George Duncan

Marketing copywriter/consultant, author

Do you “agree” to lose your privacy?

From Watch Your Ads — A media memo by George Duncan

You might be doing just that, according to a piece in Slate (Privacy Isn’t a Right, 11/7). Last month I did a riff on being followed around the web by a service provider I had happened to check out (Creepy Crawley, November 15) Now comes author Josh Klein cautioning web users against automatically clicking “agree” – as I have done all too often – to those online services agreements many web sites present. As Klein puts it, “Privacy isn’t your (sic) right anymore. We sold it for pictures of cats and the ability to tell anyone in the free world what we had for breakfast.” Ouch. There’s much more to the piece than I can relate here. Check it out at slate.com.

In addition, SmartBrief (SmartBrief.com, 12/4) warns that almighty “Twitter is preparing to introduce retargeted ads based on websites that users have visited.” The Twits use account data to track users and target ads across devices, SmartBrief says.

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Any S&P Advance Previews?

Invesco nails it with an ad that shows investors – lined up at bank-like windows. Coming to the window they’re told there are no more “foresight” goggles — they were getting all fogged up. Other investment tools like “hindsight” mirrors and “kick me” boots are likewise out of stock (no pun intended).  Instead, the clerk offers them an Invesco brochure. Neat stuff.

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On the Other Hand…

Three of the biggest schmuck ads on TV today: the Crestor guy who treats the cholesterol medication like it was the Alabama Crimson Tide, except in orange; the XFINITY jerk with a flat screen mounted on his dog so he can stay glued as he goes about the house; and I don’t know what those two in the Sonic ad are doing. Come on guys, show us why you get the big bucks. Don Draper could top those – drunk.

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Watch Their Language

Ally Bank is offering a CD. The guy says to a potential buyer,  “if our rate goes up, yours can too.” Note the word can. Not will go up. Watch it!

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New Man—or Same Old Neanderthal?

Last summer I took a swipe at the testosterone ads (July 8) and their “man up” B.S. has been a joke around the house ever since. Good to know it’s not just me. The New York Times (11/24) ran a page one on the Sunday Business Day section echoing some of the reservations I had – but impeccably written, of course. Do you feel full after a big meal? Are you tired late at night? OMG! You may have humanism! It’s already inside you. The Times piece questioned much about AndroGel’s marketing and the Low-T, “be a man” malarkey on TV these days, which has pushed sales of testosterone drugs from $324 million in 2002 to over $2 billion last year. Nugenix, another testosterone supplement, asks point blank in  their ad, “Are you a man?” Clearly, a bald attempt to promise renewed sexual prowess in aging men, ED be damned.

But the whole man-up issue takes a nasty turn when put in context with another piece in the Times (11/22), a review of a new, widely touted book by Michael Kimmel, Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era. It was also reviewed in Nation Books (11/24). It explores the mass shooters, the wife batterers, the unemployed suffering the loss of good paying manufacturing jobs, the “feminazis” out to steal America’s manhood, and more.  Says Kimmel: “It’s not ‘Americans’ who are angry; it’s American men. And it’s not all American men – it’s American white men.” And this theme of masculinity keeps popping up in ads these days. As I’m writing this, Dr. Pepper is running an ad in the SEC Championship game (football is the masculine sport, after all)  featuring a Grizzly Adams type out in the wilderness – the manly wilderness – touting Dr. Pepper Ten as the “manliest” drink. Subway has an ad for their steak sandwich saying “three times the steak equals three times the man.” Really. Duluth Trading Co. promotes their stuff as rugged wear. One of their current ads offers their underwear “for a manly Christmas.”  And there are others.

What the hell is going on here? Personally, I prefer the Mizzou band with their platoon of golden clad vestal virgins shaking their pom poms.

Keep clickin’

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