Tag Archives: commercials

Political health care ads cost $445 million

A new analysis finds the nation’s health care overhaul deserves a place in advertising history.

That’s according to a report by nonpartisan analysts Kantar Media CMAG.

The president’s health care law has been the focus of extraordinarily high spending on negative political TV ads — ads that have gone largely unanswered by the law’s supporters.

The report estimates that $445 million has been spent on commercials mentioning the law since 2010.

Spending on negative ads outpaced spending on positive ones by more than 15 to 1.

Nearly all the spending was on local TV stations, in campaigns ranging from state treasurer and governor to congressional offices and the presidency.

Commercials to watch for in today’s Super Bowl

Actress Scarlett Johansson gives SodaStream some sex appeal in a controversial spot, Kia revives actor Laurence Fishburne’s Matrix character Morpheus in its commercial. And cute puppies and kids abound in ads for Cheerios to Anheuser-Busch.

Advertisers are planning to pull out the tools in their arsenal during today’s Super Bowl, including celebrities, A-list rock bands and cinematic story lines.

Of course, there will still be ad surprises on Sunday with major brands like Chrysler and Coca-Cola staying mum on at least one of their ads. But the ones that are already out use a variety of tactics to draw viewers’ attention.

Overall, marketers are doing a better job getting their branding message across — while still entertaining — than previous years when a cheap joke or gag ruled supreme, says Kelly O’Keefe, professor of brand strategy at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brand Center.

“This year there’s much more focus on brand personality: The spot has to be both interesting and funny and link back to the core assets of the brand,” he said. “I’m predicting a stronger Super Bowl than last year.”

Advertisers are in the game to win. The Super Bowl, the National Football League championship game, is advertising’s biggest showcase, with more than 108 million people expected to tune into the game. And companies are paying an estimated $4 million to have their ads be a part of the action.

Here are 10 ads to watch for on Sunday.

1. Anheuser-Busch: The biggest Super Bowl advertiser’s ad in the fourth quarter shows an adorable Golden Labrador becoming enamored with one of the beermaker’s iconic Clydesdales to the tune of “Let Her Go” by Passenger.

Online: http://youtu.be/uQB7QRyF4p4

2. General Mill’s Cheerios: The cereal maker brings back an interracial family that starred in a prior spot. This one shows a father telling his daughter that they’re going to have an addition to the family, a baby boy. Then, the little girl strongly suggests they also get a puppy. The ad airs during the first unscheduled time-out of the game.

Online: http://youtu.be/LKuQrKeGe6g

3. Bank of America: The bank will promote its partnership with AIDS nonprofit (RED) by having music group U2 sing their new single “Invisible.” between the first and second quarter. The song will be a free download on iTunes during the game and for the following 24 hours. Bank of America will donate $1 each time it is downloaded to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.

4. SodaStream: The Israeli at-home soda maker company has stirred up controversy on two fronts. Their ad features “Her” actress Scarlett Johansson touting the health and environmental benefits of the soda maker and will run in the fourth quarter. The ad first made waves when the company said it would delete its last line, “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi,” at a request by Fox. Then on Thursday, Johansson resigned her Oxfam ambassadorship. The nonprofit was unhappy she was linked with SodaStream, which operates in Israeli settlements in the West Bank of Palestine. Oxfam is opposed to that.

Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxq4ziu-wrI

5. H&M: The clothing maker’s ad in the second quarter features nifty technology that will allow people with some Samsung Smart TVs to order soccer star David Beckham’s Bodywear products with their remote control in real time.

Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHxCELegDz4

6. Nestle’s Butterfinger: A suggestive teaser ad showed a couple, “Chocolate” and “Peanut Butter,” in ’70s-style couple’s therapy talking about the need for “change” and “excitement.” The actual ad in the third quarter will have a related theme and Butterfinger is expected to introduce its Peanut Butter Cups with some tongue-in-cheek double entendres.

Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1ZCl-NkQuU

7. Beats Music: Ellen DeGeneres reimagines the Goldilocks and The Three Bears fairytale in this ad running in the third quarter that introduces Beats Music, a streaming music service.

