BLONDE IN WRIGLEY AD CAUSES STIR IN GERMANY

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(June 26, 2001) VIENNA -- A chewing gum spot in which a beautiful woman writes her phone number on a gum packet has incited a stream of calls -- even though the number is only shown for 1.3 seconds.

The ad for Wrigley's gum, made by the Berlin office of BBDO Worldwide, shows a blond woman having a giggle with a friend about an attractive man sitting in the same restaurant. She walks over and hands him a packet of gum -- with her mobile phone number written on it.

The number has been inundated with calls, said BBDO's Thomas Huber. "One afternoon there were 90 calls and 150 text messages sent to the number."

One text message from Jena said: "My God, that is fantastic, to be speaking with someone from the television."

Mr. Huber said the agency had taken careful precautions before shooting the spot. "We had made sure that the number was one which had not been assigned to anyone."

"If anyone called that number they would have just got a message saying it was not available. But there was a woman whose phone number was just one digit different and she called us after getting a lot of text messages saying how cute she was and making jokes about chewing gum. I guess she saw the advert and put two and two together and found us."

The calls were so frequent that the agency has put an answer message on the number -- and even that does not shatter the illusions of the callers.

"Hello," says a female voice on the tape. "Nice of you to have noticed my number written on the gum packet -- and not to have been distracted by the taste of the gum itself. Unfortunately I can't take your call at the moment -- perhaps we can meet another time."

She then directs callers to chew the gum a couple of times a day to protect their teeth from cavities. However, Mr. Huber admited the voice was not that of the woman in the spot -- she is Italian and cannot speak a word of German. -- Mike Leidig

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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