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New York agency Admerasia sent out a special New Year's e-card this month, not a month late but instead marking the start of the lunar calendar's year 4698, the Year of the Dragon. The card's design -- from art directors Orlando Lin and Junko Yumito, Creative Director Aok Yuen, and Chief Creative Officer Jeff Lin -- combines themes from the lunar and Gregorian calendars. The design is inspired by the Chinese fable of two dragons battling over a pearl representing good fortune. The four Chinese characters translate as "Congratulations for the new millennium," as in year 2000. "The beauty of our e-card," Jeff Lin tells Adages, "is that it breaks away from that traditional image [of portraying the dragon in full form] and instead adds a sense of mystery and beauty, leaving to the imagination what the next millennium will mean for our people and our culture." Look for more to come in the way of tie-ins (see Ad Age's Landmarks, Jan. 31) to the Year of the Dragon, which comes around only every 12 years and symbolizes success and prosperity. In fact, some marketers in South Korea are already concerned about overkill. Dragons adorn everything from bags to underwear, and those born in the Year of the Dragon are eligible for giveaways from big department stores. Such ubiquity is likely to cancel out any marketing advantage, warns David Richardson, president of Taylor Nelson Sofres, a consultancy in Seoul.

Gap's ads not as white hot

Gap white is starting to fade. The clean-cut ad look that once brought the retailer fame in the ad world and fortune at the cash register is beginning to have less prominence in Gap advertising. Witness the current outdoor campaign for denim jackets, using shades of brown in the background. "Our advertising is always evolving," Gap spokeswoman Anna Lonergan says, noting "the white is not as present as it used to be." She wouldn't disclose how much of an evolution is planned for the next round of ads, slated for the spring fashion line. The Gap, which creates its ads in-house, hit the jackpot showing off fashion against a stark background and featuring a variety of musical expressions. But late last year, facing slumping sales, the creative leading that advertising effort, Lisa Prisco, left The Gap (AA, Dec. 13).

Haider in ad could spark der furor

If the image of Adolf Hitler can be used to sell potato chips in Thailand (as Leo Burnett and Food Processing Co. did a couple years ago in an understandably short-lived TV spot), then why not use Nazi-admiring Rightist Joerg Haider to push ski trips to the U.S.? German online holiday marketer via German agency Jung von Matt, Munich, last week ran a photo of the Austrian political leader in a full-page print ad selling ski holidays in the U.S. Copy read: "For all those who now don't want to go on a skiing holiday in Austria." The Austrian Freedom Party leader wasn't asked for permission to use his picture, and party General Secretary Peter Westenthaler says the case had been referred to a lawyer. The German dot-com says it's still sponsoring flights to and from Austria and the ad wasn't an "attack" on the neighboring country, just a nod to current events.

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

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