Bad Food Marketing To Children

Do you really want to feed your children Lucky Charms and Coca-Cola? I doubt it. These “foods” have no nutritional value.
As a professional marketing expert who specializes in food marketing, I wanted to tell you all about the Food Marketing Workgroup. According to their website,
The Food Marketing Workgroup is a network of more than 200 organizations and academic experts who are concerned about the proliferation of marketing of unhealthful foods and beverages that targets children and adolescents. This national network, convened by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG), is dedicated to eliminating harmful food marketing — particularly marketing aimed at those who are most vulnerable to obesity and other nutrition-related diseases — by actively identifying, investigating, and advocating changes to marketing practices that undermine health.
I’m all for an organization that serves to showcase what is nutritional – and what is not – to parents. When you check out their website, make sure to visit the “Wall of Shame,” which pinpoints some serious food offenders. Such as:
1). The new movie, Free Birds, in which a turkey persuades the early Indians to take turkey off the first Thanksgiving menu and replace it with – you guessed it – Chuck E. Cheese pizza
2). Coca Cola, which apparently is training restaurant servers to “cap the tap” to push customers to order soda instead of water. Doesn’t this simply promote obesity?
3). A school in rural Missouri features four – count ‘em – four Pepsi vending machines containing both diet and full-calorie sugary drinks for sale to high school kids.
4). Cap’N Crunch Oops! All Berries is anything but – it ought to be called mostly sugar and food dyes, and should probably be named “No Berries.”
Is it me – or are you infuriated with Big Food and the way that they shove horrible food advertising – and food – down our throats – and also down the throats of children and young adults? Remember, people, that there’s a serious obesity epidemic in this country, and eating junk isn’t going to help the situation.

This Bud’s Not For You

It’s unbelievable to me, as a professional digital marketing consultant, that big behemoth brands can make the mistakes that they do.
Case in point: Bud Light. Recently, the beer featured labels saying that Bud Light is “the perfect beer for removing ‘No’ from your vocabulary for the night.”
Really? What a bad, bad, bad signature tag line. I thought that when you said “No” to someone’s sexual advances, no meant no. You said no to prevent sexual abuse. You said no to set a limit. Who really wants to remove “No” from their vocabulary? Who wants to be taken advantage of, or made a victim of a sexual or violent crime?
You have to understand, a team of Bud Light marketing executives sat in a boardroom and pondered this for days, before deciding that yes, this was their message. Their brilliant advertising message. And the higher-ups agreed!
People were outraged by this – and so am I. This kind of message only contributes to a rape culture.
Just consider, if you will, a small microcosm of society – the college campus. They are loaded with crime, many of them rapes, sexual assaults, and violent crimes. For example:
According to the FBI, crime statistics from more than 600 schools in the USA during 2013 demonstrated that there were several thousand on-campus crimes that were reported by American universities and colleges. Unbelievably there were even murders committed at 13 schools.
Here are some statistics that would shock many people.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (the school Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev attended) — led all schools in the amount of total violent crimes, tallying 27 instances among 9,210 on-campus students. UMass-Dartmouth tied with Emerson College, with a total of nine student rape cases. On the national scene, by comparison, UCLA led all U. S colleges and universities in the categories of violent crime (85) and rape cases (34).
Factor in that drinking is a huge part of campus life, and I find the Bud Light message even more reprehensible.
The folks at Bud Light have apologized, saying, “We missed the mark and apologize.”
But I’m still shocked. What were those marketing people thinking?
I used to work at an advertising/marketing firm, where my overly cautious boss used to constantly scale things back, as he didn’t ever want to take any risk that sometime, somewhere, one of his ads would offend someone. He actually went too far in that direction.
And here you have the marketing folks at Anheuser-Busch condoning drinking their beverage and using it to take “No” out of your vocabulary. To promote sexual abuse.
If I was a Bud Light drinker, I’d switch to something else.
I say this as a non-drinker – but I’d stick to Dos Equis and The Most Interesting Man In The World. Now that is a winning ad campaign that is funny, memorable, convincing and entertaining. It successfully achieves what every ad should do.

Progressive Insurance Witch Commercial: Is Flo a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?

I’m sorry I even have to ask the question. But I am outraged by the latest ad by Progressive Insurance.

Their ads featuring Flo are wildly popular, and I agree – they are humorous and memorable, which is a goal for all advertisements and commercials.

But to portray her as a witch who is going to get burned after her witch trial?

