Adsolutely Fadulous
 Sultry Sally chips - is this advertising sexist or nostalgic?
I happened across this display at a local Foodworks and I was immediately horrified. I really don’t want to see a picture of a sexy girl on my chips, thank you very much. There’s absolutely no need for her to be right there, on the packaging - it’s gratuitous and a step back to 1950s (and earlier!) advertising techniques. She has nothing to do with anything vaguely carbohydrate- or sodium-related, except for the fact that her name ‘Sultry’ has a distinct phonetic similarity to ‘salty’.
The chips themselves claim to be low in fat. In fact in 2009 the company launched an even lower fat version, because the company’s target market is “primarily women who often  skip meals as they juggle families and careers. Now they can reach for a  snack which is tasty and guilt free.” 
Something doesn’t add up here - the target market is women? Seeking a low-fat snack option? I’m technically in that target market and when I saw the packaging I hardly noticed the ‘LOW FAT’ and ‘97% FAT FREE’ claims. Sure - at closer inspection I see that they’re there. But the illustration of Sultry Sally, in her 1950s pin-up doll get-up, is the primary focus - and the primary reason why I wouldn’t buy these chips.
Sex sells, it’s a fact. But I’m curious as to why this technique is being used here, where a product’s target audience is women. Are they supposed to aspire to be her? Will their consumption of these low-fat chips lead to a bodily transformation? Will their husbands be buying the chips for them, blinded by pure animalistic impulse? Does the 1950s-style illustration + fashion hark back to a ‘better time’ where chips were ‘good for you’? It’s not entirely clear.
My opinions about sexist advertising aside, I feel that this campaign hasn’t worked. Sultry Sally chips aren’t exactly a household name like Smiths or Kettle. Using sex to try to sell to a female target audience may not have been the best strategy, as it crowds out the benefits that might have had resonance with a female market.  

 Sultry Sally chips - is this advertising sexist or nostalgic?

I happened across this display at a local Foodworks and I was immediately horrified. I really don’t want to see a picture of a sexy girl on my chips, thank you very much. There’s absolutely no need for her to be right there, on the packaging - it’s gratuitous and a step back to 1950s (and earlier!) advertising techniques. She has nothing to do with anything vaguely carbohydrate- or sodium-related, except for the fact that her name ‘Sultry’ has a distinct phonetic similarity to ‘salty’.

The chips themselves claim to be low in fat. In fact in 2009 the company launched an even lower fat version, because the company’s target market is “primarily women who often skip meals as they juggle families and careers. Now they can reach for a snack which is tasty and guilt free.” 

Something doesn’t add up here - the target market is women? Seeking a low-fat snack option? I’m technically in that target market and when I saw the packaging I hardly noticed the ‘LOW FAT’ and ‘97% FAT FREE’ claims. Sure - at closer inspection I see that they’re there. But the illustration of Sultry Sally, in her 1950s pin-up doll get-up, is the primary focus - and the primary reason why I wouldn’t buy these chips.

Sex sells, it’s a fact. But I’m curious as to why this technique is being used here, where a product’s target audience is women. Are they supposed to aspire to be her? Will their consumption of these low-fat chips lead to a bodily transformation? Will their husbands be buying the chips for them, blinded by pure animalistic impulse? Does the 1950s-style illustration + fashion hark back to a ‘better time’ where chips were ‘good for you’? It’s not entirely clear.

My opinions about sexist advertising aside, I feel that this campaign hasn’t worked. Sultry Sally chips aren’t exactly a household name like Smiths or Kettle. Using sex to try to sell to a female target audience may not have been the best strategy, as it crowds out the benefits that might have had resonance with a female market.  


Tags: sultry sally

Mastercard targets the youthful masses with a product perfect for them - a debit credit card - touting all the flexibility of a credit card with the control of using your own money rather than racking up $$$ of debt! I’m 22 and have never actually had a real credit card: I rely on my (visa) debit. I’ve never really felt the need for a credit card - except when phone companies and real estate agencies want to do a credit rating on me!

The ads in this campaign play the association game, linking seemingly unrelated elements in a mashed-up maze of images and ideas, ultimately demonstrating the invaluable (read: priceless) role your Debit Mastercard will play in getting you the things you want. And you are young. You like cool things, idealise yourself as a rockstar, want to trash a hotel room some day. Not too sure about the logic here (is Mastercard inciting criminal acts?) but then again it’s all about the humour. Mastercard gets us on side by being over the top and funny!

