Doggie Does Dallas
Who could object to a cute postcard of puppies? Sarley, Bigg & Bedder, an LA agency specializing in radio, found the answer when they tried to use this postcard in a direct mail campaign. When Cahners Business Lists got wind of the erotic references, they nixed their deal to provide addresses. Cahners cited the postcards' "unprofessional nature," and left Sarley Bigg & Bedder with 23,000 already-printed postcards and zero addresses; the agency ultimately had to find another list service. Says president John Sarley, "We knew that it would probably annoy some people, but we'd rather take that chance and get noticed."
See Francis Run
In the DC area, it's easier to get voted into political office than to get freelance advertising work. Francis Sullivan, a copywriter and creative director, used the ubiquitous roadside signs to plug his services. "I was gonna put one up in the voting booth during the primary but my wife said `Please don't do that,"' he laughs. She's got our vote.
All in the Family
When voodoo dolls won't work, there's nothing like a little healthy competition to eradicate office friction; TBWA/Chiat/Day in New York hosts Family Feud on Thursday nights. Director of marketing Brent Hodgins admits that it gets pretty competitive. "It probably is a little cathartic, having a laugh at each others' expense," he remarks. Winners get to take on senior management; given the heavy alcohol content of these games (one week they opted to take shots of vodka instead of hitting buzzers before answering questions), that could be a risky proposition. Survey says: you're fired.
In one of the least compassionate responses to New York City Mayor Giuliani's announcement that he has prostate cancer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals created an anti-milk billboard showing the mayor and reading, "Got Prostate Cancer?" The billboards, posted in the dairylands of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, have been taken down and PETA has issued a public apology. The organization is not, however, entirely contrite. Sean Gifford, the Vegetarian Campaign Coordinator, takes an opportunistic view: "Obviously, Giuliani's cancer is really unfortunate, but it was an opportunity to spotlight some of the real dangers of dairy consumption. We used Giuliani to get the word out." Since the flap, Hizzoner has been seen drinking milk instead of water during public appearances - defiantly relishing every gulp.
Beer with Good Head
A commercial for Carlsberg beer by Ammirati Puris/Toronto has created a stir in its Canadian market. In the spot, three girlfriends chat about a new boyfriend. One woman makes a sliding motion with her hand - what seems to be a clear reference to oral sex - asking, "Does he, you know, like to...?" Her lucky friend replies, "Loves to." The explicit reference has been the subject of newspaper articles and even a he-said-she-said radio show in Toronto. Angus Tucker and Stephen Jurisic, the spots' creators, let the actresses improvise the suggestive dialogue, and were thrilled with the result. "Men tend to assume that all guys are studs and we don't ask any questions about sex, whereas women get into the nitty-gritty," says Tucker. "We thought that women would appreciate this spot because they're sort of `getting some.' Personally, I'd love to be that guy."
Was it subliminal advertising? In a Republican spot deriding the Gore healthcare plan, the screen flashes the word RATS, the tail end of "bureaucrats," on the screen for a fraction of a second. Sue Kruskopf of Kruskopf Olson in Minneapolis, which was involved in the breakthrough ad campaign for Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Jesse Ventura in 1998, doubts that the fleeting message was part of the strategy. "I don't think it was intentional; I think it was one of those design things that run amuck," Kruskopf opines. "I just think it was really sloppy. I can't believe with the scrutiny that these things are looked at that it got by everyone."