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A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin
Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends, news from the world of puppets and ventriloquism, bits of humor and other interesting but useless information. I post every Tuesday and Friday.
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March 2011 - Posts

Does Nudity Really Sell?

A Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

How Magazine Content Can Affect Ad Slant

When the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition hit newsstands it was predictably full of women whose pendulous "jugs" were not very well covered.

Tabasco created an ad that fit right in with the publication's special content. I didn't even know you could buy "jugs" of Tabasco sauce.

Does Nudity Really Sell?

Here's a commercial from Germany for Antique Rivet jeans for him and her ... but the commercial just features "her" ... in just her jeans and nothing else. NSFW. But the nudity definitely got my attention. And the commercial is a good example of a major difference in European commercials/TV and American commercials/TV. Americans would be up in arms over the nudity. But we'd be okay if someone got killed in the commercial. Europeans are okay with nudity, but ban violence. Seriously, when did we get so terribly screwed up over here? (click here if you can't see the youtube link above.)

Not Showing Skin Can be More Entertaining


Now here's a commercial that uses the "hint" of sex to sell. Selley's Adhesive Sealant advises, "Do it yourself before someone does it for you." Their commercial gets the point across humorously, effectively and without showing any skin. So it can be done.

Click here or on the video above to see it.

Sex in the Kitchen

The pretend Mad Men-type ad agency behind this clever commercial for Hellmans mayonnaise struggles to come up with a decent ad scheme. Unfortunately, they discard the idea of a "talking mayonnaise jar."

But creativity is inspired by watching a female employee enjoy the product. I like it... but others must not have agreed because the ad was pulled after a short time. If you can't see the link above, click here.

While We're in the Kitchen

Here's a Wonder Bra ad that points out a fascinating product benefit.

How to Avoid Stale Bread

Turns out that the plastic tags and twists on loafs of bread aren't just for looking pretty, they are coded to indicate what day the bread was baked on, writes Wise Bread. The most commonly-used code for 5-day a week delivery is blue for Monday, green for Tuesday, red for Thursday, white for Friday, and yellow for Saturday. Now you know.

New Tasty Ice Cream for Vegans

The 100% natural treat is made from Madagascan vanilla pods, lemon zest and oh yeah, breast milk. A London restaurant is selling the "Baby Gaga" ice cream that's served in a martini glass by a costumed waitress. It retails for about $22 and sprinkles are presumably extra.

Get in the Bowl

M&M's characters seldom make a bad commercial. But some are better than others. And this is one of those. And it's a good demonstration of the power of mascot characters to attract a loyal following via clever ad scenarios and make a brand truly memorable.


A Risky Commercial That Works


A Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

Love it or Hate it ... It Works

Miracle Whip. Love it or hate it? The product is asking you take sides. The commercials are entertaining and actually feature some people who clearly don't like Miracle Whip ... and that gets your attention and probably generates a smile.

If you Google "Miracle Whip", chances are you'll end up not at a website but on Miracle Whip's YouTube page where you can cast a vote for or against the product.

The campaign is taking what some people see as a risky approach to consumer engagement, but I think the tactic is well suited to today's social media. Whether it's favorite baseball teams, Justin Bieber's new haircut, or dresses at the Oscars ... people love to take sides.  

Bennetts Babe Squad

Bennetts is a motorcycle insurance company in the UK with an annual tradition of selecting women to be part of "Bennetts Babe Squad."  I'm not sure that would fly in the U.S., but apparently there's nothing wrong with being a "babe" in the UK and a lot of women enter the contest.

If you visit the company's website you can enter the contest or just peruse through a gallery of the entries so far and rate your favorites. (Or you could get an insurance quote.) It's sort of interesting to see how website visitors rank the ladies. Not many get more than 3 out of 5 stars and the votes didn't seem to jive with my taste at all. Even so, I respect a marketing tradition like this one.

More Than Just Another Shopping Bag


Everyone knows that fancy shopping bags require too much energy to produce, and require too much material in their production...

...so Lee produced a fancy shopping bag that's reusable and incorporated ideas and instructions on how the bag can be altered for other uses ... and the bags have quickly became popular with shoppers. Crafty.

