TIME Australia

Aussie Supermarket Chain Tries to Brand War Memories, Upsets Everyone

Maybe leave death and suffering out of future marketing plans

Australian supermarket giant Woolworths pulled a controversial Anzac Day campaign Tuesday evening after it drew sharp criticism and ended up being hijacked by social-media satirists.

Woolworths created a website that allowed people to upload images of people affected by war and attach the phrase “Lest We Forget, Anzac 1915–2015.” This was accompanied by the slogan “Fresh in Our Memories” and the Woolworths logo.

The use of the word fresh was none-too-subtle branding. Woolworths brands itself the Fresh Food People, and its regular consumer magazine is called Fresh.

For Australians, the ham-fisted marketing was too much, and Woolworths became the target of public backlash, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“We regret that our branding on the picture generator has caused offense, this was clearly never our intention. Like many heritage Australian companies, we were marking our respect for Anzac and our veterans,” a Woolworths spokesperson tells TIME.

The slogan was predictably hijacked by social media with the hashtag #FreshInOurMemories going viral and netizens contributing mocking posts.

Anzac Day is celebrated on April 25 in Australia and New Zealand and honors soldiers who died serving in the military. The remembrance day was created to recognize the sacrifices made during the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I, which began on April 25, 1915. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous battle.

TIME Advertising

This Ad Is Making Italian Pizza Makers Very Mad

A stock photograph of pizza
Getty Images

Don't mess with the True Neapolitan Pizza Association

McDonald’s has besmirched the reputation of Neapolitan pizza, and Neapolitan pizza — as a whole — is fighting back. A TV commercial in Italy shows a young boy rejecting the gooey goodness of the traditional Italian grub in favor of a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Amusing? Sure. But actionable? Maybe. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) — or True Neapolitan Pizza Association — is threatening a lawsuit, calling the Italian-language TV spot a “dishonorable attack against one of the symbols of the Mediterranean Diet.”

That claim may also be problematic: the Mediterranean Diet (the caps are AVPN’s) is perhaps the most healthy in the world, but it’s a stretch to credit cheese pie with that distinction. A better symbol might be a fish, or a head of lettuce.

The commercial depicts the boy and his parents at a fancy pizzeria. The waiter asks the kid what kind of pizza he wants, and he yells, “Happy Meal!” The family, apparently powerless under the spell of the boy’s unsophisticated palate, is suddenly transported to a McDonald’s, and all is well because, as the commercial informs Italian parents: “Your child has no doubts.”

This amounts to the “American colossus” that is McDonald’s “discrediting” the whole Italian diet, AVPN explains. And although the campaign is already over, the group might yet file a lawsuit. One pizza chef in Naples told The Telegraph that the commercial amounted to “blasphemy.”

McDonald’s reportedly hasn’t heard directly from the AVPN.

Legal action seems like overkill, but that doesn’t mean McDonald’s didn’t err culturally. Imagine Taco Bell running a commercial in Baton Rouge declaring that its burritos are better than the local gumbo.

The backlash shouldn’t come as a surprise to McDonald’s. If it wasn’t already obvious, Italians, and especially Neapolitans, take their pizza very seriously, and the AVPN is serious about protecting its reputation. The group has created a “certification” program that requires any pizza anywhere in the world calling itself Neapolitan to adhere to a strict set of criteria.

MONEY Food & Drink

Mr. Burger and Ms. King Are Getting Married. Guess Who’s Paying for the Wedding?

Joel Burger and Ashley King are getting married for free, thanks to...you guessed it...Burger King

TIME Advertising

These Super Creepy Rob Lowe Ads Are Causing a Major Problem

They're weird—and hilarious—which is part of the issue

Comcast has a problem with “Super Creepy Rob Lowe,” and the cable giant now has the backing of the Better Business Bureau in its fight against the impossibly handsome actor and all his alter egos, also including “Crazy Hairy Rob Lowe” and “Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe.”

The BBB’s National Advertising Division, acting on a complaint from Comcast, says that DirecTV’s commercials featuring Lowe and his mutant versions make misleading claims on DirecTV’s behalf in their commercial spots. The ads started appearing late last year and have caused a big splash—mainly because they’re really weird and most of them are hilarious.

But the NAD now says the ads must be changed. For instance, it says DirecTV’s claim that it offers picture quality of “up to 1080p” is misleading because only a few programs with such high resolution are available.

