Tag Archives: advertising

Hey London, This Bud’s for You

By Jason Menard

What’s in a name? When it comes to fans and their sports arenas, quite a bit. But unless fans are willing to dig a little deeper into their own pockets, perhaps they should take solace that the marquee outside has little impact on the product inside.

And that’s something that the citizens of London, Ontario need to keep in mind, with our curious case of preferring one brand over another. Continue reading

Out of the Mouths of Babes a Message is Lost

By Jason Menard

Can you believe they made those kids say fuck?

And there lies the line of demarcation between an extremely powerful message and going just a little too far.

If you haven’t seen it yet, please check out the YouTube video for FCKH8.com, an organization dedicated to fighting for equal access to marriage to both gay and straight couples. The ad encourages you to purchase a shirt, which would show your support for the cause. Through the purchase price, you are donating to the cause. Continue reading

Truth in Advertising a Winning Play

By Jason Menard

At last — truth in advertising! And from a sports franchise no less.

When it comes to businesses, sports are one of the least likely enterprises to engage in honesty — after all, a large part of a club’s revenue is generated, in one way or another, by selling their fan base on hope.

Hope sells jerseys. Hope sells tickets — and once those butts are in the seat, hope delivers them to the concession booth where hope justifies paying outrageous sums of money for watered-down beer, cheaply made clothing bearing the team’s logo, and seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time knick-knacks (which can easily be confused, if you’re in Madison Square Garden, with Knick Knacks.) Continue reading

Hyperbolic Infomercial Teaches a Lesson

By Jason Menard

It’s amazing how one person’s hyperbolic statement can be another person’s accurate reflection of an event. You can call it synergy, you can call it fate – I call it the power of the late-night infomercial. And maybe our eyes, once opened by shock and disbelief, can remain open to potential happiness that we once took for granted.

It happened just the other night, as my wife and I were mindlessly flipping through channels. Suddenly, a hyperactive piercing voice broke through the ever-changing sea of interrupted conversations, broken music beats, and flashing images. It compelled us to stop, hypnotically drawn to the surrealism of the event.

Now, I own a perfectly good vacuum. I also own a couple of perfectly broken vacuums that I keep around in case I have a technological epiphany and am suddenly able to do more with electronic equipment than simply electrocute myself. The point of all this is to say that I really don’t need a new vacuum.

That being said, the woman – in her increasingly manic state – was doing her best to convince me. Or, should I say, she was trying to stoke the dormant flames of my small appliance passion. The man next to her was doing the convincing – lifting up bowling balls; picking up freezers, and sucking up bowls of dust.

And it was in the midst of me thinking about how infrequently I need to vacuum up sporting goods, large appliances, and evidence of neglect so bad that if they existed in my home I would take my kids to Children’s Aid myself, it happened. That moment of clarity that enveloped me and made me one with the universe.

In the midst of an apoplectic, semi-orgasmic state of rapture regarding the ability of this vacuum to suck up water, the woman screamed, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life!”

And I agreed with the statement, if not the target of the sentiment.

I too had never seen anything like that in my life. Never have I seen anyone so maniacally enchanted with an electronic appliance – well, at least one that wasn’t intended to induce apoplectic, fully-orgasmic states of rapture. And while my initial reaction was to mock, upon further reflection perhaps I should admire this woman for ability to appreciate all of life’s gifts.

Needless to say, I did not purchase said miracle bowling-ball sucking vacuum, as I came away less than impressed with the presentation. But maybe that’s my fault – maybe I’m too jaded by life that I take for granted the smaller things in life.

I, apparently, save my reverence for what I consider the bigger things in my life. I experience joy when I see my children greet me when I come home from work; I derive pleasure from the embrace of my wife; I am awestruck by particularly beautiful expressions of artistic talent whether it be dance, song, and prose. Alas, the joyful potential of appreciating functionality of home cleaning appliances has eluded me to this date.

The hum of a washing machine will not induce the release of dopamine; the beep of a microwave oven doesn’t cause tears to well in my eyes; and the sound of my freezer self-regulating its temperature completely fails to bring me any joy whatsoever. Yet vacuum woman – the one who had never seen anything like this – would probably derive hours of pleasure from any one of those stimuli. And perish the thought – if she experienced all three, she’d probably be incapacitated by the sheer waves of joy convulsing through her body.

