Category Archives: Print

How low can you go?

Remember those commercials for U by Kotex that I loved? The ones that mock everything we’ve come to expect from a tampon or pad commercial? Well, now Tampax is coming back and mocking U by Kotex.

In this magazine ad for, a pretty blonde girl is limbo-ing on the beach. In a white bikini. Surrounded by a sea of other attractive people. We’ve got pretty much all the stereotypes that U by Kotex mocks in their ad campaign…all wrapped up in one little magazine ad. Aren’t you relieved that you’re not the only one who loves to limbo when it’s that time of month?

The copy reads:

“At a moment like this, I don’t care if my tampons came in a little black box. I just want ‘em to work.”

The little black box the ad is referring to? The distinctive black packaging that U by Kotex pads, tampons and liners arrive in.

I don’t use either of these brands, so Tampax may very well be the superior product. And I’m totally on board with Tampax’s copy about wanting your feminine hygiene products to work well when you need them most. But when it comes to advertising and creativity? U by Kotex is clearly the winner. I’ll take non-nonsense over cheesy any day.



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Now that’s refreshing!

In a world full of celebrities that have big heads and take themselves way too seriously (ahem, Charlie Sheen anyone?), Ellen DeGeneres is different. She’s fun. She’s a breath of fresh air. She’s…refreshing. Refreshing like a tall glass of water. Or, say…a nice bottle of VitaminWater. What a perfect pairing!

The ad is primarily black and white with a splash of color—and the star of the show is obviously the product. The copy? Simple and playful.

Tasty for your tongue.

Vitamins for your body.

(and zero calories to go crazy about)

VitaminWater’s parent company, Glaceau, is fond of simple, clean ads. Remember the SmartWater campaign featuring Jennifer Anniston? Also black and white with just a splash of bright color. Also simple.

Even the company’s website is refreshingly simple. Simple imagery. Simple copy.

Ellen DeGeneres doesn’t take herself too seriously. By choosing Ellen as their spokesperson, VitaminWater is proving they don’t take themselves too seriously either. And in a world where everything’s always so serious…that’s seriously refreshing.


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No shirt? No problem!

Perfume and cologne companies are notorious for using scantily clad women in their advertisements. And now it seems jeans companies are catching on. At least that’s the case for Joe’s Jeans.

This magazine ad for the brand’s skinny micro flare jeans features two emaciated women hanging out in the guy’s bathroom (you can see a row of urinals in the mirror). One is perched cross-legged on top of a sink….topless. The other looks like she’s on her way to do the same. There’s no headline. No body copy. Nothing to explain to me why these ladies are chilling in the guy’s bathroom half naked.

I’ve never seen an ad for Joe’s before, but a quick Google search showed that the brand is no stranger to the provocative. Imagine driving to work and seeing this giant butt everyday.

Or how about this gal who’s going for a swing sans shirt?

I don’t know. This just doesn’t make me want to go out and buy a pair of Joe’s jeans. How about you?


Filed under Advertising, Print

Please be our friend

Sometimes when I see a magazine ad or a TV commercial, I like to imagine the brainstorming session at the ad agency where the concept was born.

Take this ad for Glade’s limited edition “Sparkle of Spring” fragrance. There’s an executive from Glade who says, “Hey. Social media is really cool right now.  Let’s incorporate it into the ad so people perceive our company as really cool and cutting edge. What? Social media has nothing to do with the product and doesn’t tie into the visual at all? So what. People will think we’re cool.

And the copy is born:

“If all the season were into social networking, bet spring would have more “likes” on her updates.”

I love the visual and the packaging design. It’s bright, fun and different than the pastel shades and traditional flowery images that I associate with air fresheners. But the copy definitely leaves something to be desired.

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Whoopi for Bladder Control!

Have you ever witnessed something happening to another person and you actually felt embarrassed for them? That’s how I felt when I saw this ad for Poise “bladder control solutions” featuring Whoopi Goldberg.

As I mentioned in a recent post, there are just certain products that are tough to advertise. Pads that keep you dry despite bladder control issues? Definitely a product that falls into that category. Throw a celebrity into the mix, and it’s even more awkward.

The headline reads, “There’s a 1 in 3 chance that wasn’t a smile on Mona Lisa’s face.”

The ad points you to, Poise’s microsite that goes into detail about how one in three women suffer from light bladder leakage (LBL). Luckily, Poise products can help you manage this problem with ease.

The site has several videos that use humor to educate women on bladder control and the benefits of Poise products. Whoopi Goldberg stars in the videos as Mona Lisa, the Statue of Liberty, Cleopatra and other historic figures to show ladies that bladder control issues can happen to anyone.

I know this a real issue for lots of women, but the ads make me feel awkward. I just can’t decide if humor is the way to go. I’ll tell you one thing though. I’ve got to give Whoopi props for not giving a damn what people think. She’s the spokesperson for a bladder leakage product. While it’s certainly not the sexiest product to represent, she’s stands proud to show women that they’re not alone.

