Companies spend a lot of money on marketing, and we – the people who have to navigate this world of adverts – have to stomach them all while we’re minding our own business.
Although, if it wasn’t for adverts, we couldn’t take the Michael, which someone in Manchester has done with the latest aftershave ad which features Johnny Depp, and Dior’s latest, ‘Sauvage’.
Now, while this may not be clever, we are big fans of childish pranks, where you stick an ‘S’ over an advert so it spells ‘sausage’.
And there we have it! Johnny Depp, looking all moody with the word ‘sausage’ emblazoned across him. Extra points for the flying Grange Hill style banger-on-a-fork, top right.
Are you an Apple fan who wished they could have the Adblock Plus extension? Well, wish no more as it has been turned into a thing for iOS, as Apple’s latest mobile operating system gets with the advertless programme!
So, with the imminent arrival of iOS 9, it looks like mobile Safari will let you block all those pesky adverts, if that’s your thing.
It is also available for Android is available in Google Play too, which will annoy all those advertising executives with a sports car parked outside their office.
Of course, this is a big problem for Google, because huge swathes of their income is a result of advertising, and a while ago, Google removed the commercial killing app for Android. However, you can still get it direct from the source.
“In 2013 an app we developed called AdBlock Plus for Android was kicked out – that’s why you have to side-load it now,” said Ben Williams, communications manager for Eyeo who make AdBlock. “That product was focused on in-app ads; this one is entirely different. It’s a browser. We did not negotiate with Google. We simply took it to their App Store and they accepted it this morning.”
This is a bold move from Apple, as with iOS 9, they’re basically saying that blocking adverts is a legitimate thing to do. Not that anyone needs Apple or Google to make it legit. Courts have decreed that blocking adverts is perfectly legal and if Apple or Google don’t like it, then hard cheese. Blocking ads isn’t just making your world less annoying – it also saves bandwidth and time, reduces data consumption and page load times, and all manner of other stuff. It limits the likelihood of you seeing malicious ads too.
And more and more people are using ad-blocking software. For a woolly figure, use of such software is up 41% in the last year.
Does your baby love gumming the crap out of Heinz baby biscuits? Do they cry like they want some more about 10 minutes after eating them? Not surprising really, as your lovely little bundle of germs has been having massive sugar comedowns.
As such, thanks to some complaints, Heinz have decided to stop marketing these treats as if they’re healthy; because they’re not at all healthy.
On the Heinz for Baby website, these chocolate and organic varieties of its golden multigrain biscotti were described as being “an ideal healthy snack for babies 7+ months old”. However, campaigners and concerned parents argued that using healthy advertising for sugar laden snacks isn’t on.
The Advertising Standards Authority agreed and ‘informally resolved’ the issue with Heinz, which means that they don’t have to do a full investigation, and Heinz will no longer sell these items as ‘healthy’. They won’t stop making them mind you. And the packaging won’t change. They’ll stop pointing at them and muttering stuff about them being good for your child though.
“We approached HJ Heinz with the concerns that had been raised about its ads,” said a spokesperson for the ASA. “It agreed to remove references to the products being ‘healthy snacks’ or ‘snacks’ from its advertising and to remove or to amend health claims. On that basis we resolved the case informally”.
Now, on the Heinz site, it says that these biscuits are “little nibbles to keep them going”.
Malcolm Clark, who is part of the Children’s Food Campaign, said: “Heinz has disregarded NHS advice on nutrition and snacking for under-ones as well as the advertising rules themselves. So it was no surprise that when we asked the Advertising Standards Authority to investigate, Heinz backed down and agreed to change its wording.”
A spokesman for Heinz said: “Heinz takes its responsibilities as an advertiser very seriously. As soon as we were made aware that certain elements of our website copy may not have met the high standards we demand, we took immediate action to make changes. The matter was resolved to the satisfaction of the ASA.”
If you’re using software like AdBlock, you may have been surprised to see some adverts from Google. It looks like they’ve been punishing people who use the software, by making them sit through long commercials with no option to skip.
