In which I get a personalized Facebook ad!

May 1, 2018 • 8:00 am

I’ve been complaining on my Facebook page about the volume of ads I get, and how I try to make them more infrequent by clicking on each one and saying “it’s not relevant to me.” My hope, which of course is futile, is that this will eventually eliminate the ads completely, since nothing will be seen as relevant to my interests. I know that this won’t work, but I have no choice.

In response, reader Joe McClain posted MY OWN PERSONAL FACEBOOK AD on my site—for a retirement community called “Old Feline-Atheist Retirement Towne”, abbreviated Olde Fart. (He’s from Williamsburg and uses colonial spelling.)

Now here’s a place I could live in my dotage! If only such a place existed. Baby lions and leopards on site!

Huff post pretends that ads are articles

April 30, 2018 • 10:30 am

I hate HuffPo with the blazing heat of a million white-hot suns. Well, maybe not that much, but I really do despise its predictable Authoritarian Leftism, ascribable to a new editor and a new editorial position. It’s become the left-wing Breitbart, but in one respect perhaps even worse: it has “articles” that are really ads, for, while purporting to tell you what to eat, what to buy, and what to visit, HuffPo is getting a cut from whatever recommendations they give that you spend money on. And you don’t know it if you don’t read the fine print.

For example, here’s an article that I, as a foodie, would have clicked on (click on all article screenshots to go to article):

One of those “best food cities” is Venice, and, like the rest of them, they recommend food tours, as in the following bit.

In Venice, there’s something tasty for everyone. Wine lovers might want to chow down on the spectacular wine and unique seafood dishes at al Covo, while pasta enthusiasts might prefer tucking into a dish of hearty bolognese at Ristorante Trattoria Cherubino. TripAdvisor’s most-booked food tour in the city is the Venice food tour: cicchetti and wine.

But if you click on the food tours, you go to one that TripAdvisor recommends. Well, okay, they’re using TripAdvisor as a source. But HuffPo also gets a cut if you book using the link, for this appears—at the very bottom of the page.

Here’s the direct link to the Venice food tour via Tripadvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g187870-d11453217-Venice_Food_Tour_Cicchetti_and_Wine-Venice_Veneto.html

And the link via HuffPo, clearly identifying their cut, presumably in bold:  https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g187870-d11453217-Venice_Food_Tour_Cicchetti_and_Wine-Venice_Veneto.html&cjp=5431261&cja=10834516&cjs=38395X1559466X38b37c6c52b4c4044853d627335a3e9f  .  The prices don’t differ; HuffPo is just taking a cut.

Why don’t they just label the article “ad” at the top? It’s deceptive.

Likewise, here’s a travel ad, with a weak indication at the top that, well, there may be some money given to HuffPo by booking.com:

The description:

If London’s a bit too far away for you to travel, venture to the city of Chicago for an all-out celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Irish taverns are bustling, joyful people are singing and dancing in the street, and even the Chicago River sparkles a brilliant shade of emerald green. Families will love the vibrant and bustling Downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade, full of colorful floats, marching bands and Irish dancers.

The exquisite Staypineapple at The Alise Chicago was designed by renowned architect Daniel Burnham, with beautiful mosaic floors and marble ceilings oozing luxury, class and style. Select suites offer stunning views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, and the hotel is ideally located for shopping on the famous Michigan Avenue. Guests can enjoy an onsite fitness center, yoga and a bicycle rental service to explore the beauty of Chicago. After a fun-packed day of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, guests will love the adventurous and contemporary cuisine at the The Alise Chicago, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serving a selection of premium cocktails.

HuffPost Brand Forum is a paid program that allows companies to connect directly in their own words with HuffPost readers. For more information on Brand Forum, please contact BrandForum@huffpost.com.

In this case, the link doesn’t give HuffPo a cut; Booking.com just pays them to recommend hotels where Booking.com gets a cut.

Here’s an item that you might want to buy; you don’t know HuffPo gets a cut until the bottom of the page:

Number 6 of the recommendations is the Ted Baker London Tailor Wool Duffel Bag, with this description and link:

This vintage-inspired Ted Baker bag is, uniquely, made of textured wool. It’s [SIC!!!] faux leather trim adds a touch that gives it the timeless look of another decade.