Shame on you, Progressive.

The witch trials in Salem were a travesty of justice. They really happened, and are a sad chapter in American history. To use them as a vehicle to sell insurance is outrageous.

Furthermore – it should be noted that a Jordanian pilot was indeed burned to death by ISIS a few weeks ago.

This is so bloody insensitive I can’t stand it.

I’ve read some comments online about this ad – and some people have said that it is akin to Flo showing up at Auschwitz, or at Jesus’ crucifixion.

This ad is so in poor taste that it’s almost incomprehensible. This is very, very bad marketing. It’s not funny.

As a marketing content provider, and professional marketing expert: Burning someone is no joke, and should not be part of anyone’s marketing plan to increase sales.

Toilet Paper Advertising Hits New Low: Bad Marketing

I’m here to discuss something not very polite.

Toilet-paper advertising.

An example of a company that does it right is Charmin. They hold a contest every year in which they invite women to create a wedding dress out of TP, and it has been a huge success for them. It’s clever and creative, and an example of smart marketing.

Not such a good idea is what I want to discuss in this blog post.

Another toilet-paper company is urging people to “Go Commando.”


Yes. They want you to feel so fresh after using their toilet paper that they dare you to go without underpants. And even, on Facebook, dare your friends to do the same. Can you believe it?

Gross. If I got an invite like that on Facebook, I would be completely grossed out and disgusted. Who are you supposed to invite, to forego their underwear? Your Mom? How about your aunt, or your financial planner or dentist? Or the guy who makes pizza deliveries? This is INAPPROPRIATE all the way around, any way you slice it. I say this as a normal every day person, and also as a marketing expert and marketing author of a best-selling book on wacky marketing: Off The Wall Marketing Ideas.

I wouldn’t invite people to do this in polite company — never mind on the internet, where it’s viewed by millions of people.

Do we really want to live in a society where people don’t wear underwear? It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode where Kramer goes without, and reminds Jerry that the only thing between the two of them was “a thin layer of gabardine” in his trousers.


Years ago, I remember a photo of Demi Moore, wearing a mini dress – and no underwear. And who can forget Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct?

Stupid, bad marketing. Put a lid on it, would ya please?

Notorious Marquis de Sade Spurs New Line of Luxury Goods

I’m a former Editor of Robb Report Magazine – “The Millionaire’s Magazine” – and I thought I had seen it all. You know, million-dollar carousels on sale at Christmas for your kid’s pleasure; tire rims etched with your name in gold; diamond-stuffed Frisbees.

But there’s a new kid on the block that still has me in shock.

You know the Marquis de Sade? The famous, notorious, perverted 18th-century writer and libertine, after whom sadism is named?

Today, his ancestors in France are launching a line of luxury goods in his name.

Move over LVMH – you billion-dollar French luxury line, home to upscale brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Celine and Givenchy. You’ve got competition.

According to a feature article in this month’s edition of Smithsonian Magazine, writer Tony Perrottet shares all the insights about the Marquis, including the facts that the famous writer who died in a mental asylum in 1814 is currently enjoying quite the renaissance. He’s apparently now being hailed as a literary genius for writing 120 Days of Sodom, and he’s the subject of museum exhibits, student theses, and Sorbonne conferences.


I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, in this day and age of Fifty Shades of Grey. The American public – and most people in Western Culture – just aren’t shocked by anything anymore.
Now you can relish in the Marquis’ criminal acts, by purchasing wine with his brand on it, as well as scented candles. Tapenade and meats are to come. Get a load of the copy on the Maison de Sade website, invoking you to purchase a scented candle:


You can also get a bronze replica of the Marquis’ skull, for about $5,700.

Let me tell you something – you buy that, and you’ve got way too much money on your hands. As a marketing expert and marketing content creator, I just can’t get my arms around the public embracing a criminal such as this. He makes Charles Manson look like Popeye. This is a bad marketing idea. Who wants junk like that?

Bad Food Marketing: Here We Go Again

I am livid.

As a consumer – and professional marketing expert and copywriter – I saw a commercial on TV last night that had me gasping. My jaw dropped.

It is a TV ad for a condiment, and I proudly will NOT name the wretched stuff. It shows two young models at a photo shoot. They take a break and go to eat something. They are greeted by an elderly, gray-haired woman, who offers them a condiment, and proudly proclaims, “I put that s**t on everything.”

