Virgin Atlantic is set to open a new gateway in Toronto this month, but this particular ad, made by New York's CMG_Communications, will not grace the Toronto airport terminal. The airport is government property, and the Canadian higher-ups have the power to veto the ads gracing their walls. Apparently, innuendo about England's maternal monarch, even if it comes from a British company, is not appreciated. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the birth of punk, one of whose anthems was the Sex Pistols' famously sneering "God Save the Queen" ("she ain't no human bean.") Funny: that record was released by a little outfit called Virgin, before it began flying planes.
When CEOs Attack
Leo Burnett is not typically at the forefront of the creative avant-garde, but last year's idiosyncratic work for the likes of Heinz ketchup and Rice Krispies Treats looked like the beginning of a bolder new MO. The unusual Rice Krispies campaign featured bizarre uses for Treats, including as an adhesive, a sculpting material, and a beauty product. Well, we liked them, anyway. Not so the former CEO of Burnett, Rick Fizdale. The Chicago Tribune reports that Fizdale sent a memo to high-ranking creative directors within the agency skewering the agency's reel in general, and the Rice Krispies Treats work in particular. The Trib quotes the memo as saying that the spots "are contenders for the worst advertising, bar none, this company has ever made. It (and others) made me think that our creative department is populated by artless 17-year-olds playing at advertising." The creative director of the campaign, Jonathan Hoffman, declined to comment specifically on Fizdale's diatribe, but asserts that he stands by the work. "The target was 16-year-olds, and we know because of how the business responded that it spoke to them."
Celebrities are always espousing one cause or another, proclaiming themselves fur-free or selling their old Oscar outfits for AIDS research. Swedish tennis player Bjorn Borg is now coming out in favor of a dubious political cause on behalf of his eponymous underwear company. Paradiset DDB in Stockholm, the clothing firm's agency, produced a newspaper and billboard ad proclaiming that Europeans need to have more children to support current generations in their old age. The ad's slogan doesn't put too fine a point on it: "Fuck for the future." Though some news sources have interpreted the ad as a personal proclamation by the former sports star cum sex symbol, account director Helena Westin assures us that it is purely a gambit to sell more underwear. "Sex and fashion are linked together," says Westin. Nonetheless, she claims the population shortfall is a legitimate problem. "People are getting lazy. It's a lot of hassle having kids."
Alt Career: Dabitch is Back
Though every new hotshop boasts that it's "not for everyone," for Amsterdam agency Wa, the claim might actually be true. Wa, meaning harmony in Japanese, was formed by Ab Winsemius, a former "strategy guy" at KesselsKramer, and Ask Wappling, an art director by day and a maverick industry commentator by night. Wappling is the mistress and founder of ad-rag.com, a web destination for industry news, gossip, and rants; her online persona is called `Dabitch.' The site is very popular with ad insiders, despite (or thanks to) its many caustic comments. Wappling is not particularly worried that her sharp wit will affect her business prospects with Wa. "The clients who will be talked badly about on the site are not the ones we want to work with," she shrugs. And the clients she does want are finding the way to Wa's door; she has already produced an unusual outdoor and print campaign for Swedish music site Sonox.com, and the agency is slated to work on Jolt Cola's Dutch advertising. "I realized you have to follow Bill Bernbach's rule," says Wappling: "Don't work for clients you don't believe in."
Making Radio Waves
Ralph Guild, the CEO and chairman of the radio marketing firm Interep, owes a lot to Frank Conrad, and now he wants to pay him back. In 1919, Conrad worked in a garage in Pittsburgh where he developed the prototype for modern broadcast radio. Conrad's brick garage was about to make way for a fast-food restaurant when Guild stepped in. He donated $50,000 to the National Museum of Broadcasting. The dough went to fund the garage's removal from its current site, and to have the structure re-outfitted with all of Conrad's original tools. "I have been in the radio business all my life," explains Guild. "I'm interested in preserving anything from radio's history."
*BooneOakley in Charlotte, N. C, was awarded the $5 million Continental Tire account, the months-old agency's biggest account to date.
