Freak Week: Ifs, Ands and Butts

What was up with all the butts last week? It’s a question you had to ask if you saw the latest rear-facing marketing efforts from KFC and Diesel. We must start with KFC, which promised easy cash to college women in exchange for having the words “Double Down” written across their buttocks. The Double Down, of course, is the chain’s heart-stopping chicken-sandwich monstrosity. “On select college campuses,” the press release read, “female undergraduates will sport KFC Double Down branded sweatpants to encourage students to try the unique bun-less sandwich.” The gig pays $500, in case that helps coeds swallow their pride like a pile of greasy hen flesh. Those with cash-flow and/or self-esteem problems are encouraged to apply on KFC’s Facebook page, presumably through a wall post. That’s probably the first weeding-out process for applicants: If you’re too ashamed to show your interest in a public forum like Facebook, you’re probably not a good fit for the Double Down butt brigade. Of course, if you actually eat a lot of Double Downs, you might not have the butt size they’re looking for, either.

Diesel, meanwhile, launched its own assvertising from ad agency Santo that might be less personally demeaning to people but is outrageous in its own way. The entire campaign is about how Diesel sneakers aren’t made for running — they’re made for kicking people’s butts. This is visually depicted in a whole host of photos and videos, the weirdest of which shows a giant sneaker-car chasing down a giant butt-car in the desert and then kicking it. As the pair rides off into the sunset, the on-screen copy reads: “I feel I wasn’t made for running, but to kick you tender till the end of time. Yours, Diesel Sneaker.” The work is desperately idiotic, but that is hardly off-brand for a company whose award-winning positioning is “Be stupid.”

We saw another trend emerging last week — one involving retro-sexist ads. First, we saw a new Chevrolet poster advertising a classic-car event in Detroit with a photo of an old Impala and the not-very-progressive line, “Remember when your cup holder sat next to you and wore a poodle skirt?” Then, a ’50s-style ad for BIC Soliel razors, with an illustration of a woman leaning over and showing off her legs (headline: “For legs that beckon”), was removed from Toronto subways after a feminist outcry. A BIC rep apologized, saying, “It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone.” The lesson in both cases: You can watch Mad Men. Just don’t make ads like they made.

Finally, one of the great billboard typos of all time came to light last week — an ad celebrating the “pubic” schools of South Bend, Ind. An agency called the BLUe waters group quickly took the blame for the ad, which promoted a local Web site called SouthBendOn.com. “Four people looked at it, eyeballed it and didn’t see the mistake, and those people all work for me,” said Blue Waters president Patrick Strickler. “We take responsibility for it. We simply blew it. We did not see the missing ‘L.'”

Best of BrandFreak: Lost in translation

As incomprehensible as a lot of beer ads are in English, they are apparently even worse when translated into Spanish. As AdFreak’s sister blog reported last week, Spanish speakers have been calling out beer advertisers lately for poor language translations and general ignorance of the Latino consumer. Specific complaints, as outlined in a New York Post story, were directed toward Budweiser (whose “Tomabilidad” isn’t a real word), Coors Light (whose “Emborícuate” has the same problem) and Corona, which invites drinkers to “Más una fría que beer,” which literally translates to “More one cold what beer.” As Michenelle Groller, a Brooklyn Spanish teacher, pointed out, badly translated ads are “not only misleading, but mostly offensive,” and “if they were written in English, they would have never made it past the planning stages.”