Aisle Fail

Here's an interesting mix of products in a drug store aisle.

I Don't Care Who Wore it ... I Don't Want a Used Jock

I'm guessing that this 1950s ad didn't really mean sporting goods retailers could sell the actual "supporters worn by the world's champion New York Giants." If it did ... Eeewwww. Gross.

Dummies Don't Perspire

Here's another ad from the 50s. This one disparages both Mannequin Americans and women with the phrase "Dummies don't perspire ... but real live girls need MUM." Huh? Apparently the makers of MUM don't believe men perspire. But it seems men do square dance with mannequins? Very confusing.

International ConVENTion

In July we'll be heading to the Drawbridge Convention Center in Ft. Mitchell, KY for the International Ventriloquists Convention. This year the convention is honoring our close friend, Jimmy Nelson (above).

While we're in Ft. Mitchell we'll head on over the Vent Haven Museum, the largest museum in the world dedicated to ventriloquists, ventriloquist puppets, and related memorabilia. Dale is on the Board of Advisors for the museum and my predecessor resides there.

You can see Chip#1 in the photo above. He's the one next to an original Jeff Dunham Peanut, and he has a photo of himself and Dale on his lap. I have no idea why the museum thinks he's significant. He was a cheap $400 puppet that was replaced by me at ten times the cost. You tell me who's more valuable?


Have They Killed the Easy Bake Oven

A Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

Have They Killed the Easy Bake Oven?


After nearly half a century of injuring children and occasionally baking things, the heat source for the Easy-Bake Oven is set to go the way of the dodo.

Starting next year, a federal law will effectively forbid the production of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs. Hasbro, makers of the toy, say they have been planning for the end of the 100-watt bulb.

"We are aware that the 100-watt incandescent light bulb will no longer be available beginning in 2012. In Fall 2011, Hasbro will launch the Easy Bake Ultimate Oven, introducing a new way to bake for the next generation of chefs. This new oven features a heating element that does not use a light bulb and offers an extensive assortment of mixes reflective of the hottest baking trends for today."

So while the Easy-Bake Oven brand lives on, anyone who wants to continue to use their old device after this year should be stocking up on 100-watt bulbs before they go bye-bye.

Do You Know What They Do To Puppets in Prison?

This 30 second spot for Mountain Dew educates us. For instance did you know that "window puppet shows are illegal in NYC?" Well they are. So click above or click here to watch and laugh.

The Most Annoying Tropicana Ad Ever

From CopyRanter: OJ makes Monday "the best day of all?" You've got to kidding?! That bottle better be half full of vodka to put even the slightest happy-dent in my Mondays.

From the agency press note: "Stunningly simple, the bright and visually engaging artwork reflects the optimism of the Tropicana brand, using a different pep-talk mantra each day to encourage the reader to think positively about the day ahead, and attack it in a Tropicana way."

Just shut up, Tropicana ... and pass the vodka.

The New Model for Madonna's Material Girl Line is ...

Who is this? Would you believe it's Kelly Osbourne looking like a completely different and way hotter version of herself? And now she's fronting a new Spring 2011 campaign for Madonna's Material Girl line sold at Macy's.

Osbourne follows Taylor Momsen who also fronted the brand in a campaign last year. Madonna is typically a very savvy business person, so you can bet she knows how to turn the demographics behind Osbourne's popularity into sales.

How Fat is He?

If you're so fat that you feel the need to take a pregnancy test (and you're a guy), you're really fat ... and apparently you're in need of a personal trainer from X-Fit Body Trainer. Entertaining and attention-getting concept.


Humorous Marketing Lesson

A Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

Brilliant Marketing Lesson

I just read an entertaining article on the Hey Whipple Blog about a fictional marketing pitch to Chiquita Bananas. The author points out that in reality there's no difference between Dole bananas and Chiquita bananas. So how do you make one product seem better than the other? His idea is to tout Chiquita as "Tarantula-free." Brilliant. And it's a great lesson in how marketing is used to create a difference that doesn't really exist. The logic behind how this could actually work is outlined below.

"Chiquita Tarantula-Free Bananas."

