IKEA Swedish for Common Sense – Sometimes

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Recently we made our annual trek to IKEA to purchase our Christmas tree – contrary to yesterday’s post.  I understand IKEA isn’t everybody’s cup of Glögg, but I enjoy the occasional foray into the madness that is a Saturday in the big yellow and blue building. I don’t want to relocate to Sweden, but IKEA is a little taste of their traditions that I like.

ikea-showroom-floorI know personally a number of people who will not go to IKEA mainly because of the method they use of herding you through every inch of the store to get to the exit, just in case you might pick up a dozen more items on the way. Following those light arrows on the floor can be very annoying if you have made all the purchases you want. There are, of course, emergency exits throughout the store, and if you know the short-cuts you can get out much faster.

Our visit often involves a bit of shopping, the traditional hotdogs and lingonberry drink, a package of cinnamon buns then the tree selection. But there have been several years when we have not gone into the commercial maelstrom, but merely enjoyed our feast, paid for the tree and gone outside to claim it. This was just such a year; upon entering the store my wife made her way to the food line while I approached an employee to pay for the tree. For the first time in all the years I have been doing this I was told I would have to wait in line to buy a tree.

I looked back into the area where the line ups formed and could not see the end for people with carts and buggies chock-a-block with items. You want me to go all the way back there and wait just to buy a tree, I asked her perplexed. She confirmed that she did indeed mean for me to do that. I explained that I had never waited in line, but would just ask an employee to process the purchase and give me the coupon and receipt. She told me those workers were wrong!

…a store-wide conspiracy. One that lacked even an iota of common sense – which is rich for a store with the motto “IKEA-Swedish for Common Sense”

I made my way along the row of check-outs and tried my luck with another employee only to get the same response. I was now convinced it was not one person’s power trip, but a store-wide conspiracy. One that lacked even an iota of common sense – which is rich for a store with the motto “IKEA-Swedish for Common Sense”

Defeated I found a five items or less check-out that only had half a billion people in line and waited like a good customer to buy my tree. Just my luck, it was the same woman I had encountered originally from whom I bought the tree. It would have been so much simpler twenty minutes ago thought I.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Updated: Dear IAMS Cat Food Company

Dear IAMS,

Please excuse any typos in this letter, I am rushing to get it done while my human has stepped out to the kitchen to make himself coffee. I have commandeered both his computer and blog to get in touch with you. My name is Ferguson, I am a ten-year old tabby cat. I like to say that I am a silver tabby, but truth be told I’m really more gray than silver, with a few tufts of ginger on my ample belly.

Since coming to live with my humans as a kitten I have enjoyed a number of your products, to the exclusion of all other foods, both feline and non. With the exception of a cat treat from time to time and, on special occasions, a piece of potato chip – for which I have developed an odd feline penchant –  for the last few years I have enjoyed dining on your Iams ProActive Health Indoor Weight & Hairball Care Dry Cat Food.

Old package on the left and new ‘made with chicken’ on the right

Recently my human brought home a new bag of said food and I was shocked to see that it now has a photo and text stating it is made with chicken. I am a cat with very discriminating tastes, as such I am not a fan of poultry, finding it quite fowl in fact. Has the product always been made with chicken? Have I been duped all this time? Is this the first step on the slippery slope to veganism? Will I ever get my old food back?

Here he comes … thanks for reading this.

Best,

Ferguson

By the way I am including a photo of myself should you want to feature it on your packaging.

****

I got a response from the folks at IAMS. I have been eating chicken all along and did not know it. Huh. Just the new package. Guess I’ll go have lunch.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Chevy Should Stick With Actors Instead of ‘Real People’

If you read this blog with any regularity you know I like to analyse advertisements. Today’s instalment focuses on the Chevrolet Silverado TV that features several men being introduced to the latest model.

As the ad begins we learn from reading the small print at the bottom of the screen that these are ‘real people, not actors’. I have, over the years, had the pleasure of meeting and knowing several actors. I can assure you that all of them were real people. Not a placebo person among them. I could understand if those actors who prefer film as their medium were called ‘reel’ actors. Perhaps the small print should merely state ‘not actors’. But then that is painfully obvious from the terrible reactions of the real people when more truck models are revealed.

His tone and actions would be more suitable to someone hugging and adopting a recently war-orphaned child, not selecting a pickup truck.

But they saved the worst for last. The ad’s host asks the real people which of the five models they like best. At this point one of the lunkheads runs up to a truck , kisses it and, while attempting to embrace it in a hug, says ‘come home with me’.

