“These Heroes Died For Your Tweets”

Honor, sacrifice...Cheerios?

There’s not much I hold sacrosanct. In fact, I believe most sacred cows are meant to be hanged, drawn and quartered.  Political correctness can often give rise to a particularly pernicious  brand of self-righteous indignation that snuffs out creativity and humor, and which makes life less, for lack of a better word, fun. I take immense pride in being a  habitual violator of good taste and proper decorum, if for no other reason, than to see self-anointed purveyors of good taste squirm.

I share all of this to let you, the reader, know there is little in the way of content or conversation that outrages me or pisses me off. That being said, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, in the world of social media marketing that makes me go into full-on PTA mom anger mode like holiday corporate messaging/branding. When I see a hashtag like #MLK, #VeteransDay or, most recently, #MemorialDay attached to a corporate name, I know I’m probably in store for something reprehensible. It seems more and more companies that should know better are perfectly fine with creating tweets that take solemn days of national remembrance and turn them into cynical shit-shows. Here are a few of the most cringe-worthy examples I found on Memorial Day of companies piggy-backing on our troops’ sacrifices to market their brand and sell their products. To all these companies I offer a salty salute and a red, white, and blue f**k you!

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Advertising Beauty In the Eye of the (FTC) Beholder

In 2011, Lancôme took down its London billboard ads featuring Photoshopped images of famous women – Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington – at the urging of a British Parliament member who said the ads were “not representative of the results the products could achieve.”

That same year, the American Medical Association  concluded that “photoshopped” ads which portray unrealistic human bodies have such a detrimental effect on body image and self esteem, particularly among teenage girls, that it became the organization’s official opinion to strongly discourage the production of these ads. Those actions, and subsequent studies, have touched off a debate that could soon culminate with  legislation that opens the door to new regulation of the advertising industry.


Last month Florida Congresswoman  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, along with two other co-sponsors, introduced a bill that would ask the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which already regulates false advertising as a means of consumer protection, to develop a regulatory framework for ads that materially change the faces and bodies of the people in them. The bill doesn’t propose actual regulation — it just asks for some preliminary research and recommendations, deliverable within the next 18 months. But the legislation would give the FTC the power to put it’s recommendations into practice. So, if a diet or beauty product puts a model in their advertisement, but then photoshops the hell out of  the image to the point where the model’s appearance is “materially” altered, the FTC could eventually have the power to step-in and regulate the ad based on it being deceptive.

The intent of the bill may be noble, but what about 1st Amendment rights?  Obviously, artistic expression is a protected form of free speech. The bill would not effect magazine covers or editorial content – only advertisements meant to sell products. The FTC already exercises that power over advertisements as a means of consumer protection, it’s just usually an authority used on literal words or statements. The bill’s sponsors are making the argument that there is enough statistical evidence linking computer-altered images with negative physical and psychological behaviors to warrant agency oversight. Indeed, when 69% of elementary school girls say magazine images influence their concept of ideal body shape, there is cause for concern.

I would argue that allowing the FTC to make regulatory calls on imagery in advertising is not as clear-cut as making a call on an advertising claim that is explicitly laid out in text. There is a certain amount of artistry in much of the Photoshopping we see in beauty ads that is not meant to be taken as a literal product claim. Many of these ads are idealized, and aspirational, works of creativity. It is not the “distorted” model who is being sold or promised, but the far more nebulous idea of “beauty.” Can you really regulate an ideal?  The notion of a government regulatory agency policing them is somewhat disconcerting.

You can follow the conversation, and debate, over the Truth in Advertising Act 2014 through the #TruthInAds hashtag. As an advertising agency that works to make a positive social impact, we are glad #TruthinAds has sparked more awareness of the need to address the unrealistic body image often promulgated by advertisers. But in a free society, we do have some concerns about regulatory agencies making calls on what qualifies as “false advertising” and acceptable levels of Photoshopping.

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Profanity Pie?


Today is an official state holiday in Texas honoring American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist Caesar Chavez. In a somewhat inauspicious bit of timing, today also marks the debut of a Texas pizza pie that is creating controversy. Pizza Patrón, a Texas-based chain that sells pizzas marketed toward Mexicans, is firing up a pepperoni-jalapeño pie  pizza called the “The Chingona.” The word “la chingona” loosely translates to an adjective like “bad-ass,” but the verb form of “chingón” translates into English as the F-bomb. Many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans use the word “chingona” frequently, often with a sense of things being “super-cool” or “awesome.” Apparently, that’s what Pizza Patrón had in mind when it chose the name. Nonetheless, the chain is facing resistance from some unhappy franchise partners over the new pizza, with the Dallas Morning News reporting between 10% to 15% of the chain’s locations refusing to sell “The Chingona.” Also, many television and radio stations, including Univisión,
have banned any mention of the pizza from their airwaves.

Richards/Lerma, the Dallas-based Hispanic branding and creative agency Pizza Patrón hired to spice up its brand, says “The Chingona” is an effort to  speak ‘Mexican’ to the chain’s core, Mexican-born customer base. Aldo Quevedo, principal and creative director for Richards/Lerma, defended the strategy behind the ads saying, “Mexican slang and humor are very particular, and we applaud Pizza Patrón for connecting with their core consumers at a very deep level, avoiding stereotypes. The brand speaks the same way they do, I mean, WE do!” The stakes are high for Pizza Patrón in Texas, which has a $1.4 trillion economy and where Hispanics account for nearly 40 percent of the population.

Cultural affinity is a fickle thing. As we see marketing efforts reach beyond English and embrace Hispanic audiences, we will see more examples of this – same word, multiple reactions. Mexican Spanish is a variant of the language that, pound-for-pound, has more double entrendres, puns, and desmadre than any language on Earth. It is clear Pizza Patrón has made the decision to cast a cultural net for the younger generation of Mexican-Americans use “chingona” casually among themselves. But in treating a contentious  term as a colloquialism, the chain may have underestimated the strong current of propriety that runs strong in Hispanic cultures.




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An ADDY-Clad Evening

Kedgar and I attended the Avengers-themed district ADDYs Friday night at the Jacksonville Public Library downtown. As always, the American Advertising Federation of Jacksonville (AAF Jax) did a terrific job pulling together the annual event. Blackboards with impressive work were showcased on the second floor for attendees to peruse before the awards ceremony began.

Once again, the ADDY reel was filled with tons of noteworthy work. It’s always really great to see what other Jacksonville agencies have been up to this past year. I was especially impressed with some of the TV campaigns and, of course, pleased to accept a few awards on behalf of BG!

The Brunet-García final count:

Silver ADDYs

  • Logo – TerraWise Homes logo
  • Elements of Advertising – Copywriting – Artivores Teaser: The Creator
  • Integrated Campaign – Artivores Palette to Plate
  • Audio/Visual – Website – Artivores Palette to Plate

Gold ADDYs

  • Logo — SPARK District Identity (The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville)
  • Elements of Advertising — Copywriting – Artivores Teaser: The Chef
  • Single Medium Campaign — Artivores Teaser Promos

We also received the Judges award for the Artivores Teaser Promotion in the category of Single Medium Campaign.

Posing with the Judges Award

It’s always exciting to communicate to our clients that a piece of work we completed for them is honored. Sometimes, they are even more excited than we are, which makes it particularly fun.

Congrats to the whole BG team (most of which couldn’t attend because they were in Mexico enjoying the sunshine)! And, as always, a big THANK YOU goes out to our clients who always trust us to push the limits!

Artivores "Palette to Plate"

SPARK District Logo

TerraWise Homes Logo

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