds, then the neural network associations for both contraception and abortion will become inextricably tied, until activating one network will always activate the other. People are still going to rationally realize that their monthly birth control packs don’t contain 28 little abortions each month, but they may be more likely to be weary of things like the morning after pill, teenagers getting the pill without parental consent, etc.

For now, the candidates vying for the Right to Life endorsement are doing their best to avoid directly answering mainstream voters’ simple questions on the subject, such as, “Do you support couples having access to safe and effective birth control options, including emergency contraception?” Considering that even 80 percent of self-described “pro-life” voters and a majority of Republican voters strongly support contraception, it’s no wonder why.

So what should Democrats do? I don’t know. I’d say make Republicans answer the question.

• I am pretty sure everything I write this week will somehow tie back to this book.

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Free for Chubbies!

Last one, I swear.

Lane Bryant ad, vintage

If you were carrying a few extra pounds, wouldn’t this totally make you want to buy clothes from Lane Bryant? Charming, chubby-size clothes?

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So looking up drug ad pictures for my last post, I came across this (via AdFreak):

Vintage Drug Ad, Mornidine

I can’t read the small type, but the gist seems to be: “Is your wife too depressed to cook you breakfast? Pump her full of uppers, and you’ll have eggs and bacon again in no time!”

[Not that I’d really object if anyone wanted to provide me with a steady supply of uppers. In fact, I’d probably cook you breakfast if you did. Huh. Maybe they were onto something here].

More great vintage drug ads here. My second-favorite is probably an ad for barbituates that pictures a man hovering over his conked-out wife, with the text, “When crisis demands quick-acting hypnotics.” Drug your wife, obviously.

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Vintage Drug Ad
The good old days of drug advertising

Does this seem like a ridiculous waste of time to anyone else?

Federal regulators plan to study whether relaxing, upbeat images featured in TV drug ads distract consumers from warnings about the drugs’ risks.

Of course they do. That’s the point. The good news is, consumers — distracted by that cute little Zoloft bubble or those evergreen hills that represent the vitality of the old couple’s newly viagra’d sex life – can’t just ignore the risk warnings completely and then run out and buy the drug. They have to go to a doctor. The doctor will tell them the risks. The doctor will refuse to prescribe the drug if the risks are too great. Rendering the question of whether or not the TV ads are distractingly upbeat just about moot.

[We should really start keeping a tally on which agency spends more time and money investigating banal/ridiculous things, the FDA or the FCC?]

Too Distracting

One ad for Eli Lilly & Co.’s impotence drug Cialis features a middle-age couple returning from shopping while smooth jazz plays in the background. Toward the ad’s end, a male voice lists common side effects, including headache, back pain and muscle aches.

“If advertisers were really interested in getting information about drug risks out, they’d show pictures of those problems, but you almost never see that,” said Sidney Wolfe of the advocacy group Public Citizen, which frequently criticizes drug-industry marketing.

Sigh. This is kind of like the people who insist that if junk food companies are going to advertise to kids they should also tell kids to eat broccoli or something like that (Eat Fruity Pebbles – but it may rot your teeth and has no nutritional value and make sure to get 7 servings of fruits and vegetables in per day as well!). Do these people completely fail to grasp the point of marketing? You can’t compel companies to advertise in ways that betray their own interests; if so, they’ll simply stop advertising. And advertising is an essential part of our economy. Sure, we have a compelling national interest, I’d say, to make sure ads are factually accurate and not overwhelming misleading, especially when we’re dealing with drugs or food or other things that affect people’s health. But it’s kind of silly to expect advertisers to actively dissuade people from purchasing or using their product.
Vintage Drug Ad
Of course, maybe I'm just writing this because I'm a secret operative for the pharmaceutical companies. And you are too distracted by all the aweseome illustrations I've peppered throughout this post to even notice that risk.

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“OMG! Talk about casual chic! He’s dirty. He’s sexy. He is so money. Only Jeremy Darling could make a formal occasion look like an after-party… and for him, it probably is.

