Thursday, December 18, 2014

Better meat is coming to fast food

I've been going on about it for a few years now, but it's actually happening.

Chipotle dropped the gauntlet with its promise of more local, sustainable sources. McDonald's has tried to become more transparent about its farm-to-fork supply chain (especially in Canada and Australia). Also in Canada, an independent A&W promises "hormone-free" beef and chicken raised without antibiotics.

Now American chain Carl's Jr. (whose gratuitously sexed-up ads frequently feature here) is doing something really smart: They're offering their customers a choice.

According to Burger Business, Carl’s Jr. is ready to introduce the first “all-natural, no hormones, no antibiotics, no steroids, grass-fed, free-range beef patty” from any major quick-service (fast food) chain in the United States.

But they're not replacing their ordinary beef burgers, just offering the more natural beef as an upgrade:
“We’ve seen a growing demand for ‘cleaner,’ more natural food, particularly among Millennials, and we’re proud to be the first major fast-food chain to offer an all-natural beef patty burger on our menu. Millennials include our target of ‘Young Hungry Guys’ and they are much more concerned about what goes into their bodies than previous generations,” Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for Carl’s Jr., said in a statement announcing the new burger. “Whether you’re into more natural foods or not, it’s simply a damn good burger.”
Great news for people concerned about where their meat comes from, and how the animal lived. Now it's up to the restaurant's regulars to put their money where their mouths are.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hardee's not-at-all-subtle oral sex joke underpants

Now you can say "eat me" to everyone in the room for just $20. If worn at work or in public, sexual harassment legal fees might be substantially more.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

PETA's latest assault on the dignity of humans


You know the drill:

1. Post offensive, sexually provocative ad
3. Save animals

Or at least that's how it goes in the minds of the people behind PETA ads. They seem to be under the impression that there's "no such thing as bad publicity." Well, there is.

If you're a feminist, and you support this organization, you are suffering from something called "cognitive dissonance." Look it up. And make a decision as to whether promoting veganism by degrading humans is really OK with your human rights beliefs.

I won't comment further on this garbage. "Dabitch" at Adland already explained it all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Astroturf campaign targeted Walmart Black Friday protests

Last week, an organization calling itself "Worker Center Watch" launched a campaign to discredit the Walmart workers who staged protests across the United States to target Black Friday sales. Among the thousands of Walmart employees, the protests included labor union organizers and members there to push for living wages and more full-time positions.

According the The Nation, Worker Center Watch was registered by the former head lobbyist for Walmart, Parquet Public Affairs. They call themselves "an Issue Management, Communications, Government Relations and Reputation Assurance firm."

So yeah, astroturfing. The idea of "professional protestors," who are simply mercenary layabouts, is a populist tactic used to discredit all kinds of demonstrations.

The Walmart protests were, in fact, organized by "outside agitators." The union-backed Organization for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) calls itself "an independent, not-for-profit organization for hourly Associates." In other words, it's pushing for unionization.

Between Walmart and "union bosses," I side with the labour organizers. Their demands are simply a $15/hour wage and full-time hours. A corporation that pays its hourly employees so poorly that they need to do an internal food drive just to make sure everyone can feed their families will never be a hero in my mind.

(Thanks to John Hardy for the tip)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

International ad archives accused of ignoring African creative

My friend Ivan Raszl, curator of Ads of The World posted this image on Google+ (as well as AOTW) with the comment, "Now, this is embarrassing."

Indeed. There are many ironies at work here. The submission to AOTW by stated "Even though we know they are always objective and fair, the impression of every single African that has had his work turned down by a prominent advertising curator is: 'They killed it!' Ivan Raszl of Adsoftheworld is represented as a chainsaw killer of ads."

How could Ivan not post it after that? Ivan wasn't the only "ad slayer" so portrayed. Michael Weinzettl of Lürzer's Archive also gets it:

An African-based online ad archive is definitely a great idea, and I'll be following it to see stuff that I may otherwise have missed. But the bigger question is, are the big international ad archives anti-African, as the ads overtly suggest?

Ivan, now a Canadian resident, is Hungarian. What I always found interesting about his blog is that it provides diversity to the online discussion about advertising. For those of us in North America, it's easy to be exposed to mostly English-language advertising mostly from the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia. Following AOTW gives me insights into the very different insights and sensibilities of Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. As well as several nations in Africa.

I've never noticed a particular lack of African creative on the site, but it's quite possible that many submissions from African agencies are being rejected. The thing about a privately-sector, curated ad archive is that it is as subjective as an international awards show. Unlike awards, though, the online archives make an effort to include not only the best creative in the world, but also what is controversial or noteworthy. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I've had a number of my ads appear on AOTW. I've also had a number of them rejected. All ad sites have a particular bias or flavour. In the case of AOTW, its taste prioritizes Art over Copy. When submitting work, you have to keep in mind whether the work will appeal to the audience. In this case, the audience is the ad editors.

But is there any racism involved in their decisions? Nothing overt, that's for sure. We all have our prejudices in deciding what we find appealing and relevant. It's possible that if the editors were African, rather than European, their tastes would be different. Which is why we need lots of different places to learn about lots of different kinds of advertising. More Adlands. More Joe La Pompes. More Inspiration Rooms. And AdFreaks and Adrants and Copyranters. In every language and culture.

In my own blogging, including for European-based social marketing review site Osocio, I make similar decisions. One of an international group of editors, I try to keep my social and linguistic biases fairly transparent when I find work from very different cultures insensitive or confusing. (To Osocio owner Marc van Gurp's credit, he's been actively trying to find more contributors from the developing world for years.)

So, in my opinion, the portrayal of Ivan and Michael as slayers of African ads is not exactly fair. But advertising is full of cynical attention-grabbing tactics. This one worked. Now show me some great African creative, guys!