2010, 2011 PRSA WI Paragon Award of Excellence

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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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May 2013 - Posts

Marketing with "Normal" Models

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

H&M Marketing Uses Model with "Normal Body"

It would be nice if we didn't live in a world where this is considered news, but for better or worse, it is. H&M has selected a swimwear model who actually has a normal human body. Jennie Runk, a size 12 from America, will appear in this season's beach-related advertising for the brand. "How refreshing," writes one commenter on the Ford Models gallery of photos from Runk's H&M shoot.

Like many fashion brands, H&M has been criticized in recent years for featuring "unhealthily thin" models in ads. H&M even used CGI to create waifish bodies that models' heads could be dropped on to as needed. However, brand reps seem to be downplaying Runk's body type by saying she was simply the best pick for the ads.

"Our aim is not to convey a certain message or show an ideal," H&M spokeswoman Jennifer Ward tells Quartz.com, "but to find a model who can illustrate this collection in an inspiring and clear way."

On the Opposite End of The Spectrum ...

Anyone who's been to Abercrombie & Fitch in the last few years has probably noticed that they don't carry XL or XXL sizes of women's clothing because they don't want overweight women wearing their brand.

According to this popular teen clothing retailer, fat chicks will just never be a part of the "in" crowd. They take a big risk with this tactic because two of Abercrombie's biggest competitors, H&M and American Eagle, both offer XXL sizes for men and women.

The largest women's pants available at Abercrombie are a size 10. Abercrombie's attitude towards plus-sized women derives from CEO Mike Jeffries. Robin Lewis, author of The New Rules of Retail, spoke to Business Insider about the kind of people Jeffries wants advertising his brand. "He doesn't want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people," Lewis said. "He doesn't want his core customers to see people who aren't as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they're one of the ‘cool kids.'"

Lewis said that the only reason Abercrombie offers XL and XXL in men's sizes is to appeal to large athletes. In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries confirmed that the communication between hot people is his primary marketing tactic. "It's almost everything. That's why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that," he said. Jeffries also told Salon that he wasn't bothered by excluding fat people. In fact, he said that not limiting his ideal demographic would make his clothing less desirable.

My guess is that Mr. Jeffries has never been in his own "ideal demographic." But that's just a guess.

Abercrombie is beginning to take some significant hits on social media. And here's the best one.

I've Got a Cat With No Pulse Here!

Click here to see a pretty funny commercial from the UK for Spec Savers.

UHAC Eye Test


Play this video and take the test. I failed ... huh?

Sexist Beer Ad of the Day

This print ad from the UK for Courage Beer is probably more wrong than funny ... but it's still pretty funny.

Chiropractor Ad Will Make You Cringe

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

Local Chiropractor Ad Puts Patients Through Their Paces


Here's another local ad that is totally WTHeck-worthy. Watch this chiropractor put his patients through their paces and tell me that you don't wince, cringe and yell "ouch!" out loud.

And why are all of his patients attractive women? There is no way this ad could improve business for this guy or any other chiropractor.


Database Marketing

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

Database Marketing Still Works

You can't practice good database marketing by buying a list of contacts that have no desire to hear from you and promoting to them relentlessly. At best you'll just annoy people - at worst you'll find your outbound emails blacklisted.

Successful database marketing requires building a permission-based contact list of prospects. While the media has changed, the principles of database marketing remain the same.

  1. Give people a reason to opt-in to your offers and continue to welcome communication from you. This means making sure that you send plenty of non-sales information that is aimed at helping your prospects do their jobs better, and less of the sales-pitch variety.
  2. Educate your prospects so that they know you are the branded authority in your area of expertise. This way you will be the obvious choice when prospects need to buy what you offer.
  3. Make it as easy to opt-out as you do to opt-in. There is no good reason to make people go through hoops to opt-out of your contact list.
  4. Find your right contact tempo. For some types of communications, emailing once a week or even more often is acceptable. For others, once a month is adequate. The idea is to contact prospects often enough to keep your name top of mind, but not so often as to annoy or chase them away.
  5. Put real effort into your database marketing efforts.Don't treat this as an afterthought.

If you follow best practices in database marketing, you will be rewarded over time with a rich source of future leads and revenue. 