Via Outta Mind Outta Site, the next step in online advertising: inserting ads directly into “the blogstream.” Sure, businesses and politicians have been trying to do this sneakily (with what level of success, who knows?) for years, but this brazen display of advertlogging (hey, if you people are going to persist in making “vlogging” into a word, then pardon me this one) by celebrity-blogger Perez Hilton is somehow more and less offensive at the same time. I mean, it is marked “advertisement,” but it’s also designed to look and sound identical to a typical Hilton post. Catherine writes:

perez hilton, what the hell is this? for a couple of weeks now i’ve noticed these oddly-written, oddly-imaged posts and wondered if you were on crack while writing them. and now in my slow stupor i finally realize they are ads for dirty sexy money, placed as posts, right in the blog stream.

In my limited knowledge of Perez, I’m not sure he’s ever claimed NOT to be a complete shill. But still. Keep this up, and people are going to start calling for some sort of professional-standards-inducing “blogger’s union.” Oh, wait

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Bad news for street vendors and discount retailers alike: fashion designers are currently pushing for copyright protection for their designs. They’re claiming that knock-offs of haute couture fashions (i.e., those “Coach” purses sold by the guy on the corner) are harming their sales, and Sen. Charles Schumer and a gaggle of designers are backing the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, which was introduced in the Senate on Aug. 2.

What the world needs now is certainly not more classes of copyright protection. Without knowing anything of the legal history of the push for copyright for fashion (of which a quick Google search reveals there certainly is) or any sort of legal knowledge of this issue to back up my analysis, I can still come up with a handful of common-sense reasons why this really shouldn’t fly.

People buy designer clothes for two reasons: the quality (a lot of the really high fashion pieces are all hand-sewn, etc.) and the label. Even if that Hermes knock-off looks exactly like an Hermes original at first glance, it’s not going to be as well-made, and it’s not going to have the authentic label (attaching a designer label to a fake is currently prohibited under trademark law). So for people who are really in the market for designer goods, the knock-off isn’t going to cut it. For some it will be a matter of quality. For some it will be a matter of snobbishness. But the kind of folk who are willing to pay $3,000 for a Kate Spade handbag aren’t going to settle for what my friend calls a “Kate Spode.” Since look really isn’t what adds the value here, copy-cats without the label or the quality can hardly detract from the value of the real thing.

The claim that people buying these knock-offs is hurting business because these customers would otherwise buy the real thing is also dubious. This argument is similar to those horribly inflated statistics media companies like to trot out about all the hundreds of DVDs an individual would buy each year if only the films weren’t freely available for download. People buy designer knock-offs because they’re cheap, and most people can’t afford real designer fashions. If the knock-offs weren’t available, this doesn’t mean people would suddenly have more money to spend on the real thing – they’d just buy other brands of clothing instead.

The other question is, where would this fashion copyrighting stop? Designers are claiming it would only apply to a whole item that is visually identical to a designer item, but it seems it wouldn’t be too long before designers were copyrighting elements of particular designs, cuts or buttons or patterns, etc., or going after designs that were merely similar to their own. Because so much of fashion relies on similar elements – things are trendy (what one wants fashion to be, generally) because they follow the trends – this could create serious limitations for all but the most powerful and branded designers. Shirts and dresses just don’t really have the capacity to be as inherently different as novels and screenplays, and they shouldn’t have to be.

David Bollier at the Lear Center notes:

Copyright protection for clothing would shut down the robust competition and creativity that allows this great global industry to develop new ideas and trends. Big-name fashion houses could monopolize a design, and then sic their lawyers on competitors who dared to do what they have always done – produce “substantially similar” shirts, trousers and jackets.

Do we really want judges deciding whether Donna Karan’s latest line of dresses ripped off a previous designer?

We already know the answer: Of course she did! Fashion is based on constant borrowing, imitation and transformation of prior works. While there are obviously many creative geniuses in the fashion world – especially in the timing of their new designs – no one is wholly “original.” Giving exclusive property rights based on some slippery, legalistic notion of “originality” would undercut the energetic creativity and imitation that is the engine of the fashion business.

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… because I’ve already written about 27 billion posts today but I like these posts too much not to say something …

OldManCoyote compares radical anti-abortion activists to Islamic terrorists

And before all you radical anti-choicers get your Jack Bauer underoos in a bunch and accuse me of comparing you to terrorists, let me clarify:  I am absolutely comparing you to Al Qaeda.  If the neo-fascist anti-democratic one-God-fits-all theocratic shoe fits…

Jezebel deconstructs the photo-shopping of Faith Hill.

