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NYPD quashes Conspiracy

What started as a bit of guerrilla marketing ended up as a suspected hate crime for NY production company Conspiracy. Trying to get the attention of big ad agencies, Conspiracy staffers were spray-painting various messages on street corners near the shops' offices. When a bystander offered to help, and began painting "Media has replaced religion as the opiate of the people" across the street from TBWA/Chiat/Day, the NYPD descended, and four Conspiracy staffers, including commercial director Laura Belsey, ended up in the slammer. Turns out the volunteer was painting the message next to St. Patrick's Cathedral. The police "took it as a hate crime because of the location," says Conspiracy Executive Producer Tony Harding. "The cops told me what you did was not a big thing -- it was the place where you did it." The charge eventually was bumped way down to a simple violation, but Belsey remains somewhat defiant: "Safety sucks the lifeblood out of advertising. We're true to ourselves and true to our message. I think our whole campaign was successful. This is what we are. We're not criminals, but we are creative and we like to be ourselves."

Watch Procter and Scramble

Remember when Procter & Gamble Co. was the strong, silent type? No more. In the wake of its recent management shake-up (AA, June 12), the once-reticent soaper has huffed and puffed with activity. Here's a week in the recent PR life of P&G: Wed., June 14 -- launches, selling gift baskets of primarily P&G products; Thurs., June 15 -- new Prez-CEO A.G. Lafley drops in on P&G alumni in Chicago, spinning a potentially negative event; Fri., June 16 -- P&G licenses its Physique brand for hair appliances and accessories; Mon., June 19 -- ditto with Pampers for children's wear; Tues., June 20 -- launches Crest Whitestrips teeth whitening kits and says Crest beat Colgate in May. What was it Lafley told analysts recently about P&G changing "too much too fast"?

Latest poop on actors strike

The SAG/AFTRA strike has been hitting some very low notes, including nasty protesters who shouted "whores" and "sluts" at women entering the Association of Independent Commercial Producers annual show in NY. One attendee commented that the otherwise well-put-together group of would-be Wobblies appeared to be auditioning for "Norma Rae, Part II." "What's your motivation?" a disgruntled producer was overheard shouting back at the mob. And strikers' ire seems to be rising excrementally. David Perry, director of broadcast production at Saatchi & Saatchi, received a letter, allegedly sent by an actor, that contained a New York Times clipping of a story on the strike, in which Perry was quoted as saying, "A lot of what we call acting is not terribly difficult. You don't go to the Old Vic to learn how to hold a can of Spray 'n Wash." The clipping was generously smeared with feces, and expletives were scrawled across it. Perry had not seen the letter late last week because he was in Cannes. "It has no signature on it so we don't know who it is from," says his assistant. "Otherwise I have no comment." After the Times article appeared, Perry complained the reporter had misquoted him.

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