Tag Archives: marketing

Kathy Weppner Violates Federal Law

31 Mar

Kathy Weppner’s Facebook page contains this image: 

Notice the Congressional seal above the two “p”s? 

18 U.S. Code § 713 – Use of likenesses of the great seal of the United States, the seals of the President and Vice President, the seal of the United States House of Representatives, and the seal of the United States Congress

(a) Whoever knowingly displays any printed or other likeness of the great seal of the United States, or of the seals of the President or the Vice President of the United States, or the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or the seal of the United States Congress, or any facsimile thereof, in, or in connection with, any advertisement, poster, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, public meeting, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production, or on any building, monument, or stationery, for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

The Attorney General’s office may enjoin Weppner from using the House seal upon complaint by the Clerk of the House of Representatives. 

It should be noted that Weppner does not serve – nor has never served – in the House of Representatives. She is, however, the clownshoes-iest candidate ever to run for federal office, and to also enjoy the endorsement of a major party. 

Then again, Eddie Egriu has this inexplicable thing

Mass Consumerism And You

4 Feb

The Super Bowl weekend is notorious for its gluttony and pervasive advertising, so I thought I’d post some counterprogramming for those of us who find this weekend’s fetishism of advertising and marketing to be, well, a bit obscene.

I’d like to present a series of videos culled from a documentary titled, Consuming Kids.

Consuming Kids throws desperately needed light on the practices of a relentless multi-billion dollar marketing machine that now sells kids and their parents everything from junk food and violent video games to bogus educational products and the family car. Drawing on the insights of health care professionals, children’s advocates, and industry insiders, the film focuses on the explosive growth of child marketing in the wake of deregulation, showing how youth marketers have used the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world.

Consuming Kids pushes back against the wholesale commercialization of childhood, raising urgent questions about the ethics of children’s marketing and its impact on the health and well-being of kids.

Here’s the trailer:

 

As a parent of two toddlers, I see the pervasive marketing and advertising that is intended to influence my children and ultimately, my buying decisions. It’s everywhere, it’s immersive and it’s intended to insinuate brand awareness into every aspect of our lives. It’s the ultimate manifestation of a corporatist culture which demands that new consumers be introduced into the market at the earliest possible stage.

While we all ultimately have the final decision-making power with our dollars, the marketing stream stacks the deck against those of us who wish to delay our child’s entrance into the consumer culture.

Think Baby Einstein videos are helping your child learn? Think again. Think a barrage of sexualized messages about a market interpretation of beauty are having a negative effect on your daughter’s body image? You’re right.

We are the only industrialized nation with no standards or statutory guidelines on advertising to children. We used to have guidelines on this, but in 1980, the toy companies led a lobbying effort to repeal any limitations or standards which resulted into the bible of childhood marketing, the FTC Improvement Act of 1980. The documentary does a thorough job of demonstrating that “consumerizing” our children at such a young age results in serious financial and health risks for them.

Click through to watch the film…

Continue reading

Knee Jerk? Not Real.

1 Jun

Having proudly derided “Buffalo: For Real” here, I was interested to read this defense of the now-infamous slogan, penned by one of its pro bono creators, Joe Sweeney from local ad agency Travers Collins.

First, it speaks to Buffalo’s authenticity. After conducting some significant research, VBN realized that “cultural tourists” are the folks they should target with this new brand—people who visit a place to learn something, to feel the weight of history, to be inspired by human expression. People who would be intrigued by the prospect of seeing work by Wright, Sullivan, Richardson, Picasso, Kahlo and Burchfield, in a Rust Belt city known mainly for chicken wings and snow. “For Real” speaks to them directly, positioning Buffalo as a place where all of the sights are genuine, and none of the parks are themed.

Second, the line implicitly references the rampant skepticism that’s out there about our city. For far too long, when we’ve told out-of-towners that we love it here, they’ve responded incredulously — “For real?”

Now we have a comeback. For real, we love this place. For real, it’s beautiful. For real, it will move you.

I’m still having trouble deciphering what an “authentic” sight, is as compared with an inauthentic one.  But apart from the silly existential argument – if I can see it, isn’t it “real” and “authentic”? – the reason why this branding was so ripe for mockery has to do with something Buffalo is great at:

Even when we think we’re promoting and puffing the region, we do it in an apologetic way.

Excuses, excuses. We’re not as great as we once were, but we’re too poor and depressed to have torn it all down to make way for new stuff! We might have a dead downtown, but hey – no chains!

But these lines, earlier in the piece, stuck out:

I get the criticism, to an extent. Lord knows we should be critical of anything purporting to help our city. If we didn’t make our voices heard, we might have a fishing superstore dwarfing our historic waterfront. Plus, it’s tempting to make fun of a new “slogan,” especially when it’s for a place that’s a go-to punch line for bad comedians.

I think “purporting” is the key word in that passage. That video and this slogan merely purport to help the city. But they don’t. For the very select few who love old, dead buildings and architecture, they’ll love this campaign.  I’d be willing to bet that lots of people would come to Buffalo for a day trip or weekend from within a 200 mile radius if they knew there was something to do. (Wing Fest, Allentown Art Festival, etc.). I’d be willing to bet that efforts to attract people already in Niagara Falls or Niagara-on-the-Lake would also be lucrative and easy.

We have crappy signage, poor tourism information at or near the border crossings, (Ontario has staffed welcome centers off the QEW and 420), and some sort of ridiculous conceit about being “real”. We’re critical of this campaign because the campaign sucks, not because it “purports to help the city”.