And Jessica Valenti asks whether the “Obama Girl vs. Giuliani Girl” pillow fight video is funny, instulting, or just dumb?

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Looking for even more ways to avoid interaaction with the real world? Ning is a “meta-networking” site that allows users to create their own social networks for whatever they want to. On the front page of the site right now (I’m assuming it changes daily) are networks for something called the Brooklyn Art Project, the “Sick Puppies Network,” and the “One Tree Hill VIP Lounge.” Ning’s passion, they tell us, is “putting new social networks in the hands of anyone with a good idea.”

With Ning, your social network can be anything and for anyone. You start by choosing a combination of features (videos, blogs, photos, forums, etc.) from an ever-growing list of options. Then customize how it looks, decide if it’s public or private, add your brand logo if you have one, and enable the people on your network to create their own custom personal profile pages.

I read about this today on Cultureby, and my first thought was, oh, that’s kind of cool, because I think I’m kind of conditioned to think that about every new Web platform that gets introduced. But then one of the commenters asked, “what is the value?”


What is the value added here? What do people get out of this? Why does everyone keep joining these things? At a certain point, do you really gain anything from joining a newer/bigger/more-compartmentalized/whatever network? Or do you just spend more time out of your day checking out 13.5 million sites, with absolutely nothing added for belonging to more than one? It’s kind of like blogrolls — the more blogs I read, the more other blogs I get led to, and the more blogs I, in turn, add to my RSS reader. At this point, I just look at my massive list of feeds every morning and feel daunted. I resort to skimming just about everything. I was probably better informed about life, the world and the blogosphere when I only read 5 blogs total.

(Another commenter at Cultureby pointed out that everyone keeps talking about how there needs to be one giant aggregator, something where you can combine Flickr, YouTube, blogging platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn, your RSS reader, etc., but if we got to that place, “would the security issues freak us all out?”)

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A friend of mine observed the other day that the conversation surrounding the whole “green” phenomenon is eerily reminiscent of the hype surrounding tech start-ups in the dot.com era. I can’t really make that comparison, because I was too young (and insolated by the rolling hills and illicit drugs of the Hocking River basin) at that time to have much of any idea about what was going on in the world circa 2000, but I do agree that the idea of “going green” is getting a bit out of control. My friend’s reaction was spawned by this USA Today article about “ecomarketing:”

In the three months ending June 14, marketers shelled out a combined $18 million on green-focused TV ads, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Those ads ranged from Earth Day sales promotions to commercials for hybrid cars. While an environmentally sound stance is good for Earth, it doesn’t hurt a marketer’s brand reputation — and increasingly it is a path to higher sales and profits.

I had similar thoughts to hers after reading a piece the other day about “green weddings.”

The bride chose a gown that could be worn again to parties, the groom organized guest car pools in hybrid vehicles, and the reception was held in an outdoor Japanese garden instead of a big, energy-sucking hall. Everything about Kristy Wang and Nik Kaestner’s big day in San Francisco was decidedly “green” – from locally grown, organic vegetables and sustainably harvested fish to homemade tablecloths that were later turned into dinner napkins.

There are apparently a whole slew of companies devoted to planning “green weddings” – which to me just seems like another way for the bloated bridal industry to try and suck money out of people while, in the meantime, couples with too much money can feel morally satisfied with their table setting choices … but whatever. Supply and demand, etc. etc. Who are any of us to judge what anybody else spends money on?

All of this is just to say, however, that it seems the issue of “green” businesses and products and marketing and practices etc. etc. has, in “issue attention cycle” terms, reached the critical stage. But while what is needed are at least a few grand sweeping solutions (enacted by either corporations or governments or nonprofits or whoever), the bulk of the focus is on individualizing frames/behaviors. How can you reduce waste at your wedding? How can you use your consumer purchasing power to “go green?” How can you do the right thing by buying the right brands of laundry detergent and bottled water (isn’t the whole concept of ecologically friendly bottled water kind of funny?)