A number of people have griped on social networks that they’re having to sit through lengthy ads when watching YouTube videos, when they’re using Google’s Chrome browser.
Be Williams, who is the director of AdBlock, reckons that these adverts only appeared because of an “issue in Chrome” which they’re hoping Google will fix. Now, if this is just a small glitch that Google had genuinely missed, they must thinking that there’s a way they can continue you this, keep pushing revenue-generating adverts and claim innocence.
Google haven’t made a comment yet, as they’re probably a bit busy changing the typeface for something, unable to hear everyone shouting ‘erm, excuse me!’ while they wring some extra pennies out of these YouTube commercials.
Possibly. Don’t sue us.
Now, for some dodgy practices, concerning people getting paid to say nice things about a product on the sly. It looks like Machinima paid YouTubers tens of thousands of dollars to promote the Xbox One launch in a very positive light, without actually declaring their work was actually an advertising deal.
The Federal Trade Commission found that Machinima paid a bunch of YouTubers tens of thousands to talk up the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox One, and at no point did anyone declare that the endorsements were actually a rather lucrative deal.
As part of the agreement, the videos had to “showcase Microsoft products in positive light”. You can imagine that there’s a host of popular YouTubers who talk about make-up and clothes and the like, also on the make like this.
A YouTuber called Syndicate bagged a lovely $30,000 for running sneaky adverts, while SkyVsGaming got $15,000 in a deal. Neither disclosed that they were being paid by Machinima, the streaming company.
Machinima were throwing their money around like no-one’s business, paying tens-of-thousands to people to create videos that “could not contain anything negative or disparaging regarding Machinima, Xbox One, or any launch title” and “keep confidential at all times all matters relating to [the] agreement.”
This of course, saw the FTC saying that these promotions were not impartial, “false and misleading” and not independently produced. They continued: “In numerous instances, [Machinima] has failed to disclose, or disclose adequately, that the individuals who posted the reviews were compensated in connection with their endorsements.”
“This fact would be material to consumers in their purchasing decisions regarding Xbox One and the Launch Titles. The failure to disclose this fact, in light of the representations made, was, and is, a deceptive practice.” Cheeky!
You can read the full report as a PDF here.
Burger King and McDonald’s have been at each other’s throats for years, but now, in 2015, there’s an olive branch. Burger King has decided that they want to make peace with Maccies for one day only.
They want to “settle the beef” by combining their flagship burgers – the Whopper and the Big Mac – into the McWhopper.
This burger would be flogged at pop-up shops in Atlanta, which is the midway point between the headquaters of the two companies (which are Chicago and Miami if you must know).
Burger King made the offer via full-page adverts in The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune, and the want this to happen on the 21st September - the UN International Day of Peace. All proceeds to go to charity, natch. That said, customers won’t be asked to cough-up money, rather, they’ll be asked to sign one of the mats you get on the tray, making a peace declaration with someone.
The peace will even go down to the staff uniforms and takeaway bags.
In a proposal to McDonald’s, Burger King said: “All these ingredients come together to build the burger some said would never happen. Some say the same thing about world peace.”
“Let’s prove them wrong on Peace Day. Everything in our proposal is up for discussion, from the name right through to the packaging. The only thing we can’t change is the date, so let’s talk soon.”
See, Morrisons ran an advertising campaign where they said that a comparable grocery shop at Morrisons would be cheaper than its rivals. That includes the likes of Aldi and Lidl. If not, you’d be reimbursed. Aldi weren’t having any of that and lodged a bunch of complaints with the ASA like massive grasses.
They argued that the Morrisons advert would mislead shoppers, and that a proper comparison to goods could not be achieved.
The ASA looked into it and today, Morrisons have been told that they can’t show the ads again “until it had provided consumers and competitors with a sufficient method to verify the references to the price-match scheme”. Basically, they’ve said ‘PROVE IT’.
