Posts Tagged ‘ethics’


Women, Causes, and Ads: International Women’s Day

In Ads and other executions,Campaigns,Marketing Ethics on March 9, 2013 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Talking to women, selling products, services, ideas, and any commodity imaginable have been proven to be profitable. Billion-dollar businesses thrive on women’s buying power. Advertising has come a long way when it comes to women empowerment. Ads have evolved with women as their roles changed, shifted, and escalated to new heights.

Yet International (Working) Women’s Day serves as a reminder that whilst it is worth celebrating gender equality, there are still issues that can be considered backward as culture, religion, or even ignorance can be a factor that hinders rights from being acknowledged and implemented. It’s always a step forward and two steps back in the feminist realm.

TIME Magazine hit the stands yesterday with a bold statement, “Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Successful” with a seemingly ubiquitous presence of Sheryl Sandberg that implied that we’re not going to get rid of her and her supposed cause easily. The statement pertains to one of Sandberg’s points on female’s rise to power that is inversely proportional to her likability. Now whether this is a publicity stunt for mercenary causes or a real cause about “rebooting Feminism”, I personally believe the latter but I shall not dwell on this.


Image courtesy of TIME magazine

Timing is everything and the riveting cover opened up International Women’s Day on a positive note. It also happened to be a grand launch of Sandberg’s new book, Lean In and her new organization that has already gathered women of power. Given all these contact points that strategically hit the right buttons at the right time, the campaign seems to be moving full speed ahead.

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 10.15.02 PM

International Women’s Day is also a perfect platform for make up brands. L’Oreal has been truly effective with its “Because I’m/you’re worth it” tagline. One way to keep track of women’s progress is through their ads. Back in the day, make up ads would be even dubbed with male voice talents because beauty and image were defined from a man’s perspective. The Feminist Revolution has shifted the focus and spoke to women by women.

L’Oreal also has reinforced its Women of Worth campaign to reinforce the brand’s association with women empowerment.

The brand partnered with Marie Claire and kickstarted the #womenwishes campaign on twitter.


At the end of the day, campaigns that capitalize on words are not enough. When a brand or company hinges on a cause and venture in Corporate Social Responsibility, there must a follow through. The agenda must be real. Companies must excavate their hearts that have been piled on by corporate blur. It’s time to go back to humanity.

And ads are just waiting to be conceived to once again stir the status quo and document history.#

(C) Brand and Pitches 2013



Turning Pinocchio for Products’ Sakes

In Marketing Ethics,talks and lessons,Views and Reviews on April 26, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , ,

Photo borrowed from Daniel Plues' site.

Seth Godin in his intriguingly titled book, All Marketers Are Liars, said that, “Authenticity is the best marketing of all”. It’s like being yourself. When your intrinsic qualities align with your manifested self, you are happy and carefree. Otherwise, when you try to hide or divert people’s attention away from an aspect of yours, you appear contrived or aloof.

As a brand or product manager, you know you have a great product when upon making your briefing material, your imagination has already produced even a brand spokesperson’s dialogue. That’s because you are excited to bring the good news to people in creative ways across several contact points. There is something authentic and believable in your brand and you know that it will hit home once out in the market.

Alas, this does not happen all the time. Sometimes there are products that just need to exist to disrupt the market or further dominate the category by creating haphazard ammunition or “just-in-case” brands to counteract possible entry of an international player. But there are also products that are not necessarily original or remarkable but need to be launched fantastically thanks to advertising. This is the time when the team has to lie through exaggeration, omission or deception.

Indeed it is. However, innovations don’t pop out like mushrooms per square foot of a category. Usually, there is a first player that defines the market. When proven to be profitable, others follow with “me too” products. In their most basic forms, these new entrants have marginal or no difference from the first player. So they resort to the guys who can make products seem distinct through branding.

Image borrowed from MASHABLE.

It is a challenge to differentiate especially when there is NOTHING intrinsically different about the product. The task of the creative team is to let the new brand play in the market and bite off the pie. Given this pressure, creative lies may emerge just to come up with a selling proposition.

It’s the Pinocchio Syndrome and the length of how the nose goes indicates how much lies have been told to sell a product. It can be an expensive undertaking to communicate a lie to consumers. They eventually find out anyway. No matter how much emotion an ad has evoked in a consumer when a product fails to deliver, consumer trust is broken upon usage. Usage is the moment of truth and that truth is the venue for the product to reveal its authentic form to the consumer without the frills of emotional propositions or catchy communication points. #


(C) COPYRIGHT Brands & Pitches 2012


The “Lent” Ads Go To: A Holy Week Special

In Campaigns,Marketing Ethics,Views and Reviews on April 5, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , ,

The basic functions of an ad is to catch attention and elicit a response. Commercially, that response must ideally be transformed into purchase. Nevertheless, there are ads that settle on evoking any response.

