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THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO MILWAUKEE'S BIRDSALL VOSS & Kloppenburg, notes creative director Gary Mueller. First, there's the warm and fuzzy health care and travel side of the business, where the work, while not boring, can be described as "conservative," says Mueller. Then there's the funny stuff.

BV&K has been growing at a healthy pace of late, billing around $42 million now, up some $15 million from 18 months ago, with 11 people added in the past six months, according to Mueller. In fact, they've been doing so well they've outgrown their building and are planning to move to larger quarters next year-this is all due mainly to new and expanding travel accounts, led by Funjet, a tour operator.

And then there's the funny stuff. The agency has a nice little reel of sidesplitters, which, combined, probably cost about as much as they pay the jockstrap wrangler on a Shaquille O'Neal Pepsi shoot. Is it fair to say there's a budget problem here? "Yeah, we have no budget, that's the problem," Mueller says. All the funny spots were made for under $10,000, many for under $5,000, most directed by local lenser Craig Smith of Endless Productions, and they're led by an insane no-cuts commercial for Schaefer's Foods, a local supermarket chain, which is showcasing its Donald Duck orange juice with almost 30 seconds of orgasmic duck moans. (See last month's Creativity, page 10, for the details.) "We're most proud of the humor," says Mueller. "It's what we like to do best and I think it's what we do best." Another Schaefer spot has a 20-second fixed closeup of the face of a panting bulldog, then the VO: "Thirsty? LaCroix spring water is now available at Schaefer's." The client, by the way, is a friend of Mueller's. A spot for Shore's fishing lures, a new local company, simply pictures a hand fumbling iditiotically with a tiny live fish, backed by zany chase music. A VO tells us: "It's a lot easier to get a Shore's lure!" Tag: "Fish like 'em!" The client is another friend of Mueller's. A spot for Leon Stenz, divorce attorney, opens on a bare all-white set, as we hear the sound of a saw cutting through metal, then the rumbling of what sounds like a bowling ball, as a ball and (severed) chain roll into the frame. Again, the client is a friend of Mueller's. A spot for local Friese Mueller Plumbing is a single overhead shot of a fat guy sleeping in bed. His wife can be heard outside the room, screaming at him in a rage to get a job. "John, if you don't get your lazy carcass out of this house ...!" Announcer: If your john isn't working, call Friese Mueller." The client is his father. "He started that company with about 20 people," says Mueller, "and after three years of advertising, which he didn't want to do at first, they're up to about 120 people. The stuff works." An earlier, all-type plumbing spot cleverly drops the letters of the Friese Mueller name into the frame one at a time, to the sound of a dripping faucet.

"It's the kind of situation where you either do no broadcast at all, and learn to live with that, or you choose to go out and look for clients and do spots for whatever price they can spend," Mueller explains. "Once you have TV in your blood, it's kind of hard to get it out."

Speaking of which, is there a Milwaukee style? "I think Milwaukee is an abyss, basically," says Mueller, a 30-year-old native of the city, who's been at BV&K for four years. "There's a ton of talent here, but there aren't a lot of big clients coming in; in fact, most of them are leaving. Most still here are very safe." Yet, "It's building here, we're getting more national notice," he adds none too abysmally. "We're on a streak. We've got some momentum behind us."

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