The polished, confident Lowe is meant to represent DirecTV in the spots, while his alter egos are meant to represent the company’s cable competitors. “Don’t be like this me,” the “real” Lowe tells viewers. “Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV.”

Even that line, which seems like standard-issue puffery, was too much for Comcast and the NAD, which said it improperly implies that DirecTV is superior to cable and should be dropped from the spots.

In its statement, the NAD said: “Although humor can be an effective and creative way for advertisers to highlight the differences between their products and their competitors, humor and hyperbole do not relieve an advertiser of the obligation to support messages that their advertisements might reasonably convey.”

That’s not the easiest sentence in the world to parse, but it seems to suggest that every statement in an advertisement — even one that simply claims the advertised product is better than other products — needs “support.” If universally applied, such a standard could take every third commercial off the air.

DirecTV plans to appeal the ruling, which isn’t binding, but if ignored could lead to a referral to a government agency.

DirecTV said in a statement to the NAD that it “the various Rob Lowe advertisements are so outlandish and exaggerated that no reasonable consumer would believe that the statements being made by the alter-ego characters are comparative or need to be substantiated.”

Maybe DirecTV should make new spots casting the alter egos as horrifying cable customer-service agents. That would be easy enough to “support.”

MONEY Kids and Money

YouTube Kids App Accused of Sneaky Advertising

Consumer groups want the FTC to investigate Google over what they consider deceptive advertising toward kids.

TIME Advertising

YouTube Is Targeting Kids With ‘Deceptive’ Ads, Advocates Say

Groups have filed an FTC complaint over ads on new video app

Google’s new child-friendly version of YouTube has too many ads that target kids, consumer advocates say.

The new app, YouTube Kids, offers a streamlined version of the massive video site with a focus on kids’ content. But consumer advocates say the large number of ads and ad-like programming in the app run afoul of rules that regulate how advertisers can market to children on television.

In a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission, advocates say YouTube Kids ignores television advertising safeguards that prevent businesses from jamming kids’ television shows full of marketing messages. For example, YouTube Kids hosts branded channels for corporations such as McDonald’s and Fisher-Price that feature programming that could be thought of as commercials, which is a practice that is limited on traditional TV, according to the complaint. Advertising and programming are too intermixed within the app for developing children to distinguish between the two, the complaint says. “There is nothing ‘child friendly’ about an app that obliterates long-standing principles designed to protect kids from commercialism,” Josh Golin, associate director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said in a press release that calls YouTube Kids “deceptive.”

YouTube has pushed back against the complaint, arguing that an ad-supported, free platform is a great offering for kids. “We worked with numerous partners and child advocacy groups when developing YouTube Kids. While we are always open to feedback on ways to improve the app, we were not contacted directly by the signers of this letter and strongly disagree with their contentions,” a YouTube spokesperson said in an email.

Signatories of the complaint included the Center for Digital Democracy, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

MONEY Sports

This Multi-Billion-Dollar Business Is Trying to Get Your Kid Hooked

150403_EM_BaseballIndustry
Mitch Diamond—Alamy

In the quest for higher and higher profits down the line, the indoctrination must start young with this business—which is probably not at all what you think.

It’s … baseball.

For American kids today, the idea that baseball is the national pastime holds true only in the past. The number of kids who play baseball fell 24% during the ’00s, and it has continued to decrease since.

Unsurprisingly, the percentage of kids who are fans of the sport has been on the decline as well. In an ESPN Sports Poll conducted last year, 18% of 12- to 17-year-old Americans described themselves as avid baseball fans. That’s the lowest it’s been since the survey started being conducted in 1995. It’s also the first time ever that baseball’s level of fanaticism among kids was matched by that of (gasp!) Major League Soccer. Four in ten, meanwhile, say they are diehard NFL fans.

Still, baseball executives say other sports have little to do with kids losing interest in baseball. “Today, the fastest growing activity among young people is nothing,” Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred recently said, rather bizarrely, in a Sports Illustrated for Kids interview. He quickly clarified that “being involved with electronics and non-sporting activities” is largely why baseball has become less popular with kids.

In any event, baseball has fallen so far off most American kids’ radar that the problem is being openly discussed around the league. Newly adopted rules meant to speed up the game are aimed at removing the lulls and making the game more exciting for all fans—but especially for young people, what with their nonexistent attention spans. Teams across the country are also pumping up promotions and freebies to new heights to woo the next generation of spectators.

“I think we all recognize that we can’t live by the long-held premise that a child will automatically fall in love with baseball,” Boston Red Sox senior adviser Charles Steinberg said to the Boston Globe in early March. “We have to recognize that we are one of many options.”

