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CVS makes big move, ditches tobacco products February 21, 2014

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CVS shocked the business world in February 2014 after announcing that it was getting rid of tobacco products in its stores. The company’s CEO called the decision “the right thing for us to do for our customers to help people o their path to better health.” Tobacco products make up about $2 billion of the company’s revenue, so it seems like a risky decision. However, with CVS entering the medical services trade, selling such products became inconsistent with its new image. As NPR’s Yuki Noguchi told Morning Edition, CVS is moving in the direction of the new pharmacy:

“Drug stores aren’t just filling prescriptions these days. A lot of drug stores are marketing themselves as wellness centers, and many, including CVS, are running health care centers and partnering with hospitals. So the company has come to the conclusion that selling cigarettes conflicts with these changes.”

Indeed, CVS Caremark CEO Larry Merlo admitted,”This decision is about much more than that. It’s about where we’re headed as an organization, where we expect to be in the future as a health care company.”

While CVS is winning praise from even President Obama for its latest announcement, critics are claiming that it should only be the first step in cleaning up its stores. According to Derrick Jackson of The Boston Globe:

“If CVS truly cares about all the sources of diabetes and other preventable diseases, soda should be the next target. Two days before Brennan’s op-ed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the most dramatic findings yet linking high sugar consumption to heart disease. The WHO and the American Heart Association recommend that less than 10 percent of a person’s daily calories should come from the added sugars found in processed foods, snacks, and beverages. But 71 percent of Americans exceed that figure.”

For more on the big move by CVS, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  How was CVS’s decision to get rid of tobacco products a clear PR move?

2.  Can CVS be consistent with its new “healthy” image and still continue to offer the basics to its customers?

3.  What else would CVS have to eliminate from its stores to be completely consistent with its new message?

Rogue employee at Pizza Hut creates plenty of bad press February 21, 2014

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A regional manager of several West Virginia Pizza Hut franchises created some pretty bad press for his company recently, after being spotted in a surveillance video urinating in a sink in the food prep area. The video leaked in February and went viral quickly. The employee was seen using a computer before stepping up to the sink behind him and relieving himself. He turned on the faucet briefly, presumably to “flush.” It took little time for the manager to be fired, and Pizza Hut released the following statement:

“Pizza Hut has zero tolerance for violations of our operating standards, and the local owner of the restaurant took immediate action and terminated the employee involved. While the isolated incident occurred during non-business hours and did not involve any food tampering, we follow strict safety and handling procedures and the restaurant has since been closed. We apologize to our customers of Kermit, West Virginia and those in our system who have been let down by this situation.”

Rogue employees like the manager in this incident aren’t all that unusual, and they pose serious dangers for big business. A Burger King employee from Cleveland created similar news stories in 2012 after posting photos of himself standing in buckets of lettuce.  Another Burger King employee was caught bathing in his restaurant’s sink in 2008. Domino’s Pizza was also caught in an embarrassing episode in 2009, after a few employees at one franchise posted video of themselves putting cheese in their nose and rubbing sandwiches on their private parts.

For more on the latest episode involving Pizza Hut, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Are companies to blame for the actions of their rogue employees?

2.  Was Pizza Hut’s response to the latest story of a rogue employee sufficient in repairing its image? Why, or why not?

3.  How has the internet era (especially after the development of social media and modern mobile technology) exacerbated the problem of rogue employees?

aerie underwear campaign embraces real women February 16, 2014

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Perhaps taking a page out of Dove’s book, American Eagle’s sister store for lingerie, aerie, launched a new ad campaign in 2014 embracing real women. The new ads feature unretouched models in the companies apparel, marking a stark contrast to ads coming from competitors like Victoria’s Secret.

So far, the attention given to the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive. Indeed, the women in the ads are still amazingly attractive and hardly representative of the “average” woman. Yet, as one critic for adweek.com stated, “In a world where Photoshop morphs already super hot models into super hot models with thigh gap and flawless skin and inhuman proportions (Google Victoria’s Secret Photoshop Fails for glorious examples), this is a step in the right direction.”

For more on this new campaign, see the following videos:

Discussion Questions:

1.  How might campaigns like aerie’s change the culture of objectification of women? Is this even possible?

2.  Are such strategies becoming commonplace mainly to combat objectification, or to market products with a greater sense of goodwill?

An anti-abuse campaign designed for kids February 16, 2014

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A Spanish organization called the Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation (ANAR) has designed an anti-abuse campaign uniquely designed for kids. A billboard ad was displayed in public showing different messages from different angles. For an adult, or anyone over four-and-a-half feet tall, the ad shows a sad child with the message, “sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.” When a child sees the ad, though, they see the same kid with bruises on his face and a different message that reads (along with a phone number), “if somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you.” The ad was widely praised for its creativity, but some experts question whether the technique could eventually be abused to target kids with advertising invisible to adults.

For more on this story, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Are there ethical concerns involved in targeting kids with advertising that cannot be seen by adults? Why, or why not?

2.  How else could this innovative approach be used beneficially for PSA’s? What kinds of messages could alternatively target adults (assuming that kids could not see them)?

#SexMyths PSA blows up teens’ rumors about getting it on February 15, 2014

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How do public health organization dispel teens’ rumors about sex? A new PSA campaign by United Way of Greater Milwaukee is making great strides in its new #SexMyths ads. Each video starts with a teen talking about some popular sex myth, like “If you do jumping jacks after you have sex you can’t get pregnant.” Viewers of the videos are asked whether the statement is true or false, they get the answer after they click, and then they are given more rumors to address. The ads eventually encourage viewers to go to getthesexfacts.com, where adults are encouraged to read about what they’re kids are saying about sex. So far, the campaign is mainly limited to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and at bus shelters.

