Category Archives: Advertising

Podcast: Selling Science Smartly: IBM Watson Campaign

In 2011, a cognitive supercomputing system developed at IBM named “Watson” was pitted against, and subsequently defeated, two of the most successful Jeopardy! game-show contestants of all time. A project five years in the making, Watson was initially developed as a “Grand Challenge” successor to Deep Blue, the machine that beat Gary Kasparov at chess, and was a prototype for DeepQA, a question/answer natural language analysis architecture. Since his Jeopardy! triumph, however, Watson has been successfully applied towards improving health care, oncology, business applications and soon enough… even education. At the same time that IBM has been expanding Watson’s cognitive computing abilities, they’ve also been brilliantly marketing him to the general public through a series of traditional and interactive ads.

As part of our ongoing “Selling Science Smartly” series, we analyze the Watson campaign in more depth and feature an exclusive and insightful podcast conversation with the IBM marketing team behind it.
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Selling Science Smartly: ‘Pink Ribbons, Inc.’ and Breast Cancer as a Profit Industry

Earlier this year, the Susan G. Komen Foundation made headlines around the world after their politically-charged decision to cut funding for breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood caused outrage and negatively impacted donations. Despite reversing the decision and apologizing, many people in the health care and fund raising community feel that the aftermath of the controversy still dogs the foundation. Indeed, Advertising Age literally referred to it as a PR crisis. If all of this sounds more like spin for a brand rather than a charity working towards the cure of a devastating illness, it’s not far from the truth. Susan G. Komen For the Cure, Avon Walk For Breast Cancer and the Revlon Run/Walk For Women represent a triumvirate hegemony in the “pink ribbon” fundraising domain. Over time, their initial breast cancer awareness movement (and everything the pink ribbon stood for symbolically) has moved from activism to pure consumerism. The new documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. deftly and devastatingly examines the rise of corporate culture in breast cancer fundraising. Who is really profiting from these pink ribbon campaigns, brands or people with the disease? How has the positional messaging of these “pink ribbon” events impacted the women who are actually facing the illness? And finally, has motivation for profit driven the very same companies whose products cause cancer to benefit from the disease? ScriptPhD.com’s Selling Science Smartly advertising series continues with a review of Pink Ribbons, Inc..
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Selling Science Smartly: Pfizer’s “More Than Medication” Campaign

“Ask your doctor if this hard-to-pronounce medication is right for you.” Sound familiar? It should. Over the last decade, it’s become difficult to watch an hour of television or read a magazine without running into a commercial for the latest cure for (insert disease here). For all of their ubiquity, the majority of ads are shockingly bereft of uniqueness. Bland, boring, and banal, they represent some of the worst of science creative in modern media. Here at ScriptPhD.com, we couldn’t think of a more appropriate category for the next installment of our ongoing advertising series “Selling Science Smartly.” Rather than expound on the plethora of bad pharmaceutical ads, we deconstruct a near-perfect Pfizer campaign out of Canada and interview the executive creative director behind the concept. Read our complete article under the “continue reading” cut.
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Interview: Digital Footprints of Modern Advertising and Media

Who among us has not computerized our bills, thinking that reducing paper consumption was more Earth-friendly? Or increased accomplishing anything and everything by email that used to be done by snail mail? On a larger scale, media and advertising (and to some degree entertainment) has had the same idea, moving away from traditional print to digital delivery models. At the Sustainable Media Climate Symposium in Manhattan last December, Don Carli spoke about the new and somewhat controversial concept of ‘Tree Washing’ within the advertising and media industries, specifically the notion that modern technology use and methodologies leave a larger carbon footprint than the traditional paper industry:

The video, and idea, caught ScriptPhD.com’s attention in a big way. Mr. Carli, the director of the Institute for Sustainable Communications, has hypothesized extensively about whether digital media is worse for the environment, including a recent white paper about the guilt that this new dilemma has incurred in consumers. Eager to learn more, ScriptPhD.com sat down with Mr. Carli to discuss the technology and environmental challenges presented by modern media and advertising conduits, how technologists and creatives can work in concert with environmental and watchdog organizations to mitigate these challenges as technology continues to evolve in our lives, and why it’s in businesses’ and brands’ best interests to compact carbon footprints. For our complete interview, please click “continue reading.”
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Earth Day Guest Article: Plastic Beads and Sugar Water

Happy Earth Day, 2010!