Online: http://youtu.be/jJR6YV4WAnM

8. Wonderful Pistachios: The snack producer showcases comedian Stephen Colbert running amok in two 15-second ads in the second quarter.

Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKAG7UJ-NWk

9. Kia: In the carmaker’s third-quarter ad to introduce its K900 luxury sedan, Laurence Fishburne reprises his “Matrix” role as Morpheus and displays some surprising operatic skills.

Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob-wn52Dkmk

10. Chrysler: The automaker is bound to surprise. Always mum ahead of the game, Chrysler has produced some of the best loved and most remembered spots during the big game, from Eminem’s “Imported from Detroit” ad in 2011 to last year’s “Farmer” ad featuring scenes of American farmland and a voiceover by conservative radio broadcaster Paul Harvey. Look for another surprising spot or two this year.

Historic smoking report marks 50th anniversary

Fifty years ago, ashtrays seemed to be on every table and desk. Athletes and even Fred Flintstone endorsed cigarettes in TV commercials. Smoke hung in the air in restaurants, offices and airplane cabins. More than 42 percent of U.S. adults smoked, and there was a good chance your doctor was among them.

The turning point came on Jan. 11, 1964. It was on that Saturday morning that U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry released an emphatic and authoritative report that said smoking causes illness and death — and the government should do something about it.

In the decades that followed, warning labels were put on cigarette packs, cigarette commercials were banned, taxes were raised and new restrictions were placed on where people could light up.

“It was the beginning,” said Kenneth Warner, a University of Michigan public health professor who is a leading authority on smoking and health.

It was not the end. While the U.S. smoking rate has fallen by more than half to 18 percent, that still translates to more than 43 million smokers. Smoking is still far and away the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Some experts predict large numbers of Americans will puff away for decades to come.

Nevertheless, the Terry report has been called one of the most important documents in U.S. public health history, and on its 50th anniversary, officials are not only rolling out new anti-smoking campaigns but reflecting on what the nation did right that day.

The report’s bottom-line message was hardly revolutionary. Since 1950, head-turning studies that found higher rates of lung cancer in heavy smokers had been appearing in medical journals. A widely read article in Reader’s Digest in 1952, “Cancer by the Carton,” contributed to the largest drop in cigarette consumption since the Depression. In 1954, the American Cancer Society announced that smokers had a higher cancer risk.

But the tobacco industry fought back. Manufacturers came out with cigarettes with filters that they claimed would trap toxins before they settled into smokers’ lungs. And in 1954, they placed a full-page ad in hundreds of newspapers in which they argued that research linking their products and cancer was inconclusive.

It was a brilliant counter-offensive that left physicians and the public unsure how dangerous smoking really was. Cigarette sales rebounded.

In 1957 and 1959, Surgeon General Leroy Burney issued statements that heavy smoking causes lung cancer. But they had little impact.

Amid pressure from health advocates, President John F. Kennedy’s surgeon general, Dr. Luther Terry, announced in 1962 that he was convening an expert panel to examine all the evidence and issue a comprehensive, debate-settling report. To ensure the panel was unimpeachable, he let the tobacco industry veto any proposed members it regarded as biased.

Surveys indicated a third to a half of all physicians smoked tobacco products at the time, and the committee reflected the culture: Half its 10 members were smokers, who puffed away during committee meetings. Terry himself was a cigarette smoker.

Dr. Eugene Guthrie, an assistant surgeon general, helped persuade Terry to kick the habit a few months before the press conference releasing the report.

“I told him, ‘You gotta quit that. I think you can get away with a pipe — if you don’t do it openly.’ He said, ‘You gotta be kidding!’ I said, ‘No, I’m not. It just wouldn’t do. If you smoke any cigarettes, you better do it in a closet,”” Guthrie recalled in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

The press conference was held on a Saturday partly out of concern about its effect on the stock market. About 200 reporters attended.

The committee said cigarette smoking clearly did cause lung cancer and was responsible for the nation’s escalating male cancer death rate. It also said there was no valid evidence filters were reducing the danger. The committee also said — more vaguely — that the government should address the problem.

