Tag Archives: print ads

Xerox: Real Business, Complicated

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This ad for Xerox isn’t visually appealing and the copy is filled with marketing-speak gobbledegook: Order-to-cash lifecycle, scalable solutions, measurable process efficiencies. I don’t even know what they’re selling.

What’s this ad doing in a consumer magazine like Wired? I don’t know, either.


By Marc Librescu

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise: Be Careful What You Ask

Hellmann's Mayonnaise

In this ad for their Real Mayonnaise, Hellmann’s (there is no Hellmann’s anymore, it’s actually a company called Unilever) asks the question:

If we knew more about our food, would we eat better?”

Any reasonable person would answer “of course!” And Hellmann’s, um, Unilever, wants to you answer that way, too. End of story. Turn the page.

If you bother to stop and read the copy (which is difficult due to the placement of white type over a yellow background) you find this:

At Hellmann’s, we make our mayonnaise with real, simple ingredients like good eggs, delicious vinegar and oils rich in omega 3. So it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Lean about he Real Food Project at hellmanns.com.

When they say they use good eggs, it’s not clear whether they’re referring to the quality of the eggs or whether they’re stating that eggs are good for you. Either way, I’ll let this slide.

Strangely, they claim to use delicious vinegar. If I asked you to write a list of 10 adjectives to describe vinegar, would delicious make it onto the list? How about a list of 1,000 adjectives? Who considers vinegar to be delicious? It’s acetic acid.

Imagine saying to your kid, “Here, Bobby, I poured you a nice cup of delicious vinegar. Drink it up!”

If you made your kids drink vinegar, social services would come to your house to take them away. The conversation would go something like this:

Social Services: We have a report that you made your son, Bobby, drink a glass of vinegar.
You: Yes, I did.
Social Services: Can you tell me why you did that?
You: Because vinegar is delicious!

The next thing you know, they’d hand you some paperwork with a hearing date and then escort little Bobby out the door where they would take him to a waiting van.

But I digress.

Mayonnaise is really just a fancy way of saying “oil and egg fat.” Here’s the nutritional information, taken from the company’s website:

A one-tablespoon serving contains 90 calories and 90 calories from fat. This is another way of saying that 100% of the calories come from fat. One tablespoon of the stuff has a whopping 10 grams of fat, which is as much fat as four chocolate chip cookies (source: Nutrition Lifestyles).

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise also contains delicious EDTA. According to Wikipedia:

(EDTA) has been found to be both cytotoxic (emphasis mine) and weakly genotoxic in laboratory animals. Oral exposures have been noted to cause reproductive and developmental effects.

Cytotoxic means “toxic to cells.” Genotoxic is a little more complicated. According to Wikipedia:

Genotoxicity describes a deleterious action on a cell’s genetic material affecting its integrity. Genotoxic substances are known to be potentially mutagenic or carcinogenic, specifically those capable of causing genetic mutation and of contributing to the development of tumors.

In other words, EDTA is a potential cancer-causing agent in laboratory animals.

At the bottom of the ad, in tiny print, it says that Helmann’s Real Mayonnaise contains “a small amount of EDTA to protect quality.” Small compared to what?

Is Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise healthy and good? You decide. Then ask yourself this question:

“If we knew more about our food, would we eat better?”

By Marc Librescu

The Hamilton Collection Redefines Art

The Hamilton Collection

This might be the worst ad ever for the worst product ever.

According to this ad for The Hamilton Collection, today’s hottest new artist is someone named Margaret Le Van. That sound you hear is the sound of thousands of dead artists rolling over in their graves. Rembrandt, Picasso, Michelangelo, Monet, Manet, Cezanne…all rolling so fast that scientists fear the force it’s creating may change the orbit of the Earth and send it on a death spiral into the sun.

In the copy, we find this line: bolded, italicized, and underlined to emphasize its importance:

Plus, she features lifelike eyelashes, a trademark of Ms. Le Can’s art!

If only Picasso had thought to include “lifelike eyelashes” in his painting—he might have become a real artist!

There’s also a line saying this monstrosity is offered “in a hand-numbered limited edition of 95 casting days.” However, it neglects to say how many pieces were created in a casting day. Maybe some factory in China cranked out 11,000 of these babies a day and there are over a million of these eyesores littering the planet. Who knows?

The ad shows a pink ribbon and states that a portion of the proceeds will be donated to help find a cure for breast cancer but it doesn’t specify what portion. It could be 50%. It could be .001%. We don’t know.