With that in mind, the website of every Major League Baseball team has a section devoted specifically to kids—where else would you learn fun factoids about the team mascot?—and teams also encourage children to sign up for their special kids club programs. Membership is often free, and comes with perks like team swag, baseball cards, and access to discounted or free ticket promotions.

The Red Sox program, dubbed Kids Nation, used to cost $30, but this season ownership decided to make membership free for fans 14 and under. Each member gets a free ticket to Fenway Park (with an adult ticket purchase, of course), plus a 10% discount on team merchandise and “Exclusive Kid Nation Email Newsletters.”

Other MLB teams with free basic membership for kids programs include the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Miami Marlins. The latter comes with buy-one, get-one-free tickets at select games—kids club members eat free at the ballpark at some games too.

Most teams try to upsell families on VIP kids club membership, which runs $20 and up and includes more perks and freebies. Other MLB franchises charge for all kids club memberships, though they don’t seem to be making money on the sales considering what’s in the package. For example, the Los Angeles Angels Junior Angels program costs $18 but comes with a voucher good for four tickets, plus a team shirt, socks, and shoelaces and a $5 gift card at the Angels Team Store. Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners’ $15 kids club membership includes a team cap, cooler, activity book, and access to $1 tickets at select games.

Obviously, the short-term goal of these programs is to boost attendance and revenues for this season. Even though the programs may break even or lose money on the surface, they succeed in attracting more people out to the ballpark—and bringing them out more often—where they’ll undoubtedly fork over cash for parking, food, beverages, and souvenirs.

But wooing kids is hardly a short-term play. What baseball truly hopes is that kids programs and other child-centric marketing efforts help create lifelong fans who head out to the stadium, buy team merchandise, and watch on TV for decades to come. The idea is to hook them while they’re young with cheap tickets, free swag, face painting at games, and whatever else it takes. After all, few people wake up when they’re grownups and decide that they will suddenly become diehard fans of the Cincinnati Twins or San Diego Padres or whoever.

Data collected by the Red Sox indicates that people who went to games as children are nearly three times more likely than others to turn into “core” fans or at least go the ballpark a few times per season down the road. In his SI for Kids interview, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred agreed that it is absolutely essential to turn children on to baseball while they’re young: “Our research shows the two biggest determinants of fan avidity are did you play as a kid? And how old were you when your parents took you to the ballpark for the first time?”

MONEY Food & Drink

8 Signs We May Have Reached Peak Peeps

150403_EM_PeakPeeps
Mark Stehle—Invision for PEEPS® Yes, there's even a Peeps Zamboni.

Peeps, the classic marshmallow Easter candy, are riding on quite the sugar high in terms of popularity. It has to wear off at some point. Doesn't it?

There are some people out there who hate Peeps, the brightly-colored, sickly-sweet marshmallow candies that came to fame mainly for providing supercharged sugar rushes to children on Easter morning. An I Hate Marshmallow Peeps Facebook page has more than 500 likes, for instance, while the occasional blogger will feel compelled to rant about his or her Peeps hate around this time of year.

But the Peeps haters sure seem to be drastically outnumbered by the Peeps lovers, based on all the examples of peeps demonstrating their interest and devotion to Peeps candy below. The only question that remains is when Peeps’ popularity will level off. Have we already hit peak Peeps? Or will this tiny iconic candy somehow become an even larger presence in American culture one day? After all, every fun meme, like every sugar rush, dies off eventually.

For now, let’s reflect on a few of the signs that consumer interest in Peeps remains sky-high today:

Peeps come in more than 60 varieties. At least 35 kinds of Peeps are sold during Easter season, including sour watermelon and fudge-dipped lemon flavors, while another 30 or so varieties hit the market for Christmas, Halloween, and other periods.

You can buy an absurd amount of Peeps merch. Peeps products that have nothing to do with food include Peeps socks (bunnies or ducks, in youth and adult sizes, $9), Peeps hoodies ($40), Peeps trucker hats ($20), Peeps microbead pillows ($20), Peeps earbuds ($10), Peeps shoelace accessories ($8), Peeps scented candles ($20), and a variety of plush Peeps toys priced as high as $100.

