Sales Here with Cynthia Harley

Communications student exploring sales and advertising

E-Cig Ad Regulations


Not going to lie to you dear readers, as an occasional smoker myself I have bought an electronic cigarette before.  And due to the advertisements that I had previously seen on television I chose to go with the Blu e cig.  There really isn’t any other affordable disposable e-cig company pushing their product on a national level like Blu is. 

And good news for electronic cigarette companies because as of Friday, the FDA has decided to continue to allow television advertisements of the product.  The electronic cigarette industry has an estimated worth of 2 billion dollars and will continue to sky rocket with their unhindered regulations. 

As far as regularly big tobacco companies they are most certainly feeling threatened in the wake of the decision.  After all, they haven’t been able to advertise in the traditional sense since 1971.  What’s even more disheartening for them is that it is believed the FDA’s decision to place mild restraints on e-cig advertising based upon scientific evidence for the product to be less harmful than actual tobacco.  E-cig companies haven’t so much taken the health route for promoting the electronic devices but rather touting them as a way to beat the ban of cigarettes in public places since the vapor is odorless and at this point believed to be equally as harmless. 

Blu has even garnered some celebrity endorsements from Jenny McCarthy in one of their commercials.  All of which indicates that electronic cigarette companies will opt for some of big tobacco companies’ former marketing strategies of making the product look hip.   Regardless of the lack of advertising digression the FDA is planning to limit the product being advertised to minors through the ban of free giveaways, as well as not allowing minors to buy the product.

The FDA’s regulations come in full effect two years from now, leaving complete leeway for whatever advertising electronic cigarettes deem helpful.  And two years for the big tobacco companies to roll out some of their own e-cig products.    

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This week in the ad industry

A breakdown of the funny and mention worthy ad news of the week

  1. Burger King brings back their Subservient Chicken campaign in a big way:  Back in 2004 the Subservient Chicken was Burger King’s online video hit, where customers viewed a video of a chicken taking personalized orders hence BK’s motto “Have it your way.” This time around with more social media outlets, BK launched the search for the missing Subservient Chicken via Twitter and links to a website.  The BK website will launch additional videos later this week. 
  2. New York Times expands their video hub:  There new video channel features columnists and editors reading comical legal transcripts.  In hopes to continue to expand their video channels they have picked up a sponsorship from Acura. 
  3. Appsfire an app ad network from Paris wants to create ads that pop up when you drag down your phone screen to refresh.  No longer would there only be a gray spinning circle signaling to you that your content is loading, but a new type of mini banner ad. 
  4. First there was Instagram, then there was Instagram video and soon there will be Instagram video ads.  The company is being very selective of who gets the potentially coveted spots which is why it has yet to launch but soon will be taking over Instagram videos. 
  5. Nike launches their “Risk Everything” campaign in partnership with the World Cup.  The campaign includes more than just soccer players with other celebrity endorsers like Kobe Bryant and Anderson Silva. 

This week in the ad industry will be a new tradition here with Cynthia Harley. 

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Unconventional Ads

One of the most unconventional ads I’ve personally seen in a while comes from Subaru of Russia.  The unconventional ad has been posted by Subaru of America on all of its social media accounts recently despite the bizarre nature, claiming that good advertising should be rewarded. 

What makes the ad bizarre is the seemingly depression nature of the opening scene, where a woman runs down a dog while driving in the dark.  After her abrupt stop, she emerges from the Subaru to check on the dog.  However, the dog has plans that do not include dying but rather stealing the woman’s car.  The dog drives off changing the radio stations and saying, “Who let’s that woman drive?”  The clear cut message of course being that everyone wants to drive a Subaru.

The word unconventional as been used to describe this ad by me many times but this thought applies to US culture, maybe not so much for other cultures.  I’ve also talked a lot about international marketing campaigns in previous posts but not so much about the advertising industry of other countries.  As you can imagine countries abroad have much more stringent regulations when it comes to product promotion, with Great Britain being on par with the US and countries like China being on the more extreme side of strict.  It is to be noted that most European countries have limited advertising laws directed to young adults or what some people in the US would consider minors because of their lower drinking ages.  One rule that remains consistent even in Europe for alcohol advertising is that it cannot be linked to driving in any manner. 

Now back to the dog driving the Subaru, you can check out the ad on any of Subaru America’s social media accounts, posted last week. 

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Ad Vocab Translated

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Transmedia Video

Transmedia Video

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The Lanham Act

The Lanham Act was enacted during Harry Truman’s presidency in 1947 and established enforcement against false advertising, trademark infringement and trademark dilution.  Today the Act is coming in handy for the Pom Wonderful vs. Coca Cola Supreme Court case.  Pom Wonderful is suing Coca Cola for misrepresenting their product through labeling.  Pom Wonderful only contains 0.3 percent pomegranate juice and the rest 0.2 percent blueberry juice and 99% apple juice.  The backlash from Pom to Coca Cola comes from the labeling promoting the main ingredient as pomegranate within its name and typography on the bottle. 

The interesting part of all this is that the Coca Cola designed labeling and name has long since been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  And the scary part of all this for advertisers is if Pom wins their lawsuit because this would prompt many food labels to come under scrutiny for misrepresentation.  Moreover, is it even justifiable for the lawsuit to entertained by the court system? 

