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Sunday, April 15,2012


By David Bruce

• In April 2012, the Coca-Cola Company put a special Coke machine in Singapore. It looked like a regular Coke machine, but it had the words "Hug Me" written on it in large letters. Anyone who hugged the machine got a reward: a free cold Coca-Cola. Leonardo O'Grady, Coca-Cola spokesperson, said, "Happiness is contagious… at one point we had four to five people hugging the machine at the same time as well as each other! In fact, there was a long line of people looking to give hugs — it was really heartwarming." Of course, this is good advertising. Louise Kuegler, Ogilvy & Mather spokesperson, said, "All you need to do is give the Coca-Cola Hug Machine a hug and it will love you back, by giving you a free Coke. Something simple and engaging, that lifts people's spirits and brings a smile to their face."

• Roger Corman has made many, many low-budget movies, and he is a master at making a profit from them. One of his apprentices was Allan Arkush, who directed "Rock 'n' Roll High School" for him. Mr. Arkush put together many trailers for Mr. Corman's movies. He knew that Mr. Corman's audiences liked action, and so he inserted an "exploding helicopter shot" into many of the trailers even when the movie did not have an exploding helicopter. Another of his apprentices was James Cameron, director of "The Terminator," "Titanic" and "Avatar." Mr. Corman saw "The Terminator" and asked Mr. Cameron how he was able to have the movie look so good. Mr. Cameron replied, "It was easy. We did the same thing we did when we worked for you. We just got to do it with more money."

• When Paul Dver was a high-school student, he met comedian Soupy Sales, became friends with him, and even occasionally talked to him on the telephone. Paul would tell his fellow high-school students that he was friends with Soupy Sales, and of course they didn't believe him. One day, Paul asked Soupy for a favor. Paul and a friend were appearing in a play, and Paul asked Soupy to record an advertisement for them because if it were recorded in Soupy's voice the local radio station would play it. Soupy did more than just record the advertisement as written. He threw in some ad-libs and made it funny. Of course, Paul's high-school friends were amazed to hear Soupy's voice on the radio advertising Paul and his friend's play.

• Tiger Woods signed with Nike when he became a professional golfer. His very first Nike TV commercial featured his heritage. He is a Casiblanasian: part Caucasian, part black, part Native American and part Asian. Unfortunately, professional golf had long been a white man's sport, although blacks could serve as caddies. In the commercial, Mr. Woods said, "There are still at least 27 private clubs in this country that would not have me as a member. Isn't it time for a change?" In 1975, Lee Elders became the first African-American to play in the Masters tournament. When Mr. Woods won the Masters in April of 1997, he saw Mr. Elders. Mr. Woods hugged him and said, "Thanks for making this possible."

• Lots of people Google their own names. Alec Brownstein did that, too, and he noticed that when he Googled his name that no ads came up. He had the goal of working for one of the top advertising agencies in New York City, and so he spent $6 on ads that would be triggered when five of the creative directors of the top advertising agencies in New York City searched for their own names. One ad said, "Hey, Ian Reichenthal, Gooogling [sic] yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too." Mr. Brownstein targeted five creative directors and ended up with four interviews and two job offers, including one from Mr. Reichenthal. Very impressive, especially considering that he misspelled "Googling."

• In 1919 appeared an advertisement that many people of the time felt was disgusting. The ad showed a woman dancing with a man. Of course, one of her arms is held in the air, and the reader finds out that the ad is for a deodorant for women. By modern standards, the ad is quite tame — we moderns don't find the idea that women perspire shocking. However, in 1919, when the ad appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, 200 people cancelled their subscriptions in protest. In addition, some young women told the man who wrote the copy — James Young — that they would never talk to him again because the ad insulted women. Still, the ad was very effective in increasing the sales of deodorant.

• On Jan. 2, 2012, the father of Noah, a young boy with Down syndrome, blogged approvingly about an ad that Target put out. The ad showed a group of children wearing Target clothing. One of the children had Down syndrome, but that was not pointed out in the ad. Noah's Dad wrote, "This wasn't a 'Special Clothing For Special People' catalog. There wasn't a call out somewhere on the page proudly proclaiming that 'Target's proud to feature a model with Down syndrome in this week's ad!' And they didn't even ask him to model a shirt with the phrase, 'We Aren't All Angels' printed on the front. In other words, they didn't make a big deal out of it. I like that."

• Lots of people like to see their words in print. For example, in Liverpool, England, at one time was a paper called "Mersey Beat." People were allowed to put personal ads in the paper, and so some members of the Beatles — Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison — used to write little ads such as "Barry! Meet me behind the station" at such-and-such a time just in hopes to see them in print. Mr. McCartney remembers, "And then it would come out and we'd be like: 'Yeah! It got in!' Just seeing it there was a little kick."

• Comedian Bill Hicks could be pretty funny. When he heard that the Supreme Court had defined pornography as being something that has "no artistic merit and causes sexual thought," he remarked, "Hmm, sounds like every commercial on television."


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