"Over the July 4 weekend last summer, at cookouts up and down the East Coast and into the Midwest, guests arrived with packages of Al Fresco chicken sausage for their hosts to throw on the grill," writes Rob Walker. Unbeknownst to most of the other guests, the sausage-bearers were agents of a marketing firm called BzzAgent, which gives people rewards for plugging its clients' products.
The World Health Organization announced that 40 nations have ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The convention "changes the way Big Tobacco does business," said Kathryn Mulvey of Corporate Accountability International. The convention governs tobacco marketing, taxation and health warnings in signatory countries, starting in March 2005.
"A few individuals in government expressing concern can't equal the marketing power of large companies," said a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency official, regarding stimulants prescribed for children with "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder" (ADHD). Leading ADHD researcher Dr. William Pelham says McNeil Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures the stimulant Concerta, uses "misleading" marketing campaigns and has pressured Pelham to "water down" his writing.
The Geppetto Group's Chris McKee concerns himself with "the appeal of fictional characters like Harry Potter and, more broadly, how kid culture had saturated consumer society to the extent that it was becoming the central creative marketing force," reports the New York Times. "Unlike most marketing agencies, Geppetto limits itself exclusively to 'kid products' and 'kid campaigns' for the likes of Lego, Little Tykes, Kids Foot Locker and Coca-Cola. ...
"As long as we become uncritical consumers who trust our irrational, visceral gut feeling over intellect, [marketers and advertisers] will be able to reach us through all the din of messages, and get us to do what they want us to do," said Barak Goodman, one of the producers of the new public television documentary "The Persuaders." The documentary "examines the advertising arms race that's left the American landscape carpet-bombed with marketing and promotional clutter," including
Two recent studies of international opinion have found a drop in williness to buy products from American companies. "People felt exploited by global expansion, inundated by our entertainment products, and put off by our arrogance," reports Kristina Sacci. Within the past two years, she notes, "the number of consumers who use U.S. products from companies such as Microsoft and McDonald's had dropped to 27% from 30%. Non-U.S.
Last year, former advertising executive Charlotte Beersresigned from her job as head of a U.S. State Department effort to improve America's image in the Middle East. This week she spoke to another group with image problems - direct marketers, the people who send you junk mail and other unwanted commercial solicitations. Beers gave them the same advice she gave "brand America": they should "tell positive stories about what direct marketing is about."
To market a new video game, Sega built a PR campaign around a hoax. It created a weblog whose host called himself "Beta-7" and claimed that the game caused him to suffer blackouts and uncontrollable fits of violence. In reality, "Beta-7" was a fictional character, invented by the Portland, Oregon advertising agency Wieden and Kennedy.
"Stephan Savoia glowed about the picture he would take at the end of the Republican National Convention," writes Karen Brown Dunlap. "He planned it hours before the President's speech by suspending a camera high in Madison Square Garden for the right angle. He imagined the beauty of the moment, but he also growled in anger. 'The picture will be exactly what the White House wanted,' he said. It would show President George W.