Then she shakes her rear end into the camera.

What? Please, spare me grandma’s booty.

I am appalled and disgusted that major brand would resort to this type of vulgarity to sell its stupid product.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised – there’s more than enough vulgarity in our culture, everywhere you turn, with F-bombs and other language freely expressed everywhere, and especially in the media. Trust me – it’s only a matter of time before you hear the F-word on mainstream media. Walk into any gym or store, and chances are, you will hear people using profanity without lowering their voices. I even attended a business conference two weeks ago, where the “professional speaker” liberally peppered her talk with expletives. I was aghast.

Whatever happened to etiquette in polite society?

I’m disgusted and discouraged.

Cars With Spa-Like Features? Bad Marketing That’s Asleep At The Wheel.

My husband Bill Kickham is a Massachusetts personal-injury attorney, and he knows all too well about Massachusetts car crashes and motor-vehicle accidents. He sees firsthand the devastation caused by Massachusetts car accidents, especially when they are caused by distracted driving.

You think texting-and-driving is bad? I believe that car manufacturers are making the situation worse.

So, here’s an example of bad marketing, and bad automobile marketing that has left me stunned. In my opinion as a digital marketing expert, this trend is only going to cause more and more accidents. That’s my 2015 marketing prediction.

The new Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic was designed with vaunted German engineering to become a spa-like haven on four wheels.

Fragrance is pumped in, in the manner of four different aromas.

Some of the heated seats include a special chamber so that the seat back deflates and inflates from your shoulder blades to lower back. This has the effect of a massage. In my opinion, heated seats and massage chairs lead to only one thing: Sleep. And in this case, if you snooze, you really lose. Your life. Yes, your blessed life.

Other parts of the automobile are heated – the armrests, door rests and even the steering wheel. I’m sure it’s padded.

Aren’t all of these luxury features just another way of turning the driver’s seat into a bed? The only thing missing is a blanket and Frette high-thread-count sheets.

I recently spoke to a colleague, who told me – get this – that her mother gets into the driver’s seat, and not only applies her makeup there, while driving – but – are you sitting down? She plugs in her curling iron, and also curls and flat-irons her hair while at the wheel.

I’m all for smart car marketing, but this is an automobile marketing strategy that leaves a lot to be desired. Auto designers should be creating more safety features, and not more things that make you want to get some shut-eye when you’re at the wheel.

New Dental Product Contains Expletive

I’m a professional product namer. I excel at coming up with great names for all kinds of services and products that are for sale to the public. When I was an advertising copywriter, for example, I came up with a financial program called PEP – it was a Personal Employment Plan like a 401k, and the jingle I came up with was, “Come in for a PEP Talk.” Since then, I’ve worked with various companies to help name everything from hair salons to prescription drugs.

Product naming is a great skill to have and it helps to have a way with words. It takes time, effort, and research, to create a moniker that will resonate and hit home with the public and make them want to buy your product or service. Companies spend thousands and thousands of dollars on finding the best name possible for what they are selling.

Which is why I am aghast, appalled and disgusted at a story that The Boston Globe newspaper published today about a local entrepreneur, who is also a professor at Babson College, who has a launched a dental product.

His new name for his business has an unprintable expletive in its title.

What a horrible example this sets. It’s bad enough to have TV shows with titles like “S*** My Dad Says” and popular books like “Go The F*** To Sleep.”

Now, here’s yet another example of someone pushing the envelope, once more, to have a product that showcases a profanity. I’m purposely not telling you the name of this dental product, nor hint at it. I hope that no one else prints the name of what this entrepreneur is selling, because it doesn’t deserve the publicity.

I’m disgusted.

Apparently the name is just one big joke on the professor’s part. But it’s not funny. Trying to make profanity mainstream is offensive, and just another example of someone taking the lowest road possible. There’s nothing creative about simply using a profanity to get publicity. It’s like stand-up comedians who resort to swear words instead of using their creativity to make you laugh. It’s a cop-out. And it’s a bad marketing idea.

Today The Boston Globe did not print the name of the product.

But you know what? Based on all the media that I read and watch, it’s just a matter of time. I give it about five years, and then, just wait – we will all be bombarded with profanity in the media, left and right. As it is, now many major media (except for newspapers) do publish all kinds of profanity, including the F-word. We are so coarsened to this type of language that many of us don’t even notice. Right now, there are a handful of words that the media won’t publish. But be warned – because very soon all profanity will go mainstream in the media, and most people won’t blink an eye when it is used in polite conversations. Even now, I overhear people – at the supermarket, in the gym, for example – using swear words and not lowering their voices. They speak loud and clear.

