Does ‘Cancel Culture’ Equal Accountability, Punishment, or Totalitarianism? (One Per Customer, Please)

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and checking out MediaPost’s Marketing Politics Weekly when I came across this Joe Mandese piece about a new ad campaign from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

Cancel Culture Campaign Equates It With ‘Totalitarianism’

At a time when the prevalence of “cancel culture” appears to be peaking in the United States, nonprofit free speech advocacy group FIRE is breaking new ads, as part of a multimedia campaign focusing on it.

The campaign, created by DeVito/Verdi, features out-of-home billboards (see above) and print media buys (see below), equating cancel culture to a form of totalitarianism.

What the hell, Doc – now all of a sudden we’re Communist China because a few people’s noses get out of joint?

– FIRED-UP

Dear F-U,

Cancel culture is America’s ultimate Rorschach test. In his MediaPost piece, Joe Mandese points to a recent Pew Research Center survey to illustrate the great divide in defining what cancel culture actually means.

The Center’s previous study of cancel culture showed that the term can mean different things to different people, so Pew Research Center asked Americans a separate question about whether calling out others on social media for posting content that might be considered offensive is more likely to hold people accountable or to punish those who didn’t deserve it.

Overall, 51% of U.S. adults say calling out others on social media is more likely to hold people accountable, while 45% say it is more likely to punish people who didn’t deserve it. But these views have shifted somewhat since September 2020. The share of adults who say this type of behavior is more likely to hold people accountable has decreased by 7 points, while the share who say it is more likely to punish people who didn’t deserve it has gone up by 7 points.

Helpful graphic.

And now – just to complicate things – comes FIRE’s ad campaign, which follows the group’s rebranding from “the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (originally to promote free speech on college campuses) to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression to broaden its mandate toward freedom of speech overall,” according to Mandese.

He also cites Josh Gerstein’s Politico piece reporting that FIRE “has raised $28.5 million for a planned three-year, $75 million litigation, opinion research and public education campaign aimed at boosting and solidifying support for free-speech values.”

Here’s a TV spot featuring two Emerson College students – K.J. Lynum and Sam Neves – “whose conservative group was suspended by the school’s president for circulating ‘China kinda sus’ stickers promoting the theory that a Chinese government lab caused the outbreak of Covid-19.”

And here’s a FIRE print ad banging a different drum.

Then again, it’s not like FIRE is all that and a bag of MLK chips, as Politico’s Josh Gerstein notes.

While FIRE has received praise from many free-speech advocates, some critics have said the group is a thinly veiled front for conservatives looking to promote their political agenda. Since its inception, FIRE has received funding from a variety of conservative foundations, including millions from some linked to billionaire Charles Koch.

The liberal Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch has published this roll call of FIRE’s right-wing associations.

Connection to Conservative Dark Money Groups, Collaboration with Hate Group Alliance for Defending Freedom

FIRE has received millions of dollars in contributions from politically-active conservative nonprofits, including over $3.4 million from the Charles G. Koch Foundation, over $3.4 million from Donors Capital Fund and DonorsTrust, over $1.8 million from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, over $1.3 million from the Sarah Schaife Foundation, over $1 million from the Searle Freedom Trust, and over $1 million from the Stand Together Trust.

Progressive watchdog organization Media Matters included FIRE in a 2017 piece describing how groups funded by right-wing billionaires and dark money organizations influence college campuses. Media Matters says “FIRE has partnered with anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom for some of these cases. It has also frequently weighed in on sexual misconduct cases, arguing that the definition of sexual harassment should not include ‘large amounts of constitutionally protected expression, such as any unwanted “sexual comments, gestures, jokes, or looks,”‘ and defended campus organizations that use hateful rhetoric or seek to exclude potential group members based on sexual orientation.

In other words, FIRE at your own discretion.

MastiGate! Is Kim Kardashian Really Fake Chewing in Her Fake-Meat Commercial?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

So there I was, minding my own business and poking around MediaPost, when I came across this Todd Wasserman piece about Kim Kardashian’s new gig as Chief Taste Consultant for Beyond Meat, which produces plant-based meatlike substances.

Kim And The Untasted Burger

Kim Kardashian is Beyond Meat’s new Chief Taste Consultant, but her ad for Beyond Meat is being mocked by some because she is supposedly “fake chewing.”

The ad, via Mythology, features Kardashian (in uncharacteristically blonde locks), saying that she believes in Beyond Meat so much that she stepped in to help with her greatest asset, which viewers at home might not know is her taste.