The graphics and animation are collage-like, with a scrapbook feel. It’s beautifully done - quick-moving and ever-changing, catering to the short attention spans of Generation Y. Of course, the ads end by integrating with the overarching campaign for Mastercard’s products - the ‘Priceless’ tagline - which, by the way, has been around since 1997.

Mastercard have taken the campaign one step further by organising a series of music gigs, the tickets for which can only be purchased online with, you guessed it, your Debit Mastercard. They’ve done well in choosing a range of artists (Good Charlotte, Empire of the Sun, Katy Perry) which span a wide demographic of music taste - plus the artists themselves get some good PR to boot. The exclusivity of it all is an effective way of hooking people into using the product, and demonstrating how this piece of plastic will improve your happiness levels in everyday life. Because money can’t buy you happiness, but your (debit) Mastercard can buy you the things that will make you happy!

Sunbeam’s 2010 advertising approach was to demonstrate the essential role played by its products in Australian households. The ads first aired during Masterchef - a show which attracts millions of viewers. It’s a prime TV spot if you’re peddling anything kitchen-related!

This ad is totally sweet! I love the idea of the Sunbeam products conceptualised as balloons, which we cling to and rely on for our happiness. Especially the coffee machines, kettles, blenders and toasters - coffee, tea, milkshakes and toast really get you through the tough times, and are always a staple of the good times!

My favourite bit is the shot of the woman holding so many Sunbeam products she’s floating up in the air and flying along! Who knew owning multiple electrical appliances could be so fun?

There are lots of out-of-focus shots, and the film is overlayed with a kind of desaturated light which is beautifully nostalgic. The ad tugs at our heartstrings, and the whimsy makes us smile. A familiar song with the word ‘sunshine’ replaced with the brand name is a little clichéd as the jingle, but I think it works.

For the record, my kettle is a Sunbeam - my grandmother bought it for me when I moved to college at the start of 2006. It’s still going strong, which is lovely - especially considering I’ve gone through 2 laptops, 2 printers and 5 mobile phones during the same amount of time. The scale of e-waste in the 21st century is terrible!

A bank that actually returns customer phone calls? Shock! Horror! Perhaps if a real person answered the customer’s call in the first place, there would be no need for a customer service representative to call back!

I have a bone to pick with CommBank and the claims in this ad. Earlier this year I was involved in a bike accident - a driver flung open their car door in front of me and I went sailing through the windscreen of the car. Long story short - I spent a lot of time on the phone to his insurance company - CommInsure. To even get to speak to a real person you had to wade through several minutes of touch phone selections and tolerate the automated voice who wanted to know if you were after car insurance or home insurance. If so, please press one. *groan*

When I first saw this ad for Commonwealth Bank, I laughed out loud, because I had experienced first hand the incompetence this very ad assures us that CommBank is not guilty of. But, somewhere along the line they must have been doing something right - the claim to more satisfied customers than any other bank in Australia is a big selling point - and they’ve really made use of it here in a humourous way.

'We open on a Melbourne woman in the garden…' - straight away, a narrator lets us know what is going on, much like audio commentary on a film. This has the effect of positioning the audience as having an insider's knowledge of the action - a subtle way of building trust. I also like how the narration can be changed slightly according to where the ad will be aired - swap Melbourne for Sydney and you've changed your target market in a word. 

The woman - clearly a housewife, clad in floral dress - is watering the garden with a copious hose and is clearly unaware of current water restrictions. The whole scene is an idealistic vision of suburban paradise, and filmed in B&W it affords a nostalgic effect - subtly harking back to better times, where bankers were real people.

The shock of being called back by the bank is too much for this modern day damsel in distress - she faints, and to the rescue run four CommBankers. It’s melodrama at its best, and it’s pretty funny.

The thing is, decent communications with customers should be part and parcel of customer service of any bank. The people behind this campaign must have realised how unsatisfied Australians are with the communications side of the banking industry and really profited from it. You almost don’t mind that CommBank don’t always live up to this promise - at least through this ad they have let us know they are aware of customer concerns, and they made us laugh to boot!

