Painfully Inane Adwatch: The Twix “Need a Moment” Campaign

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

(Poster’s note: in reading the comments, I realized I probably wasn’t clear with my criticisms here. I do certainly understand that ads are not to be taken literally, and advertising hasn’t been about the actual qualities of the product for decades. We talk about that in the book, even. I was more taken by this particular approach itself, and how I found the conceit itself inane. That said, most of the comments that advertising is not about the product is right on the money, and that right there is a good thing to keep in mind.) Since our book is about advertising, let’s talk about some ads. Some awful ads.

If you could find someone totally unaware of what a Twix bar was (friendly alien, unfrozen pilgrim, etc.) and showed them these current crop of Twix ads, and then asked them what Twix bars were, I bet you’d get an answer like “Twix bars? Aren’t they those crunch-activated time-stopping rods?”

And that assessment would be totally justified, based on these ads. They’re relying on the tenuous idea that we’re all not drooling idiots to take this literally, because the only qualities of a Twix bar demonstrated in these commercials are the ability of the Twix bar to stop time. There’s nothing mentioned of the taste, the crunch, the dubious energy benefit– all the usual candy bar selling points– just the bold suggestion that these crunchy little logs have colossal power over the time-space continuum. I know no one really thinks they can do that, and this is just an advertising conceit, but it’s strange when the big marketing appeal of your product is the freedom it gives you to be a jackass.

Before we get anything further, I should make it very clear that they can’t stop time. I’ve said some truly awful, offensive things to people, and when I’ve tried to use a Twix bar in the demonstrated manner, I’ve just come off looking even more like an idiot, but this time an idiot with a dripping mouthful of half-masticated candy and a panicked, confused look in his eye.

Continue reading “Painfully Inane Adwatch: The Twix “Need a Moment” Campaign”

The Most Wrenchingly Judgmental Game Over Screen

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist, started a webcasting company, and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

I recently was lucky enough to find a Nintendo Virtual Boy on Craigslist for $20– it’s a fascinating failure of a system, with LEDs and spinning mirrors, and the resulting images do look surprisingly 3D, like puppet show made of red cellophane.

But, more importantly, one of the games, Teleroboxer, has what I think is the most brutal game over screen I’ve ever seen (and sorry for the image quality– I’m shooting this through one of the eyepieces):

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Jesus, Rick. Worthless and weak? Come on, man. That hurts. That really hurts.

Juice company rips off Get Your War On

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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The makers of Jamba Juice have ripped off David Rees’ Get Your War On in a new ad campaign. To his credit, Ree’s has taken the assault like a man, organizing a National Day of Prayer to “pray our way across America, destroying Jumby Juice franchises left and right…”

Still, he has some words for the ad’s creators:

Whoever made this ad is probably a 22 year-old “creative” at some ad agency in Tech Valley, CA. Way to think outside the box, sonny. Have fun snorting cocaine at the nightclub you go to with your friends who work at Twitter or wherever. And no, Adult Swim will NOT buy your stupid cartoon you’re developing with your housemates about four guys who work at an ad agency but are secretly lobsters.

(Thanks, Sean!)

How NOT to raise an ape in your family

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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I collect books by people who have raised apes in their homes. One of the first, The Ape and the Child, was written in by behaviorist W.N. Kellogg, a man with a peculiar brainstorm: that he should raise a chimpanzee as a twin to his own infant son, treating them in exactly the same fashion, and comparing their development. Kellogg was fascinated by case studies of feral children: if kids raised by wolves become wolf-like, he hypothesized, could a human such as he mold an ape to act human?

Kellogg made four films of his studies and 1 of those films is now online.

Results? Mixed. The chimp, Gua, took more quickly to her civilizing education than her brother. She appeared smarter, stronger, and more emotionally developed on a number of counts: she was better at using glasses and silverware, walked earlier (chimps generally don’t walk upright), responded to verbal commands sooner, and was more cooperative and obedient.

What we don’t learn from Kellogg’s study, however, is that chimps’ “domestication” peaks around age 2, when humans’ surpass them. And the reason we don’t learn that is because Kellogg discontinued his study when his charges were around 2. Kellogg explained that he had accomplished his goal: he proved that environment matters. After all, you don’t see a lot of chimps eating cereal from a spoon in the wild.

But Kellogg’s claim was a bit disingenuous. The fact that environment shapes animal development was already well understood. The real reason he abruptly halted the study, then, was likely because of results that Kellogg never anticipated: his son Donald started imitating the chimp.

