Toys R Us sell figurines of meth-lab master

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 22, 2014 by marketingheart

If you’ve watched the series Breaking Bad, you’d no doubt agree that the main character, good guy turned bad Walter White, makes a questionable pinup for little kids.

Toys R Us begged to differ, choosing to make a few bucks by ranging plastic figurines from the show, including Walter  holding a handgun and his accomplice, Jesse Pinkman, wearing a protective suit used in the manufacture of crystallised methamphetamine.141021-breaking-bad-toys-01_bb21ff57924a5a437ebba9592949a049.nbcnews-ux-920-520

Or at least they did until pressured to remove the products. The petition – mounted by a ‘Florida Mom’ on the website, called “Remove Breaking Bad dolls from their shelves”, attracted over 8,000 signatures.

A Toys R Us spokesman initially defended the product: “The product packaging clearly notes that the items are intended for ages 15 and up. The toys are located in the adult action figure area of our stores.”

Lending some humour to the situation Bryan Cranston, the actor who plays White, responded to the controversy, tweeting, “I’m so mad. I am burning my Florida mom action figure in protest.”

Personally I think the kiddies should have been offered matching tattoos…R Us!

Global McKinsey survey underscores corporate support for sustainability

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on September 10, 2014 by marketingheart

Enouraging signs emerging from the corporate last.

CEOs are twice as likely as they were in 2012 to say sustainability is their top strategic priority. Seems to believe, but the survey took in over 2000 C level executives.

As the commentary says, the real challenge lies now in capturing the commercial value of sustainability and offsetting any costs associated with it. There remains a lot of work….

Read about the report here.

Target publishes its Bangladesh Factory details

Posted in advertising, business, ethics, fashion, Marketing, packaging, sustainability with tags , on August 14, 2014 by marketingheart

Many moons have passed since April 2013 when the Rana Plaza building containing three clothing factories collapsed in Bangladesh taking with it the lives of over 1100 workers, and injuring countless more – locals say the building housed around 6,000 workers. Following the collapse, activists were able to enter the ruins and discovered labels from brands including Primark and Mango, indicating that they were sourcing from the factories. Rana Plaza also produced for a host of well known brand names including Benetton, JC Penney, C&A and Wal-Mart. This collapse followed the Tazreen factory fire in the same district that killed 112 workers five months ago, and the Spectrum Factory collapse of 2005 which caused the death of at least 64 workers. Pro-labor advocates blamed the disasters not just on a lack of regulations, but on a pattern of  violent suppression of workers’ organizing efforts. Although the US imposed trade sanctions on Bangladesh to pressure them to clean up their act, progress has been disappointing. Similarly the fight to get retailers to compensate victims is perhaps predictably mired with only a third of the $40 million total needed to compensate survivors and families of the dead for lost income and medical expenses  having been contributed 12 months after the event according to the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Half the brands associated with the building’s collapse have yet to put any money at all towards compensation — at least, not publicly.

Notwithstanding that, the disaster effectively pressured retailers to be more discriminating about their supply chain, and happily the latest to publicise the results of the clean-up is Target Australia which has just published its factory list. Kudos. Oxfam Australia’s corporate accountability and fair trade adviser, Daisy Gardener, said Kmart and Woolworths had aslo joined, “in being open and accountable about exactly where its clothes are made”.

Changing consumer attitudes towards fast fashion is another thing altogether.

Corporations need to act to meet green demand

Posted in Marketing, advertising, ethics, sustainability with tags on June 20, 2014 by marketingheart

Do consumers really care about conscious capitalism when it comes to buying decisions, enough to pay more for products and services that come from companies that engage in actions that further some social good?

It’s a much studied issue, as inherent in the answers are factors affecting investment decisions by companies looking to ensure they get a return from any cost associated with being more sustainable. Some companies (Patagonia for example) have been prepared to invest in sustainability because it’s core to their beliefs. Others won’t do it till somebody ‘shows them the money’.

Well perhaps that time has been reached according to a new Nielsen study which found that more than half (55%) of global respondents are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact—an increase from 50% in 2012 and 45% in 2011. Furthermore more than half  (52%) say they have purchased at least one product or service in the past six months from a socially responsible company.

“At the moment of truth—in store, online and elsewhere—consumers are making a choice and a choice that is heavily influenced by brands with a social purpose,” said Amy Fenton, global leader of public development and sustainability, Nielsen.


I’ve been tracking this issue through a range of studies for some years, so I know these new results are part of an observable pattern. But the questions remain – how much more will people pay, and when will corporations accelerate their sustainable investments sufficiently to significantly reduce or even reverse environmental destruction on a global scale?

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

Bacon = sexual fantasies = WTF?

Posted in Marketing, advertising, ethics with tags , , on June 13, 2014 by marketingheart

Does Bacon get you all hot ‘n’ heavy?

Not really, right. And if it does, please unsubscribe from my blog you weirdo!