Tony Baines, joint MD of buying at Aldi said: “This supports our view that these adverts did not provide consumers with sufficient price comparison data to enable them to make an informed choice. Our own analysis shows that the Morrisons Match & More scheme did not price match Aldi. In our view, complex price promotions and price matching schemes of this nature are confusing, are not transparent and do not serve the best interests of consumers.”
Morrisons said that four of the five things thrown at them were thrown out by the ASA and, in addition to that, the commercial in question hasn’t been running for months now. Basically, ‘ner ner n’nyer ner’.
We the public, as a whole, are a rotten and depraved bunch. We give off airs and graces, when really, we’re secretly thinking about murdering people and imaging what the most disgusting thing on the internet is.
So with that, anyone who gives the reins over to us is, frankly, an idiot.
And so to Google, with their lovely Google Trends billboards, which show off what the UK is really looking for on the internet. This one, spotted at Old Street Station, showed that, alongside looking at BBC Sports sites and things to do with Barcelona, the top trend is the delightful ‘Revenge Porn Sites’.
Of course, this might be something to do with TV presenter Anna Richardson, who has been looking into this area recently… but it doesn’t look like that does it?
Good old Google. Sticking ‘REVENGE PORN’ in big letters in the middle of a train station.
You remember the Alan Partridge sketch, when the tragically funny TV host pitched some ideas to an executive, including the infamous ‘Monkey Tennis’ and ‘Inner City Sumo’?
Well, ‘Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank’, was one of the more famous suggestions and now, oddly, it has become something of a reality.
Eubank said he’d previously no idea why everyone kept mentioning youth hostels to him, but now, he’s in on the joke and the video above was made.
Sadly, this isn’t a television show, but rather, a commercial for booking site Hostelworld.
That doesn’t make this stunt rubbish though. The show itself would invariably be no cop at all, and in this short form, we get to enjoy it, and the fact that some PR person for a hostel company managed to convince someone to spend a load of money on a line from an Alan Partridge joke.
We’re still waiting on ‘Arm Wrestling With Chas & Dave’, Channel Five.
The folks at Marks & Spencer aren’t the hippest bunch. They’ve probably just discovered the phrase ‘totes amazeballs’ and ‘LOL’. So you have to wonder if they knew what was going on when their marketing department came up with a new slogan for their bread.
Marks & Spencer’s latest bread advertising campaign says “Putting the D in bread”, which for those who haven’t been living up a tree for the past few years, means something rather dirty.
Now, if you’re the kind of person who gives bread the D, you might end up with a yeast infection or, worse still, some crusty cobblers. You can think of your own puns, no doubt.
Next week: Morrisons start flaunting their baps.
While you’ve been pottering about, you may have seen McDonald’s new ad campaign, which is based around emoji messages.
The McD’s rub is this – they spell out something that makes you miserable, via emojis, and then the problem is resolved with some kind of McDonald’s purchase.
As you can see with this one, it shows off the misery of driving, hitting roadworks and the like, which makes you cry, but then you see those golden arches and you’re all happy again.
Or, in this instance, you go on holiday, it rains all the time, and then, in the cab on the way home, you see a McDonald’s and you forget about all that nonsense. The words ‘good times’ appear on them all.
Well, someone in Bristol (we hope it isn’t Banksy) got the hump with one of these billboard ads and decided to add their own emoji, right at the end.
We’re sure you can work this one out.
We’ve all seen THAT advert. Whether in person around London tube stations or as part of the social media backlash, who’d have thought a golden image of a young lady in full possession of a beach body would constitute such an offensive advert.
Or did it? Owing to the massive number of complaints lodged (a whopping 378), before the ASA even investigated the advert, Protein World were told not to show the ad again. Protein World have always been totally unapologetic about their advert, even baiting Twitter users, and while they couldn’t show the advert anymore, social media users gave them more media exposure than they could possibly have paid for.
Of course, the ad was taken down for causing widespread tutting, but the ASA did undertake a separate investigation to establish whether the ad was actually in breach of the advertising rules on harm, offence and social responsibility.
