Category Archives: Rants

Hailo Toronto to Shut Down

RIP

It’s heartbreak hotel over here in Emma-land. Earlier today, Hailo announced that they would be shutting down North American operations. At the time, Toronto office lead Justin Raymond said he would be asking for a licensing deal with the parent company.

Well, Hailo just announced they would not be giving Hailo Toronto a license to continue operations in Toronto.

A representative for Hailo says the company is shutting down all markets completely, and won’t be striking a licensing deal in Toronto.

This is a tragedy. I’ve been a vocal fan of the Hailo app since it arrived on the scene in Toronto in 2012. I remember writing a blog post announcing their launch and how excited I was to try it out.

It’s been one of my go-to apps over the years, and I’ve been so proud to support a company I’ve believed in. In comparison, I’ve been a big critic of Uber, primarily for what I believe to be their shady business practices and I will refuse to support them here in Toronto, even though they are the only viable option left.

To me, this opens up a huge whitespace in the market that a new app could easily fill. I hope they come soon, because “winter is coming” and I get cold walking home. To Hailo Toronto employees: I’m so sorry. You’ve always been nothing short of awesome. I hope you can find solace in the fact that you had many, many fans.

PSA: Media Buyers… Don’t Do This

 

So I was looking at a funny video my friend told me to watch today, and noticed this with the pre-roll:

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 4.21.20 PM

See anything funny? How about that lovely YouTube pre-roll title? Or perhaps the name, “Larry Testburger”? Uhhh, really? You think Special K will want their brand associated with this username? Unlikely.

Say I was interested in Special K’s ad and product. So I click through… to this:

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 4.21.39 PM

Great consumer experience there, eh? No branding, fake name, no where to go. Media planning fail.

Digital agencies or media planners: Please make sure you upload your client’s video up to their actual YouTube account. Otherwise, you’re gonna have a bad time.
(Yeah, I totally ended this on a meme.)

Dear the Same Yogurt Ad on YouTube Every 3 Seconds: Stahp!

Are you a media planner? Are you a media planner responsible for THIS ATROCITY?!:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 10.38.11 PM 1

Exhibit A

Seriously, yogurt ad:

tumblr_inline_mi15z5x4Y31qz4rgp

Apparently, when I’m logged into YouTube I must hit your silly little media plan ‘demographic’ preeeeetty well because the number of times I’ve seen this ad? Well. I’ve actually have lost count. (Though, to be fair, what I haven’t lost count is the day on YouTube that I saw this ad 3 times in a 30 minute window. Oh you can bet I just SUPER ENJOYED THAT.)

The best part is, I can’t even remember what brand this was for. Yoplait? Silhouette? Source? That other one? Activa? So that’s great. Every time I see this ad (you know, like every 2nd YouTube video I watch) I just start raging.

Media Planners:

Do the public (and the advertising agencies!) a favour and please make sure we don’t hate the brand by the end of your flight run. You really do have the power to take what could be a very thoughtfully crafted strategy, a creative vision, a nice execution and essentially pour acid all over it!

So if you are the media planner responsible for this rage-inducing ad, I just have one very awesome Boy Meets World gif to say to you:

Make-it-Stop-Cory-Boy-Meets-World

The 3 Mistakes Bic Pen For Her Made

The whole Bic Cristal For Her online mockery of Bic’s newest product isn’t exactly fresh news here. Reports of hilarious fake reviews on Amazon of the product broke in late August. However, Ellen just posted her monologue piece from today’s show and it looks as though she’s discovered these pens. Take a watch:

Ellen’s spot reminded me of this product goof. I mean, really Bic, what were you thinking? As a lady, I have no need for special lady pens. I can handle those manly pens all by my lonesome!

Whatever Brand Manager suggested this, I would bet 1. They’re a man, 2. They actually thought this would be a good idea, and 3., They were thinking about what the research told them and not what their gut told them.

David Vinjamuri’s Forbes article, Titled “Bic For Her: What They Were Actually Thinking (As Told By A Man Who Worked On Tampons)” has a similar conclusion:

What happened to Bic?  It’s what happens when you try to build your brand by looking at it through the lens of data rather than from the perspective of your consumer.

That was mistake number one.

The second mistake was making it so obvious. The colours: Of course! they should be pink and purple. The name: Of course! It should be titled “For Her.” (That way men won’t accidentally buy them and get embarrassed, thus ruining their masculine reputation.)

As the Washington Post wrote in, “Bic “lady” pens unleash Amazon snarkfest”:

Only when the obvious is stated, as Bic did — this pink stuff is for girls! — are people annoyed enough to bombard a page with snarky fake reviews. Unlabeled pink pens? No one would have noticed.

