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Where's the Viagra? U.S. falls short at erotic ad fest

The Lisbon Erotic Ad Festival just announced its call for entries for its third gathering on March 21, 2003. The call is rather daunting: "Can you do EROTIC? Not everyone can. In point of fact most advertising people cannot. Now is the chance to show off your stuff, up against others who think they are the best in the world."

The erotic fest, otherwise known by its acronym LEAF, is mounted by Prisma Magazine, a Portuguese advertising trade that also will launch the much-anticipated Ghost Ad Festival on October 31st. The LEAF gathering is "three erotic days and nights" at various locations in Lisbon, including, appropriately, a place described as an "old custard tart factory." The LEAF awards bronze, silver, gold and best of show FigLeafs for winning work. At this year's fest, work was submitted from 20 countries. And who came out on top? The Italians, not surprisingly, were the most erotic with six trophies. The French, again not a surprise, despite their self-image, trailed behind with five; Brazil came in a disappointing third with four FigLeafs. The Brits picked up an honorable mention (how cruel). However, it turned out that the U.K. entry wasn't even bona fide. It was a ghost spot that features a `70s porn star trying to make love to a Volkswagen. How British.

And how erotic was the U.S.? Not very. We didn't take home a single twig, let alone a FigLeaf. We didn't even make the shortlist. This from the country that introduced the world to Madonna and Britney Spears. It appears, once again, that we were done in by the rule book. In this case, arguably, our most accomplished work in the erotic category was disqualified by an unconditional, upper case dictum that appears on LEAF's Web site: "NO PORN."

"We had porn stuff sent in, but we eliminated that," says James Lanham, editor of Prisma and CEO of LEAF. "We don't classify the nude as automatically erotic. We define erotic as more in the area of suggestion."

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The lowdown

Some San Francisco advertising agencies, Adages has learned, are hoping to lasso Levi Strauss' advertising back into town. They are more likely to be singing the blues for some time. Robert Hanson, chief brand honcho, said he's happy with agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, particularly with new ads scheduled to be rolled out in January, possibly for the Super Bowl, for Levi's new Type 1 jeans line. " BBH has done an excellent job in a very short period of time for us," said Mr. Hanson. "They have the best planning, media and account talent of any agency I've worked with in my career."

Walk like a man

Meanwhile, back in New York, BBH President Cindy Gallop hosted a festive gathering of Advertising Women of New York on the new floor the shop opened after winning the Levi's business. It is a bright and airy loft space on the second floor of a building in the Flatiron District. The ad women were partying on Cosmopolitans, champagne and raw fish. Cindy gave a welcome speech and recounted working for once-hot London shop Gold Greenlees Trott, or GGT. "[It] was renowned for being a highly macho agency," she said. Cindy was hired at the same time as Kate Bristow, who is now planning director of M&C Saatchi Singapore. "And I remember, one day, came the ultimate accolade of acceptance," Cindy said. "Dave Trott earnestly informed Kate and me that `it's OK, girls-as far as I'm concerned you're honorary men."'

Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo E-mail your erotic musings to

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