There’s nothing wrong with all of this, of course – I mean, obviously the more everyone changes behaviors in little ways the better – but I feel like it has the potential to collectively delude us into feeling a lot better about the earth than we should. My friend asked, how are we measuring success? Is it by sound policy made, or the variety of brands of ecologically friendly toilet paper available at your local grocery?

P.S. For a good illustration of what can happen in the stage just past critical in the issue attention cycle (and perhaps a more apt comparison for the green craze than the dot.com boom), just think about recycling. Hey, remember recycling? It’s not that people don’t recycle at all anymore, but it doesn’t seem as imperative, for sure. There was a time when you’d get verbally crucified if you said you didn’t recycle; now nary a soul so much as blinks when you tell them to throw their glass beer bottle in the trash can.

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You know it’s sad when it’s a wee bit before midnight and you haven’t even hit the half way mark for work. Alas, if only I had an extra hundred dollars to spend, I could hire a work-servant to do it for me! I could then spend my day blogging about which color line metro is my favorite (yellow still holds a fond place in my heart but green is coming up a quick second).
With my (slight) obsessive tendencies towards reading business magazines, I came across a
Red Herring
article on the PayPerPost company. What is PayPerPost?

PayPerPost, a website that lets bloggers write reviews about advertisers, and get paid by those advertisers, said Tuesday it raised $7 million in a second-round led by prior investor Draper Fischer Jurvetson.

Before anyone gets all angry and Captain America on the issue. PayPerPost has a code of Blogger ethics. That’s right. To keep us all safe from ourselves and our tendencies towards lying and trickery.

Disclosure Badges

The Disclosure Badge example on this page is a representation of graphical icon that informs the reader that a particular piece of content is a sponsored post. Advertisers may request that you place these icons next to the appropriate content in your blog as a signal to your readers.
In-Post Text Based Disclosure

In the event that an advertiser does not request a Disclosure Badge you are free and encouraged to disclosure within the post itself via a text disclosure. Example of test disclosures include: This Post Sponsored by ACME, This Post Brought to you by AMCE, Thank you to my Sponsor ACME. Always thank the sponsor themselves, not PayPerPost.
Site Wide Disclosure Policy

You can choose to adopt a site wide policy that lets your readers know that you accept sponsored posts. This policy MUST be displayed in a prominent place that is easy for your readers to locate.

I’m all for it. Call me the lady for looking for ways to make legit money, but you have company A and they want to help companies B-X. So they source out the work for people willing to do it. Those people get paid for talking positively or negatively about said companies B-X. Masses who listen to those people either take it in or not. What’s the big deal? We have sales people hocking bad perfume and cheap watches in malls across America.

Looking at possible arguments, if companies B-X try to do illegal work, that is not the fault of company A. Also, if blogger is engaged in illegal activity and signed the ethics agreement, it could be fishy legally, but ethically, company A is not wrong (maybe if they were behind the illegal actions but we won’t go there yet).

Plus, with any quote that mentions Google right now, is so looking for some SEO action!

“We want to be the Google of consumer-generated advertising,” said PayPerPost CEO Ted Murphy.

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    ABC News:As 21st century women dominate the universities and continue to climb the executive ladder, and metro-sexual men explore their feminine side, it’s harder to define what it means to be a woman

In the mildly frustrating category of the week … why is everyone so up in arms about this “new” birth control that allows women to not have periods at all? Doctors have been telling women to just take their regular birth control continuously (skipping the placebo sugar pill week) in order to avoid periods all together for years now. Seasonale, the pill that allows women to only have 4 periods a year when taking it regularly, has been out since 2003. The fact that this new pill, Lybrel, is touting itself as the birth control pill that allows women to skip periods entirely is more of a marketing ploy than some sort of grand scientific or cultural development; the regular old pill has been doing the same thing for years.

What’s funny is that “The Pill” — in it’s earliest form, in it’s iconic 1960s incarnation — could have been just like Lybrel, more or less. The earliest versions of the pill did, in fact, halt menstruation. But somewhere along the line pharmaceutical companies decided that giving women a pill that would stop their periods all together would be too radical, too unsettling, for most of their consumer market, so they created the whole one-week-dummy-pill system to make it seem more “normal” and “natural.” Notes the Washington Post:

The birth control pill was originally developed to mimic a normal cycle in the belief that women would find it more acceptable, not because it would be safer or more effective at preventing pregnancy.