What the heck happened to etiquette?

Extreme Haunted Houses – That’s Entertainment? No. It’s Bad Marketing.

I have a neighbor here in Westwood, Mass., who has decorated his home with pretty standard Halloween stuff: Gravestones that scream “RIP,” white-sheet ghosts hanging from trees, oversized spider webs, and yellow crime-scene tape. For all of my life, these are the kinds of things that signified Halloween. Scary? Not at all. But these things have always been associated with Halloween, and they always did the trick for trick-or-treating.

But apparently, now, people aren’t satisfied with that sort of thing. They want extremes. They want sadism, serial killers, bondage, gagging, torture and more – all in the name of fun. And they’re getting it. It’s downright sickening, and an example of how crass our culture has become, and how people have become desensitized to violence, thanks to video games. These extreme haunted houses are so extreme, in fact, that they fall short – by a hair – of an ISIS beheading. This is bad marketing at its worst, and as a Boston marketing consultant, I’m appalled. This is unconscionable.

I’m also scared, because the Halloween envelope has been pushed so far that nothing seems grisly enough. At these haunted houses, crimes of abuse and torture are being marketed as Halloween entertainment, for people who come in droves. In some instances, these haunted house experiences are also available year-round, for people who want their share of the sick and grisly 365 days a year.

It’s estimated that the Halloween haunted theme park industry is up around $500 million.

In 2013 at a haunted-house attraction in New Hampshire, the company staged the discovery of fake human remains in a wooded area. They even enticed local police officers in the area to participate in the game, to make it all seem real.

Real? It’s not real enough that actual remains of people who have been tortured, raped, and abused, have been found in the woods? Have these idiots never heard of Molly Bish? How callous can the people behind these haunted houses be? I’m aghast. These people should be thrown in jail for their “marketing.”

Whatever happened to fake blood and a Frankenstein mask?

I’m shaking my head at the horror of it all.

Also in New Hampshire, one of the more shocking “attractions” – is a family-friendly resort that was transformed into a simulated torture chamber. Visitors fork over money to be handcuffed to a bed while live cockroaches crawl on their bodies.

I’m frightened, all right.

At a haunted house in New York City – whose name I refuse to reveal — people engage in staged abductions, waterboarding and forced stripping. And they sometimes pay as much as $135 a ticket for the pleasure of it all. Can you imagine?

At a haunted house in San Diego, run by a couple in their backyard, the fun — and I use that term loosely — includes being shoved in a coffin, or being force fed. The kicker? This enterprise has a waiting list of more than 17,000 people, as they only allow in two people per night.

What is wrong with people? These are the kinds of nightmarish experiences that, afterwards, subject people to a life of trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental illness and depression.

Shoving people in a coffin, waterboarding them, and gagging them – these are all examples of abuse. And it’s not just bad Halloween marketing. These things are crimes.

You Goofed, Paul Ryan

I opened Parade Magazine today, August 17, 2014, and read what I thought would be an interesting question-and-answer feature about Paul Ryan. Mr. Ryan was Mitt Romney’s running mate back in 2012, and some speculate he may make his own bid for the presidency in the next Presidential election. The article was pretty mainstream. The report asked about his loss in the previous Presidential election; discussed his father’s battle with alcoholism; and mentioned White House budget cuts for social programs. All good political subjects, right? Puts a positive spin on him, correct?

Then I got to the end. Here’s where Mr. Ryan a bow hunter, makes the following exclamation with great pride, about his 12-year-old daughter. “We went hunting right after the election and it was one of the most cathartic experiences, taking Liza out and seeing her shoot her first deer on opening day!”


Are you kidding me? This guy may run for office again, and he’s talking about killing defenseless animals? Is he out of his mind? What happened to his brain cells during that interview? If he had any hope at all of being a Presidential nominee, all was just lost when he inserted his big fat hunting foot into his mouth. I am dumbfounded that anyone, no less a politician, would express such glee about killing animals. My jaw dropped. OMG, someone please help me understand how a politician, of all people, could make such an offensive and idiotic statement to position himself as a frontrunner. Yes, politicians do this sort of dumb thing all the time. But as a Boston writer and communicator, I am beyond shocked. And totally disgusted.