And because we “made our voices heard”, there’s absolutely nothing – no fishing store, no nothing – on the Inner Harbor Canal Side parcels right now. Just some benches, some grass, some ruins.

I hope this kind of knee-jerk pessimism isn’t the lasting legacy of this marketing effort, because I really like “For Real.”

And another thing. It wasn’t “knee-jerk”; it wasn’t reflexive pessimism. It was a carefully thought-out, considered negative reaction to something silly.

Informing The Present, Part 2

8 Mar

Picture chosen because after re-reading this article, it seems sanctimonious and douchey.

Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how my readers perceive the arguments, theories and opinions I put forth on this website.  The lens through which each of you views the individual articles I write about journalism, government, economic development, corporations and general current events.  I always feel the need to link heavily to other sources because I want you to understand not just the subject matter, but how I’ve come to my established position on the issue.  It’s also a way for me to keep track of my thoughts and a running journal of my own positional development.

Each day, I update a segment of my sidebar with articles I read or sites I find interesting, which inform much of what I write here.  It’s on the right and it’s labeled “Your Daily Homework”.   I suppose the title is a bit condescending, but I intend for it to be a general supplement to your daily news consumption at WNYM.  You can either check that sidebar for current links or you can simply subscribe to my Delicious feed by clicking here.  It’s a daily compendium of what I read and leads to a lot of posts not just on my personal corner of WNYM, but on others as well.

Aside from that, each weekend, I’m going to post some videos or links to longer form content which provides a bit of a backstory on how I see the world.  Do I think there is a thirsty bunch of readers out there longing to be quenched with the dew of my intelligence or experience?  Umm, no.  However, if you come here frequently (and a couple thousand of you do each day), I thought you might be interested in the content which informs my opinion and what tweaks my Id and Ego.

This week, I’d like to present a series of videos culled from a documentary titled, Consuming Kids.

Consuming Kids throws desperately needed light on the practices of a relentless multi-billion dollar marketing machine that now sells kids and their parents everything from junk food and violent video games to bogus educational products and the family car. Drawing on the insights of health care professionals, children’s advocates, and industry insiders, the film focuses on the explosive growth of child marketing in the wake of deregulation, showing how youth marketers have used the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world.

Consuming Kids pushes back against the wholesale commercialization of childhood, raising urgent questions about the ethics of children’s marketing and its impact on the health and well-being of kids.

Here’s the trailer:

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As a parent of two toddlers, I see the pervasive marketing and advertising that is intended to influence my children and ultimately, my buying decisions.  It’s everywhere, it’s immersive and it’s intended to insinuate brand awareness into every aspect of our lives.  It’s the ultimate manifestation of a corporatist culture which demands that new consumers be introduced into the market at the earliest possible stage.  While we all ultimately have the final decision-making power with our dollars, the marketing stream stacks the deck against those of us who wish to delay our child’s entrance into the consumer culture.

Think Baby Einstein videos are helping your child learn?  Think again.

Think a barrage of sexualized messages about the market’s interpretation of beauty are having a negative effect on your daughter’s body image?  You’re right.

We are the only industrialized nation with no standards or statutory guidelines on advertising to children.  We used to have guidelines on this, but in 1980, the toy companies led a lobbying effort to repeal any limitations or standards which resulted into the bible of childhood marketing, the FTC Improvement Act of 1980.  The documentary does a thorough job of demonstrating that “consumerizing” our children at such a young age results in serious financial and health risks for them.   Click through to watch the film…

Continue reading

The Self-Conscious City

14 Dec

The Law of Sally Field:  If Buffalo is mentioned in an even remotely positive light in some non-local media outlet – however obscure – the piece will be held up as confirmation that we’re not all daft for living here.

Steve’s Corollary:  If Buffalo is added to some sort of Forbes list, it will be held up as confirmation that we’re not all daft for living here, or as proof that the world is against us and doesn’t get it, as the case may be.

Nussbaumer’s Extension: If there is something even tangentially negative in the piece about Buffalo, it must be ridiculed and discredited, regardless of its truth or falsity.

Which is more dull and predictable – outsiders alluding to our snowy reputation, or locals bitching about outsiders alluding to our snowy reputation?  For me, it’s the latter.  It’s high time Buffalo and her people got over the whole snow stigma, because it isn’t one.  Lots of places have nasty weather, and we use it as a crutch and an excuse for our failures.

And so it is that USA Today did a story about Buffalo’s architectural treasures, and how some (Darwin Martin) seem to find tens of millions of dollars for restoration, while others (Central Terminal) are merely shored up, awaiting better times and a lottery win.

While the article joked about our snow and rightfully pointed out our status as a declining rust belt area, the piece was quite informative about our architectural wealth and there really isn’t much to criticize about it.  Unless you really try.

You know what?  It snows here. A lot.  Not as much as Syracuse or Watertown, but plenty nonetheless.  It hardly makes sense to bitch when others poke fun at us about it.  Embrace it.  We should be capitalizing on that reputation rather than countering with dopey statistics about how many sunny days we have.

And you know what else?  This is a declining rust belt area that has an epic laundry list of problems that need fixing.  This, too, is something we should be addressing head-on, and frankly WNY is not unique in its need for solutions to deep and long-standing problems.

The USA Today piece was pretty damn good, as far as I’m concerned.

Buffalo: A Sense of Place

4 Mar

I invite you to watch this video, which was produced by the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, which complains that it doesn’t get the full bed tax.

I also invite you to comment on it. I won’t inject my own opinion right away, but am curious to see your response.

UPDATE: The CVB’s Ed Healy gives some background in comments.