Blogless: Blog of Design Less Better.

Posts tagged Advertising.

Belvedere Ad Jokes About Date Rape

Not funny (or clever).

From the BlogLESS department of ugh.

Belvedere Date Rape Ad

Of course, Belvedere is now sorry that you were offended.

Belvedere Date Rape Ad Apology

What a mess. (Via.)

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PaulMar 30, 2012

Buy this. Look, you’re already wearing it!

Evan Selinger and Shaun Foster over at Slate have written a short meditation on some possible futures for personalized advertising, with some questions about their ethical upshots.

Putting the consumer in a cereal ad, by Evan Selinger and Shaun Foster
Putting the consumer in a cereal ad, by Evan Selinger and Shaun Foster

Imagine it’s the near future. You’re walking along a city street crowded with storefronts. As you walk past boutiques, cafes, and the Apple Store, your visage follows you. Thanks to advances in facial recognition and other technologies, behavioral marketers have developed the capacity to take your Facebook profile, transform it into a 3-D image, and insert it into ads. That sweater you’re eyeing? In the display, the mannequin wearing it takes on your face and shape. The screen showing a car commercial depicts you behind the wheel. At a travel agency (let’s pretend they still exist—after all, this is a thought experiment!), you see yourself sunning on a beach, while the real you is bundled up against the cold. The ads might show you with an attractive stranger or a lost love (after all, Facebook knows whom you used to date). Or they could contain scenes of you and your happy family. No longer do you have to picture yourself in the ad—technology has that covered.

How plausible is this scenario? What would it mean if it happened? How would it change the ethical landscape of advertising? Would anybody care? We advise you to read some thoughts on these and related questions by Evan Selinger and Shaun Foster.

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PaulJan 6, 2012

Ads Implant False Memories

Commercials might trick our brains into believing that the scene we just watched actually happened.

News on the cognitive science of advertising from The Frontal Cortex.

A new study, published in The Journal of Consumer Research suggests that vivid commercials trick the hippocampus into believing that the scene we just watched on television actually happened to us.

P is for Popcorn
Image via.

The experiment went like this: 100 undergraduates were introduced to a new popcorn product called “Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Fresh Microwave Popcorn.” (No such product exists, but that’s the point.) Then, the students were randomly assigned to various advertisement conditions. Some subjects viewed low-imagery text ads, which described the delicious taste of this new snack food. Others watched a high-imagery commercial, in which they watched all sorts of happy people enjoying this popcorn in their living room. After viewing the ads, the students were then assigned to one of two rooms. In one room, they were given an unrelated survey. In the other room, however, they were given a sample of this fictional new popcorn to taste. (A different Orville Redenbacher popcorn was actually used.)

One week later, all the subjects were quizzed about their memory of the product. Here’s where things get disturbing: While students who saw the low-imagery ad were extremely unlikely to report having tried the popcorn, those who watched the slick commercial were just as likely to have said they tried the popcorn as those who actually did. Furthermore, their ratings of the product were as favorable as those who sampled the salty, buttery treat. Most troubling, perhaps, is that these subjects were extremely confident in these made-up memories. The delusion felt true. They didn’t like the popcorn because they’d seen a good ad. They liked the popcorn because it was delicious.

Read more here.

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PaulJun 24, 2011

No such thing as bad publicity?

A fascinating story from the NYT about a company that intentionally generated negative publicity in order to improve its PageRank.

I ran across this article a few weeks ago and found it interesting because it illustrates some of the things we've been saying about ethical strategies for a while. Namely, that it might be profitable to behave unethically but that, in the long-term, the Internet will find you out and shut you down. The corollary: being ethical makes good business sense.

The subject of the piece is, a business that sells designer eyeglasses. Its owner discovered that treating his customers poorly --incorrect orders, insults, and even threats-- helped his business by increasing his visibility online. Apparently, there really was no such thing as bad publicity.

So he started doing it intentionally.

And here's where the story seems to violate our aphorism: When people went public about their stories of awful treatment, it only seemed to have the opposite effect.

The owner brazenly replied to his angry customers on a forum:

“Hello, My name is Stanley with,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

The owner (whose real name is Vitaly Borker) generated just enough negative feedback to game Google's algorithm, but not so much to be shut down by authorities. For a while he was able to keep enough business to offset the business he loses due to complaints.

That was, until the NYT story. A week after the article was published, Borker was arrested and charged with making threats and mail and wire fraud.

Since the press coverage, Google seems to be reworking its algorithm to better account for bad publicity. In the case of, at least, the effectiveness of these changes is still hit or miss.

Ultimately, it seems our assertion was upheld. Borker may have profited initially from being unethical, but once word from the forums spread to the wider press, he lost.

Be good. Because if you're not... people will find out.

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NickJan 11, 2011

Harder to Read Fonts for Better Learning

According to new research from Princeton, difficult-to-read fonts make for better learning.

According to the BBC, researchers at Princeton University recently found that when people read information that's presented in harder-to-read fonts, they can recall it better than information presented in clearer fonts. The researchers argue that schools could boost results by simply changing the font used in their basic teaching materials. This also has interesting implications for designers.

The following is excerpted, roughly, from the BBC article:

28 volunteers in a Princeton study were given 90 seconds to try to memorize a list of seven features for three different species of alien. The idea was to re-create the kind of learning in a biology class. Aliens were chosen to be sure that none of the volunteers' prior knowledge interfered with the results.

One group was given the lists in 16-point Arial pure black font. The other had the same information presented in either 12-point Comic Sans MS 75% greyscale font or 12-point Bodoni MT 75% greyscale.

The volunteers were distracted for 15 minutes, and then tested on how much they could remember. Researchers found that, on average, those given the harder-to-read fonts recalled 14% more. They believe that presenting information in a way that is hard to digest means a person has to concentrate more, and this leads to "deeper processing" and then "better retrieval" afterward.

Interesting information here for web and print designers, and an opportunity to reflect on some traditional design wisdom. The traditional strategy is to design all of the information you're presenting in a way that is as clear and easy to read as possible. This makes sense, I think, because most often designers are tasked with delivering information to an audience that is assumed to be at worst hostile and at best indifferent to the message.

But this policy may be self-defeating in non-advertising contexts. If this research is on to something, there may be circumstances where it makes sense to intentionally design things (think about, for example, instruction booklets, magazine articles, and so on) with fonts that obscure clarity. In cases where we're sure that the audience wants the information, we might be doing them a service by printing it in a less than perfectly clear font.

Food for thought.

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PaulNov 22, 2010

Chrante Deti

Really amazing vintage Czechoslovakian matchbox illustrations.

Children in Distress

Children in Distress

Children in Distress

Children in Distress

I stumbled across these images (from some kind of child safety campaign) a long time ago, but couldn't find much about them besides this page. Anyone know the history of these?

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AndreaOct 6, 2010

The Moon and Adelaide United FC

Check out this nifty billboard from Australian football club Adelaide United.

I thought this campaign by the Adelaide United Football Club to promote their night games was cool.

Billboard for Night Games at Adelaide United


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PaulSep 10, 2010

New WWF Ads

Check out this set of (intense) new ads from the World Wildlife Fund.

The World Wildlife Fund is "an international NGO working in areas related to conservation, research and environmental restoration. The mission of WWF is to prevent the accelerating degradation of the natural environment of the planet and achieving harmony between man and nature."

New WWF Ad (1/3)
New WWF Ad (2/3)
New WWF Ad (3/3)


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PaulAug 20, 2010
Tagged with: Advertising, Design
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