The link is (my emphasis): https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/ted-baker-london-tailor-wool-duffel-bag/4725805?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=GREY\&cm_mmc=Linkshare-_-partner-_-10-_-1&siteId=tv2R4u9rImY-XGt3DO8GDElvQjUZR_l3oQ, which clearly tells nordstrom to give HuffPo some of the money.  And at the bottom of the page you see this:

How can such an evaluation be “objective”? Clearly they’ll choose based on the willingness of the store to refund some of the dosh to HuffPo.

Finally, there’s this from the “wellness” section. (Whose “wellness” is being promoted?)

And number 1 in water bottles with filters:

 

The description?:

For under $15, the filter inside this BPA-free bottle filters as you drink to easily rehydrate at the office, a sporting event or on a day trip.

Amazon Reviews: 1,900
Average Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“These have changed my life. I can go anywhere and all I need is a tap and I’ve got tasty (non-gross chlorinated tasting) water. I have two and might get a third.” – Amazon Reviewer

If you click on the link above, the URL is https://www.amazon.com/Brita-Ounce-Sided-Bottle-Filter/dp/B00AB8NOPY/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?amp=&ie=UTF8&keywords=water+bottles+with+filters&psc=1&qid=1523907905&sr=8-1-spons&tag=thehuffingtop-20

And, sure enough:

I wouldn’t trust HuffPo’s articles on “the best stuff/food/places” if there’s any kind of indication that the site gets a remuneration from its recommendations. If you want Amazon recommendations, just put in a product like “water bottles” at the Amazon site and click on “highest rated” on the right. That way you can see the same evaluations without HuffPo getting your dosh. It’s also duplicitous to put the “we might get a cut of the money” notice at the bottom of the page, as you may click on—and order—a product before you see it.

I’m not sure Breitbart does anything like this, and it’s sneaky. It’s sneaky if anyone does it, but particularly sneaky, to my mind, when a left-wing site does it. You may say, “Well, everyone does it,” but to me that’s no excuse for duplicity. After all, at the top of New York Times pages that may be mistaken for news but are ads, they clearly say “ADVERTISEMENT.”

My one consolation is that traffic at HuffPo continues to drop as its contents become thinner and more predictable. I used to go there to look at food and travel posts, but now these are rarely renewed, and when they are they are often “kickback posts.”

Traffic data:

A supermodel speaks, and it ain’t pretty

December 6, 2017 • 2:45 pm

Yes, I do follow popular culture, at least to the extent that I know who Bella Hadid is. She’s a very wealthy  21-year-old supermodel (as is her sister Gigi), with both sisters the offspring of a very wealthy Los Angeles real-estate developer.  Bella was voted “Model of the Year” in 2016, and you can see her virtually everywhere advertising fashion and makeup.

Also sneakers. Here, if you have the stomach to watch it, is an eight-minute video of Hadid going shopping for Nike sneakers with Joe La Puma, whoever he is.  She’s known for wearing sneakers, even with fancy dresses, and is an official spokesperson for Nike. (That means her “purchase” of sneakers at the end is bogus.)

Notice these things:

1.)  Hadid’s repeated use of the words “homeboy”, “dope” and “sick” as synonyms for “friend”, “awesome” and “cool,” respectively. She also says “fresh”, which here doesn’t mean “not stinky”, but “new and in style.” These words started out in the black community, and Hadid may have picked them up because she dated a black rapper named The Weeknd; but they’ve now become general argot among Millennials. Even Matthew knew what “dope” meant!

2.) Hadid’s implication that she’d have sex with a guy who wore the right sneakers (my emphasis). At 1:32 you can hear this:

“Sneakers on a man is definitely the first thing I look at, so if you’re going to have a dope shoe both guys and girls can wear, come on, matching shoes? That’s dope.”

When asked what sneakers she didn’t like, Hadid added:

“You know what? I’m cool with it and I don’t mind dirty sneakers but they better be fresh.”

