George Duncan

Marketing copywriter/consultant, author

Archive for the category “Subaru”

Is my Face metallic red!

From Watch Your Ads – A media memo by George Duncan

Is my Face metallic red!

That ad I mentioned last month with the Great Buddy Dog was selling Subaru Impreza. I regret I missed it, especially since I drive a Subaru. But then, I still don’t get what the car contributes to the guy and his dog. Could have been a 64 Chevy for that matter.

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Telling it like it is in digital communications

In Washington D.C. they say a gaffe is when someone accidentally tells the truth. By that measure, the latest AT&T/FIOS ad commits a gaffe as it shows an adult daughter arriving at her mother’s house, filled with excitement at spending some face time with mom. Never mind. As she comes through the door, mom meets her with her phone? panel? whatever in hand. Before her daughter takes off her coat, mom asks her to turn off her phone muttering how her internet slows down when anyone else is online, then she returns to her device on the sofa, leaving her daughter standing in the hall. “I thought we were going to do something,” she says. “I am doing something,” says the mom. So much for that visit and what it says about how digital technology is destroying human communication as it drives us further apart than ever. A great and scary treatment of the subject is MIT professor Sherry Turkle’s new book, Reclaiming Conversation: The power of talk in the digital age. Said Aziz Ansari of the book,

“In a time in which the ways we communicate and connect are constantly changing, and not always for the better, Sherry Turkle provides a much needed voice of caution and reason to help explain what the f*** is going on.”

Another ad on the CNBC network titled, “Ask Marcum” identifies consulting firm Marcum as “accountants, advisors” Couldn’t help imagining the kind of advice they’ll be giving if they’re putting accounting first.

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GE’s idea blob

GE ads are frequently superior to most of what we see on TV, so beyond that, I don’t address them. The latest, however, is a real thoughtful job combining an intellectual concept with arresting graphics that reach beyond their usual product/service themes. It’s focused on the power of ideas and takes corporate thinking to task for its penchant for sticking with the same old, same old. The “blob” they created is a hairy, feathery image who woefully wanders through town being rejected at every turn, sleeping in a cardboard box and generally defining the word homeless. He passes an office building with GE on the door and someone invites him in. Gradually his feathers begin to perk up and we see him onstage approaching a mike, his tail feathers standing tall in full color. Nice.

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Jordan Spieth can’t give you the time of day

Rolex says, in a magazine ad, that they are honored to be part of pro golfer Jordan Spieth’s record-breaking season, so they feature him with a ¾ page photo in an ad for their Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II in 18K white gold. See, that’s it there below the photo. In the photo, Mr Spieth’s sponsor, Under Armour’s logo, is clearly repeated on cap, shirt and belt buckle. But wait. Mr. Spieth’s wrists are shown both starkly bare. NO WATCH, LET ALONE A ROLEX! Geez fellows, give the guy a watch. You can take it back after the photo.

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Reality TV comes to Mad Ave.

A current Acura ad shows a crash test technician carry carefully crafted lifelike dummies to the crash test car and place them almost lovingly in their seats. Mom, dad and junior all get their proper locations, and are firmly belted in. Then the tech guy steps backs, presses a button and sends the car hurtling down the runway to near oblivion. It’s followed by a statement about Acura’s safety record. A bit creepy, perhaps, but very effective in bringing the reality of an automobile crash to viewers’ attention.

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Wise guys in the ad dept.

Whoever thought up the slogan “Kick acid with Rolaids” needs a kick in the acid.


Cool guys in the ad dept.

Whoever thought up the Fitbit ad, directly tying Fitbit to a series of popular physical activities and connecting the type of activity to the word “bit” should get a raise. Terms like girlfit, lovefit, pushfit, streetfit and more compliment various activities shown in quick cuts that tend to draw the viewer in and make the Fitbit both creditable and attractive. Good stuff.

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The Maytag man is baaack          

It’s been some years since Maytag ads featured the sad eyed service guy standing around dying of boredom because Maytags never need service, but he has returned, updated for the 21st century. Now he’s a robotic techie type being manufactured in a Maytag plant and duplicated by the dozens, then hundreds, then thousands and shipped all over the place in a somewhat hilarious series of shots.

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Because that’s what you don’t

GEICO has been running a series of ads around the theme, “because that’s what you do” segueing from a more or less logical situation to buying GEICO insurance, because that’s what you do (i.e., save 15%). I know, you have to see it. Anyway, the latest ad features a snotty little Peter Pan with a sense of humor from a 60’s school yard. Yuck.

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SiriusXM: home of the bottom feeders

My experience with SiriusXM may be unique to the channels I listen to, but I’m finding the ads on those channels oppressive. Not only are they constant and repetitive, but the nature of the marketers represented is Sad. These are the bottom feeders in advertising: the loan companies, tax relief services and others selling to individuals and small businesses who are near the end of one rope or another. Each is accompanied by an 800 number which they repeat three times so one has an unending series of numbers hopping and skipping through one’s brain until one can’t take it anymore and switches to NPR. But that’s just me.

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Is it just me?

The New Hampshire Conference for Women is sponsoring: “A Women Inspiring Women Event.”

The keynote speaker and leading presenter is – wait for it – Jack Canfield!


Jeb Bush spends a week insisting to one and all that his campaign is right on track following his poor showing in the third GOP debate. Then he re-enters the race with a major new push entitled “Jeb can fix it!”


