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A Condom Marketer's Naked Olympics and Other Not-for-the-USA Fare

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As we end 2004, we take a look across the world at some of the advertising work deemed, for one reason or another, to be of "Not for the U.S." status. These are all ads that American audiences are not intended to see.

Naked Olympics
Carter Products, the maker of Trojan condoms, and London’s Viral Factory invented the Trojan Games, a sexual Olympics depicted at The three videos, purporting to cover the vault, judo and weight-lifting events as a form of sexual coupling at the fictitious 2003 Bucharest Olympics, won gold at the real Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. But don’t go there unless you live in the U.K. The site opens with the (totally unenforceable) warning that visitors to the site must be 18 and U.K. residents. The ads were only used on the Web, not TV.

Becoming Sarah Jessica Parker
Further cashing in on Sex and the City, Unilever re-launched almost-forgotten Lux soap in Europe last spring with a banal spot coinciding with the airing of the show’s final episodes. After showering with Lux, a woman acts out her fantasy at a club by hopping into a limo and emerging as Sarah Jessica Parker, whose only appearance is a quick prance down the red carpet. That’s enough for J. Walter Thompson to resuscitate the 'Lux brings out the star in you' tagline from decades-ago spots with Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe.

Toilet Service
Virgin Mobile’s idea of an attention-getting way to demonstrate its focus on customer service was a U.K. commercial in which a lavatory attendant in a swanky nightclub unzips a man's fly and then holds his penis while he urinates. This spot by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/ Y&R, London, holds the U.K. record for most consumer complaints -- 437 -- to Ofcom, the U.K.’s ad watchdog. Ofcom ruled that the spot was a "ludicrous and bizarre scenario" -- but acceptable for airing after 9 p.m.

Jenifer Aniston's Pot
Bored with the celebrity life and wishing she could just do what she wants, former Friend Jennifer Aniston, who is inexplicably living in a London flat, crawls through an opening under the kitchen sink and finds herself in a pottery studio. She uses her Barclay’s Bank Barclaycard to pay for a pottery lesson and clay flies all over. Another I-wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-doing-this-in-the-U.S. commercial, but Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London, does capture the personality of her Friends' character Rachel in this U.K. spot.

Britney the Gladiator
In the 'Gladiator' spot, Britney Spears, Beyonce and Pink, looking like fetching gladiator strippers, were supposed to battle to the death in Rome’s Coliseum before evil emperor Enrique Iglesias. Instead, they drop weapons and sing 'We will rock you.' The crowd cheers and a lion eats Iglesias. The AMV BBDO, London, spot was rumored to be breaking in the U.S. on the Super Bowl but ran only in Europe. Was it the anti-war message? Or was Pepsi still miffed about the time Britney was caught drinking Coke?

Kim Cattrall's Tea Time
No wonder U.S. stars don’t want their foreign commercials seen in America. Kim Cattrall went from sashaying around Manhattan’s trendiest spots in HBO’s Sex and the City to advertising tea bags in this truly awful U.K. spot for Tetley tea that can only legally air in the U.K. and Ireland. In the ad, by London shop Miles Calcraft Bringinshaw Duffy, Ms. Cattrall consults her British ‘Auntea’ on how to get a man, and strokes a packet of Earl Grey tea suggestively. Sultry Samantha would hang her head in shame.

George Clooney's Italy Ad
In a Fiat spot designed to seduce female car buyers in Europe, an Italian woman traps George Clooney in her Fiat Idea car. In the commercial, filmed on the winding roads around Lake Como, where Mr. Clooney owns a home, a beautiful Italian woman leaves her bright-orange Idea in front of a villa. Jogging by, Mr. Clooney spots the car's open door and hops in to examine the car's features. Back in a flash, the woman uses the remote key to lock the door, hops in the other side and drives away with Mr. Clooney, a not-unwilling prisoner. The spot ends with her voice-over in accented English: "George not included." The spot was developed by Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett with the Fiat Coordination Center.

Dustin Hoffman's German Ad
This loving re-creation of the end of 'The Graduate' is the best use of a U.S. celebrity in a not-to-be-seen-in-the-U.S. foreign commercial this year. To the familiar 'Mrs. Robinson' soundtrack, Dustin Hoffman is again locked out of the church but still rescues the young bride. She dumps her surprised groom to flee with Hoffman. As they drive away laughing in an Audi 6 -- this is a European car spot by Saatchi & Saatchi Frankfurt after all -- she says "Thanks, Dad" and he replies "You’re just like your mother."

Sony's Dwarf Ads
Don’t try this politically incorrect stunt in the U.S. Whybin/ TBWA and Sony Corp. introduced the 'slim-line new look' PlayStation 2 game console in New Zealand by dispatching two dwarves, Selwyn and Rotha, to ambush 11 major radio stations with huge yellow boxes. The diminutive pair unpacked the boxes on-air, digging out a comic amount of packaging until they reached the tiny PlayStation at the bottom. Kiwis took notice; PlayStation sales after the stunt were eight times higher than the previous week.

World Trade Center Apology
Even Spaniards, no fans of the U.S. government, were appalled by their biggest newspaper El Pais's ad campaign in September using pictures of the World Trade Center site before and after Sept. 11, 2001, to promote three months of free access to E-mailed to 50,000 registered users, the ad copy read, "A lot can happen in a day. Imagine what can happen in three months." El Pais printed a page one apology and the paper’s own ombudswoman, Malen Aznares, called the campaign "demented."

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Normandy Madden, Alexandra Jardine and Lisa Sanders contributed to this report. .

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