Sales Here with Cynthia Harley

Communications student exploring sales and advertising

April Fools, Even for Advertisers

It seems ad agencies have gotten in on the April Fool’s jokes alongside their public. Several prominent ad agencies played some marketing tricks on their audiences, launching faux and seamlessly ridiculous products to garner the public’s reactions.

First up is Washington states publicity company, Publicis Seattle. Which launched a video on Vimeo depicting water droplets that release a scent to coincide with brands. The video featured graphics, scientific commentary and word from “Brand Drops” CEO.   The rouse was well elaborated on and although the concept seemed ridiculous, considering some of the products launched as of late, it didn’t seem unrealistic to some viewers.

Secondly Cheetos started their elaborate rouse on March 26th and carried it into the April Fools Holiday, with a new perfume line called “Cheetau.” Their website featured a Calvin Kelin-esque video promoting the fragrance. On April Fools Day the company had a sampling on Madison Avenue from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

 My personal favorite company April Fools joke comes from American Eagle Outfitters. The company launched a dog line, called “American Beagle Outfitters” and sold gift cards online. Before actually purchasing the gift card customers were segued into giving a dollar donation to the ASPCA. The fact that American Eagle not only tried to make an April Fools joke but also make it for a good cause, good for them!

 What are your thoughts on companies participating in April Fools, quirky or simply unprofessional? As far as I’m concerned if the company can gain from it and its not inappropriate humor then it’s a great promotional tool.

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These are a few of my favorite things…

I once learned that a funny ad is memorable but the product itself is not remembered. Regardless of the psychology behind this my favorite television ads remain to be the ones that are comical.
One such ad is for Windex, involving a such a spotlessly cleaned window that birds fly right through it and I believe in later series as did people. Well not fly but simply run into it.
My friends enjoy funny ads as well and ads that go for the cute affect. Such as Taco Bells former mascot the chihuahua proclaiming “Yo quiero Taco Bell”, which if you ask me should still remain as their adorable mascot.
Unfortunately, although some products geared towards teens and young adults still use humor in their advertising, I feel the more broad demographic of 18-49 year olds is moving away from humorous ads.
It remains to be seen why/I would need to look up further statistics to prove my point.
And the ads for this past Super Bowl and award season doesn’t have any stand out hilarious ads. Although humor is certainly determined person to person. While some get a kick out of others accidentally hurting themselves (think Americas Funniest Home Videos) I prefer more traditional humor that isn’t necessarily at the expense of others. Don’t get me wrong it can be funny sometimes.
I think humor in comparison advertising remains to be the most affective for me however. Like the Mac vs Windows product ads poking fun at Siri.
Which type of humorous ads are your favorites? Or do you believe them to be not as affective in promotions?

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Bad Habit, Even Worse Advertising

Its of common knowledge that cigarette ads are banned from most venues, ranging from magazines to television commercials.  Gone are the days when advertising firms would vie for tobacco company accounts, like how Lucky Strike is depicted in Mad Men.  Tobacco companies are now resorting to in house advertising campaigns, tailored to the regulations placed upon the FDA.  Up until the 1960’s cigarette companies sponsored television shows like the “Flintstones” and the “Beverly Hillbillies.”  As one can imagine, sponsorship of these shows set out to target youth.  By 1964 the backlash against cigarettes being unhealthy could no longer be ignored by the public nor the tobacco industry.  As a means to counteract the negative publicity, tobacco companies collaborated to create the Cigarette Advertising Code, which prohibited advertising towards youth.

The 1970’s brought upon the beginning of change for cigarette companies and advertising.  First with the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act which banned cigarette advertisements on television and radio, making those commercials completely obsolete by 1971.  Up until 1997’s Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement tobacco was still able to be advertised outdoors on billboards and public transportation. 

Today classic cartoons have been edited through the removal of scenes in which characters are smoking.  In particular, the Motion Picture Association of America discourages movies from portraying characters smoking, upping the rating the act is not deemed necessary to portray historical fiction.  This goes for video game content rating systems as well because the mere portrayal of the act is considered promoting the habit.

 And as far as a tobacco company having an integrated marketing campaign online, you can forget about it.  Both Google and Microsoft have policies prohibiting the advertisement of tobacco products on their networks.  A redirected landing page with advertisements for cigar humidors and lighters is the closest loophole to the policies.

Despite the tobacco industry’s regulations regarding advertising, they still collectively spend billions on ad campaigns each year.   So clearly they are still finding some sort of outlet for their endeavors.  

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Ad Fallacy:

What happens when a company’s press release gets it absolutely all wrong?  And how smart do you think the media really is?  Well, the PR team over at really pulled one over on America’s leading news networks; the best part is it was all unintentional. 

It started out with issuing a press release describing how they were buying ad spots through Comcast Spotlight.  The advertisements promoted their medical marijuana service, in an entertaining fashion I might add.  In the ad a sketchy man is selling sushi, while the voice dub over says, “You wouldn’t buy your sushi from this guy, so why would you buy your marijuana from him?” 

NBC Nightly News and ABC News started airing stories about the first medical marijuana promotion ads being aired in New Jersey.  But the thing is Comcast Spotlight never agreed to air the proposed ads by  The ad itself began receiving a ton of publicity based on YouTube watches, likes and comments. 

What’s more, is in this case of classic miscommunication the Marijuanna Doctors Company was under the impression that the ads really were running, up until the point Comcast Spotlight issued a statement themselves, confirming the ad will never run on TV because it wasn’t approved. 