After the several GOP campaigns revolted against both the RNC and NBC, and took control of the next debate format, RNC chair Reince Priebus explains that things are going just as planned and “we’re right where we wanted to be.” Have you ever met a worse liar?

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Keep clickin’….

Eyes straight ahead, mister

From Watch Your Ads – A media memo by George Duncan

Eyes straight ahead, mister

It isn’t often I laugh out loud at an ad, but Subaru did it with their ad showing a daddy dog and his significant other driving along in their Subaru. As he stops for a light, a very smartly clipped poodle prances across the intersection in front of the car. Daddy spots her immediately of course, and as discretely as possible, silently follows her with his big brown gaze. As Ms. Poodleoo reaches the right side, however, daddy’s head moves imperceptively to the right where he meets his partner’s gaze next to him and hears a low grrrrrr. Ah memories!

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Act now and get 35 water balloons in ten seconds!

Yes, practical jokesters, technology has come to the rescue. No more endless waiting for your balloons to slowly fill with water one at a time. Now’s new technology lets you fill 35 balloons in a single motion! Imagine! Now you can carry a packet of 35 balloons with you to school, work, church or wherever water balloons are sure to make a splash. Find a faucet, fill all 35 balloons simultaneously and it’s bombs away!

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Talk about my lawn, not your grass seed

A Microsoft ad wanted to point up the scalability of the technology they deploy to deliver events like Real Madrid football games to any device. The copy declares how their scalability “gives us the power we need to deliver…” No MS, no one cares about the power you need. They care about the flexibility they get to watch Real Madrid defeat Manchester United on their choice of desktop, tablet, iPad or iPhone. “Talk about my lawn, not your grass seed” is one of the oldest admonitions in marketing. Time you guys got some folks with experience working the copy.

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How to extract a child quickly from a hot car that is locked, windows closed

Police Instructor: Always break the window on the side opposite where the child is sitting.

You: OK, How do I break the window? That’s special glass. My hand or elbow haven’t worked.

P.I.: You probably have a jack handle in the trunk. Use that.

You: But if the car is locked, I can’t open the trunk.

P.I.: There is a handy tool available now that’s designed to break auto glass. You can get one inexpensively at most auto parts places. It fits in the glove box.

You: But if the car is locked, I can’t open the glove box, and I probably wouldn’t carry it in my pocket 24/7.

P.I.: Thank you. Have a good day.

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Would you like a sprig of parsley on those wages?

In an ad for Optima Tax Relief, spokesperson Alan Thicke tries to scare the hell out of his audience by enumerating all the horrors the IRS “could” unleash on you if you don’t pay back taxes. Especially tasty is his suggestion that the IRS could “garnish” your wages. So think about it. Would you like a sprig of parsley with those wages? How about a split radish or a lemon slice? Maybe he meant “garnishee” which comes just after garnish in the dictionary and has to do with copping your paycheck from your employer. But fear not. As I’ve written here earlier, most of the disasters described by Thicke and other such tax assistance services are pure baloney. The IRS has a debtors’ amnesty program available today that you could probably navigate with them directly without Mr. Thicke’s fee-based help.

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Beware false flags

There’s an ad for “Medicare Health Reform” running periodically on cable. In black and red type, it projects an aura of governmental officialese. However, the flyspec condensed text three-quarters of the way down cautions that Medicare Health Reform is not affiliated with any governmental entity. So be warned. Why would an organization deliberately project such a false appearance, if not to deceive?

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VW Jetta has a pair of ads featuring a pair of ladies of a certain age — twins no less – in loud and crass caftan-like dress harassing a young salesman in loud and crass tones that sound to me like vintage New Yawk. The scenes have mildly sexual undertones that just make me cringe. In one they play games with “year-end” and “rear end” as they admire a young man’s butt. “What kind of car do you like?” one lady asks him. “New or maaany miles on it?” And the car? What car?

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Just sayin…

Lie Down with Pigs

Much has been written these last few weeks about Donald Trump and his outrageous hijacking of the Republican primary race, including by me, most of it more effectively phrased than anything I could write. The latest – and most accurate, I believe – is an op-ed in the Sunday Times (7/26) by Timothy Egan.

Mr Egan’s take is that Trump – some are calling it Trumpism — is not only the natural result of the trashing of the Republican brand; he is the Republican brand. “Somewhere,” he writes, “we crossed a line – from our mother’s modesty to strutting braggadocio, from dutiful decorum to smashing all the china in the room, from respecting a base set of facts to a trumpeting of willful ignorance.” I might quarrel with his use of the word “facts” to describe Republican policy, since every fact I’ve ever heard them espouse was contradicted by either experience (trickle down) or independent statistics (the benefits of Obamacare). Other than that, Mr. Egan is right on target. From those starkly racist signs the Tea Party types carried during the 2008 presidential campaign and Congressman Joe Wilson’s insulting, “You lie!” during the State of the Union address to Michelle Bachman’s death panels and Steve King’s cantaloupe calves, nary a Republican voice was raised in criticism of any of this nonsense, thus sealing new levels of crazy into the Republican character.

Trump’s recent attack on immigrant Mexicans and John MCain’s heroism and Mike Huckabee’s trip to Auswitch are just the latest configurations of Republican crazy as they learn that the media will illuminate their every belch giving them free TV advertising at the expense of our precious Democratic process. Apparently, the so-called Republican “base” is ok with that. Add that to traditional Republican opposition to education, the social safety net, funding government through taxation, minority voting rights, women’s health, equitable pay policies and much more and I don’t know why an informed voter would ever elect a Republican to anything.

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