The Buzz

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Plagiarism: Priceless

Amid the stultifying propaganda in this year's presidential race, the Ralph Nader spoof of a MasterCard commercial stands out as one of the few creative political spots. Nader lists the costs of big-party campaigning, and ends with, "The truth: priceless." MasterCard is not amused; the company has sued the Nader campaign and demanded that the spoof be taken off the air. Bill Hillsman, the North Woods Advertising CD on the campaign, scoffs, "I think the lawsuit is pretty absurd. It's a very successful ad campaign that's entered the popular culture, so it's fair game for parody." Chris O'Neill, VP of Global Marketing Communications at MasterCard, explains that the company reluctantly filed suit after requesting that the ads be taken off the air. "We have a good sense of humor, and we've never objected to spoofs like those on Letterman or Leno or Saturday Night Live," O'Neill protests. "It's not a spoof. Mr. Nader was never looking for laughter." Hillsman is unfazed by the legal challenge, and mostly concerned about the day-to-day consequences of antagonizing MasterCard."I just hope that my credit card works when I check out of my hotel tonight," he quips.

Lights, Camera, Action Figures

Agency creatives have always wanted to get in on production - witness the recent glut of CDs-turned-directors - and Curious Pictures is offering them the chance. The production company's toy division has created the Virtual Movie Studio, a miniature film set, and Curious wants buyers to use the VMS to make short films and enter them in a competition. The toy comes with guaranteed non-striking talent (action figures), diorama-like sets, and a minute but fully functional camera. Though the toy was created for children, its designer, Rich Isaacs, is sure that it will entertain grown-ups as well: "There's a certain appeal to anything that's miniaturized. Adults would like to revisit their childhood." Contest details are included in the VMS_packages, available in September.

The Other Olympic Sport

It only seems fitting that Ansell Australia would introduce its new line of LifeStyle condoms, the Sport condom (sorry, available only Down Under), at the Olympic games. The company will hand out 50,000 of the SportCondoms - differentiated by their flashy colors, tropical flavors, and titillating textures - to the world's finest athletes. Although the hyped-up games seem like promotional heaven, the athletes themselves may not be all that receptive to the marketing strategy. Every high school basketball player knows that pre-game nookie is a fast track to lethargy.

These shoes are made for sitting

A survey from reports that teens wearing Nike-logoed clothing are not particularly interested in doing anything athletic. 50% of teens sporting the swooshed garb report playing video games more than three hours a day. These same Nike lovers listed their favorite activities in order. Sure, they cited playing sports_- after talking on the phone, going to the mall, visiting internet chat rooms, and watching television.

Culture Jamming en francais

Hey, now someone besides the client thinks your work is merde. Raoul Anvelaut, the founder of Casseurs de Pub, a French version of Adbusters, rounded up his activist friends to mount some opposition to the rising presence of advertising in France. Anvelaut says that he does not object to advertising per se, but rather to the effect that it has on the public discourse. "Publicity in France has left its place and become a big cultural influence rather than just a device for selling products," Anvelaut explains. And you thought you weren't having global impact.

Just What Times Square Needed

In the sensory overload that is Times Square, it's tough for a billboard to stand out without flashing lights and neon letters - you practically have to do a strip show to get any attention. Hence the concept behind fashion brand Lane Bryant's Anna Nicole Smith billboard. Until August 8, this enormous photograph of Smith in jeans and a black shirt loomed over the Big Apple's 42nd Street. Recently, she had slipped into something a little more comfortable: in her current incarnation, she wears the jeans with only a black lace bra. But don't get all excited; in Giuliani's New York-cum-Disneyland, that's as far as the stripfest goes. So on Times Square these days, the only mammaries in sight belong to those godawful art cows.

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