Friday, April 17, 2015

Canadian Subway restaurant welcomes "screaming kids" after competition doesn't

As a parent, I love this.

It all started when a seafood restaurant in New Sydney, Nova Scotia, decided to let the town know that they are NOT child-friendly:

The local and social media outcry was immediate and effective, and the restaurant issued an apology. 

I'm sure not everyone will agree with me, but I feel very strongly that children have a right to be in public spaces. Their parents have a responsibility to keep them from unnecessarily disrupting other people's peace-of-mind, but the really young ones — especially babies — often cry. Deal with it. You were one once, too. 

It amazes me what a truly family-unfriendly society we are, when I visit countries where children are cherished by the society as a whole. It seems like a much healthier environment for them to grow up in.

Anyway, kudos to local Subway franchisee Kirk MacRae, who told CBC: "We've had a few [screaming kids] and hope to have a lot more, and don't have any issue with it whatsoever."

Let's hope this goes viral in the good way.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

McDonald's Italy disses pizza, causes gastronomic outrage

Insulting pizza is a big deal in Italy. Especially if you're an American fast food goliath.

Business Insider reports that the the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), representing the pizza chefs of Naples, the food's birthplace, are threatening to sue McDonald's for pizza defamation.

And it's all because of this ad:

You don't need to speak Italian to follow the story: Parents of a picky child are at a pizzeria, anxiously awaiting their child's choice from the menu. The waiter asks the boy what he wants, and he says "a Happy Meal." So the family leaves and takes him to McDonald's where he is happy.

The AVPN's VP is quoted in this imperfectly-translated statement:
Di porzio states that it is ignoble comparing two products very different from each other, especially if it is for discrediting those restaurants most loved by Italian families: pizzerias. Also, it is already well known that children love pizzas, especially for the taste. It is obvious that the American colossus is trying to discredit its main competitor, but speculating on children’s health is just too much. Furthermore, it is not the first time that Mc Donald attacks our culinary traditions, but this time we are willing to take some legal countermeasures.
North Americans may find it odd for pizzerias to attack burgers on nutritional standards, but only if they haven't had authentic Italian pizza. Unlike our doughy, salty and cheesy delivery versions, Italian pizze are all about fresh ingredients and restraint. Even though the dough is made from highly-refined flour, the Italian tradition of much stricter portion control makes the pizza less of a calorie bomb:
A standard margherita (with 250g of dough) has around 800Kcal, but children do not usually eat a whole pizza. So, if we reduce the size of a standard pizza and then we add a drink (without gas), we will reach 700Kcal per meal. A Happy meal has 600Kcal, which for a children are just too much. However, it is not about “how many Kcals there are per meal”, but it is a matter of “what kind of quality” they are! What kind of meat do they use to prepare their hamburgers and how many fats they have? What kind of oil do they use to prepare their potatos: colza oil? How much mayonnaise do they put on their hamburgers? And how about the preservatives contained in their bread? The true napolitan pizza, which is a product guaranteed by our international regulations, it is a “handcrafted” product which only uses selected raw materials, like mozzarella di bufala, fiordilatte, tomatos from Campania and extra virgin oil. In this way, pizzas results in a complete and balanced meal from a nutritional point of view. It is time for parents to control what their children eat: junk food might be ok if consumed now and then, but they should teach their children to eat clean everyday. They must. And eating clean means to follow the culinary culture offered by our wonderful Mediterranean Diet: it will supply parents with the right tools to choose among a great number of meals which are not only tasty and healthy but, above all, Italians.
If you're sensing a certain cultural pride here, you're not mistaken. McDonald's has only been in Italy since 1986, and its arrival in Rome's historic core was greeted with outrage. Designer Valentino even threatened legal action against his new neighbours over the smell:
According to Valentino, who this week began legal action aimed at closing the restaurant, which backs on to his Rome headquarters, the McDonald's created a ''significant and constant noise and an unbearable smell of fried food fouling the air.'' He has asked Italian magistrates to order it closed immediately on the ground that it is a nuisance.
McDonald's stayed, and expanded. Now, it can be found among the historic attractions of Venice, Florence, Milan, and —yes—Naples.

