Bing Attacks Google Shopping With ‘Scroogled’ Campaign

Microsoft’s Bing search engine recently launched an ad campaign against Google called “Don’t Get Scroogled.”

The campaign calls into question Google’s ‘pay-to-rank’ search results on Google Shopping.

Formerly known as Google Product Search, Google Shopping initially used to list merchants for free. The company announced the switch to paid-only listings in May and started making the transition on October 17, according to Search Engine Land.

Microsoft has launched a website in which it tells users that they are getting dishonest search results when they use Google Shopping.

“In the beginning, Google preached, ‘Don’t be evil’ — but that changed on May 31, 2012,” reads the Scroogled website. “That’s when Google Shopping announced a new initiative. Simply put, all of their shopping results are now paid ads […] When you limit choices and rank them by payment, consumers get Scroogled. For an honest search result, try Bing.”

In a video posted on site, Bing warns, “Sure, they say your search is sorted by relevance, but the truth is Google sells their shopping results. They Scroogle you by defining relevance as how much they’re getting paid. Don’t get scroogled, you may be missing out on the best prices and highest quality products.”

The site encourages users to share horror stories of bad Google searches and tells people to “warn your friends now” via Facebook and Twitter. There are also buttons to “Try Bing” and “Make Bing your homepage.”

In response, Google has released the following statement:

“Google Shopping makes it easier for shoppers to quickly find what they’re looking for, compare different products and connect with merchants to make a purchase. With new 360-degree, interactive product images, social shopping lists and a fast growing inventory of more than a billion products worldwide, Google is a great resource for shoppers to find what they need, at great prices for their loved ones this holiday season.”

But is Bing as honest as it claims to be?

According to the Associated Press, Bing has not accepted payments that affect the order of search results since it re-branded in 2009. However, the search engine’s shopping section includes listings from Shopping.com, a service based on referral fees that does in fact accept payments for inclusion.

Our Opinion

Yes, Bing does seem a little less ‘evil’ compared to Google… but Microsoft is no angel. It would be a different story if Bing were being completely honest in its claims, but at this point the search engine does not state which results are paid for and which are not.

As it turns out, both the attackers and the attacked are not as pure as they would like users to believe.

Google is by far the leading search engine with Bing running a distant second, which makes it easy to understand Bing’s desperation to drive traffic to it’s site.

New BIC Pen ‘For Her’ Gets Scathing Reviews

Pen manufacturer Bic has recently introduced a new range of pens especially for women. The ‘Bic Cristal for Her’ is a ball point pen available in pastel colours, and is slimmer than usual in order to fit a woman’s hand.

One retailer describes the pens as follows:

Cristal For Her ballpoint pens are reserved for women and feature a diamond-engraved barrel for an elegant, unique feminine style. The tinted, hexagonal barrel is thinner for better handling for women and still keeps the ink supply visible.

The Bic website notes that the pens are available in Europe, but Amazon makes the pens available in the United States.

CONSUMER RESPONSE
Far from appealing to the women they were targetting, the company has received scathing product reviews and sarcastic comments onAmazon.

E. Bradley “LuckyLady1978″ from New York wrote: “The delicate shape and pretty pastel colours make it perfect for writing recipe cards and checks to my psychologist (I’m seeing him for a case of the hysterics), and tracking my monthly cycle. Obviously, I don’t use it for vulgar endeavors like math or filling out a voter application, but BIC Cristal for Her is a lovely little writing utensil all the same. Ask your husband for some extra pocket money so you can buy one today!”

Another reviewer by name name of bicGirl states: “I don’t understand all the 5 star reviews- this is the WORST eyeliner I have ever used! I can’t get it off for the life of me.”

Men have also been commenting on the pastel-hued pens.

Reviewer Dan Kaufman wrote, “Men, don’t stand for this. Aren’t there enough products specific to women already? First it was tampons, now these pens? What other products will I have to suffer the indignity of being unable to purchase just because I’m a male person?”

The internet is abuzz with snarky blog posts, views and criticism for the product. Feminist website Jezebel has also featured this topic.

BIC’S DEFENSE
Bic hasn’t apologized for the pens and the company has no intention of pulling them from the market or changing their branding.

Bic’s spokeswoman Linda Kwong said that the company always appreciates to hear customer feed back.