Here at ScriptPhD.com, we pride ourselves on being different, and we like thinking outside the mold. So for Earth Day 2010, we wanted to give you an article and a perspective that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. There is no doubt that we were all bombarded today with messages to be greener, to use less, to be more eco-conscious, and to respect our Earth. But what is the underlying effect of advertising that collectively promotes The Green Brand? And has the Green Brand started to overshadow the very evil—environmental devastation—it was meant to fight to begin with? What impact does this have on the future of the Green movement and the advertising agencies and media that are its vocal advocates? These are questions we are interested in answering. So when we recently met Matthew Phillips, a Los Angeles-based writer, social media and branding expert, and the founder of a new urban microliving movement called Threshing, we were delighted to give him center stage for Earth Day to offer his insights. What results is an intelligent, esoteric and thoughtful article entitled “Plastic Beads and Sugar Water,” sure to make you re-evaluate everything you thought you knew about going green. We welcome you to contribute to (and continue) the lively conversation in the comments section.
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Selling Science Smartly: Green Advertising with RIESTER

Much of today’s messaging about the environment, green initiatives and ways for the public to make a difference physically and fiscally are centered around media and advertising. To wit—even amid the deepening recession, one market has seemed to defy the economic downturn: green and environmentally-friendly product launches. Sadly, however, a large and growing subset of the eco-conscious creative collective is enveloped in hyperbole and hubris, a term the industry has labeled “greenwashing” that we will discuss in much greater detail in another article. It was natural then, that as part of our Earth Week coverage, ScriptPhD.com undertook green advertising as part of our continuing “Selling Science Smartly” series. Here, we profile a case study of several impressive (and effective) campaigns by the West Coast-based RIESTER, including work on recycling, clean air, and the first fully-integrated municipal sustainability campaign in the US. We also had an opportunity to speak with RIESTER’s executive team, who provided insights into their creative strategy, why green advertising is more challenging than ever before, the crucial importance that interactive played in their success, and why every agency should be blogging more.

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Selling Science Smartly: Dow Human Element Campaign

When it comes to the interface of art and science, in many ways Madison Avenue finds itself in the position of the early days of sci-fi entertainment, where campy, unrefined productions took decades to evolve into the sophisticated films and shows we enjoy today. To be brutally honest, 95% of current science and technology advertising ranges from hackneyed to terrible; unimaginative, uncreative, uninspired. But here at ScriptPhD.com, we want to focus on the superlative 5%. What makes these campaigns work, what elevates their content above the crowd and most importantly, how do they fit within the theme of the science or industry they are promoting? This is why we are expanding our umbrella of coverage—which has heretofore included film, television and media—to the final frontier: advertising. In our brand new series entitled “Selling Science Smartly,” we will profile the best that science and technology advertising (print, TV, radio, digital and everything in-between) has to offer. Where possible, we will interview the respective campaign’s agencies and creative teams to give you a rarely revealed behind-the-scenes purview into the process and foundation of making these ads. We are proud to launch the series with the exceptional Dow Human Element campaign, including an in-depth interview with Creative Director and mastermind John Claxton of Draftfcb Chicago, who breaks down the thought process behind the creation of the campaign.

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From the Annals of Psychology: Fear and Loathing in a Modern Age

“First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” These inspiring words, borrowed from scribes Henry David Thoreau and Michel de Montaigne, were spoken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his first inauguration during the only era more perilous than the one we currently face. But FDR had it easy. All he had to face was 25% unemployment and 2 million homeless Americans. We have, among other things, climate change, carcinogens, leaky breast implants, the obesity epidemic, the West Nile virus, SARS, avian/swine flu, flesh-eating disease, pedophiles, predators, herpes, satanic cults, mad cow disease, crack cocaine, and let’s not forget that paragon of Malthusian-like fatalism—terror. In his brilliant book The Science of Fear, journalist Daniel Gardner delves into the psychology and physiology of fear and the incendiary factors that drive it, including media, advertising, government, business and our own evolutionary mold. For our final blog post of 2009, ScriptPhD.com extends the science into a personal reflection, a discussion of why, despite there never having been a better time to be alive, we are more afraid than ever, and how we can turn a more rational leaf in the year 2010.

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The Flu, The Facts, The Media and You

A microscope image of the H1N1 Swine Flu influenza virus.  ©2009 CDC, all rights reserved
A microscope image of the H1N1 "Swine Flu" influenza virus. ©2009 CDC, all rights reserved

We are in the midst of a pandemic, folks. A pandemic of fear. A truly formidable novel strain of influenza (H1N1) is spreading worldwide, creating an above-average spike in seasonal illness, the genuine possibility of a global influenza pandemic, and an alarmed public bombarded with opposing facts and mixed messages. It’s understandable that all of this has left people confused, scared and unsure of how to proceed. ScriptPhD.com cuts through the fray to provide a compact, easy-to-understand discussion of the science behind influenza as well as invaluable public health resources for addressing additional questions and concerns. Our discussion includes the role of media and advertising in not only informing the public responsibly, but effecting behavioral change that can save lives. Our full article, under the “continue reading” jump.
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