Ad-proofing tips from The Ad Guy

Bruce Chambers, as Canadian radio listeners know, is The Ad Guy. After a 30-year career working as an advertising copywriter, Bruce claims he has now seen the light. And since 2003, as The Ad Guy on our national broadcaster, CBC Radio, he’s been helping listeners clue in to advertising that makes us feel inadequate, spend and borrow too much, make unhealthy choices, or act irresponsibly toward the environment.

By deconstructing current ad campaigns, exposing exaggeration, and pointing out unscrupulous techniques, he empowers listeners to say: “NO!”

And aside from his popular weekly radio features, Bruce has created an impressive yet simple list of Ad-Proofing Tips for savvy consumers so we can recognize and resist the techniques that marketers use to influence us. To help you develop critical thinking skills around advertising, here is just a sampling of my favourite ad-proofing tips from Bruce: Continue reading

Branded content: advertising dressed up in a thin disguise?

Pity the poor marketer.  As reported in Forbes earlier this year, a lot of us simply do not trust advertising.  For example, a study called ‘Does It Really Ad Up’ from Lab 42, a Chicago-based research firm, revealed:

  • 76% of respondents said ads in general were either “very exaggerated” or “somewhat exaggerated”
  • 87% think half or more cleaning ads are photoshopped
  • 96% think half or more weight loss ads are photoshopped
  • 81% feel beauty ads are exaggerated (although – alarmingly! – 77% of men believe beauty ads are “very accurate”)

And that pervasive sense of mistrust (except for those guys watching beauty ads) helps to explain why industry has jumped all over the advertising concept called “branded content”Continue reading

“If you’re clueless and you know it”

I am clueless about many things. As in the definition: “Lacking understanding or knowledge.” As in the sentence: “I have no clue!” As in the 20+ years I spent living with a research scientist and enduring mind-numbingly torturous dinner conversations on zinc and copper sediment in the Fraser River estuary.

That kind of clueless.

Oh, sure, there are some things about which I do have a clue, as is true with even the most profoundly clueless among us. For instance, with decades of experience working in public relations behind me, I know quite a bit about organizing news conferences, writing speeches, doing media interviews, teaching classes in things like Crisis Communications or Reputation Management, or whipping up a communications plan. And as a Mayo Clinic-trained survivor of a widow maker heart attack, I know a wee bit about cardiology in general, and quite a bit more about my particular obsession: women’s heart disease. As such, I do have a clue about what it’s like to live with a chronic and progressive illness.

So I can’t help but notice that the difference between me and a surprising number of other people out there seems to be that I am exquisitely aware of both what I do have a clue about, and what I have no clue whatsoever about on any given subject. So I usually try to keep my mouth shut as much as possible whenever encountering the latter.

The same cannot be said, alas, of some tech-types working in the digital health field of self-tracking – and here’s why I dare to make that observation.  Continue reading