HIGH AND DRY: NO WATER FALLS IN DORF'S NEW AUSSIE SPOT

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MELBOURNE-Dorf Industries, whose national Australian campaign for its plumbing products was ordered off-air late last year after complaints that it encouraged water waste (Advertising Age International, Feb. 20), has plugged up the leaks in a new campaign. And, in the Box Emery & Partners created-ad, there isn't a drop of water in sight.

The new campaign is built around Dorf's 36-week sponsorship of Nine Network's "Our House," a highly rated primetime do-it-yourself show. Commercials also run in selected time slots throughout the week in daytime and sporting programs, all on Nine.

Using the same two key characters-feuding former lovers-with the same tag line-"Dorf. Wherever water falls"-and a suspense movie formula, the new 60-second spot focuses on the sound of a dripping tap in the middle of the night.

The male character, in his shorts, wakes and hunts through the house, exploring every faucet (while neatly parading all Dorf's products) but finds no leak.

The tagline is a shot of the vengeful ex-lover in a nearby window, watching through binoculars as she turns a radio-controlled microphone on and off.

Provocatively, Dorf also ran its original commercial, banned on the grounds that it was inappropriately run during an Australian drought.

The old spot ran at the start of the program with a disclaimer that "in this commercial we contained and conserved water and did not damage any property."

That disputed 45-second ad featured the angry woman plugging sinks, bath and laundry in the house and then turning on every tap before departing. In the 15-second followup, the man arrives home and opens his front door, unleashing a torrent of water upon himself.

"The Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations has approved us showing the old ad with the disclaimer," said Mike Emery, chairman of Box Emery. "We'll deal with any problems if people want to complain to the Advertising Standards Council."

Dorf and Box Emery are fighting in the Melbourne Federal Court the Australian Standards Council's decision to ban the earlier ads on the grounds they breached the Media Council's code of ethics.

The parties meet again on May 12. Dorf and the agency claim they are entitled to compensation for pulling the ads.

"Our client's attitude is that when you feel you've made a good creative ad," Mr. Emery said, "you should use it whenever you think it's appropriate."

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