Archive for the ‘Ads of Desperation’ Category

Crash kills two on Ontario Highway, Time to ban car ads?

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

“Leaders vow to combat racing after fatal crash” Toronto Star and Car Advertiser, October 8 2007

To the Editor:

According to your story, “McGuinty says ‘Find and punish racers;’ Tory says ‘No more plea bargains’ and Hampton says ‘Bring back photo radar.’ ”

But not one of our so-called leaders addresses the real problem: like cigarettes not so long ago, cars are still considered “okay” in mixed company. In fact, they’re celebrated. Look at the multi-page advertising features that flesh out your Saturday paper each week. Advertising cars for their potential speed, for their power, for their ability to attract sexual conquests is considered a reasonable way to make a living.

Norway recently banned all ads that implied a car could be eco-friendly
, but that doesn’t go far enough. Cars kill. They are killing the planet, and they are killing the people who would live on the planet. Like alcohol, tobacco and firearms, cars may have a role to play in society. But it’s ludicrous to advertise them as if they were harmless. It’s past time to ban car ads.

Where’s the leader who will say this? Until then, McGuinty, Tory and Hampton are just blowing smoke.

Toronto Star and House Advertiser slips a fast one past the “Wheels” section

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Heads will roll dept.

We thought we had the Star’s number. We thought we knew it.

Were we wrong?

We’re talking about this past Saturday’s paper, which landed with a thump on front porches all across the GTA: two fat former trees wrapped around the news, trees now shredded and bleached, crushed and rolled flat, to be imprinted with all like and manner of car advertising. Yes, the infamous “Wheels” section.

We usually burrow past that offensive bumf and search directly for the comics page, which for some reason is never the outermost wrapping. We like Zits, and we like Mutts, but we save “Get Fuzzy” for dessert, every time. We like it like that.

The Saturday comics are easy to find, once you know the trick: they’re tucked in under the “Condo Living” section, hard by the advertising flyers that come loose on the floor when you open the whole bundle.

Now, for reasons that for the moment shall go unspoken, we spent more time than usual over that “Condo Living” section this past weekend. We also spent some time examining its more well-off brother, the “New In Homes” section.

Both these sections feature large feature articles every week, as well as many smaller stories, but the entire thing usually reads like PR for the various condo and suburban sprawl developments the sections advertise.

But this past Saturday something was different. Was it us? Both sections contained pieces we might have written. Not as clever or as bizarre, needless to say, but in line with the “correct thinking” espoused on this site.

Take the feature story in the Condo Living section, for example: “Thinking above the box,” by Paul Marshman. It hooked us with a photo of a four-storey main street apartment building, retail below, of the kind we have proposed for the “main streets” on the former Toronto Island Airport site. Chicago downtown-style big box But it was this caption: “Apartments built atop a Best Buy outlet on North Clark Street in Chicago allow a traditional big-box retailer to gain a foothold in the urban market without imposing a suburban, car-dependent model that almost always upsets city dwellers.” The story went on to describe a rumour that Home Depot is planning a new store on this model on Queen Street West in Toronto. The Skyscraper city blob has a string on the subject, if you’re interested in Queen West.

What we’d be interested in is whether the folks at Smart!Centre, them as have a proposal now at the OMB for a 2,000 parking space “power centre” on Eastern Ave (we’ve written about it here), are paying attention. We attended a public meeting (read the full transcript here) where they presented their plans, to the universal dismay of everyone in attendance. Mitch Goldhar, we’d like you to meet Paul Marshman. Paul, meet Mitch.

Leading off the “New in Homes” section, meanwhile, was an even bolder statement: in a story called “Spinning your wheels for a bank?” the author Paul Brent suggests by moving to a walkable downtown location, “a little less car may mean much more house.” Brent examines in some detail the research of Larry Frank, which ALLDERBLOB readers will remember from this post of last January. Frank, now the Bombardier chair in sustainable transportation at UBC, conducted extensive polling to prove his theory that if housing developers returned to the models of walkable, main-streets-oriented planning that typified pre-Levittown, pre-sprawl towns across North America, the buyer would respond favourably. When Frank presented these findings to a small audience at the U of Toronto in January, we searched in vain for media coverage in the days following. We’re pretty happy to see it now surfacing in the “New in Homes” section.

