Archive for the 'advertising' Category


Vaginal cream chocolate bar. Yum.

For readers with small children in the area, this post contains words and pictures which acknowledge the existence of sexual organs, so you might want to make the print really, really small.

The red-haired girl has a job for a few months now.  Up to three times a week you can find her at a local pharmacy picking up prescriptions for delivery to customers in the broader neighbourhood.   She gets eight bucks an hour plus tips, which sometimes can be substantial.  I call her our drug-runner.

Yesterday she came home with a package I’m still puzzling over.  Take a look at this:

Vaginetten Myko Kombi chocolate bar Vaginalzäpfchen suppositories

What do you first think of when you see a chocoate bar named Vaginetten?  I know what I think.  Ewwwwww……

Especially when the translation of that fine print at lower left sinks in:

White Chocolate, tenderly melting like Vagisan’s Cremolum Myko Kombi.

Vagisan Myko Kombi white chocolate yumUh, now I get it.  The creamy-white anti-yeast-infection cream suppositories Vagisan vaginal suppositoriesthey’re pushing melt in your hoo-ha just as smoothly as this creamy white chocolate melts in your mouth.

Only people who graduated in the bottom half of their marketing class could have come up with this.    Seriously, what were they thinking?

“I know!  We’ll package up white chocolate bars to give away at pharmacies.  People will pick them up and wonder who could be dumb enough to market vaginal cream with white chocolate, they’ll take it home, take a photo and throw it up on social media.  Voilà!  Free advertising!”

They’re not so stupid after all.


German TV ad campaign F-bombs dieters

Even if you don’t speak German, you’ll understand what they’re saying at the 16-second mark:

This ad is on German television and is intended to sell over-packaged low-cal products.  You can also find it in print.

Of all the horrible advertising I’ve seen in my nearly 15 years of being bombarded by visual crap in this country, this slogan has to be down there with the worst.

The following is what a German website has to say about it.  The politically correct will now be excused.

We really don’t know what they’re trying to say with this adolescent-level slogan, beside which we ask ourselves how this is supposed to work.  You can literally translate “Fuck the diet” as “Shit on the diet” in German.  Why this company has sunk to using such ghetto talk is beyond us, but let’s have some fun with it.

How do you fuck a diet?  Is it code for, “Have sex with fat people, they’ll thank you for it?”  Or should you just have some Cola Light before having sex?  What about using sweeteners instead of Viagra?  It’s worth an experiment.

Well now.

If they really wanted to use such an offensive slogan as part of their ad campaign, at least they could have dropped the wannabe English coolness and used something equivalent in German.  But maybe that might have woken up what passes for an Advertising Standards Council, and it wouldn’t have been approved.


the day the lolcats died

If you’re like me and woke up feeling rather clueless because you couldn’t tell the difference between a SOPA and a PIPA so you went to Wikipedia to get some info and found a black page with the ominous message that the Intrawebs as you know them will be forever damaged but why should you care because you’re not living in the USA and have never had a congressthingy to write to…

…the following video lays the issues out very clearly.

I was going to join the bandwagon and black out this humble blog for a day of protest, but unlike them and other heavyweights like Wikipedia, I’d rather have a laugh instead.

This guy’s kind of out of tune, but he’s funny:


New listing: a Christmas real estate deal you don’t want to miss

Now showing in Hamburg Estates, this one-bedroom, one-bath bungalow is the perfect starter home for a growing family.

Character is going to be your first impression when you view this completely new home located close to downtown Hamburg.  Built from the ground up using the best German-Canadian craftsmen with the finest materials and techniques.

Features include new electrical and plumbing, high-fructose roof and siding, new bathroom with clawfoot tub, new paint inside and out and an easy rental suite conversion in full above-ground basement, whatever the hell that is.  Spacious back-yard! Call to view.  Offer expires at Christmas.  Or whenever one of us gets hungry.


Skiing and sculpture in St Anton, Austria

This is one of the strangest things I’ve ever come across while skiing:

He stands under a cliff to the right of a major slope at St Anton, Austria, where I spent a sunny week in early April.

