1995 YEAR IN REVIEW;AD FOLLIES; MARKETERS BUMBLE THEIR WAY TO ODD PLACES: SCHOOL BUSES, SPANISH WEDDINGS AND THE MOON

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The Republican Congress passed legislation declaring 1995 null and void, but President Clinton vetoed it, proclaiming that he would not abandon the little people who made the year what it was-dull. We'd much rather look ahead to 1996 with the Olympics, national elections and our troops coming triumphantly home from Bosnia. But if 1995 is indeed going into the history books, we offer the following bits of evidence that marketers were there in all their bumbling glory.

Advertising's noble advances

New York said it would study the idea of selling advertising space on city trash cans, school buses and playgrounds.

Space Marketing of Roswell, Ga., said it plans to offer corporate sponsorship of a U.S./Russian research mission to put unmanned lunar rovers on the moon. The rovers will be interactive, allowing earth-bound consumers to drive the vehicles on the moon by remote control.

Bank24, in Budapest, Hungary, launching Europe's first automatic banking teller machines independent of banks, plans to sell ad space to replace "Please Wait" screens that pop up while transactions are being processed.

In a test, marketers paid up to $3,300 to buy ad space on school lunch menus.

Under an Adopt-A-Car program in Crown Point, Ind., police cars carry signs with 2-inch letters saying, "This vehicle equipped by .*.*." Local businesses paid $1,500 each to fill in the blank.

Still yearnin' to be free

As part of the promotion for the movie "Free Willy 2," Warner Bros. sought help to complete construction of a marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center in Newport, Ore. Warner noted that among the capti.... er, residents, will be Keiko, the orca whale who starred in the first "Free Willy" film in 1993. Hey, we thought he got away!

Topless or toxic?

A new chewing gum launched by Leaf Iberica in Spain drew protests from parents and consumer groups because its wrapping incorporates a picture of a model in a bikini. When licked, the top part of the bikini disappears. The National Consumers Institute in Madrid said it couldn't order Leaf to stop selling the gum. However, it agreed to conduct tests to establish whether the labeling contained any toxic substances.

Slower than the O.J. trial

From the daily agenda of the 1995 annual convention of the American Bar Association:

"The Trial of the Wright Brothers for Procurement Fraud," 9 a.m., Westin Hotel, Oxford Room.

Great moments in athletics

The Football Rules Committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association said that, under proposed new rules, players kneeling momentarily in prayer after a touchdown would be penalized 15 yards for an "unsportsmanlike act." A second offense would merit ejection. The rule was dropped after Liberty University, a religious institution, filed a lawsuit.

Your typical PR

understatement

Press release from Shandwick/-Dorf & Stanton:

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Aug. 8-The gauntlet has been thrown down. The line has been drawn. The challenge has been issued. C.J. Rapp, founder and president of Jolt Cola, in one of the boldest moves since a bunch of upstart colonists defied old King George, is daring the presidents from Coke and Pepsi to match a $100,000 personal wager to determine which of the three companies' American-made colas is the finest in the land.

PR speak (new verbs dept.)

"Lonnie McKinney, Senior Vice President of Sales and former equity principal of Slick 50 Corp., will transition out of the specialty lubricants company at the end of the year."

"Media credentialing has begun for the November WOC gathering."

Don't eat `Dirt'

Binney & Smith revamped its Magic Scent line of crayons after its original food-scented line drew complaints from consumers and others worried that children would eat the crayons. The yummy-less replacements included such fragrances as "leather jacket," "lumber," "dirt" and "new car."

You WILL laugh

German carmakers, known for pounding away at the themes of engineering and performance, got more lighthearted in 1995. Mercedes-Benz of North America got almost whimsical in its introductory ads for the E-Class sedans. One TV spot (from Lowe & Partners/SMS) showed a super-satisfied E-Class driver speeding past hitchhiking supermodel Paulina Porizkova, a group of space aliens and Ed McMahon proffering a $10 million check. Porsche, Audi and BMW also switched to humorous approaches.

Even in the bathtub...

"A worker at the condominium complex where [Orville] Redenbacher lived found him in the bathtub at about 6 a.m., said Lt. Bill Abel of the Coronado Police Department.

"The cause and time of his death were under investigation by the Medical Examiner's Office. The entrepreneur, who built a popcorn empire, was instantly recognizable for his bow tie and suspenders..."

(AP dispatch)

How to dump your ad

The Wall Street Journal rejected an ad for a self-help book on divorce for men that said: "Facing divorce? Practical advice on kids, lawyers, money and the feminist legal system. Read `How To Dump Your Wife' by Lee Covington........" According to the book's publisher, Fender Publishing Co., the Journal said "It's the '90s, a brave new world.......we're afraid of offending women."

Di-ing for a drink?

Britain's Prince Charles got into the beverage business with a line of herbal soft drinks made from fruit grown on his estates. The beverages are marketed under the Duchy Originals label. Coca-Cola Co. and Schweppes Beverages manufacture and distribute the non-alcoholic, sparkling drinks.

`I do' want to be a sponsor

Some 30 marketers provided sponsorships worth a total of $600,000 for the March 18 wedding of Princess Elena and stockbroker Jaime de Marichalar in Seville, Spain. Among the sponsors: Coca-Cola Co., Guinness-owned brewer Cruzcampo and the El Corte Ingles department store chain, which provided footmen and a carriage driver in uniforms of green-its corporate color.

They always get their

commission

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police decided to start licensing its insignia and distinctive look, trying to stop the flow of products that tarnish the Mounties' image. Particularly irksome to the RCMP was an X-rated video titled "Leatha Weapons Is a Mountie" and featuring a buxom character wearing, and not wearing, the Mounties' well-known red serge uniform. Also a sore point with the 122-year-old force were cheesy souvenirs with Mountie emblems.

For a Titanic headache

A Newfoundland company plans to market vodka made with water from 12,000-year-old icebergs. Iceberg vodka will be in blue bottles resembling the ice used for the liquor. Said Ron Stamp, founder and managing director of Canadian Iceberg Vodka Corp.: "Our vodka will be made from the purest water in the world, because there were no manmade pollutants 12,000 years ago."

Coke can be a bear

Polar Corp., which markets Polar seltzer, has used a polar bear logo for decades. But here comes Coca-Cola Co. and its polar bear ad campaign. So when Polar ran a TV spot showing a polar bear tossing away a Coke can in favor of Polar seltzer, Coca-Cola lumbered into federal court to stop the ads.

Was O.J. playing?

A bench-clearing brawl during a "Strike Out Domestic Violence" night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park left one player hospitalized. Ten players were ejected after the row, which erupted when the Winston-Salem Warthogs pitcher beaned a second batter.

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