Happy, and impressed.

Hey–don’t get us wrong. The Star is still the “Star and Car Advertiser” in our books. But as for the real estate section, something is going on, and we like it. Fact is, the housing industry is hardly a model of sustainable development, and has not been so for at least 50 years. Indeed, suburban sprawl would not have been possible but for the car.

So to have two lead-off articles in the real estate pages that openly criticize the cozy relationship between residential development and the automobile suggests revolution is in the works at the Star.

We like the direction this is headed. We will keep you posted.

The truth about car advertising

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

The ALLDERBLOB came across this post as hit number 50 or so in a google search of the phrase “full car advertising.” We didn’t know what “full car advertising” meant, or where it would lead, but when you google it (without the quotes) you get a hell of a lot of hits. Fact is, according to our site stats, it’s a phrase that led someone to us, and we’re always interested in how that happens. But to tell the truth, we never found the link to our site from within those 80,600,000 google hits. What stopped us was your promising title.

“The Truth about Car Advertising” is a pretty potent come-on, as you gotta realize. It’s actually a brilliant and complex phrase, an oxymoron or something–you know, a phrase that contains within it a contradiction or a denial of its central premise.

But in reading your editorial we realized you have not realized the full promise of the title you chose. It’s as if you did not grasp the cognitive dissonance brought on by placing the words “truth” and “car advertising” in such close proximity.

Or maybe it’s just that The ALLDERBLOB takes a different position on car ads than your editorial does. We think car ads tell lies by definition, and their central lie is so pernicious, so destructive to society at large, so, well, evil, that there is no alternative in a society that wishes to defend itself and protect its future prosperity but to ban them outright.

ALLDERBLOB sells out: accepts car ad Don’t look at me like that! How’m I supposed to pay for groceries?

Monday, June 19th, 2006

We like this ad for Honda [caution: offensive content –ed.] that we found in the local paper. It’s clever.

Too clever. Isn’t subliminal advertising a bit declasse?

But judge for yourself:

Dum de dum. Just another car ad.

Did we say it’s big? Here’s a close-up:

Garsh! What sort of trick is up their sleeve?

Okay, so we hold it up to the light:

Hey, presto!

Hey, Presto!

Wait a minute! Let’s see that again!

An advertiser never reveals her secrets.

Okay, Honda, when do we get paid?

Spinning more than wheels at GM

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

GM [that genetically modified car company –ed.] has inflicted itself with a virus of massive proportions. Its “apprentice advertiser” campaign, which we wrote about here and here in the past couple days, has found press on the front page of the Toronto Star (with a pointer to Zerbisias’s column found here) and that Star wannabe, the New York Times (with a pointer to page one of the business section, where the story vies for attention with one about GM’s cutting off [shurely you mean “selling off” –ed.] its profitable car loan arm). Nightline, the U.S. TV news magazine, was also reported to have produced a segment about the rash of spoofs. Of course, no one scooped “The church of the Customer Blob,” which called the GM campaign “not consumer-generated marketing,” but a “viral game” as far back as March 17.

So, how soon are we to see the virus-riddled body of GM being dragged through the streets [if not bankruptcy court –ed.]?

Not soon at all, according to Zerbisias.

Fact is, she writes in her column yesterday, we were all taken in by the “evil marketing brains with their MBAs and metrics and buzzwords and cool-hunting ways” at GM.

In fact, contrary to what some have predicted, nobody at Chevy or its ad agencies is gonna hear “You’re fired!” for this.

Not sure if Zerbisias is talking to us with that one (although we did post the “you’re fired” line to her comments forum), but we still think it’s heads, not wheels, that will roll at GM after this freakish campaign.

