Friday, July 08, 2011

PointRoll | More lame humor from the frat house

First, executives at the advertising services subsidiary, PointRoll, made snickering references to their (evidently) small penises.

Now, they've followed through with a new campaign promoting the company's ad technology, one based on a slang expression -- tap that ass -- that's about having sex with women. The campaign is called Tap That Ad.

For readers who aren't still in junior high school, PointRoll tells readers: "You want enhanced performance from your next campaign? Get personal. Get on their device. Get them to tap that ad."

In a letter yesterday on the widely read Romenesko blog, Des Moines Register reporter Clark Kauffman wrote: "Maybe it’s just me, but I would think some people, women in particular, would be offended by this, and that some advertisers -- including Amtrak, Hyatt and others now featured on -- would not want to be associated with the phrase, "Tap that a**."

Jim Romenesko sought comment from Corporate's top publicist, Robin Pence, and said he would post her response, should he receive one. As I post this, I don't see anything from Pence.

Here are some other women who might want to weigh in: Gannett COO Gracia Martore; Chief Marketing Officer Maryam Banikarim, and PointRoll Senior Vice President Catherine Spurway-Hepler.


  1. Lest anyone try to claim it was totally innocent, a way to promote touch-screen capabilities - when was the last time your hand was positioned like that to use a touch screen?

    Oh, it's not important, we're just having fun, right? Here's the issue - if we were selling beer, aftershave, ladies razors, or practically any adult-focused consumer good, ok. A little nudge/wink might be appropriate.

    But we're not. We're selling a marketing tool, a software solution to agencies and corporations big and small - with male and female buyers who aren't in fourth grade.

    There's no place for gratuitous vulgarity.

    Lastly, our slogan d'jour is "It's all within reach." The division is called PointRoll. The technology involves touchscreens. Reach, Point, Touch. Abbreviated RPT, which is shorthand for "repeat", right? i.e. repeat customers?

    I'm not in marketing, but wow, at 5 in the morning I just came up with a product name that was just as effective and less offensive. Now I just have to find an ugly 70s retro font to put it in.

  2. Now we know what it is that's all within reach.
    They've been sitting around scratching themselves.
    Good thing they aren't dogs,even less than nothing would get done. Canine version. It's REALLY all within reach now. woof

  3. This reminds me of a botched ad campaign that McDonald's launched a few years ago. It featured a black man and a Big Mac, with the caption, "I'd hit that!" This was picked up by several big internet forums, who sent hundreds of hilarious letters to McDonald's corporate brass informing them that their ad, in slang parlance, was encouraging people to have sex with hamburgers. The ad campaign was quickly pulled.

  4. Why the hell can't this company acknowledge that it makes mistakes from time to time. Here is an example, and I sincerely believe Deal Chicken is a mistake. Obviously with Deal Chicken, someone has decided that my observations about the effect it has had on Phoenix advertisements is not true, and tht Deal Chicken is the best thing since butter breans. Now we have this ad, which is a mistake. No big thing. Just take it down, say you are sorry, and move on. Nice try, but no cigar. But they don't do that. It's damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. Well maybe it worked once, but it is a recipe for disaster if you repeat it and expect the same successful results.

  5. I sense a termination coming over this. Tasteless, junior high boys' locker room humor. Any woman, or man, with any sense at all, should be totally offended by this sloppy effort to infuse this kind of sexual humor into this campaign. And I have a pretty good sense of humor...and I work in marketing. Thumbs down. Seriously!!!!!

  6. Okay, so let's break this down:
    1. - Slogan: offensive. sophomoric;
    2. - Font: tired -- even in its retro-ness.
    3. - Hand graphic: WTF?!?!
    4. - Decision making skills of PointRoll management: questionable.

    All-in-all a rather douche-y effort.

    You know, there are some folks in Port Huron with time on their hands that might be willing to take a shot at a better slogan. Seems the company can't do any worse than the D-bags they currently employ.

  7. OK, you win.

    We here in marketing understand your objections. We admit we were sophomoric and insensitive. We are modifying this campaign immediately in all print and digital media. Our new slogan:

    "We like big ads and we cannot lie!"

  8. Wonder if this Pointroll campaign makes it into Maryam's next "On The Road" e-mail?

  9. Dear Maryam Banikarim,

    How about:

    "Is your ad-hole giving you problems? PointRoll's got the solution!"

  10. Seriously? There's no place in internet marketing for sexual innuendo? I guess that's why has been such a failure.

    Anyone who wants to do a study about why newspaper companies have failed to adapt quickly to a changing industry, ask the people complaining about this.

  11. 9:17 - and that's the same reason Amazon has their Amazonian Patrol, Google promotes Booble, Microsoft features MicroHARD and the NYTimes has a web-exclusive Page 3 girl?

    REPUTABLE businesses with a GOOD product don't need to whip it out, especially for B2B marketing. So which aren't we?

  12. I actually think it's pretty funny and was obviously meant to be. If anyone should be terminated it should be Clark.

  13. Tap that ad = epic fail. I think PointRoll just tapped out of the ring.

  14. LMAO 8:59 and Jim!

  15. i sometimes appreciate the dialogue here but you can be hypocritical Jim. Your post on "ad hole" wasn't offensive at all. You should be ashamed to capitalize off of those who are offended by the campaign and then turn around and be unbelievably crass...

  16. The letter "d" in ad.... is it suppose to be a subliminal A**, um - derrière complete with a hand waxin' it?

    Oy Vey...... so juvenile!

  17. @9:30 am: Actually, the ad campaign made into Maryam's On the Road email that just went out this week! Here's her cheery message:

    This month we are featuring a good cross-section of what we do at Gannett. We go from The Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa to KSDK viewers speaking their mind on video to the launch of PointRoll's Tap That Ad campaign and USA TODAY's highly engaging new Books site — just in time for your summer reading. Congratulations to the teams behind the all these efforts.