“If homeboy’s coming through with these [shows a pair of sneakers] it’s quiet for him, but if he comes through with these…you got some Air Maxes out here; you’ve got some Jordans.”

“Homeboy’s going to like, get it.”

I can only imagine what “it” is. Watch the rest of the video at your peril. For some reason—probably the laws of physics—I was compelled to post it.

Remember, as mushbrained as this woman is, she makes more money in two years than any of us will make in a lifetime.  All it takes is looks, some wealthy parents, and a bit of plastic surgery.

Hadid has been called out for using black argot in this video, which is “cultural appropriation”. But, as Cosmopolitan notes, she’s also been called out for the whole interview, which is not dope. Here are a few tweets:

another:

https://twitter.com/BRANDONWARDELL/status/917532975079628801

https://twitter.com/jdgmntlgay/status/916340103785705474

. . . and the best one:

https://twitter.com/dstfelix/status/916673191069863949

Air New Zealand’s 2017 Christmas ad

December 1, 2017 • 1:30 pm

Now that I’m an Honorary Kiwi™, you’ll find a marginal increase in the number of items about New Zealand. But that’s okay, because Kiwis have a great sense of humor about nearly everything—especially themselves. This is the 2017 Christmas ad from Air New Zealand, and it spends no time touting the airline but a lot of time taking the mickey out of the Kiwi accent. And it’s pretty accurate, too, since apparently Santa isn’t from New Zealand.

How can you not love a country that produces ads like this? Be sure to see the final salutation.

Baby Sausage Jesus causes uproar in England

November 15, 2017 • 12:45 pm

Matthew sent me an article from the Guardian (click headline below) with the note, “Greggs is a cheap and cheerful UK bakery chain known for its pasties, pies and – praise the Lord! – sausage rolls”.

Unfortunately, they substituted a sausage roll for Jesus in a nativity scene. BAD move!

 

Greggs’s £24 Advent calendar (that’s an expensive calendar, but it contains discount coupons) shows the three Wise Men worshiping a sausage roll:

Gold, frankincense and … pastry: the three wise men visit Greggs’ representation of the baby Jesus. Photograph: Taylor Herring/Greggs/PA

Christians complained:

The Rev Mark Edwards, of St Matthew’s church in Dinnington and St Cuthbert’s church in Brunswick, said Greggs had been disrespectful. He told the Newcastle-based Chronicle: “It goes beyond just commercialism, it’s showing a total disregard and disrespect towards one of the greatest stories ever told, and I think people of all faiths will be offended by this.”

Daniel Webster, a spokesperson for the Evangelical Alliance, said: “Putting a sausage roll in the manger of a nativity scene seems to be manufacturing a scandal to sell baked goods and neglecting the real scandal of Christmas. Every year some company creates a Christmas controversy for commercial gain; it seems to get earlier each year.”

But #NotAllPeople:

The advert also triggered debate on the Greggs Facebook page, though most posts welcomed the product.

The comedian Bob Mortimer tweeted: “Come on KFC … show Greggs the way … put a miniature Jesus in all your Christmas buckets.”

The agony aunt and therapist Philippa Perry joked in a tweet: “ANYWAY who cheated and opened 24th Dec BEFORE 24th Dec to find this out?”

Greggs apologized, saying that they were “really sorry to have caused any offense, this was never our intention,” but they didn’t withdraw the calendar. Good for them! I’d rather worship a sausage roll than Jesus any day. At least sausage rolls are real!

Kiwi-themed ad for Air New Zealand

September 4, 2017 • 2:45 pm

As an Honorary Kiwi, I present Air New Zealand’s new promotion (they’re famous for their funny ads), featuring a kiwi that is no longer flightless due to cultural evolution. As FastCompany notes,

In the plucky airline’s first global brand campaign aimed at U.S. and Canadian residents—starring a talking kiwi named Pete who is voiced by Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill—Air New Zealand will teach travelers all about the wonders of the kiwi bird and encourage them to follow their dreams to New Zealand (hopefully, on a certain airline).