In fact, we think Zerbisias, for all her intelligence, has been suckered by the pod-people at GM “spin central.” We think they’re doing, in the words of one of Zerbisias’s commentators, “counter-counter-spin” on this one.

Oh well. At least she can console herself that she’s not alone: look how Julie Bosman of the New York Times carries on, at the end of her article in yesterday’s paper:

“We think there are some voices inside G.M. that understand social media very well and knew this would happen”

(quoting “the industry blog Adrants”).

Okay, people. You’re right, GM’s smart after all. They knew this would happen. They suckered all of us and they’re laughing all the way to the dealership [can’t laugh all the way to the bank anymore, now that they’ve sold GMAC –ed.].

So why can’t we see Dana O. Still’s original spoof ad, the one that Zerbisias first posted on Friday, the one that got the ALLDERBLOB rolling with this theme? Try the link, and all you get is “dead air.” And there are a few others like that. But you can still view ours. You can still see the one Zerbisias made. Why? If you go by the spin passed along by Zerbisias and Bedows, you’d think the genetically modified car company [thank you –ed.] is pleased as punch to have these things floating around in cyberspace.

But consider what “MissAnneThrope’s diary” on daily Kos (link found above, at the word “Nightline”) has to say. It seems daily Kos was interviewed by a Nightline producer about the spoof ads created (and linked-to from that blob):

she wondered about the ads that are no longer there, so I told her that those submitted to the contest were silently deleted by Chevy, rather than received as the constructive criticism we intended. However, those that weren’t sent into the contest – just emailed and saved – are still viewable, along with those on YouTube.

Silently deleted.

We still think that’s exactly what’s going to happen to the contract of the Campbell-Ewald company, in Warren Michigan, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies [you said a mouthful –ed.]. They’re the gang responsible for the sickening mess [shurely you mean “the advertising campaign?” –ed.] that GM’s gotten itself into.

And try as they might, we refuse to be counter-counter-spun by the re-tread tire dealership that is GM.

Thank You, Antonia Zerbisias

Monday, March 6th, 2006

Zerbisias, the Toronto Star columnist whose blog we link to just on the right of your screen, covers the waterfront.

That is, she writes about just about anything: media, politics, fashion, you name it. For this reason, perhaps, the powers that be at the Star jerk her column around a lot: one day it’s in business, another it’s in Arts, sometimes you find it in the front section. There’s probably a rhyme and reason to it, but not one that we’ve grasped (they do the same thing to the comics section).

On her blog today she covered the Academy Award presentations.

We watched these presentations too. We haven’t seen most of the nominated movies, but we like Jon Stewart, and wanted to be there if he stuck it to the man (unfortunately, he didn’t).

But right at the start of the whole shindig we were sucked in by what seemed like a pretty cool commercial.

It was pretty long, for one thing. Would you believe, two minutes? Must have cost plenty. It took time to develop this story of two neighbouring villages, one where people were ruled by rationalism and careful planning, the other where the people acted out of wild desire and the pursuit of happiness.

One day (the commercial tells us), a guy from the happy-seeking village gets on his bike and rides away, in search of something. And you’re like, “Wow, that is so cool, a bicycle in a prime-time commerical in the Oscars! Woo whoo!”

At the same time, a woman from the planning crowd drifts off into the woods with the same goal in mind.

Love is in the air, of course. But how will it happen?

Like we said, we were sucked in. The room’s gone quiet, and it’s only been 90 seconds or so–long, for a TV commercial.

You see the villagers from both towns realize that someone’s missing. They set out toward the borders with torches and pikes. Violence is brewing. What will happen?

Then the whole thing falls apart.

We’ll let Zerbisias express our disgust:

8:21 Car sick. Toyota launches its Village of Want and Need mini-movie commercials for Toyota Camry. This two-minute extravaganza should have come with barf bags.