  18. My ADaconda don't want got backslash?

  19. 12:12 For real?! When did that newsletter go out?

  20. I am Not 12:12 but her on the road went Out this week and I deleted it. We get too many damn emails and that is an awful way to ge my attention.

    I personally am not Bothered by the tap that ad campaign. I am a female younger than 40 and of the pop culture/tech savvy generation. You will find many ad buyers around my age and younger and I bet they are not offended and like it. It made me laugh and I will remember it. Lasting impressions are priceless.

  21. In the true spirit of Hunkeism, Banikarim writes those "On the Road" e-mails so she can very deftly take credit for what's been done.

  22. I think Marketing is missing a great opportunity. Let's combine the Pointroll and Gannett tagline's into one powerful, companywide message:

    "Tap That Ad...It's All Within Reach"

  23. Jim, you should follow Pointroll more closely. This is old news. Also, have you seen the tattoo parlors they do at every media event? Digital culture is definitely different than print. Like it or's an edgier sophmoric crowd in general...made up of mostly under 35 year olds.

    Pointroll and newspapers could not be any more stop trying to compare the digital company cultures to the culture of a legacy newspaper. Been to Facebook? Google? This is NOT your father's newspaper business.

  24. We need advertisers and readers to tap those verticals. Because if they don't, layoffs are all within reach at Usa Today.

  25. Should you need to protect a copy of your work, be sure to purchase a storage device and:

    "Back that ad up!"

  26. I'm confused.

    Does PointRoll want me to click on mobile advertising using my junk?

  27. And my jimmy runs deep, so deep
    So deep put her ads to sleep...

  28. This doesn't bother me in the slightest and I think the amount of attention Jim is giving it here is a bit much.
    Raunchy humor is kind of the norm now, and we can't afford to cater to the stodgiest because, frankly, they're generally older with declining buying power.
    I'd only be concerned if advertisers were worried/offended and I'm assuming stuff like this is run by them.

  29. Craig Sevier7/08/2011 5:11 PM

    Heralding from 70's counter-culture, I'm no uptight mainstream consumer even at my "advanced" AARP-like unrehirable age -- but this "Tap That Ad" campaign just has no class.

    It's crass. It's sexist. It's trivial. And wins the Most Poorly Designed award -- most likely the product of some thinly experienced, minimum-wage sweatshop consolidation center director.

    After many meetings.

    Speakin' of which, the Reno, Nev., site (back when local autonomy still had some sway in their own choices) one year chose the meme "Wake Up" to market its product.

    When it was launched, all the usual suspects within the building thought it was cute and clever for a morning paper, some mind-numbing cliché of a coffee cup then featured, instantly isolating people as "different" who have tea or orange juice.

    On the street, which I guess was never followed up on, people told me (thinking as they do that if one works at the paper one surely is responsible for its content -- ha!), that they took the phrase to be patronizing; that it came off as a put-down, i.e., that the silly reader was asleep.

    Yet the double entendre never occurred before the campaign was set in full-tilt boogie mode.

    "Wake up," after all, appears repeatedly on this blog as exactly that: a put-down,no?

    Fast forward to "Tap That Ad," and one ends up with a pretty good picture of how much creative talent Gannett and its offshoots have gotten zapped to oblivion: Even a boring coffee cup now trumped by cheap sexual innuendo.

  30. In Wisconsin, we don't get it. "Tap that" here usually means a keg of beer.

  31. 5:04 Raunchy? Provocative? Edgy? Great.

    But couldn't we at least be smart/clever/original about it?

  32. Jim's right. It's not that clever an ad, whether it's "edgy" or not. It's just sort of lame, and that's a much bigger problem than being offensive or not being offensive.

  33. 5:04 here
    I thought the issue was whether it was offensive, especially to women? Whether it's smart/clever/original is a totally separate issue.
    We need to separate the two:
    If it contained all the same/similar elements but done in a smart/clever/original way would you still be upset by it?

  34. 8:54 How could it be the same and yet different?

  35. Without specifically referencing this post, PointRoll's Catherine Spurway-Hepler tweeted the following on Friday, the day I posted this item:

    "Is there no room for creativity & humor, only error? Why do we take ourselves so seriously?"

    The "error" in this campaign might not be only in negative publicity. It might also be be a question of federal workplace law violations, if the campaign reflects a PointRoll corporate culture creating a hostile work environment for women. 

    Is PointRoll a business, or a frat house?

  36. Monday morning email: All requests for personal or corporate twitter accounts must go through Robin Pence, and all individual tweets must be signed off by a division president or higher.

  37. 1:34 Outrageous. They are trying to control what we say.

  38. A reader now tells me that PointRoll has lost half of its top 10 clients in the past few months, amid an exodus of sales staff and developers. Also, the reader says PointRoll has been missing budget for the past year.

    Can anyone confirm this information?

  39. Jim, if PointRoll continues down this vulgar road they're going to lose many more customers, I'm afraid. Who would want to be associated with the product when their campaign is so degrading to women?

  40. I find all this outrage over Poinroll's current campaign very funny. Has everyone forgotten that Saradakis introduced the world to Pointroll via his "boys" - Fatboy, Towelboy, Badboy, etc.? Those images seem to be gone from their site now, but they were some of the most offensive images I had ever seen from a company. The truth is that Pointroll has a long history of edgy (or offensive) campaigns that predate the current management team. I doubt that Saradakis would have any issue with this current campaign.

  41. It's advertising. Relax. There is nothing dignified about advertising. Sure as hell makes more money than printing a bunch of self-righteous papers.

    The environmental impact of your craft should make you all ashamed. Go kill a tree in the name of journalism.


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