The Rise and Fall of Tobacco Advertising

Once glorified, now shamed. Did advertising help decrease smoking?

By today’s advertising standard, vintage tobacco ads are hard to take seriously. They depict smoking as something so essential, it’s hard to image the turn it took in today’s market.

Cigarettes made women desirable, stylish, and irresistible to men. They increased their chances of looking like Lucille Ball or Marlene Dietrich. Victory over the Germans and Commies came from smoking Chesterfields. And by inhaling enough Raleighs, you could win prizes!

You won’t see pretty girls in short skirts holding their favorite methanol brand or Eddie Murphy on a box telling you to “always buy ‘em by the carton” on cigarette boxes today.

The anti-smoking campaign kicked off in the early 1980s, and clearly continues to be impactful. The rate of smokers in the U.S. declined for the first time in about 25 years.

Experts attribute this drop to the mounting impact of anti-smoking advertising campaigns, cigarette taxes and smoking bans.

To get a better insight on how drastically smoking advertisement changed, take a trip through the cigarette ad history in the gallery below.


Posted in AppleBlog

The Influencer Marketing Takeover

influencer marketing

A huge trend took place in marketing this past year. It happen so quickly, most of us didn’t realize this shift was happening.

One of the biggest changes is the rapid growth of influencer marketing. To understand this trend, we must first grasp exactly what it is.

As defined by Forbes magazine, influencer marketing is a non-promotional approach to marketing in which brands focus their efforts on opinion leaders, as opposed to direct target market touchpoints.

Once thought to be a quick trend, it’s become clear that influencer marketing is here to stay. It exists on all popular social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

It’s become a movement of seeking out experts in the industry instead of celebrities to showcase a product. Now influencers are the ones everyone is watching. For this reason, more brands see the value in paying these influencers to represent their products.

Additionally, brands face the challenge of ensuring credibility when using celebrities. This strategy of putting the face of a famous person on a marketing campaign, when there isn’t a natural association with the product or target audience, has become ineffective. Now, consumers have become increasingly savvy and they’re able to see through a brand endorsement that doesn’t feel genuine to them.

Beforehand it would have been crazy to think of a teenager with a million followers on Instagram. But today, those teenagers are working with big name brands to use their products, while also being careful not to “sell out” and become a product pusher on social media.

The best influencers on social platforms do an excellent job of integrating their branded campaigns into their unique, personal stories. They know their audiences inside and out, as well as what they must do to get them engaged before they quickly leave a post.

With this new influencer marketing movement, there comes a new responsibility for advertisers. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has had to issue new guidelines for the brands working with influencers. One such guideline requires that influencers recognize when they should identify something as a paid-for endorsement. For instance, when influencers post branded videos or sponsored blogs they should include an ‘ad’ warning in the title to notify their followers.
Overall, these influencers have become the experts driving consumer purchases and with that comes the task of ensuring their audience knows when they are being advertised to.

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Google Limits Search Ads on Addiction Rehab Queries

google adwords rehab

Exclusive: Google is cracking down on sketchy rehab ads

Following a Verge report about rehabs gaming Google, the company begun pulling AdWords

This past week, marketers in the $35 billion addiction rehab industry are facing unpleasant surprises. No more Google ads. The search engine giant suddenly stopped selling ads against the huge number of rehab-related search terms, including “drug rehab near me,” “alcohol addiction treatment,” and many others. Search ads on some of those keywords would previously have netted Google hundreds of dollars per click.

What Happened?

Google began limiting ads on search results pages for drug and alcohol rehab center enquiries.

The Verge recently reported that rehabilitation centers like those operated by Advanced Recovery Systems suddenly saw ads disappear from roughly 40 percent of queries they were targeting.

Searches like “heroin detox,” “drug rehab,” and “opioid treatment center” are examples of the queries that yield results without ads. Organic local listings replaced where text ads lived.

Rehab Search


As of right now, ads still appear on rehab-related searches such as “addiction help” and “painkiller detox.”  That is likely to change as this update continues to roll out.

rehab addiction ad

This leaves legitimate treatment centers like Gateway Rehab in a weird limbo now that the potential for visibility and traffic from Google search ads will only be limited further.  The change only impacts ads; organic results remain unaffected other than they now appear higher on pages with disabled ads.

Why Is This Happening?

As opioid addiction in the US reaches epidemic proportions, the demand for treatment programs has surged.  Combine lack of regulation and treatment standards with massive demand and new insurance mandates, and you have an environment ripe for misuse.

A Google spokesperson said, “We found [several] misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision, in consultation with experts, to restrict ads in this category. As always, we constantly review our policies to protect our users and provide good experiences for consumers.”

Google has been consulting with a non-profit resource for people seeking treatment called Facing Addiction. In an email, co-founder, Jim Hood said, “We have been having discussions with Google for the past few months. As you can imagine, this is an extraordinarily complicated conversation, with many moving parts.”