There is no better way to describe this whole scenario, other than a major miscommunication in the midst of the communication industry. It goes to show, that no matter how highly trained PR professionals and journalists are, the influence of social media can counteract the real facts.  It’s hard to not believe the ad is airing somewhere on television in America given the popularity of it on YouTube, combined with the fact that the ad deals with one of the hottest topics in politics right now, legalization of medical marijuana.  It’s almost as if reporters are all too eager to serve up to America what they would like to hear, one could speculate for the sake of ratings.   

Idealistically, one would hope this not the case.  Either way you can check out the UNAIRED advertisement for yourself below.

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Award Season Kick off: Oscar Ads

At first gander one may not think of the Academy Awards as being up there with the Super Bowl as far as televised special events, quite the contrary however for nationally recognized companies.  A 30 second ad spot for the 86th Academy Awards ran companies approximately $1.8 million.  Although the Grammys are still one of the top ranking award shows for ad revenue, the Oscar ad prices increased 10% just in the last year.

 Little did I know, just like or Super Bowl the Oscars nonalcoholic beverage sponsors.  This year some of the ad sponsor switch ups included Pepsi replacing Coca Cola and General Motors replacing Hyundai.  General Motors chose to focus on their luxury car line, Cadillac.   One sponsor for the awards that will not be changing anytime soon appears to be JC Penney’s; they were the Oscar’s sole retail sponsor for the 13th year running. 

Companies during the Oscar’s get to capitalize on having commercials with some of the biggest names in Hollywood.  Having star power behind a campaign is and appears that it will always remain as a top tiered technique.  Whether the celebrity figure is a spokesperson in the true sense of the title or simply making a cameo in an ad, it’s always eye catching for the celebrities fans and makes one think twice about the product being portrayed regardless of a viewer’s preconceived notion.  If their preconceived notion of the celebrity is favorable enough, it may even override their possible misconceptions about the product.    

Pepsi’s 60 second ad incorporated clips from some of Hollywood’s award winning movies like The Wizard of Oz, Scarface, Titanic, Good Will Hunting and When Harry Met Sally.  The inclusiveness of the commercials emphasizing a Hollywood theme during the Oscar makes producers of the event happy whilst allowing the audience to have a completely submersed experience, a win-win situation to say the least. 

Statistics courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter

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What happened to the jingle?

As mentioned in a previous post detailing the declining popularity of television ads, I love TV jingles.  Part of me certainly wishes that jingles were more often incorporated in advertising campaigns.  After all, if the only people watching television ads anymore are the Baby Boomers, then I think product jingles need to make a comeback in a big way.  The thing is I’m being completely serious because I know from living with my grandparents the resonating impression a good jingle can leave on a generation. 

I’m certainly not a Baby Boomer but this Woman’s Day article ( The All-Time Catchiest Commercials made me recall some of my favorite jingles. 

The first being Meow Cat food’s “Meow, meow, meow…” jingle.  And for those of who remember the ad I’m referring to, you’ll also recall that there’s no much more the lyrics except meow.  Which if you ask me is the brilliance in it. 

The second jingle on the list that caught my eye is the Folgers coffee tune of, “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.”  I think part of the appeal of this jingle is the emotional tie that I have to the product because my granddad drinks Folgers instant coffee. Not so much a fan of instant coffee, definitely a fan of rhymes in jingles.  I think product like instant coffee warrants a level of cheesiness, there’s nothing wrong with playing into brand perception. 

My all time favorite commercial jingle didn’t make the Woman’s Day article’s list.  It’s the K9 Advantix flea line tune.  It’s one of those ads, where whether you like it or not when it comes on you catch yourself singing…

Hello Mother
Hello Father
Fleas, ticks, mosiquitos
really bother
thank for the package
thats why I’m writing
k-9 Advantix quickly stopped all the biting!

Swimming Hiking
And tent pitching
They’re not biting;
I’m not itching!
Can’t wait to show you
all my new tricks!
Thanks again for sending me K-9 Advantix!!!

Who knows considering my propensity for the jingle aspect of advertising maybe I’ll one day be writing catchy jingles or slogans.  I do have a knack for rhyming… 


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Coca Cola’s America is Beautiful Super Bowl Commercial

For those of you who have not yet seen the ad that has been causing controversy for Coke

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Coca Cola Ad Prompts Patriot Uproar

Patriotism…the word and the way in which Americans choose to display it varies from person to person. The concept of what is unpatriotic has been prompted by, of all things, Coca Cola’s recent Super Bowl advertisement.  

The ad features “America the Beautiful” being sung in multiple languages and now it’s coming under fire for being unpatriotic.  Whether your opinion is one of disdain or appreciation, the commercial poses a whole other concern via a marketers perspective.  The question becomes, how universal should international businesses make their marketing campaigns?

Coca Cola is a pioneer of international marketing, be it that they are a recognized brand in virtually all countries.  For them the question is not where should they expand but where haven’t they expanded?  

The “America the Beautiful” ad could not be aired internationally with warm reception.  So why would Coke choose to air an ad that is neither solely American geared nor universal during the Super Bowl?  It simply doesn’t fit into any niche.  Moreover, the controversy surrounding the ad has completely taken away from the product. 

Sure, the company’s Twitter feeds are a buzz with comments.  I would have to disregard a controversial ad as the appropriate means for boosting social media presence.  However, I do not think the marketing specialists were expecting controversy.  I think Coca Cola was piggy backing off of their strong international ties, while simultaneously appealing to America’s cultural diversity. 

I believe there are only a select few brands who can get way with an ad causing a nationwide uproar without long-term ramifications.  After all just because a product is internationally recognized, does not mean it has the same brand image from country to country.  Coca Cola is lucky that their marketing strategy doesn’t involve much customization per market.  

I would love to know how surprised the corporate hierarchy of Coca Cola was by some American’s reactions to the advertisement.  I extend the question to you, is Coke’s 2014 Super Bowl ad offensive?  


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