Virgin Mobile Keeps it Clean

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What could be more innocuous than a parrot on rollerskates?
Virgin Mobile, a marketer that pushed the envelope earlier this year with ads featuring naked people covered only by cellphones, took the opposite approach last night during the MTV Movie Awards. Far from being shocking, the four new spots from Fallon/N.Y. that aired during the broadcast feature stock footage of the most innocent scenes imaginable: a bunny, a parrot on rollerskates, a vintage cartoon of Humpty-Dumpty, and scenes of someone chopping cabbage. Scrolling copy and a voiceover explain that, in the face of concerns about indecency, Virgin has agreed to pull its scheduled commercials and air these innocuous baubles instead. "Due to recent crackdowns on indecency in broadcasting," the copy reads in a spot featuring video of a bunny, "Virgin Mobile will not be airing its original commercial in which you would have seen former heads of state removing tags from mattresses." The spots then present special promotional offers, supposedly to make up for the lack of edgy content.

"Now that censorship is such a hot topic, I guess you could say that Virgin Mobile is uniquely qualified to make an issue of the issue, since just a few months ago we were running ads with naked people covering themselves with nothing but Virgin Mobile phones," says Fallon/N.Y. ECD Ari Merkin. "It's Virgin's place to acknowledge, or even leverage, the censorship issue -- with parrots on rollerskates."

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