F.A. pulled a comprehensive analysis of how much money addiction rehab centers and lead generating companies in the field pay to advertise their services and facilities in Google search results. Looking at the current economics of treatment care, the cost of a lead is irrelevant because only a small percent of paying patients covers the marketing costs. Or in other words, patient care becomes a secondary concern.

Unfortunately for Google, this isn’t their first rodeo. The search engine giant has changed the way it handles ads a few times to address other abuse.

In 2011, the DOJ levied a $500 million fine on Google for having allowed Canadian pharmacies target US consumers with search ads, and in July 2016, Google instituted a ban on payday and high-interest loan advertisers.

Now What?

Well unlike pharmacy and payday loan scenarios where ads still appear on related queries, Google disabled advertising on certain addiction rehab-related search results altogether until they can figure their stuff out.

The goal is to ensure that consumers turning to Google for search only see reputable resources, but it’s not going to be an overnight fix. It’s going to be a complicated task that will take serious time and effort. It’s also putting good actors that rely on Google as a top lead source in a top and unpredictable spot. Media buyers are likely to see a continuing drop-off of fluctuation in ad impressions as Google works this one out. Will these ads return? We don’t know, but an alternative solution is likely around the corner.

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Point Park Senior Lands Full Time Position at Pittsburgh Ad Agency

From Internship to Full Time Position

Graphic Designer, Jessica Joseph, Recaps Her Experience At Apple Box Studios


Graphic Designer

Jessica Joseph, Graphic Designer

Looking at the calendar, it’s been four months since my college graduation and almost a year into my career.   It feels like yesterday I was walking down Penn Avenue with some friends, and I look up at this red, brick building to a metal plaque that read, “Apple Box Studios.” Aspiring to be graphic designer, I knew I wanted to get experience in an advertising agency so when I returned to my apartment I looked up Apple Box, and it was fate. They were hiring new fall marketing interns.

During my first week on the job, the whole office went hiking on the Rachel Carson Trail. I love the outdoors, so I knew this was going to be awesome. Plus, I got to bring my camera. A day away from the desk on a beautiful trail, sounds like a pretty decent work day to me.

When we got to the trail, the Chief Creative Officer, a.k.a. owner of Apple Box, a.k.a. my boss told me, “You are the art director. Tell us what to do and we’ll do it.”

I didn’t know what to say because this was my first week on the job, and I can be a little timid with people I just met. Also, I had absolutely no idea how to direct anything, let alone anyone. I was the new intern!

Throughout the hike, Mike said things like, “What’s your vision?” and “You know what to do” – I had NO CLUE what to do! So I just started snapping photos when I saw the right opportunity, and I ended up getting some great stuff!

In other words, I followed my gut to just wing it, “fake it until you make it,” right? And everything turned out great. That day, I thought to myself “if this is how this ad agency spends their Fridays, it must be a pretty cool place.”

From September to April, I learned the ins and outs of agency life in Pittsburgh, and a few tidbits I have kept with me are:

  • Coffee is 100% necessary in the morning
  • You can never create too many versions of one project
  • You’re usually always working with other people
  • Pickleball is a game played to help people with Parkinson’s disease stay active, but they are VICIOUS ON THE COURT
  • The Adobe programs are a bottomless pit of tools. No one will ever know everything there is to know about them.

By being in the right place at the right time, I was lucky to land the internship at Apple Box Studios. I must done something right during that time because I was able to secure a full time Graphic Designer position a few weeks before I even graduated, and I’ve never looked back! Along with making life-long relationship, I basically play all day and get to call it “work.” I wouldn’t trade this ad agency life for anything.

Posted in Creative Showcase Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fastest Growing Ad Agency

Apple Box Studios named one of Pittsburgh’s Fastest Growing Agencies

It is our pleasure to announce Apple Box Studios as a winner of the 2017 Fastest Growing Companies award! The award represents the Pittsburgh Business Times’ ranking of our area’s fastest-growing companies.

We look forward to celebrating alongside all the winning companies at an awards event on August 18th. During the program, Apple Box Studios will be announced as one of Pittsburgh’s fastest growing advertising agencies.

Stay tuned for the overall highest ranking results!

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What Would You Do If All Your Apps Disappeared??

By practicing on-going content curation, we come across an articles that captures our attention, and feel it’s a must-read for our clients. Check out ADWEEK’s latest article that is humorous, but also makes you think…

Apple Imagines a World Without Apps,

and How Utterly Screwed We’d Be Without Them

Remember life before apps? Sure, it was livable. But it was also a time when we owned paper maps, knew phone numbers and recognized the dating potential of next-door neighbors.

What would happen if all the apps in our current app-run world suddenly just … blipped out?

That’s exactly what Apple imagines in “Apocalypse,” a video that kicked off Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) today.

In it, a new Apple employee finds himself housed in the company’s Cupertino Data Center (hello, Silicon Valley!). While digging around for an outlet for his desk fountain (an iffy thing to have in a server room), he unwittingly unplugs the actual servers, resulting in the disappearance of apps on iPhones around the world, kicking off an instant global crisis.