The campaign is part of a concerted push for a growing number of American visitors. “Air New Zealand is probably the premium airline that you’ve probably never heard of living in America,” says Air New Zealand’s CEO, Christopher Luxon. “I would argue it’s the most successful airline in the world, by commercial results, customer results, and cultural results.” Some numbers may back him up: In 2016, Air New Zealand posted record profits of $663 million (which it shared with its staff in the form of bonuses) and the airline has been named Airline of the Year for the last four years in a row by the review website AirlineRatings.com.

Very clever, those Kiwis.

Worst ad of the year: Kendall Jenner quells social unrest and promotes harmony with Pepsi

April 6, 2017 • 9:00 am

Remember the old 1971 ad for Coca-Cola with the song “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”, proving that diverse peoples could be united by sharing a soft drink? Here it is:

That reminds me of the Google Doodle I wrote about the other day, promoting diversity but doing so in a way that irritated many of us. Sentiments about unity are easy to come by and easy to make, allowing you to flaunt your virtue (and indeed, such sentiments are virtuous and to be desired), but they overlook the very real problems of the difficult issues that divide us—things that often seem intractable.  Further, simplistic solutions simply look dumb: you can’t unite the world by sharing Cokes or drawing cute Google Doodles. What does that accomplish?

But tell that to Pepsi and Kendall Jenner, both of whom got into trouble for creating a 2.5-minute video ad (below) that uses recent social unrest to sell Pepsi, suggesting that all such unrest can be quenched with a carbonated beverage. As Pepsi said on the video’s YouTube site:

A short film about the moments when we decide to let go, choose to act, follow our passion and nothing holds us back. Capturing the spirit and actions of those people that jump in to every moment and featuring multiple lives, stories and emotional connections that show passion, joy, unbound and uninhibited moments. No matter the occasion, big or small, these are the moments that make us feel alive.

Starring Kendall Jenner and featuring music from Skip Marley.

Now, Kendall being a Kardashian, a family with more money than neurons, you’d pretty much expect something like this, though Pepsi bears most of the responsibility. And I suspect that the Kardashian philosophy is that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” since the fracas about the ad has simply has given the family more public notice. But Pepsi, embarrassed, has now withdrawn the ad (see below).

Watch for yourself. Kardashian, doing a modeling gig and then spying a crowd protesting some unspecified wrong (Pepsi, after all, can’t take sides), decides to become a social justice warrior, doffing her wig, wiping off her lipstick, and striding into the fray. There, judiciously offering a can of Pepsi to a thirsty cop, Jenner makes everything right—to the joyous approbation of all.

Note the hijab-wearing photographer and the Asian cellist, both also drinking Pepsi. Note as well the fist bump, with Kendall’s Pepsi-bearing fist knocking a black man’s. Full inclusiveness, true, but also cultural appropriation! Yet why is there a tub full of iced Pepsi in the middle of a demonstration?

Be sure to spot the upside-down peace symbol at 1:46.

Yes. the ad is dire and cringe-inducing, and it’s prompted backlash from many who saw it as a commercial appropriation of real political unrest such as that instantiated by the Black Lives Matter movement. For once, though, I find the protests far more defensible than the commercial itself, especially because they’re tinged with sarcastic humor. The one exception is the hectoring and humorless HuffPo piece by religion editor Car0l Kuruvilla (click on screenshot to go to article), whose virtue-signaling and hijabophilia I detest.

Out of all the things she could have written about the ad, she concentrates on the Muslim woman, with the ever-outraged Kuruvilla saying this:

Along with making light of protests against police shootings, the ad was also criticized for using images of a Muslim woman without amplifying the issues that have actually caused Muslim women to protest.

The ad failed to mention any of the issues that have troubled American Muslims over the past few months ― continuing religious-based discrimination and surveillance, President Donald Trump’s backdoor Muslim ban and his resounding silence about attacks on mosques, the bullying of Muslim kids, the rise in prominence of white supremacist groups, the fight for black lives. [JAC: Note to Kurivilla: it’s an ad, for crying out loud, not a piece of political analysis!]

But it used the image of a Muslim woman in a headscarf to sell soda to the masses.