His tone and actions would be more suitable to someone hugging and adopting a recently war-orphaned child, not selecting a pickup truck.

Me thinks Chevrolet should stop producing substandard ads, stick with actors and let real people live real lives.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Humira Ad, Warranties and CYA

There is an ad for the arthritis medication Humira that runs on CNN very often. In the spot a group of volunteers – indicated by their yellow T-shirts – have gathered in a schoolyard to assemble some playground equipment. It is a warm, fuzzy kind of ad, the main character seems to be a pleasant woman on whom the camera focuses while she goes about pitching-in. There is no dialogue, just a narrator extolling the virtues of Humira for part of the ad, then listing the possible side effects for the rest.

But then the other foot fell. The playground equipment company called to verify delivery and set up a convenient time to have their technicians come by and assemble things.

Such an ad must help product sales or, I assume it would have been canned long ago. Therefore as a commercial it works, but on another level it sends the wrong message.

Several years ago a local grade school purchased some playground gear for the schoolyard. Just like the ad, a group of volunteers, I assume parents for the most part, met one Saturday and proceeded to assemble the equipment. They got into the local newspaper and a good time was had by all.  

But then the other foot fell. The playground equipment company called to verify delivery and set up a convenient time to have their technicians come by and assemble things. Upon being told there was no need to do that as a group of parents had taken on that task, the company informed the school that unless the installation was carried out by their staff, they would not be liable for any accidents or injuries. Essentially the warranty was nullified.

The school and parents could only grit their teeth and get on with what was required. So down came the playground equipment, along came the company technicians, and up went the equipment with all warranties and liabilities in place!

I would have thought that this procedure would have been made very clear to the school beforehand. We live in a CYA (Cover Your Ass) society which leads to some evidently redundant signage. For instance:

This is a tree and branch chipper made by the Wood/Chuck Chipper Corporation of Shelby, North Carolina. It is loud and powerful, reducing even significant size branches and limbs to sawdust in seconds.


And here is a bold yellow sign that you might think was unnecessary. But there it is because I suspect if someone ever did place a body part in the chipper feed chute, only to lose said body part, some lawyer would claim that his or her client had no idea you were not supposed to do that. There should be a sign at least. So now there is.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Alert Ready TV Ads and the Boy Who Cried Wolf

As we approach our 150th birthday on July 1st, Canadians can now feel a sense of security with the new Alert Ready warning system.

According to the website:

Alert Ready is designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television and radio. The Alert Ready system is developed in partnership with federal, provincial and territorial emergency management officials, Environment and Climate Change Canada, The Weather Network and the broadcast industry to ensure you receive alerts immediately and know when to take action to keep yourself and your family safe.

On several occasions I have heard the alarm from the next room and rushed to see what form the impending doom would take. Of course it was just the ad – again.

All fine and dandy, just one problem. As this coordinated alarm system is new, the powers that be have been promoting it heavily on TV. In my house the television is on all day in the background, usually with a news channel. The ads that explain Alert Ready to the public feature the actual alarm sound and flashing red screen. On several occasions I have heard the alarm from the next room and rushed like a magnet to steel to see what form the impending doom would take. Of course it was just the ad – again.

So now when I hear the alarm I assume it is the ad and I just ignore it. What could go wrong? If there is a real disaster, I will have to rely on my current system; it has worked so far.

Remember Aesop? Remember the boy who cried wolf? May I suggest the good folks behind Alert Ready remove the alert sound from the adverts. Perhaps direct viewers to the website where the sound can be played at will.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Rolling Rock©: The Official Beer of Easter Morning

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Happy Easter!

 

 

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Make America Clean Again

The folks at Procter & Gamble have announced a new look for Mr. Clean. The new iconic brand character will be African American. After 59 years the time has come to give the original a break. I have to admit that the way things have been going in the United States recently, when I first heard about a new look for Mr. Clean I did fear he may look like this:

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Talk about a repurpose! Will yellow hair become trendy? Will we say in four years “Remember how yellow his hair was when elected and now it is so very grey.”

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Is Norfolk Southern Ad Racist?

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If you read this blog with any regularity you will be familiar with my advertising hobbyhorse that I like to take out of the stable and ride from time to time. My gripe today is with the Norfolk Southern railway ad that plays on many main and cable networks. I am as pasty white complected as they come, but this ad strikes me as racist. Let me explain.

