Howler of the Week

At right is Wendy Clark, “senior VP-integrated marketing communications and capabilities” at the Coca-Cola corporation. Ms. Clark has weighed in on behalf of her employer in the controversy over Microsoft’s plan to respect overwhelmingly clear public preferences and make “do not track” the default setting in its next version of Internet Explorer. Clark, according to Advertising Age,

said brands, including Microsoft, shouldn’t be assuming choices for consumers. “All we want is an opportunity for consumers to make their own choice rather than have the choice made for them.”

Friends, it doesn’t get more Orwellian than that.

A Remarkable Letter

omerta Microsoft, undoubtedly trying to exploit overwhelmingly clear public preferences to boost its market share, is apparently planning to release the next version of its web browser with “do not track” as the default setting.

In response, the Association of National Advertisers has sent Microsoft an open letter of omerta protest. It is well worth your study, as it speaks volumes about the true nature of the relationship between corporate marketers and so-called “consumers.”

Notice, first of all, that the ANA and the Fortune 500 signatories accuse Microsoft of “Making the Wrong Choice For Consumers.” Go back to the right choice for consumers, is the message. Making choices for consumers is (of course) just fine, so long as they are the correct ones. And by correct, we mean the choices that the signatories know are best for “consumer interests” and “society as a whole.” Never mind that, even with zero political leadership on the topic, 86 percent of “consumers” expressly disagree with what the corporate overseers dictate.

Also contemplate the spectacle of these overclass warriors daring to speak of the concealment of choices about how the nation’s media run! Why is it that virtually all mass media operations in the United States are dependent on corporate advertising sponsors for their budgets? Is it due to robust public debate and preference? Or is that outcome also a “choice” that has not been, and cannot be, left to the “consumers”? The sponsors of ALEC’s efforts to kill public internet service want us to pretend it’s the former, rather than the latter. Cats everywhere are laughing up their lunch…

Finally, dig the pure Don Corleone closing to this rather amazing letter:

ANA’s Board is prepared to engage in direct conversation with Microsoft. Representing thousands of brand owners that are responsibly pursuing productive pathways to consumer engagement, we believe in a far different course of action. We respectfully suggest an immediate dialogue with key Microsoft executives prior to the anticipated release of Internet Explorer 10. We look forward to your response to our invitation.

Paired with the fact that this thing was broadly released to the marketing trade media, the only conclusion you can draw is that this precedent is a dire threat to the system, so the threat to Microsoft must be proportional to the danger of its planned policy.

Meanwhile, from the citizen’s —not “consumer’s” — perspective, it’s immensely sad how such a fragile, inch-deep power structure remains so thoroughly safe from public ire. As we work and wait for some adequate penetration of its prevailing national hologram, we can at least keep ourselves up-to-date on its true nature. This letter is a keeper in that regard.

A Peek at Food Styling

For some reason, after somebody complained about the fact that fast food in real life is much uglier than in advertisements, McDonald’s Canada decided to take us behind the scenes and show us the intricate, “several hours”-long process behind every product photograph they issue.

The tour guide is Hope Bagozzi, head of McD’s marketing in Canada.

Hope’s hope (always wanted to type that) is undoubtedly that her matter-of-fact tone will prevent the audience from actually pondering the remarkable waste and dishonesty of the process she depicts.

Bagozzi really tips her hand near the end, however, when she attempts to claim that the reason the patty in the ads looks so much bigger and prettier than the allegedly non-primped one she buys from the allegedly unaware (yet somehow giggling and supremely compliant) counter workers is the “steam effect” from the box containing the real-world burger! ROFL. Compare that shameless howler to the footage of the “food stylist” lightly browning but distinctly not cooking the advertising patty at the 1:30 mark of the video below. (Why brown the edges if you’re about to cook the burger, as the video, after a strategic cut-away, attempts to suggest has happened?)

The real reason for the huge difference between ad and real burger patties is fat content, which, of course, shrinks and leaves a greasy, gnarly result upon actual frying. McD’s clearly avoids this process in preparing its marketing imagery. So, now we know: Hamburger patties are actually raw in food advertisement close-ups!

In any event, this is a very rare little video. Marketers are loath to lift the veil, even with careful misdirection such as Bagozzi attempts here. Definitely worth a look.