Kwong responded to a request for comment with the following statement: “We appreciate hearing honest feedback from all of our consumers, whether it is regarding a promotion, advertising campaign, or product. As a global consumer products company, BIC wants to hear these important comments.”

OUR OPINION
Pens are pretty gender nuetral, so it doesn’t make much sense to market them to women only. The ‘ladies only’ distinction ensures that for every woman drawn to the product, there’ll be a man who is driven away by the ‘for her’ label. Business-wise, it’s a silly move.

Yes, of course Bic’s branding is unneccessarily sexist and plays heavily into gender biased stereotypes, but wait… why is this any cause for surprise? From food to toiletries to razors to cleaning supplies, certain product lines have always been targetted to women. You can see it in packaging, marketing and advertising and this goes well beyond the ‘make it pink’ phenomenon. I don’t ever remember seeing a washing detergent or cooking oil ‘for him’.

That doesn’t make it okay, but I just don’t understand the shock and rage at these pens specifically. Gender stereotyping is a larger issue that needs to be addressed but attacking one product isn’t going to do it. On the other hand, the Amazon reviews section makes from some fantastic crowdsourced comic relief from the seriousness of the issue at hand.

Why Has Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Stunning Volvo Ad Gone Viral?

Jean-Claude Van Damme is a 53 year old martial artist, actor and director, best known for his performances in action blockbusters including Bloodsport, Street Fighter, Timecop, Sudden Death and The Expendables 2. He is also known for his trademark ability to do physics-defying splits, which you can see for yourself here.

The Volvo Car Corporation is a Swedish premium automobile manufacturer, now owned by the Chinese Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Volvo manufactures and markets a range of SUVs, trucks, station wagons, and sedans and coupes.

Enya is an award winning Irish singer-songwriter and instrumentalist best known for her hit new age album, A Day Without Rain.

All three of these seemingly unrelated entities have come together to showcase an incredible collaboration of skill, talent, efficiency and wit. And you can watch it here:

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

The ad, which is part of Volvo Trucks’ ‘Crazy Stunts with our Trucks’ campaign, opens with a close up of Jean-Claude Van Damme with his eyes closed and arms folded while Enya’s “Only Time” plays in the background.

The camera pans out to reveal Van Damme standing on two Volvo FM trucks as he says, “I’ve had my ups and downs. My fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That’s what made me what I am today. Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection. A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics. And a mind set to master the most epic of splits.”

Van Damme then goes into a deep split while the copy states: “This test was set up to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic steering. It was carried out by professionals in a closed-off area.”

“The stunt is real and is performed in just one take,” Anders Vilhelmsson, public relations manager for the Volvo Trucks brand, told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s a daring stunt but we had full control. There was never any real danger involved.”

Andreas Nilsson, the director of the video, explained to The Wall Street Journal that while Van Damme’s feet weren’t secured to the mirrors in the video, they were placed on small platforms built on the side mirrors of the trucks. He was also hooked to safety lines that aren’t visible in the film.

“We had him rigged so that if he would fall off he wouldn’t die obviously. We didn’t want to be responsible for killing the Muscles from Brussels.”

The filming took place on a closed-off airstrip in Spain, and Van Damme got it done in one try. Of course the production team had already been rehearsing the stunt for three days before the final shoot.

OUR OPINION

Jean-Claude Van Damme is basically doing yoga. In the air. Suspended between two reversing trucks. For real. I love it. I don’t know if anyone will go running to their closest Volvo dealership after watching this insane display of steering wheel efficiency, but what an ad. With over 43 million YouTube views in less than 10 days, I’d call it a success.

There are entire corners of the world wide web dedicated to topics as unexpected as bouncing cats, random acts of pizza, and this (go on, you know you want to click on it). It should then come as no surprise that a Volvo ad starring Jean-Claude Van Damme doing a split while the sun rises to an Enya song should fit right in to this atmosphere. The combination is as bizarre as it is awe-inspiring, and that is what social media success is made of.

Welcome to the internet, guys.

Kenneth Cole Tweets About Syria, Faces Backlash For Being ‘Insensitive’

US fashion designer Kenneth Cole has posted a controversial tweet referencing Syria on his personal Twitter account, drawing in widespread criticism for being insensitive.