Notably, experts are saying the campaign is pretty successful. Whereas there were 52 births per 1,000 females ages 15-17 in the city in 2006, the group sees trends reducing that to 30 per 1,000 by 2015 – a 46 percent decline if all works out.

Test your knowledge of #SexMyths by watching the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  How does the Milwaukee campaign exhibit the qualities of a viral campaign?

2.  How does the #SexMyths campaign clearly target a specific demographic?

3.  How would one measure the influence of such a campaign?

Chipotle gears up for new “Farmed and Dangerous” campaign February 15, 2014

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Chipotle is notable among fast-food chains for not spending so much on advertising campaigns. But when it does, the ads go viral. Chipotle is experimenting with a new creative format for a campaign called “Farmed and Dangerous.” The campaign is a four-part comedy series that’s going to be available on Hulu. Chipotle’s brand will not be featured much in the spots, focusing instead on the comedy of industrial-scale farming. Actor Ray Wise stars in the 30 minute episodes.

According to Adam Cohen of The New York Times, the Chipotle campaign is interesting because it blends advertising and entertainment in a high-cost production. Moreover, Cohen added, the strategy preaches the gospel of sustainability rather than resorting to traditional ad techniques.

For a preview of the new ad campaign by Chipotle, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What is native advertising? How does “Farmed and Dangerous” qualify, if at all, as this new genre of advertising?

2.  How does the particular strategy used by Chipotle reach new audiences?

3.  Are there ethical concerns about this form of advertising?

FDA targets teens with unique anti-smoking campaign February 6, 2014

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The Food and Drug Administration has been trying to figure out, for perhaps decades now, how to convince teens not to smoke. It may finally have an answer: concentrate on the short-term harms of cigarettes. In a new $115 million campaign, the organization is running several ads focusing on how smoking affects kids’ appearances. You know, ruining skin and damaging smiles. Costing a fortune. Making you smell. The ads are graphic, and by most accounts extremely effective. What experts are noting about the campaign is that it uses big tobacco’s most effective strategies against itself. Think smoking will make you friends and make you look cool? Think again.

For more on this campaign, see the following videos:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why are so many kids drawn to smoking? How does the FDA’s campaign attempt to address those reasons?

2.  Is the campaign too graphic? Will it work? How would we know?

3.  What is the difference between anti-smoking ads targeting short-term versus long-term effects of smoking? Why is the FDA changing its strategy in this campaign?

“Learn for Life” ad goes viral: Can real orgs learn from hoax? February 6, 2014

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A new public service announcement is going viral. The ad released in January shows two teen couples skipping school and heading for the beach. They drink, remove most of their clothes, and frolic in the sand. Then, suddenly and surprisingly, one of the girls steps on a landmine and blows up. The rest of the group goes in the same bloody, gory manner. At the end of the commercial, a warning flashes, “This is what happens when you slack off. Stay in school.” The ad was apparently created for the Learn for Life Foundation of Western Australia, a non-profit organization. In reality, the ad is a hoax created by filmmaking duo Henry Inglis and Aaron McCann. The two used the opportunity to create something unsettling-but-funny to promote their work. The public took the bait.

What’s most interesting about this ad is its viral potential. In almost a week alone, it received over 13 million views on YouTube. As some critics pointed out, it mastered B-movie horror comedy in ways that clearly registered with some, and horrified others. But it did the trick, and there’s obviously something to be learned from this genre of hoax ads.

To see the ad yourself, watch it here:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What are the characteristics of viral videos?

2.  How did the video above contain those characteristics?

3.  What can other organizations learn from the “Learn for Life” hoax campaign?

Big food companies try to get kid friendly January 26, 2014

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Almost 20 big food companies recently announced that they were adopting a new system that would make it easier to compare food values across products and brands. The group included the Campbell Soup Co., General Mills, Kellogg, Pepsi, Kraft, and many others. The companies also announced that products that couldn’t be in compliance would either be cut or not be advertised to kids. The move follows an effort by the group to cut sugar and other harmful ingredients to make them more kid friendly.

The self-regulation efforts by big food companies has been seen, too, in McDonald’s. The company recently announced that it would not (and has not for the most part) marketed to kids in schools, and even signed an agreement with the Clinton Foundation concerning how it would market soda products with Happy Meals.

For more on efforts to cut back on food products and their ads targeting kids, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why is the food industry engaging in so much self regulation concerning products traditionally targeting kids? What’s at stake if this self regulation does not happen?

2.  Is self regulation enough? Can big food companies prevent federal regulation of products traditionally targeting kids?

3.  Why food ads targeting kids so controversial? Why are they considered unethical by certain critics?

“Evil baby” prankvertising goes viral January 26, 2014

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Prankvertising is a new trend in the ad world, often scaring the bejesus out of unknowing citizens going about their days all for the sake of entertainment. The latest viral example of the genre is a promotion for horror film Devil’s Due featuring a remote controlled baby carriage holding an ugly devil baby. The prank had the carriage sitting in public, baiting people passing by to take a peek just as a baby popped up with a frightful scream. For those unwilling to peek, the baby would pop up, projectile vomit, and get closer as the carriage was moved from a distance.

Sounds funny, eh? Not to everyone. Some critics fear that the high profile stunts are raising the stakes on what kind of prank will get passed around online. In the meantime, unwilling participants are dragged into some of the scariest moments of their lives. As David Gianatasio of Ad Week ripped, “Using nonprofessionals involves real risk, because reactions can, of course, be unpredictable. What if someone draws a weapon and charges into an elevator? What if someone suffers a heart attack?”

For more on this story, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What is advertising clutter? How is prankvertising a response to that problem for the ad world?

2.  How do prankvertising ads exhibit the characteristics of viral videos?

3.  What is the risk of prankvertising? What, for example, could have gone wrong in the “evil baby” prank above?

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