Puppet Remaster

By Tk Published on .

We all know the Pets.com sock puppet is dead. We even saw the E*Trade chimp holding his corpse. But now the sock, so to speak, is on the other hand. The puppet lives again, for an end-of-the-road car loan company called 1-800-Bar None, thanks to East Hampton, N.Y., direct response agency PB&J Partners (Pbandjpartners.com). "We spent several months tracking the puppet down and finally found it through its licensing agent - Hakan & Associates - and we revived it," says CD Peter Aronow with more than a little satisfaction. The spots are your basic call to action, with the puppet shouting the phone number at the camera, but the opening shot, in which he says, "I used to be top dog," accompanied by a faux flashback designed to look like a scene from a TBWA/Chiat/Day spot in which the puppet is chatting with a UPS driver, is sweet. As far as Aronow, who also directed the spots, is concerned, the whole concept is sweet. He won't say what it cost to buy the rights to the dog, but he insists it was a bargain. He also believes he's the first and only one to have this particular potential brainstorm. "No one else seems to want to take advantage of the opportunity. We thought it was a perfect match for this client. It really epitomizes their message: anyone can suffer from bad credit, as this character did, effectively going bankrupt. Bad credit happens to good people. The sock puppet can communicate that message just with his life story." The commercials, which broke on July 1 - two :30s and a bunch of :10 lifts - are a very new idea for an old client of Aronow's. The former Bar None spokesman was ex-quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Nevertheless, the client "loved the idea, they jumped at it and we were off and running," says Aronow. If it takes off - and in direct response, of course, you know when something takes off - "we've talked about additional possibilities," he adds. "We'll have the liberty to do funnier, wackier things." E*Trade chimp, you still out there?
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