I mock, but just think how wonderful life would be if we all could experience such exuberance over the smallest things. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here beyond why my vacuum fails to perform at its fullest potential.

Maybe we need to learn how to take more pleasure in some of the smaller things in life. We spend so much time thinking about our stresses, what’s wrong in life, and what bothers us that we let literally thousands of positive experiences slide right on by us. We spend so much time saving up for grand expressions of joy that we overlook the cumulative potential of experiencing several smaller moments of enjoyment.

Sure, reverential awe for a vacuum cleaner may be taking this to the extreme – but there’s really nothing wrong with enjoying all of life’s gifts. Whether it’s the smile on a child’s face, the feel of driving a car home from work, or the sound of a bird singing maybe we should all have a few more of those “I’ve never seen anything like this” moments in our lives.

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

The Human Tragedy of Spam

By Jason Menard

Hello, my name is Jay, and I have a small penis.

At least, that’s what my e-mail tells me. On top of that, it’s a small penis that underperforms, judging by the deluge of solicitations for Viagra and phallus-enhancement utilities that I receive. But, just to let you know, this stunning revelation has yet to stop the deluge of willing women just itching to either meet me or perform on line for my gratification.

And that tiny member should soon be dwarfed by a rapidly burgeoning bank account. It seems that I’m a prime candidate for any number of politically challenged foreign dignitaries and multi-billionaires who have been soliciting my help to transfer enormous amounts of funds into my account.

Yes, if money and power are the ultimate aphrodisiacs, I should be living on easy street any time now. With just a few clicks of my mouse I could be a wealthy tripod, with a harem of imported Eastern European brides by my side and just-of-age teens shaking their moneymakers on my screen.

Or, more likely, I’ll just delete all these messages, unread, unreplied to, and quickly forgotten. After all, what would my wife think?

Despite doing my best to prevent Spammers from harvesting my e-mail address, I still find my e-mail account’s Spam folder regularly filled with this type of unwanted solicitations. So what can we, as end-users, do? Unfortunately, nothing at all. We can choose to wring our hands in frustration and rue the day that we created this e-mail account, or we can laugh it off as a small price to pay for free, instant communication.

Spam won’t stop until Spam stops being effective. Obviously, out of the millions of solicitations that go out, a certain percentage of people are clicking through and – more importantly – buying the wares that are presented to them. What seems ludicrous to the majority of us obviously strikes a chord with a certain segment of society. Whether they’re looking for love in all the wrong places, or dreaming of a get-rich scheme, there are people for whom Spam is a welcome solicitation.

Look at the topics that junk mail focus on: sex and money, the two topics that can create an intense feeling of insecurity for some people. Whether it’s penis size or pocketbook size, there is a significant subsection of our society who feel emasculated in this world due to a perceived or real lack of both. So, when an anonymous e-mail professing quick fixes for either situation, those who are most vulnerable to this type of persuasion are most willing to take a chance.

Many of us laugh at the Spam e-mails we receive, revelling in their grammatically challenged subject lines or schoolyard bluntness. Yet, we’re not the target audience. Those who are sitting at their computer, feeling deficient either in the pants or the pocketbook, or those whose greatest source of intimacy comes from the warmth of the screen upon which these images are flickering are the target.

The Internet has given rise to a new generation of technological Snake Oil salespeople, looking to make a cheap buck in the same manner that their Old West forebears did – by playing on the naiveté and dreams of a bunch of Rubes. But instead of hocking their tonic at local fairs and travelling circuses, they do it from the comfort of their living room – with the world as their audience.

The great irony of the Internet is that while it’s made the world far more inclusive and accessible to everyone, it has also heightened our sense of isolation. For all the increase in contact through Instant Messaging and e-mail, we’ve reduced our actual face-to-face communication. We are interacting more with the world, all the while feeling less attached to it.

That sense of anonymity breeds loneliness and insecurity for some. Talking on-line is so much easier than meeting in person, and, as such, it increases the anxiety of actual real-time social interaction. For some, their inadequacies become amplified by the simple lack of human contact.

