Advertising is one of the most powerful hidden forces in our lives. It's the reason we never question why we bought a new pair of athletic shoes when the closest thing we do to exercise is pump the brakes in our exclusively city-driven SUV while heading to the store to pick up a few bottles of limited edition Sprite with LeBron James' name on them.
However, as we've pointed out once or twice in the past, the brainwashing overlords in charge of telling us what to buy sometimes go wildly off the rails, and it's always fun to sit back and soak in their failure.
5Apple Sinks Over $100 Million Into A Free U2 Album That Nobody Wanted
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Hey, remember that time Apple thought people still gave a single steaming urinal biscuit about new U2 music in 2014?
Even if you weren't one of the scads of irate people who were threatening to yank Steve Jobs back from the spiritual plane for an ethereal punch to the solar plexus, waking up to find a U2 album stealthily downloaded onto your phone without preamble probably struck you as being exactly as generous as someone breaking into your house to leave you a new pet that you didn't ask for. ("Enjoy your new howler monkey!")
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Or worse, "Enjoy your new Bonobo!"
On the surface, teaming up with U2 to gratuitously distribute Songs Of Innocence -- the band's first new album in over five years -- appeared to be a great way for Apple to generate buzz for their iTunes service. After all, everyone loves free stuff! And U2 would get the benefit of introducing millions of people to their new music, resulting in a huge uptick in sales of the band's back catalog.
The thing is, people only love free stuff if the free stuff is something they at least halfway want. That's why so many mix tapes remain in the backpacks of their creators, as opposed to being eagerly accepted by people on their way into Jamba Juice. An embarrassingly tiny fraction of the 500 million users who received Songs Of Innocence gave a hammered grizzly shit about U2. That's a whole lot of wasted, animosity-generating megabytes. The even bigger problem was that for Apple, the album wasn't free at all; they had shelled out $100 million for marketing alone, plus an undisclosed amount to U2 that will no doubt have Bono swimming in douchebag sunglasses until the planet implodes.
Maybe if we get him rich enough, he'll stop recording for good.
And as for Apple's plan to send a new generation of U2 fans clamoring to purchase the band's back catalog on iTunes? Well, when the dust settled, fewer than 7,000 copies of U2's other albums had been sold as a result of the stunt. It's almost as if Apple should've picked a musical artist with more universal relevance, like Weird Al Yankovic. Nobody would've complained about a free Weird Al album.
4BMW Pays To Sponsor A Deadly Weather Event
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Sponsorships are a tried and true way to sneakily insert your brand into the minds of countless consumers. Want to make sure Americans keep on guzzling your brand of light beer? Slap its logo on the side of a race car. Want to make sure you're the service provider that comes to mind the next time droves of sports fans need a new cell phone? Squeeze your name onto a stadium.
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"The Verizon Center! Where teams will suffer the same disappointment as our customers!"
Well, the "sponsoring random stuff" game knows no bounds in Europe. In 2012, BMW was looking for a new way to promote their Mini Cooper. Fortunately, like a gift from Mother Nature herself, an unnamed cold front was approaching. Since, oddly enough, the German weather service sells naming rights to weather events, BMW quickly snapped up the advertising rights to the high-pressure system. Soon, Europe was bracing itself for the "Cooper cold front," with forecasters everywhere being forced to refer to it by that dumbass name. It was a bold, brilliant marketing maneuver ... right up until the Cooper cold front started killing people, which is generally not something you want associated with your sensible compact car.
Temperatures approaching 30 degrees below zero proceeded to freeze Eastern Europe's collective tits off. By the time the Cooper cold front had finished sweeping across the continent, it had left 113 frozen corpses in its wake. Suddenly, all those newscasters referring to the cold front by name either sounded like they were describing some kind of Mr. Freeze serial killer who was taking revenge on the world, or that the car from The Italian Job was lethally plowing its way through the United Kingdom like a frozen juggernaut.
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Once again, a cold eastern front spells doom for Germany.
BMW argued that they had no way of knowing that the front would turn deadly when they chose to sponsor it, but thanks to the slogan they had regrettably launched in relation to the sponsorship -- "Mini makes the weather" -- there are probably entire villages in Poland which will be burning BMWs in effigy for generations to come.