I live in Italy for several months-long stints in the 90s, and McDonald's by then had become a shibboleth for whether one was "cultured" or not. Since food is a massive part of Italy's many regional identities, the arrival of American fast food was bound to cause a reaction. In fact, that Roman McDonald's was the barbarian at the gates of Italian culture that caused Carlo Petrini to found the now-international Slow Food Movement.

There is a certain amount of pretentious Anti-Americanism in the AVPN complaint, but I can see why they are so upset. Defaming pizza in Italy (especially in Naples) is a really obtuse move by McDonald's marketers. Especially since the corporation has been trying so hard to adapt to the demand for more local foods elsewhere in Europe.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Schick's "Basic Pitches" tell women their stubbly legs are disgusting

I am aware that most women in my society like to keep their legs and underarms clean shaven. (My wife is one of them.) But does that make it OK to vilify women's body hair to this extent?

It's just an ad for shaving stuff. It's also one with a movie tie in, to Perfect Pitch 2.

(Interesting side note about that movie: reports that star Anna Kendrick upset Hollywood bosses by refusing to strike a "sexy" pose on the movie poster. Good for her.)

But back to the Schick ad. It's intended to be funny lifestyle humour for the average young woman. But the clear message that, female leg hair is disgusting, is reminiscent of the long history of advertisers telling women their bodies are horrible without the right products.

Via We Hunted The Mammoth

Women should (and do) do whatever they want with their own bodies. But these ads contribute to a media culture of bullying women into conformity. It's time we stopped telling them what they're supposed to look like.

H/T Ads Of The World

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Weren't we supposed to stop using captive great apes in ads, Google?

Business Insider just published Ace Metrix's list of top-performing ads in 30 categories for the first quarter of 2015. Among them is Google's "Friends Furever" spot for Android:

Wait a minute here: Didn't the US Ad Council announce that it no longer supports the use of great apes in ads back in 2008?

PETA has been lobbying the ad industry to stop using apes as props for years. As a result,  Omnicom Group's BBDO, GSD&M and Merkley & Partners; Interpublic's McCann Erickson, DraftFCB and RPA; Havas' Arnold and Euro RSCG; WPP's Grey Group, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and JWT; and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett all agreed to stop using great apes in ads in 2011. The Google ad was created by Droga5, who apparently didn't get the memo.

I'm not PETA's greatest fan, but as a human (and having the Jane Goodall Institute as a client) the exploitation of our closest cousins by my industry troubles me.

The challenge with using any animals in advertising is their treatment, since they are not willing performers. The most intelligent social animals, such as great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans), elephants, and whales/dolphins, are wild animals that suffer from anxiety and depression when removed from their peers — even if captive bred. (Dogs are domestic animals, so they're a little bit of a different issue.)

The Google ad has representatives of all three of these animal groups performing for your amusement, and that of 16 million of your closest friends.

Jane Goodall is asking people like us, who create ads and entertainment, to sign a pledge not to use captive great apes in our work. I think it's time we stopped treating our cousins like props.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Introducing Ethical Native Advertising!

As of today, I have been writing this blog for six years. And you know what? I'm sick of doing it for free.

I started my advertising career, 25 years ago, writing advertorial. Remember those? They were fake editorial features that were paid-for by advertisers so that they would be seen in a positive light by people who couldn't tell the difference between ad and editorial.

Advertorial has come a long way. Today, it's called "native advertising" and you don't even need to put that "advertising" label on it, like we did in the old days. Awesome!

So here's the deal: For $100.00 Canadian, I'll mention your brand in  positive light on one of my posts. For $500.00, you get to be featured as "#EthicalAdvertiserOfTheWeek" on this blog, and across all of my social media channels. (That's a pretty good deal, as I am a minor cewebrity. I was on HuffPost Live and everything!)

What are you waiting for? Let's get Ethically Native!