Why should we be surprised when people react to the promise of a better life with minimal effort? That’s what Spammers rely on. Those who are most vulnerable will be the ones most likely to act.

So, while many of us will either laugh about or rail against the intrusion of these ridiculous e-mails, perhaps we should take a moment and remember that we’re getting these messages because, targeted to a vulnerable sub-section of our society, they work. And that’s the saddest statement of all.

Remember, while we may be navigating our way along the Information Superhighway, there are a number of people out there just looking for the on-ramp to join in – any way they can get it.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

A Hair-Raising Way to Grow a Legacy

By Jason Menard

José Théodore, congratulations, your potential for public shame has just turned into the potential for a few extra bucks in your wallet! And considering Théodore’s level of pay lately, he may need to start milking that cash cow sooner rather than later.

The Habs netminder’s agent should be on the phone contacting Merck today, if not sooner, to start angling for an ad campaign. With Josés flowing locks, matinee-idol good looks, and general personability, he’d be a natural in the line of Habs Who Schill.

Yes, the Canadiens franchise has spawned a few players who have gone on and benefited from their on-ice exploits to become lucrative off-ice pitchmen. It is a line that started with arguably the greatest Hab of all time – Maurice Richard.

Who of us of a certain age could ever forget the winsome smile of The Rocket as he glided up to the boards, looked into the camera, and said “I leave a touch of grey on the side – my wife likes it.” As a Grecian Formula pitchman, Richard’s visibility grew amongst an entirely new generation of hockey fans.

And it’s that return to relevancy that can take icons to immortal status. Legends are only as legendary as the level of reverence that the current generation holds for the individual. As time passes, subsequent generations are quick to dismiss the exploits of our forebears as evidence of a poorer quality of play, less-athletic competitors, and a lack of technological savvy.

A player like Maurice Richard continues to be relevant in large part due to his on-ice exploits and the oral history passed on from one hockey fan to another. But the impact of the visual representation through these advertisements can’t be diminished. Still not convinced? Two words: Bob Uecker.

Uecker is known more for his Miller Lite acting prowess than anything he did behind the plate. Which brings us to our next Hab to grace the small screen – Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion.

A Hall-of-Famer in his own right, Geoffrion often gets lost in the discussion of great players from his era. Arguably the originator of the slap shot, his accomplishment is frequently overshadowed by Bobby Hull’s proficiency and role in popularizing the shot. But what can’t be forgotten is Geoffrion’s Miller Lite commercials appearing in the late 70s and early ‘80s. His brand of humour and accessibility resonated with an audience that was far too young to consider drinking.

Is it fair to say that Geoffrion’s star shines brighter than even his own father-in-law, Howie Morenz? While Morenz remains an icon to hockey historians and enthusiasts, the average fan is more familiar with Boom Boom than the Stratford Streak (or Mitchell Meteor – we don’t want to engage in any municipal favouritism). Why? The power of advertising, that’s all. For a man who was once known as the Babe Ruth of Hockey to be overshadowed by his formerly beer-shilling son-in-law, accessibility has to be a significant component of the equation. The demographic that grew up watching Bernie and Maurice on the small screen selling product instead of firing pucks at wary goaltenders is now the one that’s defining the direction of hockey. Those between the ages of 25 and 40 are the demographic that the networks cater to – and, in large part, we are the demographic that’s the caretaker of our legends’ statuses.

Obviously, this is not just a hockey issue. Look at the NFL’s John Madden. His fame arguably has exceeded that of the legendary Vince Lombardi, not because of his coaching exploits, but due to the fact that millions of money-earning (and spending) fans grew up and continue to play the video games that bear his name. Media makes superstars – and the savvy athlete knows when to strike while the iron is hot.

Which brings us to Théodore. With a Vézina Trophy behind him, he’s already proven his prowess between the pipes. Although struggling through a tough season now, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t return to his former glory. And, when he does, his legacy can be cemented with a few, tongue-in-cheek, self-referential advertisements, the memories of which will live on long past the time that he hangs up his skates.

Now’s the time Théo – after all, you know what they say, hair today, gone tomorrow.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved