The things that go on in the dark

Every now and then a stupendous advertisement comes along that does not annoy the living Tophet out of me, and which I generally remember forever. I’ve mentioned some examples before.

There’s one print ad that I’ve been looking for since, like, forever – and I finally found a copy. The Internet is great – sooner or later, almost anything of interest will pop up.

In 1998, Sony introduced their Handycam with its patented NightShot infrared system, and this was the print ad that publicized the product:

Handycam Infrared Camera Cat Dog Advertisement

Discovering the cat and the dog in an amorous clench made me laugh way too hard since I was no longer a high-school sophomore – at least not chronologically.

The Print Ad titled CAT & DOG was done by Campbell Ewald advertising agency for the product: Handycam Camcorder (brand: Sony) in the United States. It was released in January 1998.

The advertisement hinted at good things to come when you used this feature. Unfortunately for Sony, there were other things about this camera that the developers had not counted on – like being able to see through clothes.

No, not like the X-Ray Specs advertised in the comics…

(For an interesting write-up on the history of these novelties, visit Lee’s Comic Rack, and for more samples of comic book advertising, check out “Kick the chair and gamble a stamp.”)

… but something much closer to reality.

Yes, the NightShot technology, combined with certain kinds of clothing, effectively made that clothing “disappear.”

hqdefault.jpg

Sony recalled about 700,000 cameras and installed a kludge to disable that particular capability, but enterprising people – as enterprising people are wont to do – quickly found ways of making this thing work with just about any Infrared video system. Just Google around if you’re interested.

Technical ramblings aside, I’m happy to have finally found a copy of this ad online. It’s one more thing rattling around in my skull that I can lay to rest.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Here’s to the crazy ones – and to the creators of the campaign.

Recently I posted this image over at Facebook:

77e93b96856f2692806beb5c95fa0b7f

At once I began to get pushback on the source, so I thought I’d do a bit of digging – and what I found was interesting.

One thing is certain – the quote was part of Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. There were two versions of the commercial, one voice-overed by Steve Jobs himself (this one never aired):

And the one that actually hit the airwaves, with Richard Dreyfuss as the narrator:

But who actually wrote the text?

Not Jack Kerouac: “Sometimes attributed to Kerouac on the internet, perhaps because it evokes his famous quote from On the Road: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” ” (Wikiquote)

Not John Chapman, aka “Johnny Appleseed“: If you look closely at the Text Edit icon in Apple’s OS X, you’ll see the the quote there in the form of a letter to “Kate” from “John Appleseed.”

Text Edit

This has led some to attribute the quote to Chapman himself, which is just all wrong – the language is never something that the historical Johnny Appleseed would have used; on a side note of interest, this article at the Smithsonian suggests that Chapman was planting apples for hard liquor, not for eating.

“Apple cider provided those on the frontier with a safe, stable source of drink, and in a time and place where water could be full of dangerous bacteria, cider could be imbibed without worry.”

So who is the John Appleseed referred to in the icon, and who is Kate?

Not John Appleseed, the shadowy “Apple Insider:” This article at Techradar gives the background on who John Appleseed was – a Cupertino-based software developer who had developed Apple II software under his own name. When Apple’s CEO Mike Markkula (also a coder) developed some Apple II software under the pseudonym John Appleseed, the real Appleseed didn’t sue – he launched a campaign to meet Steve Jobs, as described in the article. Ultimately Appleseed’s image and name became the face of the iPhone and other products, although he was never really an “Apple Insider.”

5a104893d7f8b30ae52b64e25a6fa545-1200-80

Unfortunately for him, Jobs died, Apple evolved, and his usefulness as a mascot came to an end. As for Kate? Best guess is that she’s an open source text editor in KDE in the linux operating system. It is possible that during his time of interfacing with Steve Jobs, some of Appleseed’s ideas may have insinuated them into Jobs’ consciousness to have an impact later.

Yes, it was John Siltanen and Lee Clow (and a few others): John Siltanen chronicled the real genesis of the campaign’s text in an article at Forbes (caution: Forbes now makes you whitelist their site if you have AdBlock Plus installed, which I happen to think is a scummy move – but there it is.) Siltanen and Lee Clow were employed by the TBWA/Chiat/Day advertising agency that were shooting to get Apple’s business for a new campaign. The whole article is a fascinating first-person look at how the campaign was designed, pitched, and won.