“This was front-page news, and every American knew it,” said Robin Koval, president of Legacy, an anti-smoking organization.

Cigarette consumption dropped a whopping 15 percent over the next three months but then began to rebound. Health officials realized it would take more than one report.

In 1965, Congress required cigarette packs to carry warning labels. Two years later, the Federal Communications Commission ordered TV and radio stations to provide free air time for anti-smoking public service announcements. Cigarette commercials were banned in 1971.

Still, progress was slow. Warner recalled teaching at the University of Michigan in 1972, when nearly half the faculty members at the school of public health were smokers. He was one of them.

“I felt like a hypocrite and an idiot,” he said. But smoking was still the norm, and it was difficult to quit, he said.

The 1970s also saw the birth of a movement to protect nonsmokers from cigarette fumes, with no-smoking sections on airplanes, in restaurants and in other places. Those eventually gave way to complete smoking bans. Cigarette machines disappeared, cigarette taxes rose, and restrictions on the sale of cigarettes to minors got tougher.

Tobacco companies also came under increasing legal attack. In the biggest case of them all, more than 40 states brought lawsuits demanding compensation for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses. Big Tobacco settled in 1998 by agreeing to pay about $200 billion and curtail marketing of cigarettes to youths.

In 1998, while the settlement was being completed, tobacco executives appeared before Congress and publicly acknowledged for the first time that their products can cause lung cancer and be addictive.

Experts agree that the Terry report clearly triggered decades of changes that whittled the smoking rate down. But it was based on data that was already out there. Why, then, did it make such a difference?

For one thing, the drumbeat about the dangers of smoking was getting louder in 1964, experts said. But the way the committee was assembled and the carefully neutral manner in which it reached its conclusion were at least as important, said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At the same time, he and others said any celebration of the anniversary must be tempered by the size of the problem that still exists.

Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking, according to the CDC.

Donald Shopland finds that depressing.

Fifty years ago, he was a 19-year-old who smoked two packs a day while working as a clerk for the surgeon general’s committee. He quit cigarettes right after the 1964 report came out, and went on to a long and distinguished public health career in which he wrote or edited scores of books and reports on smoking’s effects.

“We should be much further along than we are,” the Georgia retiree lamented.

Barilla pasta owner’s anti-gay remarks spark petitions

An Italian-American mom in Connecticut was among the first to launch a petition campaign after CEO Guido Barilla said his pasta company would not include gay families in its advertising.

Linda Ferraro is working with GLAAD to circulate her Change.org petition, which called on her neighborhood grocery to stop carrying Barillas.

“As an Italian-American mom, some of my favorite memories are of sitting around the dinner table with my husband and our three sons on Sunday after church,” she writes. “Lots of tomato sauce, lots of laughs and lots of Barilla. In fact, there are several boxes of Barilla sitting in my cabinet right now. That is about to change.

“My grandparents moved to Brooklyn, NY from Italy and taught me that family is more important than anything. I remembered that tradition when my son Rich was a teenager and cried at our dinner table as he told me he was gay. Even though my sons are adults now, no one messes with any of my boys. I shop at Stop & Shop, and now that I dumped Barilla, I think they should, too.”

Another online petition, which collected more than 10,000 signatures in 24 hours, was launched by Dario Fo, an Italian Nobel Prize winner, director and actor who starred in Barilla’s first TV commercials.

His petition asks Guido to “return to the spirit of those commercials.”

His petition states, “I ask you, Barilla Pasta, to reflect the true Italy of today and become an ambassador of equality and a voice of the present. And I ask you to commit to an upcoming advertising campaign, where the family can finally be represented in all its infinite and wonderful shapes of our times.”

Barilla, in an interview on Italian radio, said he didn’t plan to market to the gay community or to feature gay families in his advertising, and if gay people don’t like that they can buy and eat another brand.

He later apologized, saying he has “the greatest respect for gays and for the freedom of expression of anyone.”

Ads out of closet, into mainstream with gay themes

A new TV commercial features a good-looking young woman on a beach vacation lounging next to a good-looking young man. He bemoans the glare on his iPad and she fills him in on the Kindle Paperwhite’s sun-friendly screen.

He clicks to buy one himself and suggests they celebrate with a drink.

“My husband’s bringing me a drink right now,” chirps she.

“So is mine,” smiles he as they turn and wave at their male loved ones sitting together at a tiki bar.

Welcome to the latest in gay imagery in mainstream advertising, where LGBT people have been waiting for a larger helping of fairness, or at least something other than punchlines and cliches.

While there are still plenty of those, something has happened in advertising over the last two or three years, nearly two decades after Ikea broke ground in the U.S. with a TV spot featuring a gay couple shopping for a dining room table – a spot that ran only once in New York and Washington, D.C., and was pulled after bomb threats to Ikea stores.

Today, gay and lesbian parents and their kids are featured – along with pitchwoman Ellen DeGeneres – in J.C. Penney ads. Same-sex couples have their own, advertised wedding registries at Macy’s and elsewhere and President Barack Obama offered his seal of approval by evolving into a supporter of gay marriage.

Two happy young men sit together eating at a dining table, with wine and romantic candlelight, in a section of a Crate & Barrel catalog marked “Us & Always.” And we made it through a Super Bowl without any gay jokes at commercial breaks – like the Snickers ad of several years ago featuring two men freaking out after kissing by accident while eating one of the candy bars.

Traditionally lagging behind TV and film content in terms of LGBT inclusion, advertisers in this country are facing considerably less trouble than they used to when taking on gay themes, observers said. Penney’s rebuffed critics and launched a lesbian-focused catalog ad for Mother’s Day that the company followed with a two-dads family – a real family – for Father’s Day.

DeGeneres, who married Portia de Rossi in 2008, continues as a CoverGirl in magazines. Also recently? A lesbian couple was treated to fireworks in a commercial – real ones flash on screen – for K-Y Intense, a personal lubricant that makes their moment or two more memorable. They’re shown spent and satisfied in bed, hair tussled. “Good purchase,” one says to the other.

Though Crate & Barrel declined comment for this story and Amazon didn’t respond to email requests for the same about the Kindle ad, LGBT-focused marketers and monitors think the Mad Men and Women of today’s Madison Avenue and the companies that employ them might finally be getting it. Now, they hope, a greater degree of diversity in skin tone and ethnicity will follow.

“They’re no longer just targeting gay and lesbian people. They’re targeting people like my mom, who want to know that a company embraces and accepts their gay and lesbian family members, friends and neighbors,” said Rich Ferraro, a spokesman for the media watchdog group the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Others, too, are celebrating the newfound bump in ad visibility, a mirror of cultural gains overall. It’s a boost that comes as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up oral arguments later this month in key challenges that could lead to further recognition of same-sex marriage and spousal benefits.

Bob Witeck, who consults for Fortune 100 companies on LGBT marketing and communications strategies, put the buying power of U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults at $790 billion last year. He estimated, roughly, the U.S. LGBT adult population at 16 million, though others say their ranks could be as many as 25 million.

There’s no demographic evidence or social science that points to the LGBT segment as notably higher earning or wealthier than anybody else, though they’re often louder in protesting offensive ad messaging and loyal to brands and companies that support them.

“Things have changed significantly in terms of risk and reward,” Witeck said. “Businesses don’t view this as a risk model any longer.”

Particularly, he said, when it comes to portraying marriage.

“Marriage, at one time, was the third rail,” Witeck said. “That terrified companies. Most of this happened when the president said he supported marriage equality.”

A consumer lust for “truth-telling” isn’t lost on major advertisers, including those that once restricted themselves to trotting out gay-friendly fodder as one-offs when Pride Month and its multicolored flag flies freely each June. One recent pride standout in advertising, restricted to digital markets, is an Oreo cookie with a mountain of multicolored filling.

The company fielded queries from consumers who thought it was available for purchase in stores. It wasn’t.

American Airlines, in 2010, ran outdoor advertising at bus stops and subway stations in New York showing two men on a beach with the slogan: “Here’s to his and his beach towels.Proud to support the community that supports us.”