As a counterbalance to all the innovation Apple has helped bring to the mainstream, the brand has often played with shades of apocalypse in less funny terms. Alongside more cheerful, utilitarian ads, dystopia is part of its DNA. Chiat/Day’s “1984” was the work that first gave it life in the public imagination, after all, followed by the less well-received “Lemmings” … which was just freaky.

“Apocalypse” is a shout-out to that history, repainted in terms a sardonic YouTube audience can appreciate. Social media influencer Brittany Furlan can be seen distributing hard-copies of her selfies; meanwhile, in a shady and weird App Store black market, Tinder founder Jonathan Badeen can be found hawking himself, along with other human wares.

Something here touches upon the fear we felt ahead of Y2K, which, looking back, feels as ludicrous as this entire scenario. Or is it? Air BnB’ers get lost and bang on the doors of strangers. As Waze blips off the map, cars swerve and people panic; “I don’t even know what city we’re in!” a road tripper wails.

For those who can’t recall, something similar happened in 2011, when iPhone alarm clocks stopped working—perhaps the first time we realized, bleary-eyed and late as hell, how reliant we’ve all become on the torch of a single lighthouse.

Meanwhile, Apple’s new employee obliviously goes about his life, spraying plants and tunelessly singing to the background music, “All Right” by Christopher Cross.

In the end, “Apocalypse” isn’t meant to be seen by most people. It’s intended to stoke the imaginations (and fan the egos) of developers. “Keep making apps,” the ad concludes, “the world is depending on you.”

Outside the walls of the WWDC, it’s also an amusing, if worrying commentary on how dependent we are, not only on apps but on smartphones, the intimate conduits that have transformed us into a fluid global system.

This isn’t to say you should burn your iPhone, buy a map and learn parkour. But maybe it’s worth keeping in mind how fragile that dispersed connectivity is. Just because you never know, it may well be worth trying to reinforce our local connections—starting with engaging people whose faces we can’t swipe away.


Link to AdWeek Article

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Wrigley U.S. Cuts the Cord On Skittles Mother’s Day Ad

Yes, the bond between mother and child is sacred, but this was just too close for comfort.

When it comes to Skittles adverts it looks like the weirder, the better. . In the ad, a guy sits on the couch with his mom. He tosses out flavors of Skittles before dropping a bombshell, saying “Oh mother, I love eating Skittles every time you eat Skittles,” where the camera then pans out to an image of mother and son still connected by umbilical cord.

Matt Montei, Senior Director of Confections at Wrigley U.S. explained to ADWEEK why the ad was removed. “We made this video for every mom who likes gross jokes, and we are taking it down for every mom who doesn’t,” he said.

Guess the umbilical cord gag was just too much for everyone to stomach.

Posted in AppleRX Tagged with: , , , , ,

Introducing Our Newest Intern

Mackenzie Flaherty

A junior at Point Park University, Mackenzie is a Cinema Productions major with a minor in Marketing. In addition to her class load, she participates in the JPH Film Society and spends her free time watching well-crafted films and preparing for her future. Mackenzie pursued an internship position with Apple Box in hopes of learning about video production in the Marketing and Advertising business. As an intern, she assists with scene selection, video shoots and works with project managers to fulfill client visions.


Meet Mackenzie:

City She Grew Up In:

Mt. Lebanon, PA

Must Have Social Media App:


Favorite Movie:

Good Will Hunting

What would you happily do again?

Work at the Toronto International Film Festival

Where would you like to spend vacation?


Sydney, Australia

Paris, France

People would be surprised to know:

 I was captain of my high school dance team.

1 thing you miss from your childhood:

 Piggy back rides!

Favorite quote:

 “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”

-Dr. Seuss

Posted in Advertising News Tagged with: , , , , ,

Must Read: Visual Content Marketing

Every now and then we come across an article or information that captures our attention and we feel is a must-read for our clients. Here is one such article about the increasing importance to incorporate visuals when curating your online social media content.

Read engaging content with visuals

3) When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.

13) Using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and clickthrough rates by 65%.

42 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know in 2017

This year, we’ve seen the importance of visual content emphasized by the changes that occurred across almost every major social network, including Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. At the same time, videos have become powerful tools for brands looking to communicate more easily with their readers.

To help you keep pace with these trends, let’s take a look at some marketing statistics that demonstrate the impact visual content has on reach, engagement, and sales. The stats are categorized by General Visual Content, Video, Emerging Visual Marketing, Infographics, and Social Media.

Link to HubSpot article

Posted in AppleRX Tagged with: , , , ,

Dan Brettholle Promoted to Creative Director!

Dan Brettholle has been promoted to Creative Director!

Dan Brettholle Promoted to Creative Director

Dan will oversee the creative work product for all Apple Box Studios projects and clients. He will continue to direct art design while working closely with our copy writers and project managers in the planning, development and execution of our company’s services. Working to maintain existing client relationships, he continues to play a major role in acquiring new prospects. The company’s founder, Michael Wertz, will become chief creative officer. You can check out the whole Apple Box Studios crew here.

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