We post this blob in the category “Ads of Desperation.” You know car companies are really desperate when they show happy people, with bicycles but no cars to be seen, and try to suggest only a car will complete their lives.

So thank you, Antonia Zerbisias. You have perfectly captured the ALLDERBLOB zeitgeist with that one comment.

Now if only you’d turn your attention to the nausea-inducing car-porn that pays your salary at the Star.


Saturday, January 28th, 2006

It’s not that we at the Allderblob think video games that glorify car chases or car races have anything worthy of praise.

Same goes for video games extolling car violence or car flatulence, car speed or car need, car heists or car shites.

We remember HO-scale racing cars we had as kids. We remember them was fun, but what we really remember was taking the little machines apart with tiny screwdrivers, sniffing the smell of their electric engines and the oil we’d apply so carefully. We remember saving up allowance to buy a new car: we had a Willy’s Gasser and a Firebird, and an Opel GT. These little cars had pick-ups that scraped dust off the track everytime you used it, which got to be less and less frequent so there was more and more dust. They never really held the curve and they’d go flying off into the recesses of the room and the track would get wrecked when you reached for them, so you’d have to prop it back up again. After a while you’d get pretty bored and go out to the driveway and shoot hoops, or hop on your bike to ride to your friend’s house to knock yourself out in a refrigerator box his neighbour had thrown out.

So while we don’t “approve” of kids getting their jollies from video games, still we don’t buy the argument that car racing games influence your choice to get behind a real wheel and drive like an idiot. We actually think that it’s idiots who drive like idiots. If they weren’t driving like idiots, they’d be doing something else like idiots: littering, beating up someone smaller than themselves, or maybe playing the “choking game.”

[Are you saying kids who watch homer simpson choke bart every week will get the idea the choking game is harmless? What are you, a communist? –ed.]

There’s a video game this young feller we know finds appealing, with a gorilla and a plumber in a fire-engine-red roadster that keeps flying out of bounds and wafting back to the race track. Nobody ever gets hurt. You can make the driver and passenger switch places without missing a beat, and banana peels the gorilla throws out back cause other cars to slip and veer out of control [Now that’s funny –ed.], and there’s a map which you can read at the same time you speed through “space” that gives you a sense of the curve or the shortcut just ahead.

The kid finds it kind of fun, but we know for a fact that he gets an even bigger kick out of the “Wave” “Street-surfer” Santa Claus brought him for Xmas (you’ll have to be patient but the video that downloads at this site is pretty remarkable).

In fact, if people were honest with themselves, they’d admit that no one finds the so-called “speed of cars” fun for very long. In contrast to the thrill of skiing down a hill (especially one we’ve just trudged up), bicycling (especially with a strong wind at our backs), hurtling from a high rock into deep, cool water (we should all be so lucky), everyone knows the “speed” that cars give you is a pasty simulacra.

So we really wonder sometimes what kind of drugs our leaders of the free world, a.k.a. the press barons, are huffing in the back rooms. Maybe they’re the ones on speed.

We’re talking, of course, about the car crash the other day that killed this guy who was driving a cab. Two “luxury cars” racing up Mt Pleasant Ave [now there’s an ironic street name!–ed.] in Toronto T-boned a cab that was turning left across their path. Yeah they were speeding. The road was kind of empty, and the taxi driver, who was due to receive his Canadian citizenship the very next day, was killed in a heartbeat.

The drivers of the cars that caused the crash were not hurt. Both were arrested. One of the cars had a copy of a video game on the passenger seat: “Need for Speed.” Ho bloody hum.

Next day, the local shock-and-awe rag ran this front page:

DID CAR AD KILL (Toronto Sun cover, Jan 26 06)

The other papers in town, the “respectable” ones, were right in line. It was the talk of the town: Kids watch street-racing videos, kids race real cars, kids kill cabbie. You make the link.