If you’d like to help find a cure for breast cancer, you can make a donation directly to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. You’ll know how much is going to charity and you won’t have to demonstrate your bad taste in art to your friends.

By Marc Librescu

Soyjoy Does a 180

SoyJoy

When I first posted about a Soyjoy ad back in 2008, the ad was so bad that it made me want to cry and scream and throw things around the room. The second time I posted about the product, I thought the ad looked great but was too generic (and I went off on my high-horse about possible problems from eating soy).

This ad pretty much nails it. The image merges blueberry, soy, and the yin-yang symbol. The headline, along with the image, tells the story:

Whole Soy. Real Blueberries. In Perfect Balance.

There isn’t a load of unnecessary copy for the reader to wade through. It just works.

By Marc Librescu

Silk Soy Milk Has the Beat

Silk soy milk

Nature never intended cow’s milk to be anything other than food for a baby cow. You drink milk because your parents fed it to you and told you it was healthy. The dairy industry told you it was healthy. You’ve been socialized to believe that milk is healthy.

If you don’t like milk, or you think it’s not healthy, you can drink soy milk.

This ad for Silk Soy Milk couldn’t be better. The message is contained in the image so perfectly that the reader doesn’t need a word of copy in order to understand the message: our product is healthy. As I’ve been saying here, people typically don’t stop to read copy, so advertisers need to get readers’ attention with arresting visuals that don’t rely on lots of copy to make the point.

I award this ad the prestigious 5 Monkeys!

By Marc Librescu

Sun-Maid Gets Surreal

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You’re sitting on a California beach, enjoying the day. The sky is blue with just a hint of wispy clouds. You feel at peace as you listen to the sound of the gentle waves breaking against the shore.

Then you look up and you see her.

You can’t believe your eyes. It’s the Sun-Maid, you think, the girl from the raisin box. But it can’t be. She’s not real.

Yet there she is, and she’s doing yoga, right there on the sand. She’s even wearing the red bonnet. You want to talk to her, maybe take a photo to show to your friends back home.

Suddenly, inexplicably, a paintbrush materializes and paints a streak of red across the sky. The paint forms a shelf and products start to appear—packages of raisins and other dried fruit.

The Sun Maid tries to reach for the fruit but it’s too high. You run toward her.

Your next memory is of opening your eyes in an unfamiliar room. There’s a TV on the wall, near the ceiling. A nurse stands over you with a look of concern on her face.

“Where am I?” you ask.

“You’re in the hospital,” she says.

“How did I get here?”

“I’ll get the doctor.”

As the nurse walks out of the room, you notice she’s wearing a red bonnet.

By Marc Librescu

Minute Ready to Serve! Rice: Just Sad

Minute Rice

Looking at this ad for Minute Rice Ready to Serve! white rice, you may think there’s a new rice app for the iPhone. But no, it’s white rice in a plastic container that you can microwave in a minute.

Not exactly revolutionary.

Here’s the headline: When Lunch Hour is a Lunch Minute.

The message here is that if you’re so busy that you only have a minute to eat lunch, you can eat a little container of white rice that will be ready in a minute. I don’t know who this ad is targeting (it ran in Fitness magazine), but if you’re life is so awful that you only have a minute for lunch, it might be time for a new job. Minute Rice isn’t going to help you because you’re probably going to die from a stress-related illness.

The ad copy claims that white rice is “healthy” and “nutritious.” If your idea of a healthy, nutritious lunch is a microwaved container of white rice, this might be a good time to rethink your diet. Rather than risk losing my vast AdMonkey fortune by making specific claims about the nutritional value of white rice, I’ll provide you with a link to the product’s nutritional information so you can decide for yourself.

Here’s some information on why brown rice is superior to white rice:

“…If brown rice is further milled to remove the bran and most of the germ layer, the result is a whiter rice, but also a rice that has lost many more nutrients. At this point, however, the rice is still unpolished, and it takes polishing to produce the white rice we are used to seeing. Polishing removes the aleurone layer of the grain-a layer filled with health-supportive, essential fats. Because these fats, once exposed to air by the refining process, are highly susceptible to oxidation, this layer is removed to extend the shelf life of the product. The resulting white rice is simply a refined starch that is largely bereft of its original nutrients.”

Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods

White rice is fine to eat every once in a while along with other food, but buying cooked rice mixed with oil and microwaving it to eat for lunch because you only have a minute to eat is just sad.


By Marc Librescu