*Arnold Worldwide/Washington will handle creative responsibilities for BBC America, splitting the $10 million account with KPBWest, which will be responsible for the media.
*Bates Southwest in Houston has hired Diane Pittman as executive creative director. Pittman comes from Young & Rubicam/New York.
*AT&T Wireless' $400 million account is in review; current agency FCB will participate.
*IBM is boosting its advertising budget by almost $110 million, representing a 17 percent increase over last year.
*SFB Direct (previously DLJ Direct) will begin a review of its $20 million account. Kirschenbaum, Bond & Partners, the client's previous agency, will not participate.
*Grey Worldwide, based in New York, is seeking a new chief creative officer to replace 10-year veteran Steven Novick, who will move to his new position as vice chairman of Grey Global Group.
*TBWA Worldwide CEO Michael Greenlees has left his position to assume a role in e-strategy for TBWA_parent company Omnicom.
*TBWA/Chiat/Day, San Francisco cut 12 employees from its 135-person staff.
*Verizon Communications has cancelled the review of its $40 million Wireless Northwest account.
*Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners West cut 10 precent of its staff, leaving the San Francisco agency with 60 employees.
*Bozell Worldwide/New York laid off 11 employees in its 84-person creative department. The layoffs came in the first days of new chief creative officer Tony Granger's tenure.
*iDeutsch, the interactive arm of Deutsch, Inc., has named Ingrid Bernstein as senior vice president/creative director. Bernstein joined Deutsch as an account director in 1998.
One of advertising oldest creative stalwarts, Seattle's Cole & Weber, has joined with Europe's Conquest and Asia's Batey to form a global network called Red Cell. The new organization will handle the WPP group's challenger brands - clients that are not dominant in their respective categories - with particular focus on those smaller companies looking to create an international presence. "Conquest was trying to go global," explains Cole & Weber interactive director Brad Harrington. "They were positioned similar to what we were, with challenger brands like Alfa Romeo, and we started conversations about this new network." In the past three years, Cole & Weber has lost some of its long-standing and most profitable clients, including Boeing, SafeCo Insurance, and Weyerhauser; the agency has also seen frequent turnover in leadership. Now, as it reorganizes to accommodate the needs of a global network and a new vision, Harrington hopes that Red Cell will be able to shed some of the old-guard protocol necessary for dealing with large companies and complex bureaucracies. "We've put out a lighthouse brand. What it'll do is attract the right kinds of clients."
It's tough to produce creative advertising for a client like H&R Block, a firm associated with one of the year's least palatable chores: taxes. It's even tougher when the service being advertised, Rapid Refund, is cited by a Virginia district court judge as false advertising. When H&R Block offers to expedite the refund process, the actual deal is a high-interest loan against the anticipated refund. Although a Block company spokesperson denies that the ruling means that the advertising will be unable to use the expression, The New York Times reports that the company was given a list of misleading terms and phrases that must be omitted from future ads, and "rapid refund" is among them. A representative from Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis, the current agency, declined to comment on the ruling's effect on new work.
One Large Pie, Hold the Andy
The World Wildlife Foundation has another potentially extinct breed on its hands: the spokesanimal. The Taco Bell Chihuahua died when the account changed agencies. Then the failure of Pets.com forced out the beloved dog sock puppet. The latest and most sensitive death in this sad funeral procession is that of Bad Andy, Domino's Pizza's somewhat derivative stuffed animal. In the new campaign, tagged "Get the door. It's Domino's," Bad Andy will be nowhere to be seen. General industry and consumer consensus was that the fuzzy little underachiever did little for the pizza chain; a Deutsch spokesperson declined to comment on Bad Andy's demise. In the meantime, watch out, Flat Eric.
Survey Says . . .
A recent survey from Hawkeye Communications, a marketing services company, may explain an increase in client/creative head-butting during this economic downturn. The poll found that 58 percent of marketers claim that it has taken longer to approve others' work in the past six months. If you're lucky, the marketing liaison at your client is a woman; of those who said it would take them longer to approve others' work, 69 percent were men.