All is well until you notice what some have pointed out on social media, which is that Kardashian is never seen actually tasting the product.

Fake chewing, Doc? That’s hard to swallow.

– Just Trying to Keep Up

Dear JTTKU,

Let’s look at how MastiGate has played out.

First, here’s the spot.

The media mastication started last week with this TechCrunch tweet.

Two days later, Yahoo! Entertainment noted that Kardashian was being “mocked for how she eats a burger.”

Kim Kardashian is getting heat for seemingly pretending to eat food in a new ad campaign for Beyond Meat. The company’s new ‘chief taste consultant’ has fans criticizing her commercial, where she appears to not actually taste or take a bite of the plant-based food she’s promoting.

The next day Wasserman’s MediaPost piece detailed reaction in the Twitterverse.

On Twitter, Katy Wellhousen, vice president, social account director for Deutsch LA, criticized the ad. “kim kardashian fake-chewing a beyond meat burger that has no bite taken out of it is making me spiral,” tweeted Wellhousen, who works on the Taco Bell account for Deutsch.

Wellhousen wasn’t the only one. Seth Arp, a musician, tweeted, “@KimKardashian saying ‘mm’ to eating a beyond meat burger but there’s no bite taken out. Her reaction is as fake as that food they want to call ‘meat.’”

The Vegan Review’s Alice Soule promptly piled on.

[In] this advert, Kim Kardashian claims to believe so strongly in the Beyond Meat brand that she’s offering them her best asset – her taste.  But then the video cuts to her seemingly eating a mouthful of food while holding a burger that somehow seems to have no bite mark. She then comments on how amazingly delicious the Beyond Meat products are while fist-bumping the chefs and taking a few more selfies. Not once in the advert do you see Kim Kardashian eating a mouthful of the Beyond Meat products.

But then, as Shireen Khalil reported in The Daily Telegraph, Kardashian bit back.

Kim has since shared a behind-the-scenes clip to her Instagram Stories proving she ate the burger despite being accused of “fake” chewing in the 30-second ad.

“Guys, come on…,” she captioned the clip which showed her removing the top bun from a vegan burger.

“Getting rid of some of the carbs,” she explained to someone on the set.

The Doc is not on this earth long enough to document all the ins and outs of Kim’s Beyond Meat rumpus, but help yourself if you’re so inclined.

One footnote to Todd Wasserman’s MediaPost piece is this comment attached to it.

Artie White from Zoom Media Corp, May 31, 2022 at 9:10 a.m.

Hey Todd, pretty disingenuous to refer to Seth Arp as “a musician” when he’s actually a marketing director for the meat industry (https://www.linkedin.com/in/setharp.) So his comment comes with an agenda. Worth mentioning in your article, no? I know this is Mediapost but it’s still journalism.

Your conclusions go here.

Why Is Apple Vaporizing Dozens of People In Its Latest Ad?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and tooling around MediaPost, when I came across this Todd Wasserman piece about a new Apple ad that addresses data privacy.

Watch Data Buyers Go Up In Smoke

Apple has taken a public stance in favor of the privacy of its users, but rarely has it made that stance as understandable as in this new ad.

The ad, via TBWA\Chiat\Day Media Arts Lab, shows a young woman at a record store (remember those?) who hears music through a door (“Fantasy” by Esquivel) and runs toward it, only to see her picture on the door with the words “Ellie’s Data Auction.”

She enters an auction room with a life-sized hologram of herself as an auctioneer announces, “Lot Number One: Her emails.” Next up, her location data — again sold to a suspicious-looking data buyer.  “It’s not creepy,” the auctioneer says. “It’s commerce!”

Eventually Ellie gets her revenge thanks to an iPhone, but is that really what happens to our digital data, Doc? Seems totally creepy.

– Android Al

Dear Double A,

Gotta agree with you there. Here’s the Apple ad in full.

The ad suggests that an iPhone puts all your data in a –  shoutout to Al Gore – digital lockbox. But Sara Morrison at Vox says, not so fast.

The [privacy update], called App Tracking Transparency, doesn’t stop all the ways companies follow you around the internet and in your mobile apps because Apple can’t stop all tracking. Nor does it want to. Your data is still being collected, but what’s being collected and how may have changed. The end result, however, is roughly the same: You’re being targeted with ads . . .

From a user privacy standpoint, App Tracking Transparency seems like a good thing. It’s just not as good of a thing as you might have thought, or perhaps as Apple wanted you to think it was.

Memo to Ellie: Maybe you want to look into some other vaporizing tools. Just saying.