French Connection strip it back to basics with their 2010 advertising campaign - This is the Man / This is the Woman.  Two characters, two archetypes, but with quirky twists applied to the imagery to really make you look twice.
The Man sports a virile beard erupting from his chin. The slightly disconcerting rabbit ears suggest innocence and playfulness at the same time as a strange wildness. It’s a very memorable image, rife with contradiction. The type is a sans serif in ALL CAPS, announcing an almost imperative statement: ‘MAN SHOULD BE BRAVE’.  Brave enough for what? To wear bunny ears? But I digress…
The Woman, by striking contrast, is petite, frenchy chic, feminine. She’s a little more typical (and safe) a choice of model than the Man. Her softness is at odds with the brute strength of the Man - so while I would argue that the Man is the more eye-catching and surprising of the two, the Women counters this effect, making the campaign more widely accessible. No all caps here - would that be too intense for a female target audience? Another point of differentiation?
The campaign continues with a series of television shorts - for the most part narrated by a man with a sexy, gravelly voice complete with french accent, although sometimes there is a female voice repeating the words or saying new ones in French in a pretty acoustic counterpoint. French words like naturellement, non, spéciale are tossed in here and there to boost the idea of luxury and quality - features of the French Connection fashion itself.
And what of the fashion, anyway? At the end of the day, the whole campaign is meant to sell clothes. I like the subtle focus on the range achieved by this campaign. It’s done through language: for example, ‘She turns lines into curves’ - suggesting the synergy between wearer and clothing. The bright, colourful lines of the shirt draw the eye as the rest of the image is muted.
In one of the shorts, the woman’s shoulder is the highlight - which again is a lovely interplay between the woman’s actual shoulder, and the dress she is wearing, which features interesting shoulder embellishment. Woman and dress are one and the same.
Language also highlights the qualities of the clothing worn by the man. His shirt is ‘Cotton. Double-stitched.’, and his pants are ‘Linen. Double-stitched’. Simple fabrics signify no-nonsense, yet they are treated in luxurious ways (double-anything would suggest high quality to anybody!)
French Connection’s campaign is playful, making use of striking and contradictory models which generate a binary of images riffing on what it is to be masculine and feminine. The focus on french - such as french cinematic techniques, french accent, syntax and language - is used to suggest quality and luxury - and underneath it all hammer home the brand name. It’s known more as French Connection these days, thank fcuk!

French Connection strip it back to basics with their 2010 advertising campaign - This is the Man / This is the Woman.  Two characters, two archetypes, but with quirky twists applied to the imagery to really make you look twice.

The Man sports a virile beard erupting from his chin. The slightly disconcerting rabbit ears suggest innocence and playfulness at the same time as a strange wildness. It’s a very memorable image, rife with contradiction. The type is a sans serif in ALL CAPS, announcing an almost imperative statement: ‘MAN SHOULD BE BRAVE’. Brave enough for what? To wear bunny ears? But I digress…

The Woman, by striking contrast, is petite, frenchy chic, feminine. She’s a little more typical (and safe) a choice of model than the Man. Her softness is at odds with the brute strength of the Man - so while I would argue that the Man is the more eye-catching and surprising of the two, the Women counters this effect, making the campaign more widely accessible. No all caps here - would that be too intense for a female target audience? Another point of differentiation?

The campaign continues with a series of television shorts - for the most part narrated by a man with a sexy, gravelly voice complete with french accent, although sometimes there is a female voice repeating the words or saying new ones in French in a pretty acoustic counterpoint. French words like naturellement, non, spéciale are tossed in here and there to boost the idea of luxury and quality - features of the French Connection fashion itself.

And what of the fashion, anyway? At the end of the day, the whole campaign is meant to sell clothes. I like the subtle focus on the range achieved by this campaign. It’s done through language: for example, ‘She turns lines into curves’ - suggesting the synergy between wearer and clothing. The bright, colourful lines of the shirt draw the eye as the rest of the image is muted.

In one of the shorts, the woman’s shoulder is the highlight - which again is a lovely interplay between the woman’s actual shoulder, and the dress she is wearing, which features interesting shoulder embellishment. Woman and dress are one and the same.

Language also highlights the qualities of the clothing worn by the man. His shirt is ‘Cotton. Double-stitched.’, and his pants are ‘Linen. Double-stitched’. Simple fabrics signify no-nonsense, yet they are treated in luxurious ways (double-anything would suggest high quality to anybody!)

French Connection’s campaign is playful, making use of striking and contradictory models which generate a binary of images riffing on what it is to be masculine and feminine. The focus on french - such as french cinematic techniques, french accent, syntax and language - is used to suggest quality and luxury - and underneath it all hammer home the brand name. It’s known more as French Connection these days, thank fcuk!