Another sculpture, very similar but wearing a light ski jacket, can be found perched on a precipice almost directly under one of the lifts.  I wanted to get a photo of that one, but didn’t want to run the risk of fumbling the camera off the chair.

It’s the work of British artist Antony Gormley and is supposed to be a self-portrait.

Called Horizon Field, it consists of 100 life-sized, cast-iron sculptures each weighing 630 kg.  Forming a horizontal line at 2039 metres over an area of 150 square km in the mountains of western Austria, they at first seem so out of place.  But upon seeing them again and again that week, I came to look upon them as solid, loyal friends steadfast among the anonymous masses streaming by them.  I knew nothing about the installation before my week of skiing, but my reaction to it is pretty close to what the artist has said about  it:

It’s important to me that it’s the viewer who has a direct relationship with the sculpture. It’s important there’s no drama. I’m not putting them into a tableau. It’s called Horizon Field. They’re all facing a horizon, or making a horizon themselves.

I also think they act as a perfect counterweight to the extremely commercial sport of skiing.  Though you’re high up in the mountains and close to nature, you’re still in city mode: constantly bombarded with advertising wherever you go as the industry tries to seduce you with its latest trends in ski clothing and gear.   Upon seeing the sculpture from afar for the first time I thought, OK, what’s this supposed to be an ad for?

An enormous amount of work that went in to setting it up – five years of planning and dozens of helicopter flights so 15 mountain rescue teams could install each sculpture.  Gormley has installed similar projects as far-flung as London and Australia, but says the mountain project will be last one.

Skiers and hikers can see them until August, 2012, when after about two and a half years of residence among the winter snows and summer green, they’ll be taken away.


Apples from Deutsche Telekom: the great bait-and-switch

The other day I saw an advertisement for apples.

The ad said for 35 euro I could get 16 apples every month, plus all the cheddar cheese I want to go with it as long as I eat the cheese in Germany.

Because they looked like good apples, and I was currently only getting around 6, I phoned up a friendly lady who asked for my phone number, clicked away at a computer, then said yes, you can indeed get 16 apples a month, and we’ll set it all up for you.

But three weeks later when the first delivery of apples arrived at my door, all I found were 3 apples.

So I phoned up the lady again and asked her why I didn’t get my 16 apples.

“I don’t know,” she says, “you’ll have to talk to our driver.  Maybe some of the apples fell off the truck”

So she puts me onto the driver who tells me that yes indeed, 3 apples is all I’ll get.  “It’s because the road to your place is too long and bumpy.  The apples fall off all the time.”

“Is it also because there’s sometimes a lot of traffic on the road?”

“No,” he said. “It’s because of the road.”

“But why didn’t the lady who sold me the 16 apples tell me that in the first place?” I asked.   “I can’t be the first person at the end of this road ever to have ordered the 16 apples a month.”

“Yes, but…”

“And the price is exactly the same!” I wailed.  “Had I known, I’d never have ordered the apples!”

“I can’t change the way it’s set up,” said the mechanic., ” but you can go to a shop near your place, and maybe they’ll be able to help you out.”

Still hungry for apple pie I went with my sorry tale to the shop, where another friendly lady behind the counter said, “Well, if you’d have come here first for your apples, we’d have told you right away that you could only have 3 apples where you live.”

“So now I’m stuck with a two-year contract for fewer than 20% of the apples I ordered every month?”

She shook her head sadly.  “Yes, it’s too bad.”

“But if you like, I can offer you 50 apples a month.” she says, perking up.   “They’re delivered over a glass-fibre superhighway direct to your door.  It’ll only cost you 10 euro more a month.”

“But I don’t want 50 apples,” I said. “I’ll probably choke on them.”

“Sorry, that’s all you can get.”

And that, dear readers, is how Deutsche Telekom sells its high-speed VDSL Internet service to those looking for a fast – but not too fast – connection.

I would have been happy with only 6 Mb per second, which is what I was getting with another provider before their service went tits up and they refused to help me because the router I use wasn’t a router that they sell.

