Beyonce’s web presence and the artist-fan relationship

According to this Ad Age article, Beyonce does not feel that her brand website represents her diverse interests (in “fashion, travel, photography and art”) and is entertaining proposals from various ad agencies in hopes of change it. While the content feels rather impersonal and the blog format and arial fonts do seem a bit amateurish for an artist of her stature, it is odd that in order to accomplish her aims of personalizing her website, she is employing an external corporate entity.

In any case, this seems to be another example of the shift toward artist-fan intimacy, where she is now using her web presence to develop relationships with fans (by revealing herself as an individual—tastes, likes, dislikes, etc.) rather than the impersonal promotion of products associated with her brand (i.e. taped concert materials).

– Nima Hassan


More on Ads and Entertainment Content: When is a song just a song?

When we consider the integration of advertisements with entertainment content, we usually think of painfully transparent product placement—of Paula Abdul sipping from Coca Cola merchandise during American Idol. The insertion of branded goods into television programs often feels forced—as something highlighting rather than destabilizing the distinction between advertising and actual entertainment content. But the advertisement of a good with inherent entertainment value—such as music—presents a more naturalistic application of the technique.

Apple produced a commercial featuring the song “Lose Yourself” by Eminem for the rapper’s best hits album, “Curtain Call.” The work certainly functioned as an ad in that it caused sales of the promoted good to increase, but it also functioned effectively as ‘entertainment content’ by being consumed and enjoyed by audiences. Evidence of this is the popularity of the clip on YouTube—the commercial has been viewed 70,449 times as of November 2011. YouTube user TomateFarcie posted a revealing comment, writing, “I love this piece! That’s what I call a great iPod commercial. Eminem used to do great stuff before he became commercial…”

It is incredibly ironic that the product of a national advertising partnership with a major multinational corporation is being characterized by some viewers as a “[non-]commercial” artistic work (particularly signified by TomateFarcie’s use of the term, ‘piece’). The statement is testament to the degree to which the (already fluid) line between advertising, art and entertainment is becoming even more blurred.

– Nima Hassan

It’s a Yaris! It’s a car.

This is one commercial from Toyota’s latest ad campaign for the Toyota Yaris. There’s no substantial information here about the car itself, but I find it inexplicably hilarious–as I do with the rest of the campaign–and thus, infinitely more memorable than the typical car ad that just spouts off a random reel of numbers and facts. Solid work, Toyota advertising team.

Just thought I’d share this for a laugh! Check out their other commercials from this campaign if you have a minute to kill.



Big Ads Are Watching You

People spend more time than ever on the Internet. Therefore, advertisements must also be more present than ever on the Internet. They must follow where the audiences go. More specifically, in the name of efficiency, ads should be targeted towards specific audiences.

For the most part, it works. It doesn’t make much sense to put an ad for Viagra on the Disney Channel, or on he flip side, an ad for a Barbie on ESPN. Advertisers have been doing this type of targeting for ages, and generally both the advertisers and the audiences have benefited: the companies are more likely to sell their product to an interested audience, and the audience can hear about products and services that they actually care about.

Now, however, as more and more of us cultivate very real, very active online identities, we release more and more information about ourselves and our preferences into the network. And increasingly, we find that companies like Google and Facebook are using that information to further target an ad to each of us individually. This is a whole different ballgame from a Barbie ad on the Disney Channel. That is marketing to a broad demographic. This is using your personal information to create ads for you that are scarily specific and tailored to the picture of you that these Internet giants have pieced together from your activities online.

How far is too far? Personally, I think that we’ve already reached that point. Usually this information is implicitly rather than explicitly given: rather than Google knowing that you like baseball because you wrote it in a comment on a blog for example–that is, you knowingly released that information to the public–they know because you search for it often in their search engine. Google’s databases must hold millions of secrets and bits of private information unwittingly given and surreptitiously collected. Facebook’s information page for advertisers boasts that they can “choose your audiences by location, age, and interests,” among other details that you meant to share with your friends, not corporations.

Progress seems to necessitate an ever increasingly open digital world, but how much of our privacy should we be willing to give up?

What do you think?

[For a very interesting recent article about racial profiling in Google ads, read this piece by Nathan Newman in The Huffington Post]

–Michelle Chan

What does it take to make Scandinavian home furnishings as popular as “Lost?”

Cultural theorists have long predicted the integration of advertising with entertainment content. Often, advertisers do this by inserting their products into established, popular shows, rather than trying to build narratives and characters around the brand from scratch. However, we are seeing more and more commercial webisodes of the sort IKEA has produced for Youtube (see as well, Fresh Takes, Alicia Keys’ “micro-series” for the Dove Go Fresh campaign But how successful have these efforts been? ‘Fresh Takes’ appears to have had little impact and most of the episodes in the IKEA series above have only double digit YouTube views. Compare that to the million + views of many of Allstate’s viral Mayhem commercials (

All three productions were intended to have high entertainment value and prevent viewers from remembering they were watching an ad. So what explains the huge difference in their success? Is it an issue of commercial length? The ironic tone of the Allstate ads? Or merely a matter of writing quality?

– Nima Hassan

make love, not war

Today’s world is facing a deep political and economic crisis:  the financial collapse, the eurozone debt crisis, US unemployment reaching two figures, Occupy Wall Street and a global sense of instability fill the headlines from Beijing to Buenos Aires.

Amidst all this mess, Benetton the famous brand known for its revolutionary multiracial campaigns in the nineties, has released its latest advertising creation where uses pictures of world leaders kissing their opponents under the promise: Un-hate.  The campaign was launched this week in Italy, after Primer Minister Silvio Berlusconi was forced to step down for leading the country towards an imminent profound debt crisis and it is part of the brand’s social responsibility strategy.

The Un-Hate Foundation was created by United Colors Of Benetton to help building a more tolerant world.

David Corzo for Vidalogo.  @Ricorzo

Banned Commercials

We watched an example of a banned condom commercial in this class. What I find interesting is how the internet has undermined the ability of censors to regulate media consumption, not only in industries like cinema but also in advertising. Companies now produce ads that they know cannot be shown on television but will attract millions of hits online. Nissan has an ad with bouncing breasts. Levi’s produced this commercial that has gotten over 24 million views and has probably sold more jeans than their mainstream advertising campaigns.


Eric Sobel


Occupy Madison Avenue?

A group of advertisers, after finding out they were the second least trusted professionals (after politicians) created and interesting website where bad advertising practices are denounced and get a positive buzz around it. shows how some brands can come up with a huge number of bad ads without even considering that in the era of information, traditional media and traditional advertising as a tool to generate revenue need to reinvent themselves and also need to become more creative and funnier to attract targets that, thanks to the enormous diversity of media outlets are now more informed and more demanding.

David Corzo