Why Is Bill Nye The Science Guy Greenwashing for Coca-Cola?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and scrolling through MediaPost’s Marketing Daily, when I came across this report by Todd Wasserman.

Bill Nye Stars In Questionable Coke Ad

With Earth Day about two weeks away, Coca-Cola has released this video starring Bill Nye, who says that “together we can close the loop” on waste.

The video, by Mackinnon & Saunders, discusses “Creating a world without waste,” and an animatronic version of Nye talks about how we can reuse plastic. “It’s an amazing material,” he says.

In the three-minute video, Nye also says this: “The good people at the Coca-Cola company are dedicating themselves to addressing our global plastic waste problem. They know they have a responsibility to help solve this issue and their goal: A world without waste.”

Is this the real thing, Doc?

– Bull Nigh

Dear Bull,

Good question. Let’s look at the video, shall we?

Cute, engaging – and pretty much total propaganda, as Molly Taft details in this piece at Gizmodo.

Bill Nye, the Sellout Guy

In a new video, TV’s favorite scientist parrots hackneyed lines about “the good people at Coca-Cola” and their near-useless recycling efforts.

Bad news for everyone who loved watching Bill Nye the Science Guy during middle school science class: your fave is problematic. This week, Coca-Cola, one of the world’s biggest plastic polluters, teamed up with TV’s favorite scientist for a campaign to create a “world without waste,” a joke of a corporate greenwashing campaign.

In a video innocuously titled “The Coca-Cola Company and Bill Nye Demystify Recycling,” an animated version of Nye—with a head made out of a plastic bottle and his signature bow tie fashioned from a Coke label—walks viewers through the ways “the good people at the Coca-Cola company are dedicating themselves to addressing our global plastic waste problem.”

Problem is, as Taft notes, “[Coca-Cola] produces about 3.3 million U.S. tons of plastic packaging per year, and has been named one of the most polluting brands in the world by multiple different audits.”

Even worse:

Coca-Cola has also said it has no plans to stop producing single-use plastic, because, it claims, customers simply don’t want anything else. If Coke had a history of fighting for beneficial recycling policies, one ad might not be a problem, but representatives from the company were caught on tape as recently as 2019 lobbying against bottle bills that would reward customers for recycling but tack an extra charge onto the company.

To recap: Molly Taft’s Gizmodo piece on Coca-Cola’s recycling record is the pause that depresses.

The Doc’s antidote: Try one of these Ethical Soft Drinks listed by Moral Fibres.

(Once again: Dr. Ads is not a licensed physician. But bottoms up!)

Shouldn’t Mark Zuckerberg Just Set His Super Bowl Ad Money on Fire?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

It’s well known that Meta (a.k.a. Facebook/a.k.a. Instagram) is getting its ads kicked by TikTok and even Snapchat nowadays. So what is Mark (Data) Suckerberg doing about it?

Running a Super Bowl ad.

As Todd Wasserman reports at MediaPost, Meta’s big game ad will follow a fourth-quarter earnings report that included the company’s first-ever quarterly decline in daily active users.

Meta’s Super Bowl teaser, via Anomaly, features a shot of a virtual hangout called Questy’s. Questy’s looks a little worn, as the ad shows the restaurant at night, when it’s empty and dark (except for a flickering neon sign).

The ad is a direct reference to the Oculus Quest 2 headset, which Meta released last fall. Questy’s is actually a virtual hangout in Oculus that is a portal to games and other activities.

The music in the ad is a callback to TV themes of the 1980s that advance a good-timey virtual reality experience and a sign that Meta wants to leave behind the Internet and social media and instead usher users into a virtual world.

Empty restaurant? TV theme music of the 1980s? That’s what Zuck brings in the wake of last week’s knee-buckling 26% plunge in Meta’s share price, which vaporized $237 billion in market value?

Is this just wish-casting, Doc? Or what?

– MetAverse

Dear MetAverse,

For starters, here’s the teaser ad in question.

A 60-second version of the ad is scheduled to run in the first quarter of the Super Bowl at a cost of roughly $13 million, which is, of course, lunch money to Zuckerberg.

Problem is, he’s getting his lunch eaten by TikTok, as the Wall Street Journal’s Salvador Rodriguez reported yesterday.

Meta Faces Uphill Battle Against TikTok

Amid a dismal earnings report, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. on Wednesday highlighted its short-video product Reels as a bright spot and perhaps its best bet to kick-start flagging growth.

The challenge is that in the increasingly important fight for video dominance, Meta faces a heavyweight rival that is only getting stronger.