But when Telekom offered 16 per second I went for it, because it also offers free telephone calls throughout Germany.

Sure, they said, you can have DSL, but what they didn’t tell me was that because our place is too far from the main switch, I can only get a maximum of 3MB per second.  Sure enough, buried way down in the statement they mailed me after I signed up was a line that says 3MB/second.  I failed to notice that.  They certainly didn’t draw attention to it.  The woman I ordered from over the phone was too busy trying to sell me add-ons I didn’t need to concentrate on what I really wanted: a fast ADSL connection.

So, having given in, I’ve ordered their VDSL 50MB deal.  Fast, I know – too fast for what I need, but what the hell.  I still get the cheese, and maybe I can look up great apple pie recipes a little quicker.


Why we said no to Google Street View

Call it Blurmany if you will, call us uncool and throw eggs at our apartment building if you love Google so much, but I’m very happy to say I live here.

It didn’t take long for us to decide to say no to Street View.  After all, we already have an unlisted telephone number that’s kept our place reasonably quiet since we applied for it about four years ago.  We no longer get crank calls from drunk jerks in the middle of the night – usually students my wife teaches or once taught – bored out of their minds and playing around with their cellphones.  We also never get telemarketing calls.  I remember in Hong Kong we used to have to rip off five or 10 feet of paper every day from all the junk faxes until we made HongKong Telecom change our number.

With Google Street view, the angle was more subtle.  It’s very unlikely you’ll get hassles just because you’re visible online, and even less likely you’ll be burgled, the politician’s scare tactic of choice when this whole thing blew up in the German media a few months ago.  And as for getting caught sunbathing on the balcony – well, that’s obviously an argument put forth by those who don’t know how Street View works.

Sure it’s great for businesses, but what possible benefit could we, as private individuals living in a private household, obtain by letting Google put up a photo of the place where we spend the greater part of our lives for the whole world to see?   What have we to gain by it?

I could understand it if we were the owners of some boutique called snotty and desperate for a little free on-line publicity, we’d even pay for the right to have our store burst onto the screen with arrows, flashing  lights and pop-ups.

But here I am, some duff who was always taught to be wary of those on the sell side.  Since Google is basically a multi-billion dollar advertising company with the world’s most powerful search engine attached, why on earth would I want to help them?  What’s in it for me?

Even if we were to  ignore the accusations of WiFi network data theft and other questionable goals as their octopus-camera cruised the streets, the ONLY benefit to Street View that we could think if – and the only argument I found online in favour of not opting out – was that perhaps friends and relatives living far away could look you up.

Well, whoop-de-fucking-do.  One photo from the ground floor and a blanket email and that’s taken care of.

Google Street View is merely one more brick in the infrastructure for a much wider array of capabilities not even invented yet that could further erode what few avenues of privacy we have left.   Maybe it’s like trying to turn back the tide, but if we can spit back at it a little, maybe some good will come out of it.


10 reasons why I love living in Germany

10. Great bread

9. Great beer

8. Beautiful women

7. Smack in the centre of Europe

6. Relaxed attitude to public nudity

5. So relaxed, you can plainly see a man’s butt and a woman’s cooter in an advertisement for gasoline on free-to-air public television at five in the afternoon, and nobody bats an eyelash.

(Best observed in HQ. Believe me, I’ve tested it. Looks like a cooter to me.)

4. Try that in the States. They freak out if so much as a wardrobe malfunctions.

3. Or if you mention sex.

2. Or cooters.

1. So there.

Disclaimer: Any complaints as to difficulty in hitting the pause button at just the right spot as well as the humorous quality or political correctness of this post can be addressed to Angela Merkel, The Chancellery, Berlin.


What I learned on a London long weekend

Update: contains comment by an idiot who can’t read

The Germans have a saying, short and clear: Reisen bildet. You learn things when you travel.

