White meat my foot: Tomorrow, the pork industry will announce a new slogan to replace “the other white meat.” According to the pork mongers, the soon-to-be-erstwhile phrase “helped boost sales for about a decade.” That is the sort of non-specific claim that ad agencies love to make. Its vagueness makes it difficult to prove wrong. For thinking people, however, that also makes it difficult to take seriously. So I remain curious: how many people ever really bought the concept of pork as a white meat?
Poor Oscar: Pundits with nothing better to do (admittedly redundant) are whining because the commercials that aired during the Oscars were, for the most part, reruns. News flash: there is no law saying you cannot run a commercial more than once. There is, however, a common-sense law that says that if a spot is still working, only a moron would retire it simply because it has been seen before.
Taco Wars, Episode II: According to Taco Bell’s research, people who saw their aggressive “Thank you for suing us” ads “reacted favorably.” Speaking of vagueness, that’s another example of it. Meanwhile, Taco Bell plans to offer its Cruchwrap Supreme, normally $2.39, for 88¢. I admit it to loving that product. Regardless of what’s in the meat, every bite makes my arteries clog with joy.
A soft man is good to find: Research from NBCU’s Brand Power Index says that women like ads in which men show their “softer” or “feminine side.” Fine, except — vagueness is becoming a theme today — those terms are wide enough to drive a pink truck through. They are hardly falsifiable, which means they are hardly scientific, which means they are not particularly useful.
The skinny on “Skins”: As of this writing, advertisers who have bailed from MTV’s “Skins” include Taco Bell, L'Oreal, General Motors, Schick, Subway and H&R Block. It is no coincidence that the Parents Television Council has been pressuring parents to boycott the show’s sponsors. I take no stand on “Skins,” but I do take a stand on those who suggest that boycotts are un-American. “What about,” they cry, “freedom of speech?” Come on. The First Amendment forbids government from imposing prior restraints. Markets, by contrast, are free to wield wallet-power as they see fit, even to curb speech. (This is not to say that the United States government always resists the urge to impose prior restraints. When Thomas Jefferson published attacks on then-President John Adams, Adams signed legislation making it a crime to publicly criticize government officials. However, the bill allowed for one exception: it was OK to diss the vice president — who just happened to be Thomas Jefferson.)
A farewell to the tooth fairy: Dwayne Johnson is shedding his tooth fairy wings to resume his “The Rock” persona for World Wrestling Entertainment. To capitalize on the expected ratings surge, Kmart has signed up as WWE’s biggest sponsor to date. How much is Kmart spending? No one will say. All we know is that it’s somewhere between “several million dollars” and “less than ten million dollars.” For more information, try looking under WWE’s pillow.