No, if Bic had made these pens and subtly talked about their differences, then maybe it might have worked. Though I’m still not convinced we even needed women pens to begin with. Is it really that needed in this world? Are we women suffering unnecessarily?

Or as Ken Wong says in this National Post article, “New Bic pens ‘for her’ spark online ridicule”:

Ken Wong, a marketing professor at Queen’s School of Business, said gender-specific products are acceptable if their unique function is directly related to an anatomical difference between the sexes. While thinner pens might genuinely benefit women, he said, Bic’s choice of stereotypical pastel colours likely pushed things too far.

“The real lesson I think for Bic is if you’re going to make a distinction between gender, it better be scientifically based,” Mr. Wong said. “If it’s tied to something that seems whimsical, I think you’re going to find yourself in a big whack of trouble.”

But for me, for someone that works in digital, in advertising, the (third and) biggest mistake for me was that Bic remained silent.

As I read through these articles, I wondered if Bic had ever responded. I hadn’t ever heard anything.

A quick search on their website, on Facebook and on Twitter told me they were clearly not in the social game. Any official looking Facebook Page or Twitter account seemed to either be abandoned or inconsistently updated. Their Twitter page, for example, did not post at all during the months of August and most of September, right when this was at the height of online buzz.

As B.L. Ochman said in her Ad Age article, “How BIC Could Have Avoided the ‘BIC for Her’ Social Debacle”:

Judging by its clueless lack of response, BIC richly deserves its place in the annals of online brand goofs.

A few cynics, such as Julian Long of 360i, speculated that the debacle must be planned, and engineered by an agency that would soon take credit. But the time for owning up to a joke has long passed and it’s clear that BIC is simply clueless.

I was finally able to find a ‘comment’ from a spokeperson in this CTV news article:

“Bic Pens ‘for Her’ are a style-led product and have proved to be very popular since their launch at the end of last year,” the spokeswoman told the paper.

“It is great to see people having fun with the product and we’re delighted to have brought a bit of much needed glamour to stationery cupboards everywhere.”

First, as a consumer: I’m sorry but that’s not really the apology I was looking for regarding your misogynistic product.

Secondly, as an advertiser: You guys were the talk of the town! You could have taken this, and used it to further your business goals. Launched a social campaign where you ask the public to help Bic solve the next big pen issue. Who else needs Bic’s help? Is it bears? Children? They definitely need help! Maybe your grandmother? Bic Pen for Nana? But no, you issued a fairly banal statement and remained quiet, thus giving up a golden opportunity that doesn’t come very often for brands.

And that’s a damn shame.

 

 

 

Suck it, Spring Shoes

If you can very well tell from the title, I’m in a ranty mood. But I promise, seriously guys, cross my heart and hope to die, to try to keep the caps to a minimum.

A few weeks ago, I ordered a pair of on-sale sandals from Spring. Why, you may ask, did you ever order sandals at the end of summer? Because I like to plan ahead, ok? Gosh.

The sandals were low-cost enough that I put aside my hesitation of ordering from Spring aside. Now, for anyone who knows me, knows I order a lot online. I don’t normally hesitate about ordering online.

But I had already had a bad experience with Spring. (The plot thickens.) You see, a couple years ago I ordered some shoes online from Spring. I was excited. In fact my actual words, blogged the summer of 2008 were:

I love the camel colour – I don’t think I have any shoes in that colour. They were on sale from $59.99 to $34.98 and Spring Shoes has free shipping right now with easy in-store return. That’s pretty much the best thing ever.

So, I tracked my packaged religiously. Yay, shoes getting closer to me! But then one day noticed the package had been “accepted” by someone in Québec. WTF? I panicked and called the Customer Service number thinking someone accidentally received my shoes and accepted the package thinking, “All right! Free shoes!”

Oh. No. It turns out Purolator couldn’t deliver my shoes as no one was there to receive the package when they tried. So they were shipped back to Spring Shoes’ warehouse in Québec.

Wait, what? Why didn’t Purolator try to um… Contact me in any way? Isn’t that usually how it is? You leave a note or something saying you tried? And here’s the kicker: I lived in a building with a 24/7 doorman (who once asked me out in the most awkward elevator ride ever – but I digress, that is another story). There’s no way that no one was there to receive said package.