So the white guy did all the important things while the black guy just maintains things as they are until, one assumes, the white guy gets back to work the next day.

In the ad, titled Just another day, two NS employees are chatting as they change shifts at the end of the day. A white guy who is going off duty, and a black guy who is about to start his shift have a friendly talk. The black guy asks the white guy how his day was. The white guy then tells him the important things he contributed to by seeing that the train ran smoothly including delivering cars and electronics, stocking grocery shelves, and providing food for the nation. The white guy then asks his black colleague what he will be doing during his shift and he replies “Nothing much, just keeping the lights on”.

So the white guy did all the important things while the black guy just maintains things as they are until, one assumes, the white guy gets back to work the next day. Couldn’t the black guy have done the important stuff? He gets to have a nice easy shift, maybe he’ll have a nap or two, then the white guy can do all those meaningful things again. Maybe I’m just too sensitive.  

 

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Is Volkswagen Ad With Willie Nelson Driving a Good Idea?

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I seem to be riding an advertising hobby-horse lately, must be watching too much television. My gripe today is with a Volkswagen Passat ad that has been getting a lot of play recently.

Is it such a good idea to show an automobile being driven by an octogenarian who is a strong proponent of the regular recreational use of marijuana? Really.

The soundtrack is Willie Nelson‘s On the Road Again, a very appropriate song for a car ad. While the ad takes a whimsical approach, two aspects featured display anything but whimsy.

The first questionable element is when we see the father-figure driving the car with mom in the passenger seat and a daughter in the back. For some reason dad almost smacks into the car stopped in front of them. Thankfully the VW stops itself before ramming into the other car. During dad’s zone-out, mom has been applying lipstick while looking in the mirror on the back of the sun visor. The sudden, perhaps life-saving stop activated by the VW’s safety package causes mom to jolt and smear lipstick all over her cheek. Messy, but far better than a whack in the chops with a deployed  airbag. This is presented with much mirth as the kid in the back seat finds it hilarious, and even mom and dad have a chuckle. The fact that dad’s asinine driving could have resulted in injury or death is just laughed off.

Messy, but far better than a whack in the chops with a deployed  airbag.

The other potentially dangerous aspect of the ad is a cameo appearance at the end by Willie Nelson himself. To close the spot we see a yellow convertible VW beetle pull out and pass (correctly on the left mind you) the featured Passat. There is a guitar in the back seat and the car is driven by Nelson. Is it such a good idea to show an automobile being driven by an octogenarian who is a strong proponent of the regular recreational use of marijuana? A guy who in fact often sings a song he penned called Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die. Really? I love On the Road Again, but I’d prefer it if he would stick to being a passenger on his bus!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Dumbing Down in Advertising and Politics

I like to observe and analyze advertising. Currently there is an ad running on TV for a website called Thumbtack.com. The site provides a listing of various contractors and, I assume, comments from those who have used their services.

In the ad a couple is sitting on a front porch discussing how they used the site to find a roofer. (Not roofie  the date-rape drug, but a company that will fix your roof.) The husband talks about the work required on the roof and admits he does not have a clue about how to find someone to do it. The wife sums it up by saying where are you going to find a roofer? Huh?

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Thumbtack.com ad featuring roofer seeking couple

Finding a cure for cancer has proven to be difficult. A needle in a haystack is going to pose a challenge. Even the search for an honest man gave Diogenes of Sinope a hard time. But a roofer? Someone who can slop some tar on your roof, or nail down some shingles. This is not the quest for the Holy Grail nor a search for the fountain of youth. Here’s a crazy idea, go to Google, type “roofers”+”your city” and voila! up pop hundreds of potential contractors. This is not rocket science. Even those who are technically challenged can always resort to the good old fashioned Yellow Pages. Here’s a hint, check under R.

Interestingly when I look up the offending ad I find an edited version in which the same happy couple discuss engaging a qualified professional but the roofer segment seems to have been chopped, Hmmmmmm.

But I must admit that a more annoying ad is for Flonase in which they explain to us clearly and concisely, as if we were idiots, that “six is greater than one”. Well, I would never have grasped that advanced mathematical concept without their help.

6 > 1 ... no shit.

6 > 1 … no shit.

The dumbing down of society is widespread, perhaps nowhere more so than in advertising. A good ad that respects the intelligence of the target audience is a rarity these days. Sadly this assumption of stupidity is presently the driving force behind Republican candidate Donald Trump’s campaign. Even scarier is that it is working!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+