Facebook Answer

According to this potentially real interview (and I’m pretty sure it’s real, okay?), one of the questions I posed about Facebook has a very clear answer:

“1. Are the friends it recommends you “reconnect” with next to your News Feed selected because they haven’t been on in a while (and Facebook wants more traffic from users who aren’t on enough)?”

This interview at The Rumpus peeks into Facebook’s central command and comes up with some interesting facts about the company:

http://therumpus.net/2010/01/conversations-about-the-internet-5-anonymous-facebook-employee/?full=yes

“[You keep track of] the person you stalk the most?”

“No, it’s more than just that. It’s also messages, file posts, photos you’re tagged in with them, as well as your viewing of their profile and all of that. Essentially, we judge how good of a friend they are to you.”

American Apparel Advurrrrtising

I’m sure you’ve seen American Apparel print ads. They are recognizable and different and unique and that’s all very cool and laudable. HOWEVER, I think most people agree or can at least entertain the argument that the models are actually quite ugly. Well, at least not “classically beautiful.” This is fascinating so I took a brief, very shallow look at AA’s ad theory.

First, some models:

Ugly, right? Well, perhaps we should just refer to them as atypical. We’re conditioned to see new clothes on classically attractive people, and the regularity of these models is striking. And that’s a funny thought, isn’t it?

American Apparel says this about their ad theory:

“Familiar images of employees and friends from around the world—not models—allow us to express the diversity American Apparel is built on and an aspect of authenticity that is often lost in traditional advertising. Our provocative, real, unpretentious aesthetic has struck a chord with today’s young trendsetters[...]“

How many social activists have complained about clothing models creating unrealistic beauty standards for young people? The models are so ugly because they’re just like you and I!

I first must disagree with AA that their ads are “unpretentious.” I may be misguided, but I just feel like calling yourself unpretentious is the same thing as calling yourself pretentious.

NOT TO MENTION, they went on to compare themselves to Levi’s ability to serve an “undeserved generation.”

PLUS, the clothes in which AA puts their models make them look absolutely retarded.

AND FURTHERMORE, they call their models “unique” because the models are regular people. But at the same time they recognize their models break typical notions of aesthetic (aka, they’re comparatively unattractive). IE. They’re calling normal people ugly.

So AA purposefully picks “normal” models and then ostensibly makes them look unique/unattractive. Take this AA ad for instance:

 Two pics. Same clothes. Girl on the left looks cute– perhaps she just got out of bed and is now coming to see you on the roof of your apartment. Girl on the right could be about to sneeze, or she could be in the middle of saying something crude, or she could be pretending to be a fish, but the point is she is not as appealing as the girl on the left.

Look at this one:

 This guy walks into a social gathering at which you are present and tell me you’re not going to turn to a friend and say, “Who the fuck is this kid?” Where is he going RV’ing with his shiny blue duffle and trendy AA clothes? This is kind of beside the point..

Anyway, a last fun tidbit about AA ads is best explained by this guy:

So I guess we’ll have to trust this random youtuber, but supposedly the CEO, who advertises with atypical/ugly models in fact cares about the attractiveness of his company’s employees. THINGS ARE FUNNY SOMETIMES, HUH?

I will say, though, that not all American Apparel models are ugly. AND, talking about the attractiveness of people is so lame. In the context of fashion models though, I thought this was interesting.

Proof of attractive American Apparel models

(All photos were taken from American Apparel’s website.)

(Go Packers!)

Two things I want to find out about Facebook

1. Are the friends it recommends you “reconnect” with next to your News Feed selected because they haven’t been on in a while (and Facebook wants more traffic from users who aren’t on enough)?

2. Can I sell my status or my profile to companies looking to advertise (to a very select demographic, it would seem)?

I will investigate?

Sex with Duraflame

Okay so using sexual innuendo (and explicit sex for that matter) is one of the most critiqued, yet one of most popular advertising methods, right? I was on cracked.com and chanced upon this ridiculous interactive ad for something called Stax. Keep in mind throughout this post that I really have no clue what this is an ad for until I click through all the slides and look it up on google.

The ad appears as such upon first view:

First of all, the meter on the right looks like a penis on fire. Second of all, it’s two people making out on the couch with caption saying ‘take a look at the log, if you get to it.’ This isn’t terribly explicit yet. But click the plus button (ostensibly to make it “hotter”) and this is what happens:

This is where I think “Stax” is either an aphrodisiac, an Extenze-like product, or a condom. The dick on the left gets bigger, and the caption on top gets “randier.” ‘Tall robust flames in less than five minutes’ sounds like a slogan for boner pills. Dare to press on, and this happens:

Keep in mind, it’s not entirely clear what this product is. It’s firewood, yes–but what kind of firewood? The erection on the left has reached critical mass. ‘Charred appearance and crackling sounds as a treat for all senses’ is weird.

If you choose to zoom out from the original screen, you’ll get this:

It’s an interactive ad, so it zooms out slowly to this shot not unlike a creepy person would slowly zoom his camcorder out while recording shady doings. But this is a shot of birds getting it on (of course) and Stax reminds us that they’re product is eco-friendly, so the birds can watch/participate in avian voyeurism/erotica in clean air. Zoom out once more:

Astronauts. With the penis on the left at all time low, this shot shows two astronauts inconceivably conceiving (how did they do it with zero gravity/no air PLUS what would NASA/Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 think of this?)

IT’S FIREWOOD. This was more weird than anything, I think. Stax Firewood = Sex, apparently. Eco-friendly, zero-gravity, cross-species voyeuristic sex.

Soda Pairings

Next time you (if you ever) pick up a meal from Burger King, look at the way they advertise what drink you should get on the big menu.

With dark meats, perhaps a Coke will taste best. With chicken, you’d probably prefer a Sprite. Fish? A diet coke. And Dr. Pepper for the big motherfuckers.

Kind of like how you drink red wine with red meats, white with white meats, and for the sake of argument, rosee with fish, BK matches their sodas as if it actually makes the meal taste better as a whole.

The Stew

Lovers of root beer* surely will recognize this logo:

 

The Stewart’s Restaurant and root beer franchise is the perfect American symbol—it stands for good, fast American food, family picnics, ice cream sundaes. And its restaurants look like throwbacks to an earlier decade, when for the sake of argument and nostalgia, things were simpler.

Then there’s “Stewert’s root beer Restaurant” in New Brunswick, NJ. Notice the slight change in spelling, and the horrifically obvious attempt to bring in diners who see the classic “Stewart’s Root Beer” name and logo and just want to enjoy a little slice of their childhood, of their America.

Best yet, “Stewert’s” of New Brunswick, recently amended their storefront logo from an exact replica to this, ostensibly to avoid what has to be an imminent and easy lawsuit:

“Stew root beer—the next best thing.”

The advertising tactic of disguising an inferior or new brand as a much better, more established brand is done constantly (that I’ve noticed)—particularly with grocery products. Do I want “Cap’n Crunch” for $3.50 a box or “Berry Colossal Crunch” for $2 a bag? And do I want “Tide” laundry detergent for $10 a bottle or “Generic Grocery Store Brand” in the same color and bottle as “Tide” for $7?

You can look at it two ways. In one regard, we pay for and demand brands—Stewart’s, Cap’n Crunch, Tide—because we trust them so it doesn’t matter if an inferior brand is trying to trick us into buying their product. However, when it comes to mass-produced products and brands, is there much of a difference in quality between the established brand and the “knock-off?” Does it matter?

I know I’d have been upset if I paid for a Stewart’s experience and got the Stew.

_______________________________

*As a lover of root beer, Stewart’s is my every day brew. The best though is Barq’s, and there’s no debating that.

Observing the observers

In the first half of the Packers game against the Cowboys[i] on November 15th, FOX came back from a commercial and aired this:

 

You’ll notice two pale-faced, un-eyebrowed men in the middle of the frame. Announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, notably, do not refer to these curiously-dressed stoic men, who sit in stark contrast to the green and yellow flow of color around them.

These men are “the observers”—characters on FOX’s show “Fringe.” Their whole deal is that they show up at important historical events—a game between two average teams in the middle of the year being one apparently.

But FOX has been sending out one or both of these men to “historical events” like the 2009 MLB All-Star game (as seen on FOX), NASCAR races (FOX), American Idol (FOX), last year’s NFL playoff game between the Giants and Eagles (FOX), and you get the point. It’s been going on for a year.

Search “the observers fringe” on YouTube and you’ll see the videos for these appearances. Notice the information about who posted each video. You’ll see that the poster only posted that video or other videos regarding “the observers,” but their screen names have nothing to do with FOX or Fringe.

After their appearance at the Packers game, a local FOX affiliate ran this “news story”:

 

It’s a clever campaign. The announcers don’t recognize the creepy men in the center of the frame, but the audience does. The viewer is supposed to say, “What the hell was that?” and make jokes with their buddies, thinking that FOX screwed up and put some dapperly dressed, hairless man on camera. Then a Fringe commercial comes on a few breaks later, and the viewer has already established a relationship with that character. Furthermore, if a viewer’s interest is piqued enough, he or she will search YouTube for the clip and find the FOX-supplied videos mentioned before.

This kind of cross-media advertising is a bit indecent. Not necessarily new, but not decent either. FOX is trying to using their most viewed forums (sports and American Idol) to promote a show (Fringe) that really has no relevance. Regardless of the show’s merit[ii], viewers are subjected to a subliminal message prompting them to figure out where these guys come from, instead of enjoying the program they turned on.

The content is being disrupted. And worse, with the announcers told not to mention the appearance of these “observers,” FOX assumes the viewer is too ignorant to figure out the blatant advertising. FOX is employing a new kind of subliminal advertising—one where the viewer either recognizes the ad campaign or does not recognize it and are then curious to figure out the identity of these “observers.” With either outcome though, Fringe gains attention.

It’s certainly not new to see advertising for one show in another—that happens constantly. But this is insulting to the consumer. And it’s effective.

 


[i] 17-7 Pack. Eat it, Dallas.

[ii] For the record, I think this show sucks.