Tag Archives: Badvertising

McDonald’s Fails At Twitter

Corporate America hasn’t yet learned there’s an evil dark side to social media. You know, it was just a couple months ago that ConAgra got on the wrong side of some New York food bloggers, after trying to dupe them into hawking their crappy frozen food.

And now McDonald’s has learned the downside of Twitter, launching a failed hashtag that was supposed to be a place for people to share their fond memories of eating at McDonald’s. Hah. Three guesses what happened.

Dear marketers: do not try to control social media. You will fail. And when you fail, you will look like idiots to the very people you’re trying to suck up to.

You can read some of the most hilarious entries at the link.

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Filed under corporations, twitter

Free Speech Or Free Hand?

I don’t know why conservatives are always confusing the two. Yet they do. Here’s Ben Stein, suing Kyocera for not signing him as a pitchman because they didn’t want to be represented by an idiot:

According to the complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Kyocera approached Stein in December 2010 to inquire as to his availability to appear in TV advertisements for Kyocera printers. Stein agreed and they began negotiating a contract. Three months later, before the contract was executed, Kyocera learned that Ben Stein is an idiot who denies the reality of global climate change. So they changed their mind and withdrew the offer, because they didn’t want to be represented by an idiot. That’s how capitalism works, right? Companies make decisions based on their interests, and contracts are the law of the land.

No! Capitalism works by suing people when you don’t get your way. To hear Stein tell it, even though they didn’t sign a contract, they still had a contract since Stein really, really, wanted the $300,000 Kyocera had offered contingent on signing the contract, which never happened.

Also, according to Stein, he has a right to the $300,000 under the Constitution, which guarantees him freedom of religion. See, Stein believes that global warming isn’t real because “God, and not man, control[s] the weather.” When Kyocera declined to pay Stein $300,000 to represent the corporation in part because it doesn’t want to be associated with that belief, it violated Stein’s constitutional right to $300,000. He also accuses Kyocera of violating his “freedom of speech” and “political freedom.” Stein has no political freedom, because Kyocera robbed him of the freedom when it refused to pay him $300,000.

No, you do not have a constitutional right to be a Kyocera pitchman.

News flash: Kyocera Corp. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar panels and other PV systems. While Stein would not have been hawking its solar products, I can see how having a vocal climate change denier pitching any of the company’s product lines would be a little awkward, to put it mildly. So a big boo to whatever genius suggested Ben Stein for this gig in the first place: advertising agency Seiter & Miller, I’m going to assume. That was just a dumbass move all around.

And I’m sorry, but Ben Stein? Hello? Try reading your own damn columns and books about the free hand of the market. Also, I haven’t had a chance to dig into the memory hole, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t find something in there from him decrying the burden of frivolous lawsuits and advocating tort reform and all that.



Filed under advertising, Ben Stein, free hand of the market, free speech

Pink Stuff & Super Heroes

A question the Free Hand of the Market has yet to answer:

“Why do all the girls have to buy pink stuff?”

From the mouths of babes. A young girl gets her first lesson in the ways corporate marketers reinforce cultural stereotypes. A young revolutionary in the making. Riley, you rawk:

1 Comment

Filed under advertising, feminism

Pizza Is A Vegetable & Other GOP Job Creating Ideas

Mr. Beale was thrilled to learn that House Republicans have reclassified pizza as a vegetable. After all, I’m constantly nagging at him to eat his vegetables and reminding him of all the health benefits of adding fresh, organic produce to his diet. Now he just needs to wave that slice of meat lovers, stuffed-crust pizza in my face — with extra cheese. Ha ha!

Thanks a lot, House Republicans.

Seriously, this is some crazy shit right here. I realize it’s for the purposes of school lunches. But if you’re sending your kids to school and don’t want them saddled with diabetes and heart disease by the time they’re 20, I don’t think telling them the vegetable of the day is pizza is the way to do it. Maybe it’s just me.

Okay, raise your hand: who thinks this wasn’t just the House Republicans’ “fuck you” to Michelle Obama? I do. It’s just modern-day hippie-punching, with a twist.