While all 378 complaints were not identical, the ASA collated issues into two threads, whether:
1. the ad implied that a body shape which differed from the ‘idealised’ one presented was not good enough or in some way inferior and was, therefore, offensive; and
2. the combination of an image of a very slim, toned body and the headline “ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?” was socially irresponsible in the context of an ad for a slimming product.
Protein World said that the phrase “beach body” was commonly used and understood to mean looking at one’s best and that they did not believe that the ad implied everyone should look like the model or that the text and image were irresponsible.
And the ASA agreed. They felt that “‘beach body’ was a relatively well understood term that for some people had connotations of a toned, athletic physique” but also that some people would understand it to mean “feeling sufficiently comfortable and confident with one’s physical appearance to wear swimwear in a public environment.” While the ASA considered the advert might “prompt readers to think about whether they were in the shape they wanted to be for the summer” they found that the image did not imply that a different body shape to that shown was “not good enough or was inferior” and therefore that the ad and the image were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. Of course, the ad did cause serious or widespread offence, but the ASA ruling is that Protein World couldn’t have been expected to anticipate such a furore. The ASA also found that the ad was not ‘irresponsible’ under the CAP code as they “did not consider the image of the model would shame women who had different body shapes into believing they needed to take a slimming supplement to feel confident wearing swimwear in public.”
So there you are, outraged public, you are wrong.
Remember everyone in Scotland mocking Microsoft, for their advert where they basically mentioned cricket? Of course, Scottish people don’t play cricket – they prefer backstreet wrestling and thumb-wars.
Here is the offending Cortana advert.
Well, Microsoft have decided to make things right in Glasgow, by providing them with a brand new advert, just for them.
Instead of saying “Cortana can remind you to see if James is up for the cricket this weekend”, which was roundly booed, the new advert – which Microsoft were hoping would go viral – has rectified it.
The new ad reads: “Cortana, next time I speak with Chris, remind me not to mention the cricket.” And here’s the new advert, in exactly the same position, and aimed at the one person who tweeted about it last week.
You might want to sit down for this, but it looks like adverts aren’t really delivering on their promises. We’re talking specifically about broadband commercials and the like, which promises all manner of speeds. However, they’re not coming good on their claims.
According to our pals over at Which!!!, up to three-quarters of UK households (up to? Is this another claim that won’t deliver too?) are not getting the speeds they pay for.
The watchdog reckon that somewhere in the region of 15.4 million households are paying for packages that have lower speeds than advertised, and in fact, have packages that will never, ever reach the speeds promised.
Ofcom are trying to help, by making it easier for us to ditch providers, if we’re unhappy with the service. However, if they’re all fibbing to us, then it isn’t really a sufficient solution to the problem.
Which!!! ran some tests, that suggested only 17% of homes were getting the average advertised speeds, and of course, around peak time, that’s even worse.
“We want Ofcom to ensure consumers get the speeds promised by providers,” said Which!!! executive director Richard Lloyd. ”It is not good enough that millions of homes are so poorly served by their broadband provider with speeds that just don’t live up to what was advertised.”
The current rules state that an ISP has to make sure that 10% of their customers can achieve a top speed if they’re going to use it in advertising. While Which!!! have shown that some packages can’t meet that, it’d be better for customers if broadband providers had to reach much more than 10% to advertise their maximum speed.
Which!!! found that only 4% of customers on TalkTalk’s 17Mbps package were getting the top advertised speed, and worse still, a mere 1% of those on BT’s 76Mbps deals could get the top speed. Of course, the ISPs disputed all this.
However, that might be changing as they’ve announced that they’re going to be testing pre-roll and post-roll adverts on some users. Obviously, if they deem it a success, they’ll roll it out at everyone.
It looks like the commercials will only be for Netflix’s original content – so shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and that cartoon about a sarcastic horse.
Still, any worries of third-party adverts should be assuaged by Netflix themselves.
A Netflix spokesperson said: “We are not planning to test or implement third-party advertising on the Netflix service. For some time, we’ve teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show. Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins. We test hundreds of potential improvements to the service every year. Many never extend beyond that.”
Can you cope with that while you’re binge watching boxsets of TV shows?