What The Pop-Up Ads Are Telling Me

I have an app on my phone that allows me to play “Spider Solitaire,” which helps me kill time on the road.  Because I’m a cheapskate, I downloaded the free version of the app, which means I have to endure, and promptly delete, an advertisement before I can play a new game.

hqdefaultIn the past, the ads were almost exclusively for other time-wasting game apps, which almost always featured smiling and frolicking animated creatures, or happy magic elves, or popping cubes, or a classy English butler who was part of a secret society trying to find hidden objects on the screen.  Lately, though, the ads seem to be sending a darker, more targeted message:  Hey user!  We’ve somehow figured out that you’re old, and since you’ve never responded positively to an ad with adorable, starry-eyed tap-dancing pandas, we’re going to bombard you with obvious age-related products instead!

I first noticed this theme when I started to see ads for pharmaceutical products, like an ad for a drug that is supposed to deal with type 2 diabetes.  Geez, I thought:  That’s a pretty serious topic for a pop-up ad on a free game app.  But then the next ad was for $350,000 in life insurance, with no age or health limits, that would allow your family to bury you and give you peace of mind that they would be provided for after you went into the Great Beyond.  And since then I’ve seen ads for new mattresses so I can get a better night’s sleep, ads for prostate and urinary tract medications, and ads for retirement communities featuring smiling seniors out on the golf course.  What’s next? Ads for Sansabelt slacks, Geritol, and early bird specials at the MCL Cafeteria?

It’s getting so that playing a few games of Spider Solitaire has become kind of a downer.  Hey, can we go back to those ultra-cute tap-dancing pandas?

 

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The Preferred “Best Doctor” Look

Careful study of airline in-flight magazines during my frequent recent travels has led me to conclude that there is a preferred “best doctor” look.

It wasn’t a hard conclusion to reach.  I mean, look at these guys, right next to each other in the same American Airlines mag — each with a well-tailored dark suit, nice tie, one hand in a pocket, and the other holding glasses.  You apparently can hold the glasses in the right or left hand, so long as they are present to convey that thoughtful doctor look.  

There are other, apparently less popular “best doctor” looks.  Sometimes you see the surgeons in scrubs, to convey that just out of the OR/working man feel.  And my favorite ones are the docs wearing lab coats and holding a model of a spine, or a skull, or some other device or implement to convey their area of specialization.  Those guys really look like doctors to me.

How do they pick these “best doctors” who appear in the same magazines that tout “best steakhouses” and “three perfect days in Knoxville”?  Who knows — maybe how they dress has something to do with it.

The Preferred “Best Doctor” Look

Careful study of airline in-flight magazines during my frequent recent travels has led me to conclude that there is a preferred “best doctor” look.

It wasn’t a hard conclusion to reach.  I mean, look at these guys, right next to each other in the same American Airlines mag — each with a well-tailored dark suit, nice tie, one hand in a pocket, and the other holding glasses.  You apparently can hold the glasses in the right or left hand, so long as they are present to convey that thoughtful doctor look.  

There are other, apparently less popular “best doctor” looks.  Sometimes you see the surgeons in scrubs, to convey that just out of the OR/working man feel.  And my favorite ones are the docs wearing lab coats and holding a model of a spine, or a skull, or some other device or implement to convey their area of specialization.  Those guys really look like doctors to me.

How do they pick these “best doctors” who appear in the same magazines that tout “best steakhouses” and “three perfect days in Knoxville”?  Who knows — maybe how they dress has something to do with it.

The Preferred “Best Doctor” Look

Careful study of airline in-flight magazines during my frequent recent travels has led me to conclude that there is a preferred “best doctor” look.

It wasn’t a hard conclusion to reach.  I mean, look at these guys, right next to each other in the same American Airlines mag — each with a well-tailored dark suit, nice tie, one hand in a pocket, and the other holding glasses.  You apparently can hold the glasses in the right or left hand, so long as they are present to convey that thoughtful doctor look.  

