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Easy losers

Last year, Adages went for a bike ride on a BMW loaner with admen from Merkley Newman Harty, BMW's agency (Adages, Oct. 2, 2000). The occasion was the annual Forbes Capitalist Tool run through New Jersey. The group got caught in a rainstorm and hopelessly lost its way in the suburbs. How pathetic.

Well, this year the gang tried again on a slightly more challenging run from San Francisco to Las Vegas. That's over 500 miles, mostly through inhospitable desert. The goal: to arrive in Vegas to join BMW riders from around the country at the BMW-sponsored "Art of the Motorcycle" opening at the new Guggenheim. BMW's director of marketing Laurence Kuykendall (who last year was a Merkley account exec on the BMW business) was joined by Merkley's director of business development, Steve Bowen, creatives Mark Lowe and Cameron Webb, and account man Jayson Fugal.

Guess what happened? They got lost. Very lost. Somehow they wound up in Yosemite (they should have gone straight south) and wound up bunking together in a rent-a-tent in Yosemite Village.

One good turn

Adages has had its fill of sympathy ads by huge corporations expressing condolences to victims of the terrorist nightmare of Sept. 11. The problem is company logos are plastered all over this stuff. At this point, the ads feel self-promoting and opportunistic. If only more advertisers would take Blattner Brunner's lead. The small Pittsburgh agency has a regular rotating buy on a prominent Pittsburgh billboard. When its September turn on the space came up, the agency decided to put up just a U.S. flag and nothing else, no names, no logos. About 10 days later, Budweiser also converted all its existing billboards to just a U.S. flag and no logo. Now that is "true."

Star Spangled banned

Meanwhile, in Frisco, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners wanted to do its part by raising an actual American flag on a flagpole off its building near Chinatown, visible to cable cars that roll down California St. Easy, right? Wrong. They had to get a permit, which cost almost a grand. Now they are waiting for it to be issued. In the meantime, they wrapped Old Glory around their fire escape. "What price freedom?" asks Harold Sogard, managing director at Goodby. "God bless America."

Mr. Goddess

For many years, Marc Balet was one of Andy Warhol's right-hand men as creative director of Interview magazine. Now, through his company Mixed Business, he creates custom magazines such as Goddess for Nike. Marc is working on the second issue of Goddess, which features some editorial and lots of sneaker shots and promises to be more "edgy" than the first. In Balet's day, Interview was famous for its dark photo spreads of somnambulist celebrities and models, which became the magazine's signature style. "We shot at night because I was holding down two jobs," said Marc, who is built like Arnold Schwarzenegger. "During the day I worked for Vogue Patterns, and at night I worked for Interview. It was just so crazy, but it worked."

Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo and Lisa Sanders E-mail