The Customer Service rep explained this to me on the phone and that I would be refunded. Please note: This was the first time I had heard that I was not getting my shoes. When I called. There was never any communication about trouble shipping my shoes before and I only knew this had happened because I was so enthusiastically tracking my package. I asked the rep if I could then re-order my shoes because I still wanted them. I was told I couldn’t, as they were now out of stock on that pair. Well, awesome.

Definitely not the great first experience with shopping Spring online.

This time around, I figured that more than two years had passed so surely they must have sorted their online shopping issues, right? Surely! It’s 2010. Online shopping isn’t that difficult!

But alas, it was not meant to be. Except this time I’m even more indignant about it!

Here’s where the #fails happened:

1. The website kept telling me my suite number was an invalid number. Canada Post told them so, so SURELY I must be wrong. I clearly don’t know where I work. I decided, eff it, I’m ordering them anyway and I’ll sort out the proper shipping address after.

2. I immediately went to their contact us page. Listed before their phone number is their email address. And I don’t feel like calling a call centre, like many of us feel so of course I’m going to email them to tell them to rectify the problem. I email them to let them know my shipping address on my order was incorrect and I would like them to fix the issue before it ships out. Never got an answer.

3. I then reached out to them on Facebook to let them know what a frustrating experience I had on their site. My exact post, and their reply:

Notice how they didn’t actually read my post at all. Fail!

4. 3 weeks pass and nothing. No email. No shoes. I finally get an email with the first line saying: “We’re sorry to hear that you have chosen to return your Spring online purchase.”

Uh. No. I didn’t decide to return my stupid shoes. You decided not to deliver them because your customer service channels are INCOMPETENT. I immediately email them back saying, essentially, that I did not chose to return my shoes, they had never arrived. I expressed how unhappy I was with ordering from their site, that I doubted I would order from them again, and to please rectify this.

I never got an answer.

5. Two days later, I called customer service (finally). They told me that yes, there was trouble delivering the package. I explained that their site was not functioning and I had emailed their customer service channels several times without reply. The customer service rep told me, “Yes, our emails are really backed up, that’s probably why you haven’t received an answer.”

Um, excuse me? I get that emails may be backed up but then you probably shouldn’t advertise it as an available customer service channel! That makes sense, right?! If you can’t answer customer problems via that channel, maybe you shouldn’t list it. It’s like telling a customer to call you at your 1-800 number and then just not answering the phones.

So this is the second time I’ve ordered from Spring and now the second time I’ve never received my shoes. As the saying goes: Once bitten, twice shy. The incompetency of them keeping my money is astounding. So suck it, Spring Shoes. You will never get my online dollars again.

PS: And for the record, Spring hadn’t actually refunded my purchase by the time I called. The rep assured me I would receive my refund but who knows, right? They clearly don’t know how to do business so I sincerely wonder if they can handle a simple refund.

New Stayfree Ads: Condescending & Awful

Hey ladies!

You know what I wish I had?! A date with an absolutely flawless man who talk to me in a completely condescending way about something they will NEVER GET – literally and figuratively: Periods!

Yes, you’re a man, Brad, Ryan and Trevor. And only men can be the experts on feminine hygiene, according to BBDO Toronto. Because us women? Well, according to these ads, we’re mute and dumb! We don’t get complicated things like menstrual products. It’s just too HARD to understand what products we use every month and you never do. My brain hurts! All I want to do is watch you take off your shirt and educate me on what it’s like to be a woman.

Let me show you what I mean:

Oh yes, and there’s two more ads like these that are JUST as creepy, ladies. Yaaaay.

First of all: What the fuck were the planners thinking on this one? Did Stayfree even GET planners for this account? Let’s be clear about this: This strategy? This direction? Completely missed their target. Like, you missed this SO hard that I’m surprised you even know what a man is and a woman is. If you’re not sure, they are COMPLETELY SEPARATE GENDERS. OK? OK!

BBDO Toronto, I ask you seriously: Did a man come up with this (creative) strategy? Because it reeks of man.

This infuriates me. It creeps me out. I’m bored! And I’m not even angry I’m bored at these terrible, terrible ads and that you wasted 7.5 minutes of my life because I’m too pissed off at everything else about these commercials!!

Look: I’m a woman. I try really fucking hard some times to be everything society tells me to be. I try to be cute. I try hard to keep my weight down (because apparently I love “thinness”). I try hard to be a great cook (and succeed! I make a mean pasta dish, seriously). I try to volunteer and then feel guilty about not giving enough time or money. I can’t even try to like chores.

To have a man come onto my TV screen, look me in the eye and outshines me in every way does not make me want to date him. I don’t even want to be near him. I certainly don’t want to listen to him tell me about how great Stayfree’s panty liners are in a “just smile and nod, darling” way.