The missing link however was called to Allderblob’s attention from a fellow member of the international bicycle conspiracy. By now you, our lovely readers, will have found it too: Take a gander at the bottom of the front page. It hits you right between the eyes: a bloody car ad. The “Checkered flag event.” “The excitement starts now.” Blah blah blah.

The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star are at least careful enough to hide their car porn on the centrefolds, but it makes no difference.

Allderblob readers want answers: Does car pornography in the daily papers link to the daily abuse wrought by cars? If car ads were stopped, would people stop killing with cars?

Here’s an “employee plan” worth emulating: GM, Ford, Chrysler, Are you listening?

Monday, December 5th, 2005

In Other News Dept:

The business pages of the New York Times reports [free registration required]that Mazda in Japan is paying its employees a bonus if they walk to work.

In the story, it says “Mazda employees who live more than two kilometers (1.24 miles) from the office and walk more than four kilometers (2.48 miles) in round trips at least 15 days a month” will be eligible for a cash bonus (of 1,500 yen (US$12) a month). Notable is the specific mention that workers who take the train have to get off at least the two km away in order to be eligible.

We wonder how many workers take the train to the plant in Oshawa or Windsor? We wonder if there even is a train to the plant. Hey, take the train to work at GM, Ford or Chrysler, you’re guaranteed a two km walk! Hey, where’s my 12 bucks?

Last summer, the “Big Three” car companies [henceforth known as “the big 2.5” –ed.] had a “big sale” offering “employee discounts” to the buying public. They did great guns clearing out the overstock of gas-guzzling SUVs just in time for the record oil and gas prices that followed in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (we wrote about it here). Of course the ad campaign was a scam [is there any other kind? –ed.], and of course it duped a huge crowd into new and greater forms of debt. Most of the news that got reported in the Daily Car Advertiser (a.k.a. the daily paper) was about how cool a sale this was, how neat it was to be on a par with the employees, and gosh, just how long can this great sale go on anyway? (a notable exception was the story in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Nov. 8 2005: “U.S. consumer debt level falls for first time in 10 months; Sputtering car sales seen as biggest factor” –[ooh, guess heads rolled at the news dept after that one –ed.]).

But now it’s GM that’s sputtering (with Ford and Chrysler not far behind in the race to bankruptcy), and they’ve taken out ads in the paper disguised as charts: “HERE ARE THE TEN IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT OUR GREAT COMPANY,” or some such bumf (for this kind of ad they invented the term “my eyes glaze over”). How long until the rest of the troika [what’s Russian for “2.5” anyway? –ed.] copies the theme: “CHRYSLER: A GREAT, IMPORTANT COMPANY, AND HERE’S WHY:” or “WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FORD AND THE NAZIS: (with footnotes)”?

We at the ALLDERBLOB have another suggestion for the gang of 2.5: take the Mazda theme, and one-up them: pay not only your employees to walk to work, but the general public too.

Now, there’s a campaign that would make the ALLDERBLOB tremble: Car companies paying customers to leave the car at home.

Car Companies Wave the Red Flag

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

This latest trend is just so juicy we’ve had to create a special category all on its own for this post. The trend is for “Ads of desperation.”

Okay, we accept that all ads are acts of desperation. But some ads just ring so hollow, so false, so desperate , that you have to nail them on a post and wave them around a bit.

Here of course, what’s being waved around is a red flag, and not by the Allderblob but the car companies: “It’s our RED FLAG DAYS,” by gum, and if you know what’s good for you you’ll take advantage of the opportunity we’re offering! ARR, matey!”

The black skull-and-crossbones Jolly Roger flag was raised not to signal an attack but as a warning to surrender. Most captains did. If not, an all-red flag went up, marking an impending raid and robbery.

Imagine, the “big three” car companies are all over themselves trying to lure customers with the tired come-on of “employee pricing” and “family pricing.” As if it will distract anyone from the fact that what’s on offer it the same old shite. Please. Why they want to do us a favour all of a sudden?

Something must be going very wrong in Detroit [not to mention Oshawa! -ed]