Freak Week: Keeping Score

Headshot of Tim Nudd

The wayward iPhone app seems to be the preferred new format for marketer misbehavior. Edgy apps are usually the work of smaller companies, but last week it was PepsiCo feeling the heat over an Amp energy-drink app that many derided as sexist. “Amp Up Before You Score” gives guys tips on how to seduce 24 different types of women, from the sorority girl to the married woman to the “treehugger,” and enables them to brag about their conquests on Facebook and Twitter. The app didn’t score with most women, though, and Pepsi soon apologized via tweet. Perhaps tellingly, it stopped short of pulling the app, which was developed by R/GA. We asked our readers whether they thought the agency’s reputation would benefit or suffer because of the fuss. Overwhelmingly, you said R/GA would benefit.

The freakiest spot of the week came from TracyLocke in Dallas for Tabasco sauce. Imagine, if you will, drizzling Tabasco on your pizza and suddenly seeing four small heads appear on the pepperoni slices-heads that begin to sing in four-part harmony. The spicy barbershop quartet, called the Pepperonis, go beyond the TV spot, too. At the Web site, you can download MP3s of them singing some reworked holiday classics.

Fox has been celebrating one of its longest-running shows all year long with its 20th Anniversary Simpsons Celebration. Still, we didn’t expect this: Marge Simpson on the cover of November’s Playboy. The collector’s item will be available only on newsstands, and Playboy has even struck a deal with 7-Eleven to carry the magazine, something it’s done only once before in the past 20 years. The cover is tasteful-Marge re-creates Darine Stern’s pose when she became the first black woman to appear on the cover-but Playboy assures us the inside will be “very, very racy.” Oh, wonderful.

Marge isn’t the only cartoon character who’s getting more free-spirited in her old age. Snow White has gone completely off the deep end-in a new ad for an Australian beer, at least. The Disney princess is seen lounging around naked in bed, blowing smoke rings, next to her brood of shag-mates, the Seven Dwarfs. The ad didn’t last long, though. The agency responsible for it, The Foundry, pulled the campaign off its Web site after admitting, ominously, that it had “a little bit of contact” with Disney about the ad.

Best of BrandFreak: Hey Wendy’s, why all the taglines?

AdFreak‘s sister blog, BrandFreak, posted a couple of items last week about the new Wendy’s campaign from The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York, and bemoaned the fast-food chain’s decision to once again change its formula. Kenneth Hein wrote: “Wendy’s changes taglines as often as I change the oil in my lawnmower. OK, I’ve never changed the oil in my lawnmower, but I’m told you’re supposed to do it every year or so. This is precisely the lifespan of a Wendy’s tagline.” The item then looked back at the marketer’s move from “That’s right” (the red-wig campaign) to “It’s waaaay better than fast food” to the new line, “You know when it’s real.” Last fall, Wendy’s execs vowed to stop the brand schizophrenia created by switching slogans so frequently, but apparently they lied. Perhaps it’s time to really go back to the well, BrandFreak suggests, and trot out “Where’s the beef?” Everyone loved those ads, and frankly, at this point, they can’t do much worse.

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.