Monday, December 3, 2007

Egregious ads are aimed at dupes, creeps

Interesting article about ads that cross the line-

Egregious ads are aimed at dupes, creeps Posted: Sept. 23, 2007 By: Mike Nichols
Link to
the full story is here .

There comes a point in life, I guess, when you're no longer defined by what you are so much as what you are not.

One thing I've recently realized I am most definitely not: the target demographic. But then I wonder - given some of the advertising campaigns I've seen of late - who is? Chumps, slackers and creeps?

I feel a bit like a chump many days, I have to admit, when the mail arrives and I open - for the umpteenth time - something that is disguised to look like a bill but turns out, when you open it, to be the old bait-and-switch: somebody trying, of course, to sell you something.

But Columbia St. Mary's took it to a whole new level.

Saturday morning we received a very official looking, 9-by-12 envelope in the mail with the hospital's name in the upper left hand corner and the words "X-RAY ENCLOSED" plastered across it.

Buy a link here

I happen to have had an X-ray taken in an office building attached to the Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Ozaukee in Mequon recently, and - although the envelope was addressed to my wife - thought it might be a copy. Another part of me thought maybe she'd had a recent exam I didn't know about - which left me somewhere between curious and concerned.

I don't usually open her mail, but I did and found a sheet of plastic designed to merely look like an X-ray.

"Be First To See What's Inside," it said. It was, I finally realized, a faux "X-ray" touting the latest expansion of the Mequon hospital and inviting us to a grand opening.

Director of Communications Kathy Schmitz told me that the hospital wants to "celebrate with the community." And I'm told there's a lot to celebrate. It's just that I didn't feel much like it after opening the envelope.

I felt like I'd, once again, been duped.

On the positive side, I suppose there are worse ways of getting people's attention - like telling people you know what they think. That's the premise of a Time Warner campaign that tells us we think, for instance, barbecue ought to be a food group, or that we'd rather be stuck in traffic than stuck at work.

Hey, aren't people, half the time, stuck in traffic because they're trying to get to work? I can forgive somebody for thinking me a dupe or a dope, I guess. But I draw the line at being assumed a creep, especially while reading "Sports Illustrated."

Five pages after their little "Sign of the Apocalypse" feature - "A man in Guangzhou, China, died of exhaustion in an Internet café after playing an online game nonstop for three days" - I came across a full-page ad for the dating service with a picture of what looked to me to be a very young girl.

Although she had some grown-up features, she also had chubby cheeks that made it look like she hadn't lost her baby fat, plus a little-girl jumper that was cut low and an oversized flower in her hair - the sort a little girl might wear while playing dress-up.

Underneath was an Internet username "Twobits12," and a quote: "I make a mean casserole," all of which, of course, was meant to make you wonder if you were looking at a child or a woman, an innocent 12-year-old or a mature casserole-baker.

She's probably a woman, since no company is whacked-out enough to use a real little girl. But it was creepy - especially the tagline at the bottom that played on the whole Lolita-thing and said, "It's okay to look." It's also apparently OK to do just about anything to sell stuff nowadays. What's less clear to me is how making people feel duped, telling them what they think, or spreading around creepiness, accomplishes that exactly.