Posts Tagged ‘honesty in advertising’

P&GThe latest offering by the World Advertising Research Center’s offbeat columnist Tummler delivers a short, sharp kick to the butt of the Emperor of Adland, Procter & Gamble, and its court jester Leo Burnett.

Tummler’s theme is that of of honesty in advertising, citing as an exemplar McCann-Erickson’s traditional battle-cry Truth Well Told. Opines the columnist [an aficionado of purple prose]: “There’s no more glorious banner under which the serried ranks of adland should proudly march. Even in this ephemeral age of digital dilettantes, truth remains the bedrock of all effective advertising.”

Tummler argues that advertising’s most fundamental claim to credibility is that an ad should openly and prominently admit to being what it is – a paid for sales pitch. Says he: “It should not, repeat not, skulk as a strategically sited product pack in a TV sitcom or reality show.”

In example he cites Zack16, an “unsavory specimen of “an ad masquerading as a blog by a troubled 16-year-old male high-school student. Tummler condemns it as “a steely-clever propaganda vehicle that promotes an unidentified menstrual protection brand”.

This scenario, he complains, “was perpetrated by consenting adults gainfully employed within a highly respected ad agency. And they did so at the behest of the planet’s largest advertiser.

“Not that you’d know the perpetrators’ identity from a visit to the site. There’s not  a single nod to the guys and [presumably] gals at Procter & Gamble who footed the bill for this soiled curio; nor to its creators at Leo Burnett.

“No company or brand is mentioned or pictorially depicted, save for a single clickable word, ‘Tampax’, concealed  amid forty-eight separate multi-font tags grouped under the heading ‘Tag Cloud’.

“Authorial anonymity reigns across the site. And neither you, reader, nor Tummler – let  alone the impressionable kids exposed to this meretricious trash – would be any the wiser as to the blog’s provenance, were it not for some assiduous digging by Advertising Age’s terrier-like editor at large, the admirable Jack Neff, who unmasked the corporate culprits.


... a brilliant psychological mishmash?

“The stealth viral video campaign features Zack, a fictional 16-year-old boychik who awakes one morning to find his “guy parts” gone and replaced with “girl parts”. This transgenderization prompts Zack to confide to his impressionable blog audience the difficulty of peeing sans vanished appendage, plus some understandable agonizing as to how he might cope with the sensual expectations of Chelsea, his pulchritudinous [female] high school date.

There’s much more along similarly stomach-churning lines … but the masochists among you can follow the storyline for yourselves.”

The columnist fingers  Zack16 as “a brilliant psychological mishmash that remorselessly exploits teens’ Fahrenheit 451 libidos, their obsession with bodily functions and – overriding all else – their fear of differing from their peers.” Notes Tummler sourly: “Burnett’s copywriters and art directors understand their target market’s mindset only too well.”

Of especial offence is “the tawdry subterfuge of a hidden sales pitch … a  commercial  masquerading as … what? Entertainment? Education? Social psychology?

Implanting the boot between the buttocks of the offending duo, Tummler concludes: “Some might opt for another term. Brainwashing.”


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