Here’s a better idea for Stayfree: Get to know your target. OK? You’ll find out some interesting things! Like, we’re not fucking dumb! And we don’t look to men to tell us what to buy! I KNOW! DID NOT SEE THAT ONE COMING!

Just to clarify this for you, this is your target:

Now that we have our target, let’s write a strategy!

“Stayfree’s feminine products work just as hard as I do.”

Stayfree? Call me.

Thanks to my mom for passing this along to me. As you asked, here are my thoughts about it!

Sigh, Another Thursday Night…

Well, I was going to write a blog post about my recent obsession with Tumblr and how WordPress compares but honestly, finding out that someone may have hijacked your credit card kind of deflates the mood to write, you know?

So I took a taxi downtown this evening to go see my good friend, Jon Crowley, celebrate his birthday in style at #loserkaraoke. When it came time to pay the lovely taxi driver, my credit card was declined. Ruh roh, as my lovely Tumblr would say. Not good.

I stood on the street for about 10 minutes, on my phone. I have two Scotiabank numbers in my adress book. Apparently the first one has regular business hours (wha?) and the second one just gave me beeping noises (ummm. ok.). So I grab my suddenly suspicious (and, I might add, new) credit card and call the number on the back. And get stuck in an infinite loop of automated menus. Pressing a bunch of zeros doesn’t even help! Gaaaah.

Finally, in desperation, I grab my bank card and call the number on the back of that! Successfully navigating  the menu this time, I get put on hold… for 10 minutes.

Now, I am a rational person. And it just so happened I was in quite the relaxed mood tonight. But I cannot imagine what someone who is freaking out about the credit card being stolen would feel about that kind of experience. And hasn’t Scotiabank been touting they’ve won awards for their customer service? It’s not playing out well right now for them. I am not impressed.

So I give up, and go inside and enjoy myself for an hour or two. Sadly, and sorry Jon!, I could not stay too long. The first thing I do when I get home is check my balance online. Yep, something is definitely up.

So I call the last number again, and get put on hold for 5 minutes. I don’t really understand why it took so long at 11pm on a Thursday night for Scotiabank to answer. Must be understaffed. Finally! Someone answers. After answering all the questions correctly to identify myself and explaining the situation, I am told that yeah, there might be some suspicious activity and did Scotiabank call me to let me know they’ve possibly locked down my card? Of course not. Seriously, that would have been nice to know BEFORE I got in the cab, you know?

And the kicker? The Scotiabank system is currently updating and the CSR cannot access my information right now. I now get to wait 1/2 hour for her to call me back when the system is ready to deal with me.

This is ridiculous. Scotiabank, I’ve been a customer of yours for a very long time (you know, since birth and all). 24 years of loyalty. TWENTY-FOUR. And up until recently, I would never dare dream of switching to another bank. I like your brand. I like your ads. I like the people I’ve dealt with. Customer service has been pretty good, for the most part, in my experience. But this kind of thing is the kind of incident that makes me take a step back and assess things.

Things like how you still don’t have an iPhone app. That would be nice. Or how you excitedly just introduced text alerts to customers’ phones. Excuse me? Text alerts? Isn’t that so 2004? I’m being serious here. As someone who enjoys the new and exciting things the internet and mobile industry can bring me, your lack of investment in keeping your technology up-to-date is a huge red flag to me.

So please. Call me back. Fix this. And tell me you have something shiny and new for me to play with. Then I think we’ll be ok.

Video: Cerveza Andes | Teletransporter

Ok. Men, women, watch this video. And then let’s chat.

“The result: More happy men at bars. Less broken up couples.”

Ahhhhhhhhhhhrgh!

Because, I, as one part of couple, absolutely want to be in a relationship with a person who lies to me about where he is. THAT, according to Cerveza Andes, is a good relationship. Thank god for Cerveza Andes! Because of them, I too can be in a relationship with a liar! Phew, dodged that bullet.

Listen, I know the state of the nation. Beer commercials are all aimed at men. Women are always cast as either sex objects with skimpy clothes, or as the “ol’ ball and chain” girlfriend. And it’s getting really old.

I am female. My drink of choice? Beer. I have beer several times a week. And I will allow for some stereotypical commercials with the guys and the party and the hot tub with the girls in them in the mountains. What I can’t stand? The portrayal of females as being crazy, clingy or a drag. To the point where their boyfriends HAVE TO LIE TO THEM ABOUT WHERE THEY ARE. RAGE!!

