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Years ago researchers at the University of Maryland's agriculture school announced with great fanfare that they'd succeeded in breeding a featherless chicken. Don't laugh, chickens are big business in Maryland (home to none other than Frank Perdue). If you could come up with a viable featherless foul, these nerds were saying, you could save a ton of money in processing. Of course, these squawking victims of gene splicing proved to have their problems. First off, the birds were a touch chilly, which meant you needed to keep the hen houses warm. And, as you can imagine, running around naked made them a tad more high strung, which, knowing how laid back chickens usually are, is a daunting thought in and of itself. But what killed the whole program was that the lack of feathers somehow made the birds wobbly. To the scientists' dismay these imbalanced, trembling, anxious broilers just couldn't bring themselves to mate.

At this point you should be asking yourself just what the hell is the point of all this, particularly when there's this damn hermaphrodite on the cover, right? Well, as our cover line "portraits from the hybrid life" alludes-and our split-screen she male suggests-we've become briefly enchanted with the concept of companies that have managed "to develop separate reputations in separate spheres," as Danny Abelson of The Abelson Company, designers of this month's cover and one of our profilees, declares. For better or worse we've taken to calling them hybrids, a word that's more likely associated with the pursuit of award-winning roses or breakthroughs in animal husbandry.

In the advertising and design fields, however, hybridization has another meaning altogether. More and more firms are setting themselves up as a little of this and a little of that these days, and while attempting to flourish as a multiple-personality design firm/ad agency/corporate ID specialist/general creative force for hire isn't necessarily new, it still takes a special mix of qualities and outlook attitudes to succeed, as our three hipster examples, all of whom have links to M & Co., attest.

In the area of unsolicited manuscripts, we're pleased to present two this month: art director Steve Miller's stirring account of his life freelancing among the savages in New Zealand, and copywriter Wes Hranchak on the One Show's CD-ROM and the concept of "shovelware." As Dean Martin used to slur on his old variety show, keep those cards and letters comin', folks.

Finally, you Pepe Le Pew fans out there, take note: in this month's trio of mini-profiles of funny ad agency radio writers we've reproduced yet another hilarious script from Sam Pond, currently at Goodby Silverstein & Partners and the guy who penned last year's One Show Best of Show-winning radio campaign for Prego restaurants out on the West Coast. Pond has once again nailed the smarmy Latin lover character that made last year's Prego spots so funny. The only thing missing here is when Paulo, the ads' buffoonish hero, croons to the audience,

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