I’m old enough to remember when Ronald Reagan classified ketchup as a vegetable. Well, who says Republicans don’t like recycling? We laughed then and we’re laughing now. Okay, first of all, tomatoes are a fruit, technically — not a vegetable. But second of all, by the time it’s been processed with liberal doses of sodium and corn syrup and turned into ketchup or pizza sauce, only an idiot would try to pretend it’s a vegetable.

Can’t believe I’m even bothering to explain this. Le Sigh.

Which brings to mind something else: Republicans are always lobbying against things like junk food taxes and laws mandating posting calorie counts in fast food restaurants. Their argument is, “well, everyone knows McDonald’s and KFC are bad for you! Personal responsibility, people!” But then they go ahead and tell everyone pizza is a vegetable? A little hypocritical, don’tcha think?

I’m not shocked that people might be confused about the dubious health benefits of a Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad (770 calories, 42 grams of fat, and a whopping 1,350 mg. of sodium and 74 grams of carbs. Yeesh.) It says “salad” in the name!

No wonder people are confused: they tune into a popular TV show like The Biggest Loser and see eight-time Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Ono hawking Subway sandwiches — featuring chemically-laden, processed meats and genetically modified ingredients! I read Ono’s autobiography, and I promise you when training for the Olympics (in which he lost a pound a week and got down to 2% body fat) he did not eat processed meats and genetically modified foods.

Oh yeah, all this shit at the local strip mall is sooo healthy! And good for the planet, too! Yeah, Big Food has caught on to what the public wants, but instead of changing the way they do things, they’ve just changed advertising slogans. Free hand of the market, my ass.

Case in point: have you seen this ad from Chipotle, the fast food chain that claims to be so healthy and sustainable? I saw it at the movie theater. It’s got so many liberal dog whistles, from the Willie Nelson soundtrack to depiction of mechanized agri-business, that I immediately knew I was supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy toward Chipotle. Instead, I felt manipulated and offended, since I know Chipotle hawks the same genetically-modified crap as everyone else:

Pizza is not a vegetable and Subway is not health food and Chipotle is not dishing up sustainable burritos. But no wonder people are confused: it’s how the food industry wants it:

Q. On your blog you say, “confusion is one of the tried and true tools of the processed foods industry.” Can you say more about the subtle and not-so-subtle ways these companies confuse us?

A. I think one of the main ways the processed food industry is trying to grow and defend their business is by funding self-serving research. The goal of these studies isn’t to uncover “the truth” or to improve public health. Instead, the research is carefully constructed to create sound bites and statistics to help market their products or combat potential regulation. This is one of the primary ways we end up with conflicting studies that confuse consumers on what they should eat or drink.

Is this purposeful misdirection? Intent is always tough to prove, especially if you don’t have firsthand knowledge. Research tends to be the work of a select few within processed food companies, and I was never part of one of those groups. That said, if you dig into these studies and their methodology, you can usually find the telltale signs of how they have “stacked the deck” in their favor.


Q. What are three things you think every consumer should know about Big Food?

A. Big Food is profit-driven. Don’t be fooled into thinking a brand or the food company that owns it cares about you or your health.

Think critically. Most claims and advertising by Big Food companies are meant to manipulate you, not educate you. Read your labels and do your research.

There is no free lunch. Over the long-term, you always get what you pay for. Cheap food is very expensive once you add up the true costs — like the taxes you pay to subsidize Big Food companies, health consequences like obesity or diabetes, the devastating harm to our environment, and the inhumane treatment of animals raised within the industrialized food system.

Amen to that. I’m so fucking tired of being manipulated by Corporate Food and their minions in Congress, and then having everyone tell us we should know better. You know, we would know better if you didn’t constantly lie to us across a dizzying array of media platforms.

Obesity is a huge problem in this country and it is affecting the national health and welfare. But it goes way beyond obesity. These Frankenfoods that the corporate food industry is shoving down the American gullet are everywhere, even in supposed “health foods.” And the corporate food industry is purposely confusing us so we’ll just shut up and eat our cruel gruel like good little robots.

Well, I’m not shutting up. And I’m not buying your fake food, either.