But there’s one agency that doesn’t think the idea is so strange, and one client that let them indulge themselves in such poor taste. Playing on a fantasy scene from the movie American Beauty, Primo bacon seems to get one creative team aroused at least. A case of a client getting just a wee bit too close to their product?

Hmmm, well if that didn’t get you going, perhaps this is more your speed:


Role of the fashion industry in anorexia highlighted in powerful campaign

Posted in fashion, Marketing, advertising, ethics with tags , , on October 24, 2013 by marketingheart

Advertising for good cause, it’s even better when it’s this powerful. Brace yourselves….

This recent campaign comes from Brazilian modeling agency Star Models, which deserves great kudos for showing such leadership. The ads feature models photoshopped to look like a human version of the illustration style that’s almost universally used in the fashion design business. It says so much about the pervasiveness of unattainable fashion imagery and its terrible effect on some people.

Wow..any fashion designers squirming? Hope so.

Perhaps not as powerful as the real thing – the most shocking anti-anorexia campaign of all, this featuring a 28-year-old French model who was suffering from the condition at the time and tragically was to die from it soon after.

In 2006 Madrid Fashion week shocked the industry by banning unhealthily skinny models from the event, and there have later been a number of similar actions, including famously by Vogue.

Unfortunately the fashion industry isn’t always this responsible… well-known vampire Karl Lagerfeld responded to one banning by blaming the outcry on “fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly.’  He added that the world of fashion was all to do ‘with dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women’.

Oh, and let’s not let the ad industry off thew hook either…

Well done to the adbuster who added the sticker.

Wot is this thing called Mr & Mrs Ozzie?

Posted in Marketing, advertising, ethics with tags , , , , on June 18, 2013 by marketingheart

Two vastly different approaches to selling things to the Australian public under pressure of falling sales: surely the new TV campaign for South Australia’s Barossa region couldn’t be targeting the same species, let alone a similar demographic to the one Harvey Norman’s been yelling at for all these years?

Harvey Norman has created its very own unloved tradition of employing the ugliest, busiest graphics it’s possible to come up with, backed by a screaming voice over and a super-cheesey sting. The whole thing has remained pretty much unchanged for 20 years – until recently that is, when in the face of free-falling sales, a touch of aspirational lifestyle has been creeping in to the commercials, they even use people in some of them. Desperation will lead us to to do the strangest things; suddenly Harvey Norman wants consumers to … like them? Aspire to the products? I guess if you’re as hard sell as it’s possible to be, the only place you have to go is soft.

The new Barossa campaign also has plummeting sales as it raison d’etre, and also responds with an aspirational ad. This one employs lush cinematography, Nick Cave’s moody song Red Hands, and a completely abstract narrative. You’re meant to fall in love -with eating raw meat, I think. Oh and there’s a brand tacked on at the end.

Harvey Norman’s work seems to have emanated from the planet bogan and is targeting the recently lobotomised. The Barossa ad speaks (uber-knowingly)  to inner urban groovers and advertising jury members.

Can either approach be right? Check it out:

Now…just try to sit through this, I dare you (OK I confess it’s not current but the new ones are not that much better):

Harvey Norman is being pummeled by cheaper online competitors. In August last year, executive chairman Gerry Harvey told The Australian Financial Review “We’re now posting probably the worst results we’ve ever posted.” What? You mean those ads scored absolutely no brand loyalty? What a surprise.

Here’s my take: Harvey Norman spent 20 years taking an anti-innovation, anti-creativity and in many ways anti-customer stance and dragged much of Australian retail down the gurgler with him. It’s hard to feel sorry for him and conversely easy to applaud the startups which respect the customer, add value to their experience and – who’da thunk it – even sometimes grapple with the retailer’s role in a world of over-consumption. I really do think it’s too late to reinvent this most ugly of brands; Gone Harvey, and not missed.

As for the Barossa commercial, lots of creative departments will be thoroughly jealous, the agency has done a great job talking this client into running  creativity for its own sake at levels rarely seen outside art school. As for its effectiveness as an ad industry award winner, well, let’s see now. The comments in adland website Campaign Brief  were juicy:

“With a grade that reduces the vivid vibrancy of SA to the dreariness of a wet week in Windemere, a music track that oozes more misery than the blood of the hand in the song and a storyline that feels like the last supper before Christ’s crucifixion, it’s a wonder anybody would willingly travel to the land of Snowtown, with this telling affirmation of its dark and deeply disturbing side,” went one comment.   “Seems like a sad place to go,” said another.  And: “I’ve never been to the Barossa and now I’m sure I don’t want to go.  It looks so damn depressing.” Then: “Too dark guys. Doesn’t make me want to go there at all. Takes me back to Wolf Creek!  Hanging meat on a hook? really!!!!”

Oh, and by the way, in case you’re thinking ‘well at least it’s original” take a look at this Tourism Victoria ad. Which predates it considerably.