More about the particulars of all this here.

So people back in the day, worried by the kind of moral outrage the Pill would provoke over lost fertility and womanhood, etc. etc., decided to keep periods as part of the pill, assuming America wasn’t ready for the other version. What’s amazing is that, more than 40 years later, a period-free pill is STILL provoking this kind of moral outrage about “lost” fertility and womanhood, what with Leslee Unruh out there screaming about this pill being a “pesticide” that’s somehow part of an evil NARAL and “big Pharma” conspiracy plot to make women hate babies; ABC news worried that, without the little ladies bleeding every 28 days, our society will suddenly lose the ability to differentiate between men & women (hint: it has something to do with penises and vaginas, yo. And maybe differential amounts of body hair); and Eugene Volokh imagining ridiculous scenarios where every month, we gals call all our friends a la the telephone scene in Bye Bye Birdie to share the news that we’re once again shedding the lining of our uteruses (What the story? Morning Glory? Called to tell you that I’m on the rag.).

I suppose this sort of crazy is not entirely surprising, though, considering that it still seems hard to get it through certain conservatives’ heads that birth control does not cause abortion (quite the opposite, really), nor does it represent a complete rejection of having children, as Unruh seems to think (in the Think Progress article, a NARAL spokeswoman notes that 98 percent of American women will use some form of contraception in their lives, and we’ve yet to see the USA become a land of childless harpies, so…).

Ann at Feministing wonders how the tampon companies will react to Lybrel. I kind of hope the tampon companies are the ones behind all this lost-womanhood-we-love-babies-gender-bending nonsense. A stealth, Bernays-like advertising campaign by the feminine-hygeine-products cabal would make a lot more sense than people actually believing this crap …

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While pursuing the free articles in the Wall Street Journal today, I came across this one on “microtargeting” and Sara Taylor, a former top strategist in the Bush-Cheney campaign. She was a major force in the re-election in 2004.

“Ms. Taylor helped perfect political “microtargeting,” a system for squeezing votes from neglected segments of the electorate, based largely on reams of data about such things as voter demographics and personal-spending habits.”

Being a graduate student (almost former) in communications and a learner of new business practices, microtargeting was like graduate class 101. It’s the practice of data mining, or, collecting information about individual persons so that you (as in politian and or business) can directly target with specific-individual- tailored information just for that person.

“Microtargeting was originally developed by corporations and their marketing experts, and businesses continue to make sophisticated use of consumer data to tailor offerings”

Source Watch gets a bit more specific on a defined definition of microtargeting.

“Political microtargeting, also called “narrowcasting”, is aggregating groups of voters based on data about them available in databases and on the Internet—to target them with tailor-made messages.” Personal information—”everything from your magazine subscriptions to real estate records—can and will be used by political parties in the approaching elections to deliver specifically targeted messages calculated to influence your vote.”

The whole “influence your vote” makes it sound like there are shady cabals of Washington strategists watching you sleep, eat, read late at night, etc. But what if you think of it as a way for a candidate to speak directly to you about the issues you care about. Why wouldn’t it be fantastic to get custom-tailored information that answers the questions that you care about?

The Wall Street Journal article beings to discuss the possibility of a cross-over with political microtargeting and business.

“Others see much potential for cross-pollenization between political and corporate marketing. Another group of Bush-Cheney 2004 veterans, including voter-contact director Adrian Gray, has formed a business that aims to create social networks around products and brands to supplement traditional mass marketing. It is modeled in part on the 2004 campaign’s huge, sophisticated volunteer network.”

Google and Amazon are already on the way to specifically targeting ads and products to individuals and Web sites.

