The Big Ideas of 2012

Advertisers Lose Ground in 2011

Cleaning the toxic areas of our mental environment.
Advertisers Lose Ground in 2011

Modified D+G advertisement from Vanity Fair, Oct. 2010

After years of concentrated activism, lawmakers worldwide are finally waking up to the impact ads have luring individuals, especially the young, into unhealthy and damaging lifestyles. Alcohol, tobacco, cosmetics and junk food memes are being roasted by governments far and wide. This global awakening is only the first phase of a much more grand action to see ads not as messengers but as the messages themselves – the cause of worldwide mental dysfunction. In phase two, the barriers between physiological and psychological health will wither away and the mental environment will be an equal to the biological one.

Facebook and Twitter’s free advertising ride on French television is over. Broadcast regulators have issued a stern warning that name-dropping the two social media giants and encouraging viewers to “check us out on ––– and –––” is to stop unless the companies pay for the promotion.

Cosmetic titan L’Oreal is forced to remove two print ads by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority. The ads in question, featuring Hollywood actress Julia Roberts and supermodel Christy Turlington, featured airbrushed images of the 40-plus duo so distorted they could have been mistaken as teenagers.

China has been aggressively targeting the tobacco industry, banning smoking advertising on TV, radio and newsprint. The ban is part of China’s strategy to halt its smoking epidemic (an estimated 350 million addicted), the highest addiction rate in the world.

McDonald’s Happy Meal toys are outlawed in San Francisco, killing the top-selling Happy Meal promotion in the city. City Council ruled the toys unfairly manipulate children into purchasing unhealthy and obesity-causing foods.

Fast food chains and junk food makers in the USA are given until 2013 to voluntarily stop advertising to preteens or face government regulation. Michelle Obama’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity said the current advertising self-regulatory body, the Children’s’ Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (whose members included McDonald’s, KFC, Mars, and so on … ) is completely ineffective.

Lawmakers in Canada’s French-speaking province, Québec, continue to defend their 1989 law banning all commercial advertising directed at children 13 and under, the only such law in North America.

SpongeBob SquarePants is proven to make your child dumb and agitated. An American study shows that “children who watched nine minutes of the show scored significantly worse on assessments designed to measure memory and self control than children who watched a slower paced cartoon or kids who spent nine minutes drawing.” The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has launched a campaign to stop Nickelodeon marketing the cartoon to children under six.

The American ad industry admits it is bleeding new recruits. In 2011, 81 percent of managers in the nations’ top firms said the industry faced a talent crisis with fewer young professionals choosing advertising as a career.

Advertisers eager to get a share of Egypt’s post revolution deregulation have been warned by national marketing companies to “be mindful of the revolution” or else risk inciting brand hatred. “You have to respect the maturity young people demonstrated in their role in the revolution,” observers warn.

Alcohol companies in Australia have been given notice that athletic sponsorship contracts in the sport-obsessed nation could soon be going the way of tobacco and the dodo. The Canberra government announced a pilot $25 million sponsorship pool for events seeking alternative funding.

Ads targeting kids to consume obesity-causing foods may soon be outlawed in children’s programming in Estonia. The debate comes after a recent WHO report revealed a strong link between childhood obesity and advertising to kids.

Alcohol advertisers have been targeted in the campaign to combat fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in South Africa. SA is proposing a total ban on liquor advertising across the country as five percent of the school-age population is now listed as having alcohol-induced birth disorders.

Online advertisers may soon face strict new privacy regulations and revenue crunches in Spain and Italy. Lawmakers in those countries are discussing whether or not to categorize the information advertisers collect in web browser cookies as private and therefore not collectable by third parties.

Taiwan’s kid advertisers feel the pressure as the government launches a series of sweeping new regulations outlawing junk food ads directed at children. Lawmakers are also debating a broad junk food tax similar to those already in place on tobacco and alcohol.

20 comments on the article “Advertisers Lose Ground in 2011”

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That's a sad thing about spongebob, it used to be actually pretty funny, now it's like looking at the inside of a ritalin-addled child.


And for 2012:

The UK government is reminding supermarket retailers in England to remove tobacco displays within the next 100 days. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also moving towards similar bans.


I was a big fan of Stewie Griffin, until someone told me he was on facebook. I do not want to know whether Eric Cartman is on facebook.


"Facebook and Twitter’s free advertising ride on French television is over. Broadcast regulators have issued a stern warning that name-dropping the two social media giants and encouraging viewers to “check us out on ––– and –––” is to stop unless the companies pay for the promotion."

How is it that France has figured this out, but the old-guard broadcast industry in the US hasn't figured out the manner in which they are being manipulated by these nascent Internet companies?

It's disconcerting, really. You can't turn on any channel at any time without being told to "check us out on" whatever. Yet, these media companies are getting nothing in return, save some perceived value-add to their brand identity?

When will they figure out they've been duped?

I don't have a Facebook or a Twitter account. Somehow, I survive without them. And, seeing as I have desire to ever have an account with either, I really wish all the pointless promotion would just go away.

Was the Arab Spring driven by Facebook? Was the failed revolution in Iran really the product of people "tweeting" each other?

I don't think so.

Facebook and Twitter might be tools, but any revolution that relies on Internet banalities - that the government can shut down whenever it wants - is doomed to failure.

The future is bright, so long as our batteries don't die. Revolutions don't depend on multinational corporations providing communication across a virtual reality. They depend on people being willing to take risks and fail in the name of what they believe is right.

There's a lesson here. "Occupiers" pretending to be homeless, while searching for a strong Wi-Fi signal for their MacBook Air do nothing to move their movement forward. They only make it a laughingstock among those who believe that the future might actually be worth fighting for.

So, put down your computers, log out of Facebook, go outside, take a look around, and see if there's anything that needs changing -- Not things that you've been *told* need to change; things that you actually believe could be better.

Then, do something about it.

My two cents for the evening. Have a nice New Year!


Every successful revolution in history that occurred before the advent of social media (which was when, five or so years ago?) did so without relying on media channels controlled by large corporations and susceptible to government intervention.

Depending on social media is a path to failure. Likewise, promoting social media by giving it credit where credit is not due is a false premise leading to a flawed conclusion (i.e. that social media was "the" tool of the Arab Spring).

The revolution will not be tweeted. It will not appear on your Facebook wall. If it does, then it's doomed to failure.

This about what the word "subversive" actually means. Do tweets and Wall posts seem to fit into the paradigm?


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