• Holiday Car Ads Deconstructed
    I can't think of anything that would make my wife happier than if I went out and, without first consulting her and at least two of the major credit bureaus, dropped 35 grand on a car. But to hear my beloved TV tell it, that's the only proper way to convey appreciation to a loved one during the holiday season. What's a sensible sentimentalist to do? See if the ad-rabid automakers that pump millions of dollars into local buys are equally feisty on the web, that's what - and in doing so, determine just how nimble and expansive the campaigns …
  • GE "Stories" More Self-Serving Than Educational
    What did corporate monoliths do in the days before they could air their feel-good pablum on the Internet? I ask that question more or less knowing the answer ("they produced brochures that were as glossy as the skies were azure-kissed"). Nonetheless, it's hard to remember self-promotion in the pre-Internet era, before self-told stories about a company's innovationnessitude, charitable mega-munificence and casual-Thursdays-and-beer-pong-Fridays awesomeness as an employer were paired with images of smiling multiethnic worker bees and then broadcast on the company web site.
  • Bounty's YouTube Channel is A Bounty of Video Goodness
    More than I do friends, family members, celebrities or random wags capable of conveying wit and whimsy in 140-character spasms, I love following inanimate entities on Twitter. Country Crock has taught me about truth, respect and pumpkin etiquette. Tide, on the other hand, has challenged me to ponder my place in the grander scheme of things ("If Tide could bring you anything in the world, what would it be?" I'm gonna have to go with "cleaner socks," Richard).
  • Silly and Adolescent Are Keys to Axe's Success
    A few weeks back, I participated in my first-ever olfactory intervention. I did so on behalf of a way-younger cousin, who showed up at a family event smelling like he'd spent the night submerged in goat slurry. The stench was sufficiently pungent as to clear crowds out of his general vicinity, as if nudged by an invisible force-field. He made my eyes water; I was treated on the scene for chemical burns and released.
  • Low-Market Beers Positioned As Highbrow Beverages
    As lapsed adolescents with light wallets and what I now realize were borderline drinking problems, my elite college coterie and I couldn't swim in the deep end of the branded-beer pool. Hell, we couldn't even wade into the shallow end, as the cost of a 12-pack of "cold aged" Genny Light cans was prohibitive. While we'd splurge on $1 Schaefers at the local gastropub for special occasions -- say, the clock-tower chime of noon on Wednesday -- our purchases were mostly confined to whatever unbranded beer was on sale at the gas station. No fewer than four of us have …
  • Bank of America's Video Campaign Walks a Fine Line
    On a narrow, personal level, I am a satisfied Bank of America customer. The bank embraces my primary demand, which is to not give my money to somebody other than me. It doesn't attempt to upsell me on products I don't want or share my intimate personal information (investments, cup size, etc.) with third parties. I have no beef with Bank of America. Which, of course, puts me at odds with consumer advocates, government regulators, mortgage watchdogs and the subsegment of elected officials who have both a spine and a conscience. It's impossible to defend the bank's recent record on …
  • Louis Vuitton's "Journeys" Campaign: Where Is It Going?
    Most of Sunday's "60 Minutes" profile of Angelina Jolie traversed familiar ground: careerism, marriage and motherhood, life as perpetual paparazzi bait, etc. But amid her usual oddball/revelatory banter ("had I not become an actor, I would've been an elephant taxidermist," etc.), Jolie discussed her work as a United Nations goodwill ambassador and, specifically, her charity missions in Bosnia and Ethiopia. Hey, all the power to her. There are only, like, four Starbucks in sub-Saharan Africa and none of them serve the seasonal Gingerbread Latte. So Jolie has responsible-celebrity bona fides to spare. I mean this. If she doesn't truly give …