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October 12, 2005 03:47 PM

Broken: Swatch ad

Contextual Advertising Fails Again: Swatch ad poorly positioned over earthquake story.


Oh my God. I'm first! My life is now complete.

Yeah, this is bad. But what's with the Swatch thing pasted on the guy's face? Am I missing something?

Posted by: ambrocked at October 12, 2005 04:25 PM

I think that watch face is broken, with just the 12, 4 and 8. A lot of people need clear points of reference to read an analog clock face. It should at least have dots in the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions.

Posted by: Fog Dude at October 12, 2005 05:51 PM

Fog Dude: What's even worse are the watches I've seen that *only* have a marking at 12. I can't read those at all!

Posted by: codeman38 at October 12, 2005 09:01 PM

What do you expect from the swiss?

Posted by: ron at October 13, 2005 01:47 AM

I expect nice watches from the Swiss. But yeah, i don't understand the Swatch thing on the guy's face either. But this is broken and insensitive to the victims.

Posted by: Bob at October 13, 2005 08:04 AM

This is not the first time CNN has done something like this. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show mentioned the crawl during the Iraq invasion was "Beyonce doesn't like the word 'Bootylicious' anymore." It is obvious the right hand (content dept) doesn't know what the left hand (advertisment dept) is doing.

Posted by: JAC at October 13, 2005 12:41 PM

I'm actually going to claim not broken on this one.

The ad serving end has no way of knowing what's going to show up on the news pages. The news homepage could change hundreds of times per day, and trying to program a wide range of possible unfortunate juxtapositions would be roughly as simple and accurate as predicting next week's news.

And the idea that the news and advertising sides have no idea what the other is doing is not only not broken; it's exactly the way it should be. News and advertising should have no influence on each other, or else you lose the perception of uninfluenced reporting. Having the two sides start working hand-in-hand would result in a lot more - and worse - broken than just some unfortunate coincidences.

Posted by: Steve at October 13, 2005 03:21 PM

This is just as funny as the one pointed out to me where an article talked about a family that died in a house fire, and the ad above it was for an Iomega CD-burner, with the ad text saying "Burn, baby, burn!"

On one hand it's hysterical, on the other hand it's depressing.

Posted by: Manni at October 13, 2005 04:07 PM

I don't know about anyone else but I generally have a blind eye for ads when I'm viewing website content. Static banner ads are almost nonexistent to me, although I'd venture that's not the case with most people (else the ads would become literally nonexistent), so, for me at least, not broken.

Posted by: PatheticPeripatetic at October 13, 2005 11:53 PM


The problem is that it is not at all clear that there is a separation between the news content and the ads.

Separation does not occur the case in a real newspaper. All the ads for strip clubs appear in the sports section of my local tabloid, and not in world news section.

In the case of an online newspaper, there may not necessarily be a human reviewing and determinign the ads, but the ad server doesn't just randonly throw an ad up. They use keywords to try to find an ad that would target those interested in reading the articles. However, this keyword mechanism fails and generates some very poor juxtaposition of news articles and ads.

Tecnically it works, but it results in a poor customer experience.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at October 14, 2005 12:22 PM

I think what's broken is the hypersensitivity in this country today. I feel bad for all of the victims of all of the tragedies that take place in the world, but to turn each one into an opportunity to wallow in pity and sentimentality is ridiculous.

Should all the bars in New Orleans stop selling hurricanes now because it's disrespectful for those who suffered this year? Or should they rename the drink to "Survivor Soda" or some other phrase that makes everyone into heroes?

Should we outlaw naming children after the names of devastating hurricanes because it could remind a victim of their tragedy? Should my friend Katrina change her name? Where does it all end?

Bad things happen. Life goes on. Get over it.

Posted by: Tug at October 18, 2005 11:35 AM

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