I don't know about elsewhere in the world but in Canada we're being inundated with purple pig ads put out by a major telephone company to sell camera phones. Embryonic looking purply-pink piglets with black blotches are plastered all over newspapers, magazines, billboards, television commercials, you name it. They're escalating in their grossness. A few days ago I phoned Telus to complain when a few pages into the newspaper my eyes were confronted with a purple pig's rear-end stuck in my face. I asked them what they planned to insult us with next. Well, it didn't take long for my question to be answered. I read in a news report today that pigs are now being flaunted as sex objects. One of the ads shows a dirt-covered pig and the line, "Share some dirty pictures".

Telus isn't the only telephone company pushing camera phones to an obscene degree and replacing normal Christmas images with weird animals or sex or both. Tantalizing people with the idea of secretly snapping photos of other people engaged in private acts is diabolical. They're targeting our twenty to thirty year olds and of course hitting the younger and older too.

This is another example of present day society going even beyond Orwell's wildest surveillance imaginings. It's also a perfect example of doublethink in that on the one hand the powers-that-be say camera phones won't invade privacy while on the other hand promoting their privacy-invading features. And probably the images will only get worse seeing as how the people who own the camera phones also own the newspapers and television stations marketing them. ~ Jackie Jura

Sexing up cellphone ads
Globe & Mail, Nov 28, 2003

Mobile phones with cameras are quickly catching on in Canada -- and Telus Mobility has seized on the new technology with a heavy advertising blitz that combines cute with sexual innuendo. The "sex sells" approach is also being used by LG Electronics Canada Inc., maker of one of the Telus phones, which has put out a saucy ad of its own.

"The time was right," said Mark Langton of Telus Mobility. "It's the perfect holiday gift. Camera phones are on the cusp of surpassing DVD players as the fastest-selling consumer electronics product of all time. You're going to see more and more of them. They're definitely going to become ubiquitous*." Already hot in Europe and especially Asia, camera phones first appeared in Canada last year, but this is the largest push yet from an industry player.

But as in other countries, they have generated a bit of controversy. The little devices are being banned from places like gym locker rooms to keep them from being used to take illicit surreptitious photos. Last week, the Calgary YMCA joined other gyms around the world, insisting camera phones get checked at the front desk. Mr. Langton said such reactions are typical of new technologies. Even so, the Toronto-based mobile phone company, owned by Telus Corp. of Vancouver, did reach for a play on words in its current campaign, running in every province across the country.

Featuring the company's standard advertising motif, a white background and green lettering, the current animal stars peddling its products are pigs. One ad pictures a dirt-covered pig and the line, "Share some dirty pictures."

It's "a bit cheeky, but I think people get the joke," Mr. Langton said.

The ad, designed by Telus Mobility's long-time agency, Taxi, is running primarily in publications aimed at adults in their 20s and 30s, such as entertainment and news weeklies in large cities. Nobody has complained about it**, Mr. Langton said. Rather, the campaign has been even more successful than previous efforts. In general, Telus Mobility advertising does well with its simple colours and cute animals. For this one, Mr. Langton said the company has received numerous requests for posters of the ads and is giving out little stuffed pigs at its stores.

Mississauga-based LG Electronics Canada, owned by South Korean conglomerate LG Corp., has also been running a suggestive ad on television for the past month or so. It shows a man and wife exchanging increasingly sexy pictures of themselves. The spot hits its peak when the man accidentally sends a picture of himself to his mother. "The reaction's been very positive," said Steve Preiner, corporate marketing manager at LG Canada. "People found it to be funny." Beyond humour, the point is to display technological prowess. Some camera phones can only send a picture to e-mail, not to another phone. LG's phone can send it anywhere. It's about "how you can converse with pictures," Mr. Preiner said. And the target audience, not surprisingly, is buyers under 30.

Using sex "can be very effective," said Darren Dahl, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia, who is researching sexual themes in advertising and how they have changed over time. "It certainly attracts attention," Prof. Dahl said. "That's the first goal of advertising, to break through the clutter."

Still, he says, the situation is a "bit tricky."

"With concerns of privacy with these types of phones, it's a tough balancing act," he said.

Other techniques, like using emotional appeals, work too, Prof. Dahl said. He pointed, for example, to other Telus ads promoting the camera phones appearing on billboards and the like, such as a more benign one showing a baby pig wrapped in a blanket and announcing, "It's a boy." The clear point is that parents can send around photos of their new baby more quickly with a camera phone.

Ken Wong, a marketing professor at Queen's University, said this practical element is a key message to communicate, especially with a new product. "If you're going to sell any of these, beyond the cute factor, you've got to show people some reasons why they need these phones," Prof. Wong said. For mobile phone companies, the fourth quarter, and especially December, is key. About 40 per cent of all new subscribers in a year sign on in the last three months. While LG and Telus have pinned their hope on camera phones, other wireless companies are taking a broader tack. Bell Mobility recently introduced its first camera phone, a top-end Samsung which costs $724, that boasts much better picture quality than its peers. But because such a device isn't really for everyone, Bell is trying to advertise its whole portfolio of phones and their range of features, such as colour screens and text messaging. "We're just trying to demonstrate the power of your phone," said Kelly Dixon, head of consumer marketing at Bell Mobility, owned by Montreal-based BCE Inc., which controls Bell Globemedia, owner of The Globe and Mail and the CTV television network.

The company is doing some mall advertising for its Samsung camera phone and a small print campaign. The simple alliterative tagline reads: "Snap, share and save." "You'll see more from us," Ms. Dixon said. Camera phones will become a "more integral part of our marketing message." Bell plans to introduce five or six new camera phones next year. For Rogers Wireless Communications Inc., camera phones are very much been-there-done-that. The company led Telus and Bell by a year, introducing a Sony Ericsson camera phone in October, 2002. In the first three months of this year, Toronto-based Rogers Wireless did a big campaign for camera phones. John Boynton, the company's head of consumer marketing, said the campaign -- using the tag "a picture's worth a thousand words" -- was "aspirational." "It was meant to say one thing: 'Wow, look at what your phone can do now.' " The market for camera phones is still in the early stages in Canada. Mr. Boynton said less than one in 10 phones the industry sells has a camera. Right now, Rogers Wireless believes colour screens are the key new feature. Its holiday tag is "the joy of colour." Mr. Boynton said more than half the phones the company sells now have colour screens and by next year the company won't even be selling phones without colour. "For us, this Christmas, it's working incredibly well," he said. "Colour sounds like it's not such a big deal, but when you're of the Internet generation, black-and-white is a negative."

*definition of ubiquitous is: everywhere at the same time; present everywhere ~ jj

**actually, I complained about their pig ads two days ago ~ jj

Telus cellphones to offer porn (users spent US$400-million last year downloading porn on mobiles). National Post, Jan 26, 2007

Reader says my "pig ad" article is stupid

PIG TOYS TALE ANTI-EUROPE (they're "environmentally enriching manipulable materials"). CNN, Apr 13, 2004. Go to 18.Newspeak & 22.Doublethink & ANIMAL FARM

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
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