HACKED OFF ABOUT A 4-LETTER WORD

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Cabbies won't be trolling New York with misspelled profanity on their hacks, thanks to the city's Taxi & Limousine Commission. Saying that the work offended public morals, TLC told Medallion Media to remove cab roof signage that advertised French Connection U.K. by displaying the company's initials. Apparently less offended were folks in London, home of FCUK agency TBWA GGT Simons Palmer. The shop then came up with ads for the apparel marketer that read, "Brave but not free," and include in body copy the admonition: "Fcuk censorship" and "Set fashion free." TLC gave the nod to that ad, now on 600 taxis. But The NY Times refused to run the print version, while the Post and Time Out accepted it.

Giving minorities

Sears' 'good life'

Sears, Roebuck & Co. is having some trouble translating its new branding tagline-"The good life at a great price. Guaranteed"-for its minority customers. Spanish-language agency Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados, Newport Beach, Calif., struggled for the right word to get across the concept "great." "Grandes" in Spanish can imply great big high prices. Instead, Sears settled for what translates as "The good life at an excellent price. Guaranteed." Gilbert Davila, Sears VP-multicultural and relationship marketing, says "excellent" had the added benefit of implying quality. For Asians, not all the solutions were as easy. "Guaranteed" has no equivalent in Chinese, and the Chinese also have no expressions for "good life." "It's still a work in progress," Davila says. "We have to make some variations." Kang & Lee, New York, is Sears' Asian agency.

HP to play up

'performance'

Work is progressing quickly at Hewlett-Packard on its first global brand campaign under new CEO Carly Fiorina. HP is in creative development with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and is on track to deliver the campaign by Dec. 1, though the concept will circulate internally just before launch. Individuals close to the initiative say the campaign will position HP as a dynamic, cutting-edge company that's innovative, gets things done and does them well. The premise is HP as a performance company, with a theme something along the lines of "Performance through innovation." Creative will illustrate HP on the move as a fast company. No word on whether TV or print creative will launch first.

Cell block . . .

bands of gold

Fed up with the omnipresent devices, Red Ball Tiger instituted a "No cell phones" policy. The SF shop says the ban even applies to visiting clients, who must check their phones at the door. Cellu-addicts end up having to loiter outside, along with smokers, if they want to indulge their phone fixation. . . . The Chicago Advertising Federation is in the midst of its "Battle of the Advertising Bands" fund-raiser. Each competing band has at least one member who works at an agency or other ad-involved company. The final round is Nov. 4. "Adapalooza," now in its fifth year, raises money for the Off the Street Club, a youth organization that does good, but sometimes dangerous, work. Even as the fund-raiser was under way, the Off the Street Club was in the glare of the media when one of its workers was shot to death by a teen, according to authorities, as the worker urged the youth to quit a gang.

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