Last week while commuting to work I couldn’t help but notice the poster version of ING’s new campaign plastered on bus shelters around Sydney.
The information I retained from the ad was that it was promoting the bank ING, and that there was a creepy humanoid-orangutan creature doing the promoting. I have no memory of the message the ads were trying to get across, but the image of the sentient orangutan stayed with me for days on end.
I searched a little further to find out more about the campaign. The visual effects of the horrifying orangutan-human hybrid were created using a combination of CGI technology and an actor wearing an animal-suit. It’s the collaborative effort of animation company Animal Logic, known for their work on films such as Happy Feet and Legend of the Guardians, alongside branding agency Jack Watts Curry.
The videos show quite a bit of gratuitous Apple product placement, and quite a bit of orange (c.f. teacup, fruit bowl of oranges, colour of the kitchen wall, presence of an ORANGUTAN). It’s an interesting take on maintaining a colour brand identity! The orangutan, Charles by name, appears elsewhere in the social media sphere such as on Facebook and YouTube, so the campaign is integrated and goes that little bit further.
My conclusion? The ads are strange, but they stay with you. Well, the image of the orangutan does, though I’m still struggling to see what that has to do with investment banking. It may be just quirky enough to get people interested, and it’s certainly a bold advertising move for a bank, which usually employ more conservative strategies in order to maintain customer confidence. Although I suppose it’s keeping up with the comedic theme which was part of ING’s previous strategy with ads featuring Billy Connelly.

Last week while commuting to work I couldn’t help but notice the poster version of ING’s new campaign plastered on bus shelters around Sydney.

The information I retained from the ad was that it was promoting the bank ING, and that there was a creepy humanoid-orangutan creature doing the promoting. I have no memory of the message the ads were trying to get across, but the image of the sentient orangutan stayed with me for days on end.

I searched a little further to find out more about the campaign. The visual effects of the horrifying orangutan-human hybrid were created using a combination of CGI technology and an actor wearing an animal-suit. It’s the collaborative effort of animation company Animal Logic, known for their work on films such as Happy Feet and Legend of the Guardians, alongside branding agency Jack Watts Curry.

The videos show quite a bit of gratuitous Apple product placement, and quite a bit of orange (c.f. teacup, fruit bowl of oranges, colour of the kitchen wall, presence of an ORANGUTAN). It’s an interesting take on maintaining a colour brand identity! The orangutan, Charles by name, appears elsewhere in the social media sphere such as on Facebook and YouTube, so the campaign is integrated and goes that little bit further.

My conclusion? The ads are strange, but they stay with you. Well, the image of the orangutan does, though I’m still struggling to see what that has to do with investment banking. It may be just quirky enough to get people interested, and it’s certainly a bold advertising move for a bank, which usually employ more conservative strategies in order to maintain customer confidence. Although I suppose it’s keeping up with the comedic theme which was part of ING’s previous strategy with ads featuring Billy Connelly.

Ahhh… the Apple iPad.

Simultaneously one of the most useless and beautiful luxury items of our time.

What I enjoy about Apple’s approach to its iPad marketing is that YOU (the viewer/potential iPad owner) can visualise yourself doing all the wonderful things this device is capable of. The camera positions the iPad centre-screen, with anonymous users who have perfectly manicured hands interacting with the touch-screen - flipping pages, re-sizing objects, tapping away at a maths problem. That person with the perfectly manicured hands using the iPad - that could be you!

The dichotomy between simplicity and complexity in this commercial is also very interesting. The iPad is an amazing piece of technology and has a myriad uses. But instead of confusing the audience by going into great detail about all this possibility, it’s a stripped back approach combining a video image of the activity taking place (looking up a recipe, choosing a book from the virtual shelf and reading it) with an adjective to describe that experience - delicious, artful, scientific, magical. I actually love how towards the end the words and the video experiences seem to blend into one another - as if the title word applies to the videos both before and following it (take scientific and magical and the respective images, for example).

Just before the iPad came out in Australia, I remember seeing still shot advertisements on bus stops of people using the iPad. The same camera angle is employed - we don’t see who is using the device - it’s shot over their shoulder so that we can imagine our heads in that space, on that body, using that iPad. The models are everyday people (who, by the way, are clad in trendy fashions like Converse). 

Tags: iPad is

bag of thoughts

Today, when I was on campus for a Graduate Expo, I was given this ‘bag of thoughts’.

There were no actual thoughts inside, much to my disappointment. Just a couple of glossy brochures, and a pen.

This ‘bag of thoughts’ is just one small part of the University of Sydney’s new marketing and re-branding strategy, which was implemented at the beginning of this year. Instead of the old-school crest and latin motto (sidere mens eadem mutato), there are, well, squares in primary colours - yellow, blue, red.

Apparently a university which has would-be students lining up at the gates to get into one of its courses ‘needs’ to spend in the region of $750,000+ to attract new ‘customers’.

And my bag of thoughts is as empty of intellectual insight as the heads of the people behind this campaign.