For example, though Donald had learned to walk before Gua joined the Kellogg family, he regressed and started crawling more, in tune with Gua. He’d bite people, fetch small objects with his mouth, and chewed up a shoe. More importantly, his language skills were delayed. At 19 months, Donald’s vocabulary consisted of three words. Instead of talking he would grunt and make chimp sounds.

Gua got sent back to the Yerkes center in Florida, where she promptly died. And Donald? Not much is known of his life, but, at 43, he committed suicide.

This study got a lot of press when it was published, but Kellogg ended up deeply regreting it — not because of what it did to his son, but because it prevented him from being taken seriously as a scientist.

Variations on this study were conducted repeatedly through the 20th century. There were a number of cases of people attempting to raise chimps in their homes as humans, and perhaps I’ll write more about those later. But, to the best of my knowledge, no one ever used a human infant as a guinea pig again.

Sources:

The Ape and the Child by W. N. Kellogg and L.A. Kellogg, New York: Whittlesay House, McGraw-Hill, 1933

The Ape and the Child (W.N. Kellogg page at FSU)

Comparative Tests on Human and a Chimpanzee… (1932) (Archive.org)

I previously gave a talk on this as part of my Brooklyn-based lecture series, Adult Ed.

Why didn’t Alexi Leonov take that one small step?

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist, started a webcasting company, and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

I’m still all hopped-up on moonwalk sauce today, so I thought it would be worthwhile to take a moment to consider the other end of the Space Race– the Soviets. After all, without a competitor, it’s not really a race, now is it?

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At the beginning of the 1960s, a betting man would have likely put his cash down on a hammer and sickle getting planted into the lunar regolith before Old Glory. It makes sense– the Soviets had a hell of a space program, which, by certain metrics (endurance, space station systems) can still be considered the best in the world.

But they didn’t get to the moon. They came close– closer than most people realize– and for years they denied they were even trying. They were close to scooping the US’s Apollo 8 trans-lunar flight (they did get some turtles to fly around the moon), they had a massive moon rocket, a one-man lander, and an impressive mother ship— but they didn’t have the money, time, or, really, leadership to get it all together.

In the end, they had too many technical problems with the N-1 moon rocket (it had many engines that had to all work together– a technical nightmare), and just not enough money or time to fix it. They did eventually get lunar samples returned robotically, and sent some delightfully jalopy-like lunar rovers to the moon. These rovers were long suspected to have had human (midget or child) drivers, so, who knows, maybe they did get some comrades up there after all.

Anyway, as we happily remember Buzz and Neil, spare a thought for our lovable loser pals. Things would have been lots more exciting if they made it up there, too, and I bet we’d still be there now if there was a Moskvaluna next door to Moon-Newark.

License Agreement for a Public Park

Now, this is nice and insane. So, apparently HSBC has “bought” the normally-public Madison Square Park in New York for today, and to make sure everyone knows it, by just setting foot in the park today is the equivalent of clicking the “I agree” box on something you’d probably never agree to. This Awl article has details.

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And what exactly is HSBC advertising? HSBC seems like one of those companies you end up doing business with because you have to– does anyone seek out HSBC products? How would one even try to be excited about them?

I did a parody of these agreements for Carrie’s Illegal Art exhibit; it looks like reality’s hell bent on catching up. I’m sure in a couple of years, after Mountain Dew owns the now fluorescent-yellow moon, we’ll be used to these kinds of things popping up everywhere.

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture, that he hopes you’ll want to buy. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist, started a webcasting company, and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

How the Moon Landings Were Faked on the Surface of the Moon

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture, that he hopes you’ll want to buy. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist, started a webcasting company, and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

A few years back I did some intense research into this. Lay down a dropcloth, because your mind is about to be blown.

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Tell Congress to Support Low Power FM Bill

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

LPFM-lowpower-radio.jpg For you commies who support low-power community radio, today is Call Your Congressperson and Plea for Low Power FM Day. Prometheus Radio is behind an effort to pass the Local Community Radio Act (HR 1247/S592), which could open the airwaves to tens of thousands of new community radio stations across the country. It only takes a minute or two:

  1. Look up your Congressional Representative at Congress.org
  2. Find out if they have already supported the Local Community Radio Act. 
See a list of cosponsors at govtrack.us and search for Bill number HR 1147.

  3. Call the Congressional Switchboard at: (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative’s office.

* If your representative is not a cosponsor tell him/her to support expanding Low Power FM all across the country and cosponsor the bill.
* If your representative is a cosponsor ask him/her to reach out to Congressional Leadership to let them know that this is an important priority around the county.

Info: Prometheus Radio
(Photo: Yaldabaoth)