Filed under corporations, food, food supply, obesity, rants

Liberals/Muslims/Non-Christians Need Not Apply


Shockingly, you can’t do that in Texas:

“The Texas Department of Public Safety certifies individuals to teach coursework and provide training required to be taken by individuals seeking to qualify for a Texas concealed handgun license. Certified instructors are required to comply with all applicable state and federal statutes. Conduct by an instructor that denied service to individuals on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion would place that instructor’s certification by the Department at risk of suspension or revocation. The Department became aware of the statements in question yesterday and has begun an investigation into the matter. The Department will take appropriate administrative action based on the findings from the investigation.”



A radio ad for a handgun safety course in Texas forwarded to me by a friend. No Democrats or other undesirables allowed (click on the link to play; money quote starts at the :43 mark). Makes the “hello friends and neighbors” salutation all the more ironic.

I don’t care how many guns Crocket Keller owns. He’s still an asshole:



Filed under advertising, Texas

Your For Profit Healthcare System At Work

I don’t know why this letter I got from HCA/Tri-Star Health Systems pissed me off so much but it did. It’s a sales pitch for various surgical procedures for obesity, and it came addressed to me (though the salutation is to “Friend”).

You know what? I don’t want to get sales pitches from the local for-profit hospital chain selling me some sketchy obesity surgery. And speaking of fat, I suspect Tri-Star is getting fat off the bloated insurance premiums we pay every month, which is why they can pay to send out mass mailings like this and offer a

FREE bariatric surgery seminar where you will meet with a bariatric surgeon, hear about other patients’ experiences with bariatric surgery and receive an information packet ….

What is this, a hospital or a timeshare?

I don’t suppose we’ll be hearing from too many of these folks, will we?

Maybe what bothers me is this:

Because insurers are increasingly willing to cover weight-loss surgery, hospitals here see it as a growing profit center.

They are mounting marketing campaigns and competing to sign up top weight-loss surgeons.

“There’s a high reimbursement rate for these procedures,” says Bob Benowitz, a Manhattan lawyer whose clients include many local hospitals and physicians.

Nationally, insurers paid hospitals an average of more than $10,000 for the two most popular of the procedures: gastric bypass and gastric banding. Christine Ren, a bariatric surgeon at New York University Medical Center, says some companies pay as much as $14,000.

That story is from 2007. I’m betting those numbers are much higher now. And I’m betting HCA/Tri-Star is cashing in on this profit center, just as the New York hospitals mentioned in the article did. After all, we have no shortage of obese people here in Tennessee.

I find this immoral. The entire idea that there’s a profit motive attached to healthcare is repugnant. No one should get rich off of someone’s healthcare needs. I place most of the diet industry on a par with snake oil salesmen, peddling quick-fixes like diet cookies and powders and shakes. And now HCA/Tri-Star puts itself in the same camp as the hucksters hawking a lemonade-maple-syrup-cayenne-pepper diet.

Read the letter here:

If We're Such Good Friends How Come You Don't Know I'm Not Fat?


Filed under advertising, HCA, health insurance, healthcare

False Advertising, Cultural Narrative Edition

Adding to my earlier post today …. Have you seen this Simpson’s Coca-Cola ad? I think it ran during last year’s Super Bowl. I missed it then, but they’re playing it at the movie theater now, so I’ve seen it a gazillion times:

What’s interesting to me is that during this current recession, billionaires didn’t go broke. The “C. Montgomery Burnses” of the country got giant bailouts from the taxpayers and are safely ensconced in their mansions surrounded by their family heirlooms. The people getting yanked out of their homes and selling mementos at the flea market are the middle class and lower class folks — the people the ad shows enjoying the simple, carefree joys of a day in the park and a Coke.

So why does a corporate multinational like Coca Cola choose to present our current dilemma in this way? Was this rewriting of history deliberate? This misrepresentation of facts to put the wealthy in the same boat as everyone else: intentional? A blatant attempt to change the cultural narrative before our very eyes? I mean, unless you’re really paying attention, you might not even notice.

It’s all very fascinating.


Filed under advertising, corporations, economy, pop culture