SHAM-BLE OVER TO FTC PHONE LINE

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Adages kvetched and the feds listened! Recently, we noted how the Federal Trade Commission had sent Ad Age an empty mailing tube. Within a few days, a fat packet arrived from the FTC, stuffed with materials promoting its new Consumer Help Line, 1-877-FTC-HELP. The posters and pamphlets were created by Landam Design Works, Rockville, Md. With complaints to the FTC about shams and shady practices, including advertising, on the increase (more than 60,000 were logged last year even without the help line), the agency decided to set up its first toll-free number for consumers, says FTC consumer education specialist Randy Satterfield. The FTC doesn't handle enforcement but makes the complaints available to police agencies. "A lot of it has to do with advertising and misleading claims, whether they're offline in TV and print, but we're seeing more online," Satterfield says. One area generating rising complaints is health-oriented Web sites. The FTC keeps a monthly top 10 list of consumer complaints: For September, coming in at #7 is mail-order catalog sales, followed at #8 by Internet access services.

A 'Sixth Sense' for marketing

Some Walt Disney Pictures executives had the wrong sense about "The Sixth Sense." The film, which turned out to be a gigantic summer hit, sparked a testy battle among Disney execs when it came to marketing the movie. According to executives, the memorable line "I see dead people," featured in the TV spot Disney created and in the theater trailer, almost didn't make it to air. Many Disney executives didn't want to reveal this element of the movie, figuring it gave away too much of the story. But Chris Pula, the recently departed president of marketing of Buena Vista Motion Pictures, was adamant this would sell the thriller. Pula's argument, executives say, was that the powerful, intriguing line -- uttered by the troubled child played by Haley Joel Osment -- would be a strong hook to drive people into the theaters, and the story had many other surprises. Pula couldn't be reached for comment.

Image draggin'? Get a dragon!

Suffering from economic upheaval? Implicated in bloody clashes? Busy quashing riots in the streets? Got an image problem? Get a mascot! Indonesia plans to launch Dodo Komodo, a Komodo dragon, as the country's first official mascot for the millennium. PT Ole Ole Asli (translated as "Original Souvenirs") Indonesia will market the mascot, and exec dir. Pamela Lau says the Komodo dragon, to be sold as a stuffed toy, was chosen because it's found exclusively in Indonesia. It also coincides with 2000 being the year of the dragon.

2000 reasons to harpoon hype

For those whose eyes are glazing over with marketers' Y2Kapers (except, of course, those discussed in Adages), there's a Web site just for you (as there is a Web site just for everyone else). The weekly Webzine MillenniumHell.com takes a satiric jab at the 2000 hype. But creator Mark Mitten, a brand strategy consultant and former exec at JWT, Chicago, wants his Web site to survive past Y2K to become a venue to take an ironic look at "the idiocy of everyday life." For the pre-2000 present, however, among its offerings is the following factoid: More than 1,300 applications have been filed for millennium-theme trademarks.

Got an Adage? Tell Dan by phone, (312) 280-3109; fax, (312) 649-5331; or e-mail,

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