Products that personally come to my mind that could be re-reviewed by the FDA for label misrepresentation include Fig Newtons and the Naked label juice brands.  So many health food products are actually mislabeled when you look at their ingredients.  In my opinion it’s the responsibility of the consumer to check the labeling of products to ensure true ingredients but opinions like this is why I’m on the marketer’s side. 

As well as being on the side that the Pom vs. Coca Cola case should be dismissed.  Besides who even drinks Pom? 

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Targeting Millennials Continued

Advertisers are quickly learning new ways to promote to millennials. As electronic dance music and festivals gain in popularity, so begins the competition for brands vying for a part of the action.  At music festivals brands are able to create interactive promotional tables, everything from free giveaways to demonstrations.  The ultimate means of promotion is sponsoring a music festival such as Coachella, Bonaroo or Electric Zoo.  For about a million dollars a brand can buy the rights to name a concerts stage.

Over the past year revenue from festival advertising has increased 4.4% and collectively advertisers have spent $1.34 billion in festival promotions.  The key here is that festival goers are going   to be attracted to the festival regardless of whether Red Bull or Sony is sponsoring an event.  Advertisers have caught on to this and hence realized which festivals they can sponsor are limitless. 

With summer approaching, so is the season for advertisers to target festival attendees.  Coachella kicked off the festivals this past April and had sponsorships from Heineken, Red Bull, Samsung, H&M, JBL and Sephora.  On the venue side of things they will turn away sponsorships that aren’t customized to the audience, hence the appropriateness of the aforementioned brands.  Last year at Bonaroo, Garnier Fructis set up a hair washing stand furnished with all of their products. The best part of this type of promotions is that concert attendants don’t even realize they are being advertised towards; rather they are taking advantage of a free service.

On the cusp of innovative advertising is brands hosting their own concerts and with million dollar plus price tags for a simple stage ad, it’s no wonder that Budweiser came out with their Made in America Philadelphia concert series.  Alcohol companies are especially germane to concerts appealing to millennials.   What brands would you be excited to see at a festival? 

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Snapchat Adds Ads…

To go along with my previous millennials post it’s only appropriate to mention Snapchat, the millennials golden child of apps. A golden child because the app has been ad free, minus their “snapchat team” holiday snaps, which could be considered more spam than anything else. However I digress, Snapchat has teamed up with Taco Bell and made a short film snap promoting their latest Doritos Locos Taco, the Doritos Locos Cool Ranch Taco.
All of this brings two things to mind for me. One, it’s been a huge month for Taco Bell, between their launch of breakfast and now more types of Doritos Tacos. Do you think this is promotional overload and too much all in one month?
Second, will millennials be more receptive to promotional advertising on an app that they know and trust? My thinking says yes, millennials will be more apt to gravitate towards using their phone to update themselves concerning their favorite companies. It all goes back to not feeling annoyed when they can filter through ads.
As long as phone apps continue to team up with companies for promotional purposes consumers will continue to change their outlook on being “advertised to.”

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Key to Creativity…have it!

The key to a wildly successful ad campaign is creativity. Even the most mundane of products can be presented in a creative manner. Many people don’t realize the highly artistic aspect of ad industry, they think of ad execs in suites and ties and heated business discussions. Surprisingly, the industry also attracts many artists. In honor of my creative side I would like to share how I get in tune with my more artistic side.
1. Go for a drive: Sounds simple but never underestimate how empowering it can be to just get in your car and drive aimlessly around backroads. For me it’s absolutely mind clearing.
2. Meditate: You are probably thinking what a hokey thing to do. Taking time to meditate every day is literally life altering and leaves room for creative thoughts after you get the mindless chatter out.
3. Go for a walk: Getting out in nature, even if it’s a cityscape is a good change of pace.
4. Remove yourself from electronics: oh no how will you ever survive without your phone?! It can be done and even being in a place where there are absolutely no electronics for only a few minutes will force you to have original thoughts, that may even surprise you.
Every person can benefit from being more in touch with their creative side, regardless of profession but especially for those in the advertising industry.

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Can’t Outsmart Millennials

It should come as no surprise that millennials are becoming more and more tricky to advertise to.  As a millennial, I have always been inundated with advertisements from absolutely every device.  It seems to me that with every new technology come a new type of ad, banner ads for websites and special popup ads for phone apps.

It seems that advertisers need to get smarter and in a way sneakier in order to grab my generations attention.  In a sense we need ads that are not blatant but are absorbing in our subconscious nonetheless. 

In comes advertising prior to YouTube videos that allow us the opportunity to skip past them hence giving us the freedom to choose what we are being exposed to.  Nonetheless whether one chooses to skip the optional ad or not, for the briefest of seconds we are still being exposed to it.  I personally sometimes won’t immediately recognize that it’s even ad. 

There are also ad free options of the most commonly used apps, like Pandora.  Once again, appearing to at least give the consumer the option to skip past them if they are willing to pay the price.  Of course, for every person that is willing to pay that extra dollar plus, there is always someone else who isn’t willing to. 

The key words here are optional and giving the consumer the right to choose.  In the end, consumers will respect the products more for being afforded the opportunity.  And in the end advertisers will have to continue in being ahead of the curve in order to get the word out there.  

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