AdFreak: Cradle to Grave

The breast-feeding-vs.-bottle-feeding debate is always so calm and even tempered, except for when it’s a complete hysterical nightmare. So, why not add some fuel to the fire, the Ohio Department of Healtth figured, with some weird pro-breast-feeding billboards? The “Breast milk satisfies” ads went up statewide last week, and weren’t received kindly in many quarters. First, there’s the implication that baby formula doesn’t satisfy. But for many, there was a more pressing concern: Just what is up with the baby? Does he have to be so slobbery and drooly? Others saw nothing wrong with the image, suggesting that the sleepy, dribbly look is true to life for just-fed babies — and urging those who find it off-putting to get a life. One reader wrote on the Cleveland Leader’s Web site: “So it’s OK to sell products with totally fake, unnatural, retouched photos of women and hypersexualization, and fantasies about being rich and famous to get people into [debt], but to show what babies look like in reality when they’ve just been breast-fed is disgusting?”

At the other end of the life cycle, we covered the sobering story of Aaron Jamison, a 37-year-old Oregon man who is dying of terminal cancer, and who made headlines nationwide when he announced he was selling ad space on his cremation urns so his soon-to-be widow wouldn’t be saddled with funeral costs. “I don’t have any money. I’m on disability, and that ain’t much,” Jamison tells the Register-Guard of Eugene. “I was trying to figure out how to not leave my wife in more debt.” His wife, Kristin, wasn’t fond of the idea at first, but she came around. “The more I talked about it, the more I realized he’s always been quirky,” she says. “That’s just something fun, and out of the ordinary, that helps him feel more secure [knowing that funeral expenses] are taken care of and I won’t have to deal with it when the time comes.” The national coverage is bringing more attention to the story than Jamison might have expected. “Thank you so much for running the story and for your support,” he wrote in AdFreak’s comments. “We’re having a good time with the process, even if we can’t stomach the final results.”

Also noteworthy last week was the story about VO artist Lance Baxter (aka D.C. Douglas), best known for his “15 minutes” line for Geico, who was fired by the insurer for scuffling with a conservative group called FreedomWorks. Baxter called FreedomWorks as a private citizen and left a voice-mail questioning the group about what he considered to be gay and racial slurs by Tea Party members. Upon learning who Baxter was, FreedomWorks reportedly went to Geico, and he was subsequently dropped. Baxter is angry, but not at Geico. “Telling their members to harass my employer to get me fired is an egregiously disproportionate response to my actions,” he says. “I don’t blame Geico for protecting themselves. They have a business to run and can’t waste time getting caught up in FreedomWorks’ circus. They’ve been very good to me in the past.”

Best of BrandFreak: Fast-food logos are unhealthy, too

It’s not bad enough that fast food is blamed for everything from obesity to heart disease and hypertension. Now, as AdFreak’s sister blog reported last week, we find out it might be messing with our minds as well. New research from scientists in Canada suggests that people who are shown fast-food logos become increasingly impatient and are less inclined to save money, preferring immediate gratification over greater future return. The Toronto University study looked at the behavior of 57 volunteers, some of whom were shown logos from fast-food chains like McDonald’s and KFC. In one test, the speed at which participants read a passage was measured before and after looking at the logos, with readers speeding up after an eyeful of the Golden Arches. Another experiment asked participants if they wanted a small amount of cash immediately or a larger sum in a week’s time. Those who saw the logos opted for the smaller amount served up immediately. It’s disconcerting to know that it’s not just the food that’s bad for you — it’s anything remotely connected to it.