The tweet, posted Thursday afternoon, makes light of the Syrian conflict in order to promote his line of footwear:

Cole is no stranger to corporate tweeting faux pas. In February 2011, he tweeted about Egypt, using the Cairo protests to promote his website: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC.”

Then in April this year, after the Senate failed to pass legislation to expand background checks on gun buyers, Cole tweeted a link to an ad stating “Regardless of the right to bear arms, we in no way condone the right to bare feet.”

Though the Cairo tweet was later deleted after Cole issued an apology, the tweet referencing Syria is still online.

In a statement issued through a spokesperson, Cole responded to the criticism of his tweet as follows:

“For 30 years I have used my platform in provocative ways to encourage a healthy dialogue about important issues, including HIV/AIDS, war, and homelessness. I’m well aware of the risks that come with this approach, and if this encourages further awareness and discussion about critical issues then all the better.”

A Storm Is Coming – Holy Tornado Co. Style

For a Pakistani, food is everything. Either it is the assortment of sweet starters served to family and friends on Eid-ul-Fitr, or it is the delicious wait of an 18” sub sandwich by Holy Tornado Co. that is guaranteed to satisfy all your taste buds.

With the new company’s launch in Karachi round the corner, Holy Tornado has already built up quite a stir around its two main sub sandwich deals (beef or chicken) on its website. Many have inquired about its outlet and are quite disgruntled that it will cater only to Clifton and DHA areas.

The response due to its proactive campaign has kept food lovers at the edge of their seats:

Holy Tornado’s pre-order offer was sold out on the very day it started:

Since May, its digital launch campaign (handled by Team::ants) has left many potential customers spellbound. This company has certainly launched the most mouthwatering pictures. Its first release of the kind of ensemble they have in-store for foodies in Karachi (and hopefully in other major cities too) on May 23rd was too good to be true:

This picture alone received more than 3,000 likes and got over 200 social media followers discussing the upcoming ‘storm’. In a few months, Holy Tornado’s following has gone up to almost a hundred thousand fans. There is a storm coming indeed. In fact a teaser video was also launched on July 12th that takes the storm of taste to be a guaranteed not-to-be-missed:

A strong and confident campaign can be extremely successful in the long-run with major food brands when it can deliver the goods as expected. As the date for Holy Tornado’s launch party gets closer, consumer expectations of high quality food have reached new levels. A happy customer on social media can keep them in business for a long time. However, a negative comment could flatten the line in a heartbeat as well. Which will it be?

FulFill Her Dream With An Empty Olper’s Pack

A brand with a social conscience is an engaging approach towards a broad target audience. Olper’s is one of those brands, whose ongoing ‘Fulfill Her Dream’ campaign this Ramadan has made waves on social media platforms. The company’s advertising campaign connects the consumer with another human being in need of assistance. All they needs to do is to submit an empty Olper’s milk product to one of its outlets.

In terms of marketing, the concept has been developed according to a simple case of demand and supply: in our society, there is a demand to empower underprivileged women and Olper’s has supplied a way to do it.

With prior analysis of various brands incorporating principles of Ramadan into their TVCs or print ads, Olper’s has guaranteed to support impoverished women to stand up on their own two feet. The TVC by JWT is a beautiful representation of each province of Pakistan and its people. It communicates Olper’s initiative to mobilize its brand and spread it around remote areas where it is most required.

By embracing the spirit of Ramadan, Olper’s promotes brand representatives such as Tina Sani and Faryal Gohar who give a voice to Olper’s social cause. Ikram, Farhana, Zeenat and Rehana are a few of many who struggle for livelihood and hope for a brighter future for themselves, their siblings and children. It is enough motivation for a few empty packs of Olper’s to be donated to selected outlets.

The effect of this donation is that a team by Olper’s is organized around the rural areas of Sindh and Punjab which would train women there to rear livestock and learn milk production. A comprehensive understanding of Olper’s Fulfill Her Dream campaign can be read here.

Olper’s has reached out on major social platforms in Pakistan such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs to promote the campaign of giving. The brand has even created a Cover Maker app on Facebook for social media users to upload on their cover page (one can access the app once the Olper’s Facebook page has been liked).

The main feature of this campaign is the ease of giving: Thanks to Olper’s, a good deed is just an empty pack away.