While Meta executives said Reels is now the company’s fastest-growing content format, ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok is growing even faster. It was the most-downloaded app of 2021, and overtook Meta’s Instagram in popularity among coveted young users.

That makes a switch to Reels and away from TikTok a tough sell for a lot of advertisers and creators.

Especially when you consider these numbers in the WSJ piece: “In 2021, TikTok reached 63% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 weekly, up from 50% a year prior, according to a November survey by Forrester. Instagram, meanwhile, declined from 61% in 2020 to 57% in 2021. Other industry data shows similar trends.”

So, to conclude: How many Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 do you think will be riveted to a TV screen for next Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast?

Yeah, us too.

Not to be repetitive, but memo to Zuck: You should have just set that $13 million on fire.

Why Is Folgers Saying ‘Tough Beans’ to Grandmas?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

So there I was, minding my own business and watching TV, when this Folgers commercial featuring Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” crashed onto my television screen.

Here’s what MediaPost’s Steve Ellwanger reported about the new campaign.

Folgers Doesn’t Give A Damn That It’s ‘Your Grandma’s’ Coffee

J.M. Smucker Co. says it doesn’t give a damn about the reputation of Folgers as “your grandma’s coffee”—although it would like to engage more with younger consumers.

Hence a campaign that’s a blend of rebellion—as voiced by rock music icon Joan Jett—and a paean to Folgers’ New Orleans roots, as the 170-year-old brand reintroduces itself.

To say the 1993 “Bad Reputation” hit by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts is a far cry from Folgers’ 1980’s era jingle and tagline, “The best part of wakin’ up is Folgers in your cup,” is a major understatement.

What’s the deal, Doc? Why would Folgers Jett-ison its longtime campaign?

– Caffeind

Dear Caffeind.

First off, the Doc always thought that the best part of waking up was . . . waking up. Especially at our age.

Second, everyone needs to listen to Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation in full.

Third, the MediaPost piece noted this: “A shorter spot titled “Not Your Grandma’s Coffee” includes the grandmother and a voiceover that says ‘Heck yeah we are [grandma’s coffee], and 35 million more with equally excellent taste.’ The 35 million is a reference to the number of annual Folgers drinkers, according to Publicis and PSOne chief creative officer Erica Roberts.”

 

 

So to recap: Folgers isn’t actually looking to dump grandma; the brand just wants to give a wake-up call to the grandkids.

Bottoms up!

Why Is OkCupid Ad Saying OkAbortions?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Adweek when I came across this report by Sara Century on the latest wrinkle in online dating.

OkCupid Relaunches ‘Every Single Person’ Campaign to Champion Reproductive Rights

One less-discussed element of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is the effect it has had on daters, with the conflicting concepts of social distancing and meeting new people causing trepidation for many. Likewise, a desire to discuss politics has shot up in recent years, creating further obstacles for casual dating.

With these barriers in mind, OkCupid is relaunching its “Every Single Person” campaign, which originally kicked off last fall. The brand is doubling down on its mission of inclusivity by adding a new pro-choice line across the NYC subway.

This campaign, which features 17 images, is the result of OkCupid’s 12-month effort to understand gender and identity in order to utilize technology that will appeal to as wide a variety of communities as possible. Brainstormed by OkCupid’s CMO Melissa Hobley and Devin Colleran, it features art by Maurizio Cattelan and photography by Pierpaolo Ferrari.

The dating service has even joined with Planned Parenthood “to create a badge that would assist users in matching with others that supported reproductive rights.”

Most companies wouldn’t associate themselves with the abortion issue at gunpoint. What gives, Doc.

– Are They OkStupid?

Dear ATO,

This one’s a corker, as my former associate Nurse Ads might say. (Nurse Ads is “former” because she’s off actually attending medical school.)

For starters, here are some of the groups that preceded the pro-choicers in the OkCupid campaign.

Fun fact to know and tell: According to Phoebe Bain’s report in Marketing Brew, three of those four ads were just rejected by officials at the Metropolitan Transit Authority, a.k.a. the New York subway system. You can probably guess which ones.

OkCupid’s pro-pro-choice ad comes in the wake of this viral video, which depicts a woman tearing down OkCupid ads on a New York subway train and has been viewed over 1.1 million times on YouTube during the past four months.

Devin Colleran, senior brand manager of OkCupid, told Adweek that “the homophobic rant in response to our campaign only empowered us to double down on our commitment to celebrate all kinds of identities and love both in our app and our marketing.”

As for abortion being the third rail for marketers, MediaPost’s Sarah Mahoney reports that “it’s all part of the brand’s ongoing mission to have users bring their entire selves to the dating process.”