Religion or more specifically, the Catholic Church, is often a subject of satire ads that evoke fragmented responses. Some brush on the gradual loss of faith. Others wittingly invite people back to church. The rest just offend heads on with blasphemous portrayals of the Church and bank on ecclesiastical controversies.

I stumbled upon a series of religious advertisements on buzz and each one, I had different responses for. I will not discuss my opinions of them for they are personally driven and based on my faith. Rather, I will just present the plethora of ambient ads that will either entertain or offend. You may view the full list on their website.

Today is Maundy Thursday and if you were Catholic you would know that Lent is about to culminate on Sunday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am not about to go proselytizing readers but to explain how brands are getting attention during the supposed time of resisting worldly temptations. Some ads opt to be of service, facilitating religious practices or providing convenience when the line between fanaticism and genuine devotion cannot be drawn.

Fast food chains remain at the forefront during Lent offering guilt-free meals to the devout and the struggling. Telecommunications companies also provide information assistance. Indeed, respect for culture of the area of operation should be observed while maintaining commercial relevance.

Below are some ads, current or outdated, that exemplify the practice. I graciously borrowed them from other blogs which you may kindly visit for more insight.

McDonald's Lent meal|image from

Jollibee's tuna pie is back for the season. Image from

KFC's twist on their twister. Image from

Get bible verses from you phone. Image from

SMS a prayer. Image from

Find a church for confession. Image from

(C) Copyright protected| BRANDS AND PITCHES 2012



Of Qualifiers, Disclaimers, and Percentage Claims

In Marketing Ethics on March 23, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , ,


Marketers have a professional tendency to over emphasize the positive. Perhaps in an attempt to make consumers focus on the great features of a brand. It is also to make the aware of a big truth that was marginally known. More importantly, it is to get ahead of competition. Nevertheless, you can’t blame advertising for serving its purpose. The way statistics handled in advertising remain debatable. But for the skeptics i.e. individuals who see advertising as mere frivolity posing as an “investment” but is believed to be a huge expense, exaggerating numbers for the sake of making a brand look good may be grounds for proving that “Marketers are indeed liars” [SETH GODIN].

EXAMPLE A: More than 80% of women prefer Brand A over the other brand.

EXAGGERATED NUMBERS & ROUNDED OFF PERCENTAGES: Sure, it is true. After all, any claims in an ad passes through an ethical board. But just like how the news get the most controversial part of a truth, consumers are spared from the technicalities and are left to digest convincing numbers that make brand attributes positive. Yes, 80% of women prefer Brand A but how big was the sample base? Was the methodology even systematic such that the derived conclusion that developed into a claim sound? Why is saying more than 80% vs. exactly 80% more attractive when in fact a mere 0.75% difference made the claim so much bigger like it’s nearly 90%? TRUTH IS NOT ENOUGH. People are naturally inclined to good news.

EXAMPLE B: Best ever product/ formulation/ etc.

PRODUCT COMPARISONS AND BOTTOM QUALIFIERS: Upon first impression, a consumer would assume that the brand is better than others. Zooming in to the size 10 Arial disclaimer, it says vs. previous formulation. The comparison only applies to the product’s previous properties and its supposedly better formulation now. Yes, consumers have the right to know the truth and advertising practitioners have the responsibility to reveal them. How the truth is revealed depends on the latter which is usually indicated in small asterisked qualifiers at the bottom of the frame. The truth is not revealed out loud rather in a hush. It’s the truth but it’s probably not worth knowing because it’s hardly readable. Qualifiers tend to be used to cover technicality bums should claims be contested later on.

EXAMPLE C: Number One in the world/market/among mothers, etc.

SCOPE OF SUPERLATIVE CLAIMS: Everyone has a right to brag about being number one. By all means, go ahead. But the words, “NUMBER ONE” have a certain appeal among consumers seeking validity even in their own lives. People want to be on top and so do brands. Sometimes, there are ads that fail to communicate to the consumer and turn out to be answering all claims of a close competitor: Brand Wars. The consumers get pushed aside in the communication flow and brands just want to outlast each other. If one can’t claim that is it not number one in the market, it can always borrow a larger statistics that says it is number one in the world. World = just five countries. Yet, nobody cares anyway. Another pitfall is applying another countries statistics on another declared “similar” market. Fine, research studies need not be redundant but how close are the market attributes such that the claims on another country is applicable on another just to boost consumer confidence? The scope of the study turned into a claim is also subject to questioning.

The Cry for Authenticity Just like any profession, ethics must be upheld in marketing. The rules, however, are subject to debate. The competition is getting stiffer and product superiority is pushed to the extremes just to grab consumer attention. However, consumers are getting smarter and more empowered to get to the bottom of the truth. It is easier for them to tilt the balance from brands to them once they know the truth. They have the web that enable to broadcast information they have been deprived of. So marketers must do their research, tell the truth and tell it with the intention to impart the truth. The frills always get washed away. Put some authenticity into the brand such that even if it is stripped naked by anyone, it is real to the core.


(C) Copyright protected| BRANDS AND PITCHES 2012