3 Ramadan Drink TVCs That Make You Thirsty During Your Fast

One of the customs of breaking a fast is to eat a date and have a sip of water.

The concept of ‘Ramadan drinks’ is easy to sell: a sip of a cool drink gives relief to a throat that has been dry for hours. It is the most blissful moment of all.

Most beverage brands have incorporated this moment as their main focus in Ramadan TV commercials. Some of these brands are:

1. Tang
Tang’s Ramadan TVC, launched by Ogilvy and Mather, starts with a young boy wanting to be a super hero to do good deeds. He gets the idea from his father that one does not need to be a superhero to do a good deed. Subsequently, he gathers his friends to make Tang, which he serves to elders at the mosque.

This TVC seems to have been made from a child’s perspective. He is the hero who serves the people by pouring cool drinks for elders who fast. As a result, he is rewarded with praise and respect.The ad taps into the notion that an act as simple as serving a drink can make one a hero.The concept of doing good deeds is universal. Every religion states the magnitude of rewards for a single a good deed.The same principle is reflected here.

2. Rooh Afza
The uses of elements in the Rooh Afza Ramadan TVC are similar to Tang. There is a young boy, an icy beverage, the mosque and iftaari. The TV commercial has also integrated a young boy who breaks his fast with a sip of the cold drink. At the mosque, he mixes Rooh Afza with water and shares the drink with family and friends. It ends with young boys lining up with adults for prayers combined with the audio message “Rehmat barakat jama karo”.

The Rooh Afza slogan “Aur kya chahiye” is effectively incorporated into the audio message as each sequence of events is illustrated in the commercial with the catchy phrase. However, there are some factors in the production of the commercial that overshadows a decent concept. All the frames of the ad were bleached; there was unnecessary use of visual effects during the mosque sequence and the voice over sounded daunting.

3. Jam-e-Shirin
Another concept with children as lead actors is the Jam-e-Shirin commercial designed by Manhattan Leo Burnett. The main message of this commercial is patience and its virtues. The focus of the ad is on a brother who is impatient for the fast to end and a sister who diverts her brother’s attention from the clock.

As individual commercials, Tang, Rooh Afza and Jam-e-Shirin have used elements that are more or less similar. All three feature children as lead roles, there is a gathering for iftaar during which a child does a good deed and the fast is broken with a sip of cold refreshment.There is a sense of repetition to the storyline due to these factors. The links are strong enough to make all three Ramadan drink commercials blend into each other.

Cooking Oil Offers In Ramadan – Or Is It The Other Way Around?

Ad campaigns have taken a turn towards the spiritual as Ramadan commences in Pakistan. This holy month commemorates principles of abstinence of food and impure intentions, family gatherings, joy of helping the needy and honoring the institution of ‘brotherhood’.

Some cooking oil brands have romanticized these traditions in their Ramadan specific TV commercials. Here’s a line up of what’s out there:

1. Habib Cooking Oil


Habib Cooking Oil, handled by JWT Pakistan, greets the blessed month as an honorable family member with its slogan of “Khushamdeed Ramadan”. The TV commercial begins with a mother teaching her son about the importance of giving. It ends with women preparing iftari together using  Habib Cooking Oil, setting a long family table filled with delicious food while the whole family is thankful to be together in these auspicious days.

Habib has portrayed a fairy-tale ideal of a family that eats together and thus stays together. As the camera closes up on the foray of food, there is a certain lack of abstinence, which is one of the major principles of Ramadan. It speaks of extravagance rather than simplicity.

2. Kashmir Banaspati & Cooking Oil

Another Ramadan TVC concept launched by Interflow was for Kashmir Banaspati & Cooking Oil. Kashmir managed to get Shehzad Roy to endorse the brand, however this was the only positive that could be seen in the campaign. The slogan “Yehi Hai Jeeney Ka Maza” was not illustrated effectively in the commercial. The transition from Muslim brotherhood by assisting the impoverished did not seem genuine and the glamorous iftaar dinner left one desiring something more spiritual.

Both TVCs by Habib and Kashmir leaned more towards romantic ideals about Ramadan rather than resonating with the target audience about the connotation of the month. Habib may have persuaded a major portion of housewives to buy their cooking oil for their family, but Kashmir left one outright confused about their concept.