Generally, Witeck said, putting a human face on gay couples and families in advertising is where much of the effort lands today.

“For the gay consumer and their families and friends, and lots and lots and lots of Americans, they expect to see those couples appear everywhere, but they don’t want them trotted out with a pride flag,” Witeck said. “Amazon didn’t ballyhoo the message. They just landed it.”

Mark Elderkin, CEO of the Gay Ad Network, which focuses on the LGBT niche market, said mainstream gay messaging has “passed the tipping point, where there’s more to gain than there is to lose” for advertisers.

While there are groups of “vocal antagonists,” he said more advertisers bolstered by broader media exposure for gay characters and storylines in non-ad content _ “The New Normal,” “Modern Family,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” CNN’s out-of-the-closet anchor Anderson Cooper – have explored non-traditional families and included LGBT imagery in “normal” settings.

“It seems to be moving quickly forward. It’s companies that want to be more on the leading edge, more for the next generation of this country,” Elderkin said. “It’s not your parents’ brand anymore. It’s your brand and your kids’ brand.”

To purchase the all-new Kindle for only $159, click here.

On the Web

“Husbands,” the Kindle ad: 

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7d4I/amazon-kindle-paperwhite-husbands

Gay focus group: Buy it with Beckham

H&M’s commercial with an underwear-clad David Beckham scored big with an LGBT focus group watching the Super Bowl.

That would be the same commercial that prompted Roland Martin to tweet, “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him.” That remark led to a protest, which resulted in Martin’s suspension as a CNN commentator.

Consumer research firm Iceology, working with SiriousXM’s OutQ and it’s The Focus Group’s Tim Bennett and John Nash conducted what is believed to be the first LGBT consumer survey for the championship game. The results were released on Feb. 10:

• When asked what the focus group participants were most looking forward to about the Super Bowl, the game itself ranked behind the Madonna halftime show, at-home parties and festivities and the commercials.

• Watching the commercials is considered part of the Super Bowl experience. Most respondents indicated that they do not normally watch commercials in their everyday life, but 61 percent reported that they saw nearly every ad and 94 percent said they saw more than half the ads aired during the game.


• The David Beckham H&M commercial was a huge hit. A full 88 percent of respondents knew what Beckham was selling and for whom, as compared to 66 percent of the Vampire/Audi ad and 35 percent of the Donald Trump/Century 21 ad. The Beckham/H&M ad was the most memorable.


• Releasing the commercials early proved unpopular. Two-thirds of respondents felt that the early release “diminished the experience since the surprise factor was taken away.”

Bennett observed, “Most people were looking for an element of surprise during the Super Bowl and missed it with the commercials, as so many were viewable before the game. So aside from who would win the game, the biggest remaining surprise of the evening was what Madonna was going to do.”

Nash said, “Even though this year’s half-time show with Madonna was the most looked-forward-to element of the evening, the entire experience of Super Bowl is still very important to LGBT people. And because they exhibit higher than average recall numbers for the commercials, the LGBT audience will remain a highly prized and savvy demographic for smart marketers.”

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Study: gays appearing in more ads

The number of gays depicted in advertising has soared over the past decade, according to a new study by the University of Miami School of Communication.

The image of gays in advertising has improved along with the rising numbers, found the study, which was published in the Journal of Advertising. The media now portrays gays as stylish consumers with high-end taste.

Images of gays and lesbians in mainstream commercials and print advertising used to be vague, the study found. Commercials would show two men shopping, but it wasn’t clear whether they were friends or a couple.

That’s changing. For example, a recent Hancock Insurance commercial depicts two women waiting for their adopted child. The ad also touched on some of the issues facing the LGBT community.

In 1994, Ikea was one of the first companies to have an American commercial that showed gays. In it, two men shopped for a dining-room table together.

Today, gays and lesbians appear frequently in products that tend to experiment with edgy and unconventional imagery, such as fashion, design and alcohol, the study says.

Still, the research found more work needs to be done. Ads that depict support for gay families is often limited to gay media. There is not enough racial diversity and too few bisexual and transgender subjects in the ads.