Although Pepsi has removed the ad, this kind appropriation of a Muslim woman’s image is not new and not likely to go away soon.

What’s amusing here is that her article quotes with approval a statement from a Muslim woman:

In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Misha Euceph, a Muslim journalist who does not wear a headscarf, pointed out that the ad also represents Muslims women “through a single item of clothing.”

“I understand the desire to create a culture of inclusion, but the line between welcoming and tokenizing is very thin,” she wrote. “Today, the culture wars are being fought on the bodies of hijabis, as these women are the easiest Muslims to notice. They should be relieved of the burden of representing 1.7 billion diverse people.”

Yet, as I’ve documented repeatedly, HuffPo, which has posted article after article extolling hijabi fencers, ballerinas, news anchors, and so on, has made a living by equating Islam with women wearing hijabs.

But back to serious and humorous pushback. Perhaps the most powerful response on social media was the tweet by Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr,:

The Independent showed some other Twitter responses:

https://twitter.com/Gabyte_B/status/849495624085123072

https://twitter.com/pyepar/status/849486976919244800

https://twitter.com/J_Manasa/status/849507940612624388

And remember the iconic picture on the left (below)?

After all this, the New York Times reports today (Thursday) that the ad has been withdrawn:

Pepsi on Wednesday pulled an ad after it was widely mocked and criticized for appearing to trivialize protests for social justice causes.

“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company said. “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize.”

It said it was “removing the content and halting any further rollout.”

Who do they have as their advertisers? It seems to me that any rational person seeing the prospectus for the ad, or the video itself, would flag it immediately as soppy and stupid.  The Times report continues:

. . .[Pepsi] initially described the spot as featuring “multiple lives, stories and emotional connections that show passion, joy, unbound and uninhibited moments. No matter the occasion, big or small, these are the moments that make us feel alive.” That description was also derided on social media.

The Purchase, New York, company had stood by the ad late Tuesday. By Wednesday, it was apologizing to Jenner for putting her “in this position.”

Critics say the image of Jenner handing the officer a Pepsi evoked a photo of Black Lives Matter protester Ieshia Evans approaching an officer at a demonstration in Baton Rouge last year. Others criticized the protesters’ signs for being comically innocuous, with messages like “Join the Conversation” and heart and peace signs. The website Gothamist expressed a common sentiment online in calling the ad “gloriously tone-deaf.”

I think Jenner is old enough to realize what position she was “put in,” but of course the Kardashians are gloriously tone-deaf about society and politics.

While Israel and Palestine battle it out, Assad drops chemical weapons on his own people, and North Korea fires yet another missile, the last thing we need is what one reader described as “mindless, relentless, hortatory pablum.”

Why is the goose cooked?

February 5, 2017 • 1:30 pm

In preparation for my trip to New Zealand, I’ve been watching some of their famous commercials, including their safety demonstrations, like this one having a Lord of the Rings theme:

or this one, featuring the beloved All Blacks rugby team:

This one features the entire crew wearing nothing but body paint:

And here’s an ad, also funny, but I have one question: WHY IS THE GOOSE SINGED AT THE END?

What’s wrong with this ad?

April 7, 2016 • 11:10 am

Here’s an ad for a new clothing line involving a collaboration between The Gap corporation and comedian Ellen DeGeneris. Look at it, and then guess why it provoked a huge burst of outrage on social media—one so violent that The Gap is going to pull the ad.

The girls, by the way, are members of Le Petit Cirque, described (not in the ad) as “the only all-kid humanitarian cirque company in the world, comprised of eye-popping, pro-level children aged 5-14.”

_89090757_04d5172f-2a2c-4484-89d2-7a8d8c4deec0

Have you guessed the problem?

Now here’s an earlier ad from The Gap. Would having seen this tend to ameliorate any criticism directed at the photo above? If not, why not? The fact is that it didn’t.

_89090917_0e88dbab-2e40-4e4c-a42a-928ced5844e7

Now read about the issue, and see a sample of social media outrage, at the BBC site where this was posted. (See also here.)

I’ll leave comments about the sensitivity of people, and the obsessive search for things to be outraged about, to the readers.

h/t: Barry