There are Peeps art shows and contests all over. The sixth annual Peeps Art Exhibition at the Racine Art Museum in Wisconsin runs through April 12, while the Washington Post, Michigan’s MLive.com, and others host Peeps diorama contests each year. The Pioneer Press in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, meanwhile, has bragging rights for putting on the first Peeps diorama contest, back in 2004. Nationwide, there are more than a dozen Peeps-themed art shows and contests. One ambitious young artist made Katy Perry’s Left Shark with Peeps this year.

(Perhaps matzo art could be the next trend? To celebrate Passover this year, one artist in Philadelphia used 300 boxes of matzo to create two six-foot-tall matzo towers and cover 1,200 square feet in a floor-to-ceiling exhibit called “Into the Desert.”)

They’re core ingredients in Easter cocktails. Restaurants, bars, and resorts roll out Peeptinis, Patron & Peep cocktails, and more, usually with bunny- or duck-shaped Peeps as garnishment.

They’re being paired with craft beers too. A couple of establishments in Pennsylvania offer a three-course pairing of craft brews and Easter candy, and Peeps—made in PA—are one of the “courses.” The brag-worthy gastronomic adventure costs $10, and comes with a souvenir pint glass.

Peeps Milk is a thing. Three varieties of Peeps-flavored milk went on sale a month ago: Marshmallow Milk, Chocolate Marshmallow Milk, and Easter Egg Nog. We’re still waiting to see what happens when anyone is brave enough to use the milk in a bowl of sugary cereal.

So is Peepshi—a.k.a. Peep sushi rolls. Peepshi, which incorporates crispy rice treats rather than raw fish, is one of 60 official recipes listed at the Peeps website. Those are only the “official” recipes, mind you. There are hundreds if not thousands more unofficial Peeps recipes out there, including things like Peeps Pizza and Peeps Kebabs.

A Peeps movie is in the works. Around Easter time last year, filmmaker Adam Rifkin (writer of “Small Soldiers,” director of “Detroit Rock City”) optioned the TV and movie rights for Peeps. The plot for the film supposedly involves a wild adventure around a Peeps diorama contest, featuring a lost Peep and, we’re guessing, quite a few shenanigans and sugar jokes.

TIME Advertising

Pillsbury Doughboy Inventor Rudolph R. Perz Dies at 89

A Pillsbury Doughboy balloon float at the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York November 28, 2013
Eric Thayer—Reuters A Pillsbury Doughboy balloon float at the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York November 28, 2013

The "Poppin' Fresh" creator imagined a doughboy popping out of a Pillsbury dough can

Pillsbury Doughboy creator Rudolph R. Perz died Wednesday aged 89. He invented one of the most iconic characters in modern advertising for the home baking brand.

According to General Mills, which owns Pillsbury, the chubby baking icon first debuted in a 1965 Pillsbury crescent roll advertisement, boasting 87% brand recognition three years later among American consumers. Perz, a copywriter for the Leo Burnett advertising agency, designed the trademark character while imagining a soft doughboy popping out of a Pillsbury dough can, naming his creation “Poppin’ Fresh.”

Perz used stop-motion clay action to animate the doughy kitchen helper and give him a mirthful laugh when tickled in the stomach. The Pillsbury Doughboy character has since spawned everything from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day floats to doll playsets, in addition to helping millions of American housewives and husbands bake cakes and rolls.

“We are saddened by the loss of Rudy Perz. Nearly 50 years ago, he created one of America’s most loved and adored characters, the Pillsbury Doughboy. Our thoughts are with Rudy’s family during this difficult time,” Pillsbury president Liz Nordlie said in a statement.

Perz’s funeral will be held in the Chicago area this weekend.

TIME Advertising

19 Real-Life Ads from the Mad Men Era

A look at the actual ad campaigns of Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Pryce's clients

On Sunday, Mad Men returns for its final lap around the boardroom table, with just seven episodes to go before Don, Peggy and the Sterling Cooper family ascend to TV heaven. (And just before the sideburns get out of control, too.) Though the show is about advertising, it is, of course, about more. It’s about reckoning with one’s true identity, the fallout from suppressing inner demons, fumbling through parenthood and any number of other themes which have been, and will continue to be, thoroughly hashed out in the Mad Men Think PieceTM.

But the taglines and campaigns developed over tumblers of brown liquor have made for some of the show’s most memorable moments. They’ve cleverly played off real ad campaigns from the 1960s and tapped into the ethos of an era. How, though, do these fictional campaigns compare to the real thing? There’s no better way to answer that question than to hold them up against their real-life counterparts. Here, a collection of real ads that appeared in LIFE Magazine during the 1960s, for the same clients served by Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Pryce — and a few more for good measure.

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