"We start off our campaign by going online into all the banana chat rooms and wondering aloud....'So, if Dole bananas ever seem to cost less, will anybody stop to think maybe it's because 'DOLE IS STILL SHIPPIN' BANANAS  IN BIG-ASS  TARANTULA-ENGORGED  BUNCHES?!'"

The author also recommends creating an adorable little arachnid thingie named "Harry" Tarantula ... who is all sad and homeless because he can't live in Chiquita bananas anymore now that they kicked him out.

"We could also follow up with a Chiquita app. We'll call it ‘Hey Mr. Tally Man, Tally Me Tarantulas.' Just point an iPhone at a bunch of Dole bananas and it tells the shopper the estimated number of tarantulas she can expect to join her at dinner.

"Meanwhile, over at the Chiquita display, there's a computer chip playing a new version of that old song 'Yes, We Have No Tarantulas.'"

And that, my friends, is how marketing works.

My Nurse Says I Have Shooters Elbow


It's March Madness and Hooters has once again jumped in with a promotion to entice hoops enthusiasts.


Go to the Hooters website and print out a doctor's excuse for your absence during the games. (Actually it's a "nurse's excuse." And the reason I know about it is that half of our staff appears to be coming down with Hooter's-diagnosed afflictions.)

After printing out your "excuse" take it to Hooters for a free appetizer. I think I'm coming down with something ...

It's Entertaining and it's Kim Bassinger

This Peugeot commercial stars academy award winning Kim Bassinger. I've included it because it has a great I-didn't-see-it-coming ending ... plus, it stars Kim Bassinger ... I mean, come on. Click above or click here to watch the 30 second spot and smile.

As a bonus, here's the single reason I became a fan of Kim Bassinger's. It's the 4 minute strip she did to Joe Cocker's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" for Mickey Rourke in the movie 9 ½ Weeks. Click here to see the scene that single handedly saved an otherwise awful movie. There's a reason it has 800,000 hits on YouTube. NSFW.

Ad Copy Creates Online Buzz


"You're looking at the first unretouched makeup ad", says this ad for Makeup For Ever's HD High Definition foundation. And with that claim the ad is getting an over-abundance of attention all over the internet.

Have our standards become so screwed up that an ad with an un-Photoshopped 17-year old genetically-gifted model has become newsworthy? I guess they have.

Fantastic Canned Food Displays

Founded in 1992, Canstruction's mission is to engage, amaze and inspire the community to work together raising canned food to feed hundreds of thousands of hungry people. The organization sponsors a design/build competition showcasing the talents of design and construction industry professionals and students. Teams are given 12 hours to defy expectations, logic, and gravity as they build fantastic sculptures from thousands of cans of food.

Driven by the knowledge that their structures will raise public awareness and more importantly, help fill the shelves of local food banks, volunteers work to bring their creations to life. The following day, the super-sized displays are judged in a variety of categories and the art exhibits are opened to the public. The cost of admission ... just one can of food. Click here to see more of these very creative canned food displays.

Hooters Wants to Reward Husbands

Here's another clever Hooter's promotion. Hooters on West 56th Street in Manhattan broke with company tradition and celebrated marriage with a special offer that gave married men discounts.

As you can see from the ad above, the longer you were married, the bigger your discount. How thoughtful. I hope not too many guys went home with their marriage certificates covered in hot sauce. The promotion was co-sponsored by the extracurricular-friendly film Hall Pass. Via Jezebel.

Advertising on Social Media

U.S. advertisers spent $1.99 billion on social ads in 2010, and they are estimated to spend $3.08 billion in 2011 ... a 55% increase over last year, according to eMarketer. If you are like me and intentionally ignore advertising on social networks at least 99.9% of the time, then you and I probably have the same question: "Why?"  

There's no doubt that social networks provide a platform to purchase highly targeted ads based on people's behavior and interests. Social ads must be working for someone, since ad-spend expenditures are so high. But who really responds to those ads? And again, "Why?"

Google and Mozilla are rolling out ways for people to opt out of so-called behavioral advertising. And the Federal Trade Commission is working hard to find a way to control online solicitations, which will probably change the way ads are displayed on social networks. It will be interesting to see where the social-advertising realm is headed.

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