Spock Made Me LOL

A "Spock vs. Spock" ad should, when considered logically, be a complete nerdfest packed with inside jokes only Star Trek superfans would appreciate. Instead, Audi's new spot, "The Challenge," is an entertaining vignette in which two of the geek culture's greatest heroes refrain from taking themselves too seriously. Parts of the ad made me lol ... especially the ending.

"New Spock" Zachary Quinto plays his part pretty straight, leaving plenty of room for the original Vulcan, Leonard Nimoy, to be straight-up amazing. With his chaotic mop of hair, gravelly grumble of a voice and inspiring rendition of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" (from the actor's second album, released in 1968), Nimoy steals every scene of this nearly three-minute oddity that has a very funny ending.

Sexist Beer Ad of the Day

Sorry I can't translate the verbiage, but the second panel touts Skol's shower curtain.

If You Ride a Motorcycle, You'll Get this Ad

According to this ad for Honda helmets, if you're not wearing a helmet a small bug can become a bullet when it smacks you in the head. Whenever Dale took me along for a ride on his Harley I rode in the saddlebag ... so the bug thing wasn't really an issue. But Dale (and just about anyone who took a motorcycle safety course) wore a helmet.

This is Water ... The Real Value of Education

Just in case you haven't seen this yet, (it was viewed more than a million times in less than a week) here is a video using author David Foster Wallace's voice, bringing his words to a global audience. "This Is Water," a cinematic interpretation of Wallace's honest-but-inspiring 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College, has quickly become one of the most passed-around videos in recent time.

Wallace's speech didn't become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice I've come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education.



Typography Hints for Non-Professionals

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

Typography for Non-professionals

How does it look? In some situations, some usages, one type looks fine and another looks garish or silly or just wrong. And the reason is that whether you realize it or not, type reminds readers of something they've seen before.

Here's an obvious example that I found floating around online:

Here's another example. Which one looks like a college you'd aspire to attend?

If you use a typeface that reminds me of the script on the menu of a French restaurant, I'm not going to instinctively believe that you're a good doctor. If you use a thin, elegant wedding invitation font in your Powerpoint presentation, you haven't been clever, you've merely confused me.

Here's the amateur's rule of thumb: don't call attention to your typeface unless you want the typeface to speak for you. Instead, start with the look and feel of the industry leaders and go from there. A good shortcut is to use Franklin Gothic Condensed for your headlines and Garamond for your body copy. Change it if you want, but only when you want to remind me of something.

Typography is a bit like wearing a dark blue suit to a meeting with a banker. You can wear something else, sure, but make sure you want it to be noticed, because it will be.

It doesn't matter if you like the typography. It doesn't matter if the committee likes it. After legibility, all that matters is what the recipient is reminded of. (And yes, it's fine if the typography reminds your viewer of nothing at all.)

At Least You'll be Saving Gas

Click here to a funny and entertaining 2008 commercial for the VW Golf.

While We're on Babies ... Don't Clean Your Baby's Pacifier In The Sink - Suck On It, Says Study

So there you are, hanging out with your baby and oh, whoops - his or her pacifier hits the ground. Most parents would take it to the sink, run it under some water or perhaps sterilize it in boiling water to prevent their baby from sucking on germs. But a new study says if you want to help your baby, you should really just suck on that pacifier to clean it off. Say whatnow?

Sure, it sounds gross, and of course if a pacifier lands on the street in a puddle of who knows what, no parent is going to pop that in their mouth. But according to a study in this week's issue of Pediatrics (via NPR), babies might be less likely to develop allergic reactions as their parents saliva can actually change the makeup of the bacteria that live in and on our bodies.

Those microbiomes could hep babies from developing things like asthma and eczema, researcher say. The 65 babies whose mother or father sucked on their pacifiers to clean them off were significantly less likely to develop those conditions, compared to the babies whose parents cleaned the pacifiers with water.

Why Women Wear Bikinis, Lipstick and High Heels

Click here to learn the historical facts behind why women wear bikinis, lipstick and high heels.

Big, Brilliant, Direct-View TV

The earliest TV's used mirrors to reflect the picture from inside the "box" towards the viewers. The vintage ad above touts one of the first "direct-view" models from Dumont, which no longer required a mirror. Funny what was perceived as a "big" screen in the early 50's.  It's also funny how dressed up everyone is just to watch TV.

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