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Three Ply Toilet Paper and Ice Cream…A Few of my Favorite Things

Toilet paper is one of those awkward products that is kind of difficult to advertise.

You can be like Cottonelle and come up with a tagline that tells it like it is:

“Be kind to your behind.”

Be sure to include fluffy puppies for the highest impact.

Or you can mimic Charmin and be sure to include lots of soft, cuddly bears in your ads (often found with toilet paper stuck to their butts).

Or, you can always make like Quilted Northern and compare 3-ply toilet paper to ice cream, like in this ad from Woman’s Day.

Apologies for the crap-tacular (no pun intended) scan.

The image? Two delicious bowls of ice cream with three scoops per bowl.

The headline? Even as a kid, you knew there was more than two.

This ad leaves me saying, “huh?”

Maybe it’s because I used to work in an advertising agency, but I always find myself imagining the brainstorming session where ad concepts are born. And this one? I can’t help wondering what the heck they were thinking. Ice cream and toilet paper? Really?

I get it. You can never have too much ice cream. And, apparently, you can never have too many layers in your toilet paper. Still, the ad is weird.

Dear Charmin,

That would be great if you never put ice cream and toilet paper in the same ad ever again. Toilet paper should not remind me of ice cream, or vice versa.




Filed under Advertising, Print

Thanks for Nothing

Let’s face it. All companies make mistakes. But while most organizations try their darnedest to cover up those mistakes, Knob Creek has taken the high road. The liquor brand has admitted an error and used it as an opportunity to highlight the quality of their products and thank customers for their loyalty.

Beam Global Spirits & Wines prides itself on Knob Creek Bourbon. Unlike the typical four year aging process for bourbon, Knob Creek is aged to perfection for a full nine years.  Due to the length of the product’s aging process, the company has to predict demand pretty far in advance. And this makes them susceptible to a shortage.

And sure enough, an increased demand for bourbons in the last couple years, especially aged ones, has threatened to deplete the supply of Knob Creek bourbon until the next shipment is ready in November. Instead of covering the problem up by bottling bourbon that hasn’t aged the full nine years, Knob Creek has decided to take the high road by admitting their error and thanking their customers…for nothing.

Knob Creek worked with agency Doe Anderson to create ads that ran in high profile newspapers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal that admitted to the forecasting error and thanked customers for their loyalty to the Knob Creek brand. The print ads showcased an empty bottle of Knob Creek with the headline “Thanks for Nothing.”

Knob Creek_Print

In case you can’t read it, the body copy says:

You see, since we have so many loyal customers out there, demand for Knob Creek® Bourbon has finally outstripped supply. And rather than compromise quality for quantity, we’re letting it run out. Until the next batch is finished aging its full 9 years. So you may experience something of a shortage at your local liquor store very soon. But not to worry, the next batch will be bottled and on the shelf in November. We appreciate your understanding and your love of Knob Creek.

In addition to these highly visible print ads, Knob Creek played with public relations by sending empty bottles of their bourbon to press spirits reporters, Knob Creek loyalists, bloggers and distributors. The empty bottle came with a note explaining the shortage:

Dear Knob Creek® lover,

It seems you’ve helped cause a bit of a “situation” here at the distillery. See, because you, and many others like you, have been such loyal consumers, we’ve temporarily run out of Knob Creek Bourbon. And for that you deserve a huge thanks.

With that said, it’s quite possible that you might not be able to find us in our usual places for a bit. Should this happen, take a deep breath and keep in mind that our next batch will be fully matured and ready to go this November (we’d bottle it now to boost supply, but then it wouldn’t be aged a full 9 years and it wouldn’t really be Knob Creek).

And once you’ve weathered the storm, be sure to proudly sport this t-shirt commemorating this historic event.

Now, hang in there and cherish every drop of Knob Creek like it’s the last, because, well, it could be. Until November anyway.


Your friends at Knob Creek

P.S. If you can’t find a bottle of Knob Creek anywhere, visit and find out which locations (if any) in your area are lucky enough to have a few bottles left on their shelves.

We all learn in marketing classes that scarcity is attractive. Bourbon fans will run out and buy Knob Creek before the supply runs out. In the short term, this Knob Creek “drought” could actually boost the brand’s image. The liquor shortage may even result in greater name recognition, and it could attract new customers who weren’t Knob Creek drinkers before.

The challenge will come for Knob Creek if the shortage lasts more than a few months. For bourbon enthusiasts who want their Knob Creek now, a couple months is a long time to wait. Some customers will probably switch to a comparable product.

Knob Creek could have acted in the name of profit by opting to sell a product that didn’t quite meet their quality standards. But chose not to cut corners. And for this reason, I think the company is a good role model for other brands. It’s always good to admit you’ve made a mistake…and you may even be able to use it to your advantage. Sure, some customers may turn to other bourbon brands during the shortage, but True Knob Creek fans will know that the quality of the bourbon is worth the wait.

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