A few random things I learned on our three-day trip to London:

1. London cinemas can play the most shocking pre-show advertisements. We went to see Slumdog Millionaire at the Odeon near Leicester Square Saturday after a wonderful late-afternoon dinner at the Lido in nearby Chinatown. Watching the adverts, we almost brought it all back up. A tall, thin man with grey hair is standing in a white kitchen. Close-up to his hands punching out a pill from a blister pack, another as he takes a drink. Then a close-up on his face as what looks like a hairy worm starts to emerge from his mouth.  Just as the entire audience is gagging in disgust, the worm becomes a tail that he yanks on to reveal a slimy ball of feet and fur that lands with a resounding thud as he drops to the ground a large, grey and very much dead RAT.

The message: Rat poison. One of the ingredients you might find in fake prescription drugs bought on illegal websites.

You’ve been warned.

1a. Sometimes you wish you’d not arrived on time.

2. Slumdog Millionaire deserves every award it gets. Fast-paced, furious, fun, only one or two spots to challenge your suspension of disbelief in a story that will seize you by the shirt. Try to see it in a movie theatre that has gut-rumbling sound.

3. If you arrive at Luton airport, and don’t hold a UK or an EU passport, you will be treated like an asylum-seeker. After 45 minutes of watching first my wife and then about 700 other passengers breeze through customs as I shuffled forward in another line at a glacial pace right behind a clutch of people holding what look to be sheets of handwritten paper with fuzzy photos pasted on, I asked a fellow in uniform standing around if, as a holder of a Canadian passport with a permanent EU visa,  I might slip into the other queue so we wouldn’t miss our bus.  No.  Can’t help you.

Just as I was about to give up hope, they opened up another window, and we made our bus.

Any Americans, Canadians, non-EU passport-holders reading this?  Don’t go to London via Luton.

5. Then again, if you’re in Hamburg and want to avoid the drive to some desolate airstrip near Lübeck nearly an hour away to sit in a windy hangar festooned with clownish advertising before boarding Ryanair to Stansted, fly Easyjet to Luton direct from Hamburg, allow for lots of time upon arrival, and forgive yourself for thinking while entering that horribly out-dated Luton airport that you’ve arrived in some 1960s time-warp.

6. Riders of the London Underground don’t use cellphones.   Our friend Douglas says that’s because they could be used to set off bombs, so the transmitters were removed after the Madrid attacks.  If that’s the case, terrorism does have its upside, because the result is absolute bliss.  The constant mindless chitter-chatter yadda-yadda you overhear on the buses and trains in Germany has been the main reason my wife K now refuses to take public transport unless it’s absolutely necessary.  It was nice to enjoy relative tranquility and the voices of real people talking to neighbours for a change instead of self-important yahoos barking bullshit into their damn phones.

london-museum-natural-history-charles-darwin-statue7. K is a huge fan of Charles Darwin.  OK, I knew that already.  But in addition to being a great wife, the loving mother of my only child, an innovative cook and the decorator of a lovely apartment I’m always happy to come home to, K is a well-respected teacher of Biology, French and English celebrating 25 years of German public school service this year.   Biology is her main subject, the proper study of which would be impossible except in the context of evolution.  At the magnificent Charles Darwin exhibit on now at London’s Museum of Natural History she was like a student again discovering a love for her subject for the very first time.  No wonder, really.   In detailed, yet easy-to-follow presentations the life and work of the great man and his revolutionary theory are laid out for the visitor in an exhibit which should be first on the list of anyone with an interest in biology or natural history.  Especially this year in the 200th anniversary of his birth and 150th anniversary of the publication of his most famous work, On the Origin of Species.  We loved how they displayed his hand-written letters to colleagues, family and his future wife, his compass, impossibly tiny pistol and geologist’s hammer.

Part two in a couple of days, or next week.  These are very busy times.



Cigarettes are junk food, too

Today’s photo:

A billboard for Lucky Strikes seen a while back in Germany, where selling things that are red, black and white can mean a trip to courthouse.  Things proven to lead to deadly diseases are still OK though.  Wouldn’t want to kill all those jobs now, would we?

The banner photograph shows the town of Britannia Beach, BC, Canada, where I grew up. It's home. But I don't live there anymore.

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