“We go beyond simple keyword matching to understand the context and content of web pages. Based on a sophisticated algorithm that includes such factors as keyword analysis, word frequency, font size, and the overall link structure of the web, we know what a page is about, and can precisely match Google ads to each page”

Microtargeting just takes this concept and applies it outside the Internet realm, and I’m actually looking forward to the possibilites of microtargeting. If you go beyond the idea that this “Big Brother” is suddenly watching us and taking notes, and look at it as a way for a business/candidate is able to understand you for more than your socio-economic role. Of course, microtargeting calls on individuals to be responsible. Just like any other media, reading and paying attention and research don’t go away. But microtargeting in itself is not evil, it’s not taking away any privacy, it’s merely a tool that, when used effectively, can motivate people to buy or vote.

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I don’t understand this kerfluffle over these ads. The ads, for online-dating-service startup Chemistry.com, feature a gaggle of attractive young people who were allegedly rejected from another online dating site, eHarmony.com. eHarmony is all riled up and asking media outlets to stop running the ads, which they feel make the site appear discriminatory and racist. Some friends of mine tried to argue the other day that this is true, because this ad features a black man:

I think that’s just ridiculous. I suppose there is a chance that racism could be inferred, but the ad does nothing to connote this in any way, and the site also runs about six other ads with white people, including this one:

In fact, the only ad that implies eHarmony is being outright discriminatory is this “still gay” ad:

.. which eHarmony hardly has any right to complain about, considering the site openly has a hetero-only policy. As noted by Pam at Pandagon, apprarently the site (which gives extensive compatability tests to mate-seekers) thinks “gay folks don’t have ’29 dimensions of compatibility’ that hets do.”

A private dating service can come up with whatever criteria it wants to decide who can join — their are all sorts of services dedicated exclusively to various things, like a certain religion or people over a certain age, etc. These measures are well within a site’s prerogative, and many probably help narrow the dating pool for members. If eHarmony wants to exclude gay people or muliple-divorcees (which it also does) or left-handed people or blonds or people with funny birthmarks, that’s fine. It’s just, well .. one can hardly be discriminatory against gays and then pissed when called out about it (I mean, one can, one just doesn’t really have a valid claim to).

Besides, for all the people eHarmony might turn off with its policies, it will attract those like this person, who believe rejecting gays and divorcees is a “quality control” issue.

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What kind of former Texan would I be if I didn’t mention NASCAR! Just the world alone sends me in to shock and awe memories of going to lunch with co-workers timed around NASCAR laps. No, I am not joking. I have to say, I watched a few laps. Which makes me all more ready for the new branding effort.
Sporting News has the beef on this new brand extensions effort that is moving NASCAR from the garage to the kitchen.

Mark Dyer, NASCAR’s vice president of licensing, describes food as a growing category among sponsors and, especially, licensees, where Monogram Foods, Birchwood Foods and others are producing everything from NASCAR-branded hamburgers to smoked sausage and even fruits and vegetables.

Can you just imagine eating a hamburger in the shape of Dale Jr.’s head? I just don’t think you can imagine all the possibilities.

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In a leaked in-house memo that came from the chairman of Starbucks stated a slight turn for Starbucks.

Starbucks has a plan to expand its menu to include things like hot breakfast sandwiches

While that does in fact sound tasty, Starbucks is out for you. In the midst of competition, Starbucks is going back to you.

However, the chairman of the company sent an in-house memo that warned Starbucks had moved too far from its roots. The memo called on stores to re-establish things customers are familiar with like the strong coffee-bean aroma in stores.

According to Forbes,

Some customers see the new stores as sterile, he said, without the soul the outlets used to have. Starbucks has become a chain, he said, and lost the “warm feeling of a neighborhood store.”

I’m not an enemy of Starbucks but I’m not obessed like my former co-worker. It seems there are lines drawn. There are those that search out Starbucks and those who have an utter hatred. (Yes, I know people fall in the middle, but Stabucks has a divide, or I should say that is my point.)

My former co-worker would drink five or six Starbucks a day. That alone is not too impressive but his utter hatred for anything besides Starbucks was slightly abnormal, or not. Starbucks has made created it’s brand on being able to get the same coffee anywhere. Impressive. It’s also tried to be the “around the corner” neighborhood coffee house. Impressive. So what went wrong? Too much expansion? At least that’s what they think for now. Maybe, it’s just cheaper competition.

Howard Schultz told executives in a memo last week that measures taken to fuel the coffee shop chain’s rapid expansion had led to a “watering down” of its iconic brand. —Agenda Inc

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