“We want you to bring your issues — pun intended — to dating,” says Melissa Hobley, chief marketing officer. “That can include unapologetically supporting abortion. We want to make it ‘hot’ for people to commit to those issues to our dating app. If you’re pro-choice — and the majority of the country is — and can’t imagine dating someone who isn’t, then that’s a real and relevant issue.”

Real, relevant, and . . . risky.

Then again, that’s OkCupid’s choice

Have You Voted in the Doritos ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ Bakeoff?

DrAdsforProfileWell the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

For the eighth year now, Doritos is holding its Crash the Super Bowl competition, in which the chipmaker solicits Super Bowl commercials from consumers and the consuming public gets to vote on which ones run during the big broadcast.

Things to know:

1) It’s a worldwide competition.

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 1.19.01 AM

 

2) There are five finalists left, and the voting ends sort of soon.

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 4.52.28 PM

 

How about it, Doc – cast your ballot yet?

– Nacho Nacho Man

Dear Nacho and etc.,

First off, a few facts. From NYSportsJournalism:

Two Of These Five Consumer-Generated Doritos Ads Will Crash The Super Bowl

January 2, 2014: Back in 2006, PepsiCo’s Frito Lay brand Doritos invited the public at large to create and submit ads that would compete against a bevy of others for the opportunity to air during Super Bowl XLI, which aired Feb. 4, 2007, on CBS.

In 2013, in anticipation of Super Bowl XLVIII, the ante has been upped by Doritios’ “Crash the Super Bowl,”  which is offering  a $1 million grand prize and the opportunity to work with Marvel Studios on the set of The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

And the five finalists:

• “Time Machine” by Ryan Andersen, Scottsdale, AZ: Jimmy is a kid who has invented a time machine, which runs on Doritos. Next door neighbor Mr. Smith gives it a try and finds himself “transported” to the future and an aged “Jimmy.”

• “Office Thief” by Chris Capel, Valencia, Calif.: An employee is accused of eating all of the break room Doritos.

• “The Cowboy Kid” by Amber Gill, Ladera Ranch, Calif.: A boy and his dog turn into the Lone Ranger and Silver to claim a bag of Doritos.

• “Breakroom Ostrich” by Eric Haviv, Atlanta: This one adds an ostrich to the mix when an office employee is blamed for eating all the break room Doritos and also leaving a big mess.

• “Finger Cleaner” by Thomas Noakes, Sydney, Australia: Billy, a garage mechanic, gets the Doritos dust off his fingers by using the “finger cleaner,” a hole in the wall that leads, unbeknownst to him, to a guy who licks fingers clean.

The last one is gross, the first one is a winner according to Ed Martin at MediaPost.

The Best Commercial Of Super Bowl XLVIII

We’re a month away from the Super Bowl — still the biggest television event of the year and still the premiere showcase for dozens of exciting new commercials, and already I have identified the ad that I think will be the best of this year’s bunch, simply because I doritos-superbowl-ads-b_1can’t imagine another one that will be as utterly disarming in its clever charm and heartfelt messaging.

Of course, it first has to make it into the Super Bowl telecast, which is easier said than done. It’s a civilian-made commercial for Doritos currently available on the Web page the brand has created to showcase the finalists in its 8th annual “Crash the Super Bowl” contest. The ad is titled “Time Machine,” and it is one of the five homemade spots considered the best in this year’s competition.

And it’s the best of the best, Martin says.

We’ll see.

Yo.

What’s Up with the Two Blank NYT Ad Pages?

DrAdsforProfileWell the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

So I read this on MediaPost’s Out to Launch and, yeah, I was intrigued.

“If you have a physical copy of [Wednesday’s] New York Times close by, take a look at section A, the main news portion of the Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 12.48.48 AMpaper. Notice anything strange? Like two consecutive blank pages? Intentionally done, the pages are part of a 20th Century Fox ad campaign to promote its upcoming film The Book Thief.”

(Wait – isn’t it 21st Century Fox now? Not to get technical about it.)

Anyway, whaddaya think, Doc?

Good stuff?

Or empty-headed?

– Out to Lunch

Dear Lunch:

First off, here’s the two-page ad from Wednesday’s Times (via Poynter, because the Times Replica edition doesn’t seem to have it, although the Doc’s home-delivery edition did).

NYTpg9

NYTPg10

Second off, here’s wordsarelife.com.

This is a classic news ad – designed more to get media coverage than to function as advertising.

And it worked.

Yo.