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No ifs, ands or butts at `The New York Times'

Last week, the New Yorker carried an item about an ad campaign that was censored in The New York Times. The ad was for the revival of the play "Vienna: Lusthaus" and it featured a woman clad only in stockings and boots and angled so as not to reveal too much. The ad had already appeared in Time Out and as a piece of direct mail. The Times' Advertising Acceptability Department refused it and the ad agency, Eliran Murphy Group, New York, was forced back to the drawing board. Adages has learned that the first thing Eliran did was reproduce the ad with a black bar and the word "censored" stamped across it.

"They told us they don't accept ads with a black bar on them and the word censored," Richard Robertson, VP-account services, Eliran, told Adages. So the shop redrew the ad again, this time hiding the woman's naked butt behind the Lusthaus logo. "Once we gave them that version, they accepted the ad," Richard says. "So they must have been concerned about the butt." Richard still doesn't fully understand why the Times got so anal about the campaign. "Even the U.S. Postal Service accepted our brochure with the photo on the outside." An executive from the Acceptability Department refused to comment.

Eliran Murphy is no stranger to censorship. They were the ad shop that marketed the Brooklyn Museum's infamous "Sensation" show a couple of years back. "We tried to make the show a sensation with our advertising because we thought all of the art in it was old news and the show would just wither on the vine." The shop's campaign warned that attending the show could be "hazardous to your health." Then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani pre-empted the Eliran campaign with one of his own, declaring the show blasphemous. The show, of course, prospered beyond the museum's wildest dreams.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

The Cannes Festival has given up the ghost , but the London International Advertising Awards has adopted it. After years of attempting to weed out fake or scam ads that have plagued festivals, the London awards show has decided to create a new category for ghost ads, which are ads created just for competition and were never paid for or approved by a client. The new category will premiere at this year's London festival and will be called Lavoie's Playground after Paul Lavoie, the 2002 festival jury president. "I would like you to think of this category as research and development for our industry," Lavoie writes on the London International Advertising Awards Web site.

Alphabet poop

Over the years there has been a high turnover rate of people answering the phones at Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer Euro RSCG. Just try saying that name 12 times fast and you'll understand why. These poor people were actually forced to answer every call repeating that ridiculous company name in full. It required the lingual acrobatics of an Audrey Horne, the "Twin Peaks" character who tied a cherry stem into a pretzel knot with her tongue. (It's a good thing these people were not asked to also read out the acronym RSCG, which stands for Roux, Seguela, Cayzac & Goudard.)

Last week the agency consolidated and regrouped and then subdivided into two networks. And what did all this corporate flexing and fussing mean to those poor phone people? Well, now they answer the phones "Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners." A receptionist at the agency told Adages the name is harder to pronounce now than it was before. Just take a good look at it. What does it look like? A typo. In other words, a big mistake.

All ifs, ands or butts accepted at

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