3. Mezan Cooking Oil


Another brand endorsement that is eminent this month is Aamir Liaquat’s with Mezan Cooking Oil. Its slogan, “Har Cheez Mezan Mein Achi Lagti Hai” delivers the notion of Mezan’s significance in Ramadan. Its print ad by Adcom announces a lucky draw prize of Umrah tickets, a spiritual journey to the house of God to a random lucky winner who purchases Mezan. A lucky draw could perhaps persuade a large number of consumers to at least buy one tin of Mezan.

4. CanOlive Cooking Oil

CanOlive Cooking Oil has also jumped onto the Ramadan bandwagon of smart offers with a ‘smart’ bargain of its own. With a simple suggestion to “Be Smart!” as its headliner, CanOlive has offered discounts on its various litre packs. The only Ramadan essence that could be seen was the color scheme and ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ type at the far right corner in Arabic script.

Major players in the cooking oil market in Pakistan have used Ramadan as a somewhat brand ambassador for their product. It remains to be seen which other brands have also done the same thing.

All That Monkey Business: Has Omore’s Monkey Peel Copied Nestle?

The explicit use of the ‘peelable’ ice cream ad campaign by Omore has put its parent company Engro Foods Limited in a tough spot with Nestle Global. Both companies are leading enterprises in food and beverages, with plenty of funds to hand over to their creative agencies to come up with something that would be innovative and appealing.

In this drive to be innovating and appealing, the alluring concept of peelable ice cream was born. Peelin’ Pops and Monkey Peeling Ice Lolly made quite a sensation in various markets of Nestle Global and Omore, respectively. However, this groundbreaking invention was not launched by both companies in the same time frame.

Monkey Peel Peelin Pop ice lolly

NESTLE VS OMORE

Nestle Global first launched its peelable ice cream in May 2010 in Thailand, under the brand name ‘Eskimo Monkey’. A press statement reported that it was a “high-in-demand success among children.” It was then launched in Malaysia, under the brand name ‘Matkool’ in January 2011. It eventually went global in the following year by the name of ‘Peelin’ Pops’. Herve Cathelin, global head of Nestle Ice Cream also commented on the appeal of eating an ice cream that has a jelly layer peeled off to get into the ice cream inside.

Omore launched its ‘Monkey Peel’ ice lolly in June 2013, a few years after the launch by Nestle Global. Omore took a risky step launching an ice cream in Pakistan that was already quite popular in the Far East, especially because Nestle Global holds patents over the manufacturing of the ice cream.

Their blatant use of another company’s idea is even more obvious when Omore’s entire ad campaign seems to be copy pasted. The whole promotional theme, including the use of color, font and mascot is alarmingly alike. There is a large possibility that Omore will be facing a lawsuit with Nestle Global for plagiarism.

The TVC, however, is unique enough to escape plagiarism accusations. The creative agency behind the commercial was Stimulus and it was produced by Adcom.

SOCIAL MEDIA RESPONSE

There has been a positive response on Facebook and Twitter about Monkey Peel’s launch in the local market.

Here’s what some Facebook fans had to say about the Monkey Peel TVC:

And these are recent posts on Omore’s Facebook page:

Twitter, too, has been abuzz with conversations about this innovative new product:

OUR OPINION

The idea of a peelable ice cream is creative as it brings in a new experience of eating an ice cream. It promises to attract a large market of young consumers between the ages of 6 to 12 who would find it fun and playful. However, a great product should not be promoted with plagiarism. Omore is a part of Engro Foods Limited, which is one of the largest food and beverages companies in Pakistan. Copying an ad campaign so transparently is disappointing. It only attracts more slander and breaks consumer trust.

New ‘Follow The Link’ Teaser Campaign Hits Pakistan

A new teaser ad campaign has hit billboards and newspapers across the nation.

The minimalist creatives feature a twirling red ribbon (Or coil? Or telephone wire? A slinky, perhaps? ) with the copy: ‘Follow the Link. Coming Soon.’

At this point the brand and product remain a mystery, however our sources have revealed that this information will be unveiled by the end of this week.

Till then, check out the billboards below. I hope you’re sufficiently teased!

Flying Club, Islamabad

Khayaban-e-Ittehad, Karachi

Star Gate, Karachi

Masjid Chowk, Lahore

Update: It’s a Mobilink campaign! Read more details here.