Some of the original thoughts behind the text in question came from these quotes from “Dead Poet’s Society,” among others:

“We must constantly look at things in a different way. Just when you think you know something, you must look at it in a different way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try. Dare to strike out and find new ground.”

“Despite what anyone might tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Poetry, beauty, love, romance. These are what we stay alive for. The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

So even though the text was really a collaborative effort, at the end Lee Clow made sure that Steve Jobs’ name was included in the credits on the campaign. As a result, I’m going with “Correct Attribution by Association” on the authorship of the quote.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Marketing by terror

I’ve mentioned Android webjacking before, but here’s another example. Things like this are not usually “viruses” on your handheld device, but rather malicious code embedded in a legitimate website by unscrupulous advertisers.

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-04-16

 

First, this exploit makes your phone buzz like a hornet that’s just been pinched in a vise, and locks your browser. No going back. Second, vulgar sites? No, actually this popped up when I was trying to leave a comment at retailcomic.com. I trust the site not to hide exploits like this on purpose.

 

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-04-35

The claims on these “warnings,” along with being written in questionable English, are absolute lies: “If the problem can not be resolved immediately , the viruses will spy your phone, and destroy your SIM card, delete all your contacts.”

Now I’m just following the trail to see who’s behind this.

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-04-49

Looks like someone is hawking an app (surprise, surprise):

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-05-09

A comment at the app’s site complained, and the developer responded; notice the salutation “Dear,” usually seen on Nigerian scam emails but certainly a red flag that the app developer is not a native English speaker.

 

Screenshot_2017-02-16-11-05-51.png

Despite the apology and denial of malicious intent, I would be very suspicious of apps that are advertised in this way.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Income by deception: they’re not even trying any more.

Have a look at a few screenshots from my Android a couple of days ago:

 

screenshot_2017-02-14-12-28-22

Hilarious joke collection. OK, I’m always up for a new laugh or two. But beware: popup ads like this are rarely honest or ethical, and often sleazy and deceptive. Let’s see:

screenshot_2017-02-14-12-30-26

Starting to smell a rat, but let’s just go down to the next level:

screenshot_2017-02-14-05-59-17

Well, the joke’s on me – and anyone who clicks these links. This transcends the concept of clickbait, which usually offers some kind of content in order to get people to the pages where ads are displayed. Now they’re eliminating the middleman altogether.

And people wonder why fake news gets such traction.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

No, Virginia, “brain booster” pills don’t work.

I have inveighed many times against the deceptive nature of affiliate marketing. It’s getting worse all the time, and otherwise legitimate entities are promoting it by allowing anybody and their capybara to inject ads onto their websites. It’s all about the revenue.

Newser™ used to be one of my favorite news aggregator sites, but my enthusiam began waning when their site became jugged with deceptive advertising, and my patience finally snapped when they added code to create popup tabs and randomly switch me to unwanted articles.

Advertorial.jpg

This one, which I had mentioned before, popped up again. It infuriates me, because people are going to believe this camel ejecta, and waste their money on worthless garbage. Instead of “BrainStorm Elite” or “IQ+,” it’s now called “Intelleral” – and it’s not much more than what they flufferously designate as WGCP (whole green coffee powder), meaning NoDoz™ would be just as effective because it’s nothing more than caffeine.

Take note:

  • Stephen Hawking does not say anything about Intelleral or anything else doubling your IQ.
  • The advertisement server is smart enough to know that I’m browsing from Maine, and it injects that state into the headline.
  • Anderson Cooper’s interview has nothing to do with any products.
  • I believe that Intelleral is worthless garbage, and its manufacturers are – in my humble opinion – criminal scum.

So let’s say you’re curious and google something like “intelleral scam.”

search.jpg

Take note that almost every one of these results is the result of an affiliate marketer’s campaign. The red WOT circles are also a good indication that these websites are deceptive and potentially dangerous.

An example: the last link on the list purports to warn you about the side effects and cost of Intelleral. And it’s nothing more than a page promoting the product:

intelleral-ad-1

How much more deceptive can you get than this? Why would you buy a product that’s so dishonestly promoted, even if it worked… which it doesn’t.