Screw you Cerveza Andes, you have truly insulted me. I’ll stick to my brand of Keith’s, whose spots are at least original and interesting. And you know, DOESN’T INSULT HALF OF ITS BUYERS.

People Blog! There’s No Need for Privacy, Y’see!

I am going to do my best and not get all CAPS HAPPY when writing about the following article. Must. Control. Rage.

<Deep breath.> Ok.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.com, recently told a live audience that the age of privacy is now over and if he were to create Facebook again today, user information would be publicly available rather than private, as it has been for years.

And what is his reasoning, you might ask? Why would users be perfectly fine with anyone accessing their private information? Why, because WE ALL BLOG, OF COURSE!

(Oops, sorry, the caps slipped out.)

Yes. Society is one big giant blogger and it’s Facebook’s duty to follow suit. Don’t believe me? Words from the wonder kid himself:

And then in the last 5 or 6 years, blogging has taken off in a huge way and all these different services that have people sharing all this information. People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.

We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are.

OK, Facebook, listen up! You’re missing three very key important points here:

ONE. Yes, blogging is big. Pretty big, in fact. But Facebook-worthy big? Hells to the no. As Marshall Kirkpatrick writes, “Not very many people write blogs, almost everyone is on Facebook.”

And he’s right. I can think of numerous friends (Facebook friends, fancy that!) that do not blog, nor have any interest in blogging. Ironically, I can even think of privacy-zealot friends, who rightfully freaked out about the Facebook privacy changes this past December, who blog.

TWO. Which brings me to my second point: The difference between blogging and Facebook’s outlook on privacy is that with blogging we 100% control the information. I’ll say it again for emphasis: I ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CONTROL the information I put on any blog I own. Whereas, where it looks like Facebook is headed, they could completely take away that control. They could give my personal information to whomever they like, whenever they like, however they like and not tell me. And some things, like my profile picture, I can’t do anything to stop them from sharing that with the world. Does that make me feel comfortable? All warm and fuzzy on the inside? Absolutely not.

THREE. My last point: I expected better from the world’s largest social networking site. Facebook, really? Do you hear the tone of disappointment in my voice? Because it’s there. It’s really, really there.

You are not a follower. You shouldn’t be a follower. You didn’t get to where you were by following trends but by breaking through with something different and new. So don’t go trying to conform to “social norms” (which I would still argue, as who the h-e-double hockey sticks would find giving away their privacy, no problem, “normal”?)

What you could have done (what you should have done) was become a LEADER in privacy. Show the rest of those silly social networks how IT IS DONE. Boom goes the dynamite, done. Give your users somewhere they can feel safe, where they can interact with their friends and not have to worry about who is seeing what. And who is selling what.

TO WRAP UP. I think there’s any opportunity here, for some young whippersnapper, to seize. If a respectable Facebook competitor would emerge, built on a platform of trust and privacy, I could really see many people, including my lovable privacy-zealot friends, switching over immediately and completely purging their Facebook accounts.

The problem right now is there is no real competitor to Facebook, and this results in users having very little choice and say in what happens with their accounts, as we’ve seen over and over with the Facebook redesigns and policy changes in the last couple of years (seriously, how do they manage to NOT LISTEN AT ALL?!).

So, young whippersnappers: hop to! Give Facebook a run for its money! And leave our information to us. We know what to do with it. Trust us.

(I think I did maybe a B+ on the “Avoiding Caps” scale. I’ll work harder next time. Maybe.)

The Epitome of Ridiculousness: JG Wentworth

I don’t… get… this ad? What kind of brief was this? And the clients were… pleased with the results?

That said, the YouTube ad has over 700 comments, so clearly its doing its job of getting talked about. Not sure I agree with harukalioncourt who said:

This is one of the most creative commericals [sic] I have seen in the whole of my life!

One of the most creative commercials they’ve ever seen? Oh geez, my inner ad geek is CRYING BUCKETS right now. I think her poor little ad heart is broke too.

You want a good ad? Try this one on for size:

Editing, music, imagery, strong moments in history all pull together to help you reflect how long it has been. Follow that up with a strong statistic about the longevity of the brand and you have an ad that can create an emotive and logical response.

Or perhaps the “He Shoots, He Scores!” Coca Cola ad from the 2002 Olympics which Coca Cola is broadcasting again in anticipation of the 2010 Olympics. I did my best to find a video but all I could find was this mention on Advertolog. As a Canadian, that ad gets to me.

C’mon JG Wentworth. Pull yourself together and raise the bar, ok? I know I will thank you if you do. Repeatedly.