There are other, apparently less popular “best doctor” looks.  Sometimes you see the surgeons in scrubs, to convey that just out of the OR/working man feel.  And my favorite ones are the docs wearing lab coats and holding a model of a spine, or a skull, or some other device or implement to convey their area of specialization.  Those guys really look like doctors to me.

How do they pick these “best doctors” who appear in the same magazines that tout “best steakhouses” and “three perfect days in Knoxville”?  Who knows — maybe how they dress has something to do with it.

The Preferred “Best Doctor” Look

Careful study of airline in-flight magazines during my frequent recent travels has led me to conclude that there is a preferred “best doctor” look.

It wasn’t a hard conclusion to reach.  I mean, look at these guys, right next to each other in the same American Airlines mag — each with a well-tailored dark suit, nice tie, one hand in a pocket, and the other holding glasses.  You apparently can hold the glasses in the right or left hand, so long as they are present to convey that thoughtful doctor look.  

There are other, apparently less popular “best doctor” looks.  Sometimes you see the surgeons in scrubs, to convey that just out of the OR/working man feel.  And my favorite ones are the docs wearing lab coats and holding a model of a spine, or a skull, or some other device or implement to convey their area of specialization.  Those guys really look like doctors to me.

How do they pick these “best doctors” who appear in the same magazines that tout “best steakhouses” and “three perfect days in Knoxville”?  Who knows — maybe how they dress has something to do with it.

A Weirdly Desperate Ad Campaign

IMG_5926Yesterday I was minding my own business, driving north on Route 315, when I saw this billboard. It stopped my in my tracks, and reminded me — as if I or any Browns Backer needed reminding — of just how lost and pathetic the Cleveland Browns franchise seems to be right now.

What are the Browns trying to accomplish with this ad campaign? It’s February, months away from the start of NFL training camps. No one in Columbus knows Mike Pettine, so why would we trust any assurance he provided? It would be another thing if the Browns had decided to hire Jim Tressel and were running ads featuring him, and it might even be different if the Browns hadn’t changed head coaches as often as Miley Cyrus changes into another raunchy outfit. But neither of those things is true, and a picture of a random guy with a shaved head and beard looking like a hard ass isn’t going to change that.

I also don’t remember anyone questioning the Browns’ toughness. Instead, it was all about talent — which the Browns sorely lack. Get some good players in free agency, have a high-quality draft, and tell me I won’t ever again have to watch Brandon Weedon on a football field wearing a Browns uniform, and maybe I’ll pay attention.

I’m guessing that the Browns are worried that their frustrated and embarrassed fans won’t renew their season tickets, and they are trying to build a little positive momentum. They’re as a needy and desperate as a high school geek searching desperately for someone, anyone, who will go to the prom with him.

The Lure Of Random, Smiling Faces

If you look at any advertising flier you get in the mail, chances are you’ll see an array of happy faces, a business name, and not much else.  It doesn’t really make any difference what the ad is for — a bank, a grocery store, or any other consumer service business — the focus is on smiling human faces.

There will be random photos of people of every demographic group, looking directly at the camera with wide grins.  There will be carefully staged, faux candid shots of a boy being carried on his father’s shoulders, or an older woman gardening in a wide straw hat, or three teenage girls laughing.  None of the photos will have any logical connection to the business that is sending the ad.  Instead, these people apparently are just thrilled to be alive and enjoying existence to the fullest, thanks to their credit card, their haircut, or their choice of cell phone service provider.

Compare these ads to the ads of long ago, where the focus was always on the cost, quality, and capabilities of the product being sold.  Back then, ad agencies thought consumers would make rational judgments about what they were buying — even if it was avoiding dreaded yellow wax build-up or ring around the collar — not pure impulse decisions based on generic, content-free, feel-good faces.

It’s hard for me to believe that anybody responds to these fliers — or thinks that people could ever be that delighted by their choice of a bank — but the smiling face ads must work, because they are everywhere.   How do the people who fall for them feel when they eventually come to realize that the people they are dealing with aren’t the crinkly-eyed, carefree types on the ad, but instead a sullen call center worker who is making minimum wage at a job she despises?