One customer wasn’t too happy… among countless:

This product is a scam
By [redacted], Canton, NC, Jan 6, 2017
I ordered Intelleral due to the wonderful advertisement and testimonies by several famous people. I have taken this for a couple of weeks with no noticeable positive effect.

I was checking my credit card this morning and noticed two different charges pending for the two trial items I ordered from the Intelleral website. I did not request future orders. I was billed $64.95 and then $69.95 (charges pending).I contacted my credit card company to dispute this.

Do not order from these people.

You notice her complaint about the extra charges? That’s standard operating procedure for these slimy bottom-feeders. Have a look at their “terms,” which you have to click through to read:

2.1 By placing your order you will be receiving a 14 day evaluation of for the price of $4.95! We stand by our satisfaction Guarantee and our friendly customer service. You will also be enrolling into our convenient auto ship program once your evaluation expires. You understand that you are subscribing to a monthly shipment program and you will be charged $89.99 per month starting 14 days from today and every 30 days thereafter unless cancelled. You also understand that you can cancel at any time, subject to the provisions of section 3, without further obligation by calling 888-298-0291, Monday – Friday between the hours of 9am-5pm MST. Your transaction will appear on your credit card statement as “”. You will recieve your package within 2-5 business days of each payment. Please allow 2-5 Business days for your initial Bottle.

There’s a lot more if you have the stomach to read it. You thought you were paying $4.95 for a trial, but you were actually obligating yourself to shell out $90 bucks a month for this snake oil, and good luck getting a refund from these weasels.

Best solution: TURN AROUND, RUN AWAY, DON’T LOOK BACK. Do not buy this or anything like it that sounds too good to be true, because it is.

An old scam, resurrected

I previously posted about the most deceptive ad I had ever encountered in an article entitled “Selling It.”

Hall of Shame Advertisement

Take away all the mummery, and the thrust of the ad was, “throw away your old rabbit ears and buy our pretty rabbit ears.”

When it comes to separating suckers from their money, old ideas die hard. I mean, why throw away such a good concept if it works, right?

Saw this in WalMart just the other day:

20160914_161116

20160914_161101

Other than the fact that the old one was analog and this one is digital, it’s the same marketing pitch, with the same marketing weasel words. But the summum bonum of the product? “Works just like your old antenna, ONLY NOW with a sleek design.”

Well, that’s certainly sufficient incentive to throw away my old digital antenna and buy this one. Except for the fact that I haven’t watched broadcast TV for over 20 years, but that’s another story.

Save your money and don’t buy camel ejecta like this.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Coin Prices: Part II

In a recent article, I mentioned a set of coins offered by PCS Stamps and Coins, and showed how much of a markup these people were getting.

Since their ads keep popping up on my mobile phone, I thought I’d add just one more example of how putting lipstick on a pig can bamboozle the ill-informed.

Today’s offering: A complete date set of the Peace Dollar, in protective plastic capsules and a handsome cabinet. Price: $848.00

7a4268ce-4729-4f16-8008-2860380995d8_400_0

Complete 10-coin set, with cabinet

23f2fbbd-b0d2-400b-975d-e89c3af5b7b5_400_0

United States Peace Dollar

No question, the set is very pretty. But:

Per the advertisement, these coins are offered in “gently circulated condition.” This is essentially a meaningless statement for collectors; let’s look at the average dealer asking price for a similar set as presented by the Professional Coin Grading Service:

grading

Note that these are average dealer asking prices for PCGS-graded coins; buyers of this set have no guarantee that these coins have been graded by anyone.

The price for a set of coins in 40-grade (Extra Fine) is $442, and the odds that you’ll get a set of coins in this condition are vanishingly small. So you’re paying at least twice the price of these items for the bonus of a cheap cabinet from China and a few plastic capsules.

If you’re thinking this is a good investment, it’s not. You could assemble the same set for much, much less by visiting different coin stores online or in person, armed with the PCGS grading and pricing information.

Be careful out there, and don’t be taken in by the bells and whistles of slick advertising promotions.

The Old Wolf has spoken.