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GOING FOR THE JUG-ULAR SOME IRATE OBSERVERS WOULD SINK BAWDY BOATING AD

By Published on .

To boating enthusiasts, 5-gallon jugs are burdensome vessels used for dockside fueling. To at least some non-boaters, an ad for Gas Dock USA's refueling container is a double entendre gone awry.

"Since I was a kid, we used to always fight [to not be the one] who was going to go with the 5-gallon jugs to the gas station," said Gas Dock President Lou Vlasicak, who grew up boating along the shores of Lake Michigan and now runs his 3-year-old business from Clearwater, Fla. "*`Five-gallon jugs' is just a term that everybody uses."

That was news to the seven women who Mr. Vlasicak said have called his toll-free number to complain since his ad began running in March 1993. An agency president wrote Advertising Age (AA, May 30), saying the ad showed "an appalling absence of taste."

Mr. Vlasicak admitted the picture of a bikini-clad woman refueling with the 25-gallon Gas Dock container, described as "better than 5-gallon jugs," was intended to stir the imagination and move product. On both counts, the in-house created ad has worked.

Sales of the $229 container-on wheels with a special valve and hose assembly-have increased from 300 for all of last year to 400 just in the first quarter of 1994, said Mr. Vlasicak, who studied marketing and advertising at Western Michigan University.

He has also boosted his ad budget this year to $50,000 from $20,000 in 1993, to place ads in water-sport magazines.

Though the double meaning was intended, offense wasn't, Mr. Vlasicak said of a campaign not aimed at women.

Its target is similar to the water-sport publications: college-educated white males ages 40 to 54 with an average income of $60,000 and 2.2 children, 80% of whom own sport-utility vehicles.

"I pretty well found out who this guy is," Mr. Vlasicak said, "and I can tell you I don't pull very many women."

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