Pop culture: Veitch's critters hit big in Quiznos spots

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Quiznos' current campaign-which features howling paeans of bug-eyed, terribly-toothed creatures-was immediately familiar to inveterate Net geeks and the sort of cubicle jockeys who forward oddball Web links to each other all day.

They recognized it as the work of Joel Veitch, a self-effacing 29-year-old Brit who's behind the absurdist and generally hilarious rathergood.com. Mr. Veitch rewrote a very similar year-old song and animation titled "We Like the Moon" (sample lyric: "The moon is very useful/To everyone") that he'd penned with his brother and a friend for the sandwich-maker's ad at the behest of its new creative agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, Richmond.

"He had that kind of cult, underground following," said Mike Hughes, Martin's president-creative director.

"We are an off-center brand," said Trey Hall, Quiznos Subs' chief marketing officer, who said upon seeing the ads, which first ran on Spike TV's Bikini Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday "our eyes got big, much like those critters."

And what Mr. Hall defined as Quiznos' "sweet spot"-men and women 18-34-dovetails quite nicely with the demos of those who surf the Web searching for the latest in Web-only bizarreness.

hobby to career

In only-on-the-Web fashion, Mr. Veitch has parlayed a hobby into a career. Another recent Web to mainstream success story, if faster building, is cut-and-paste cartoonist David Rees, whose scathing post-Sept. 11 strips titled "Get Your War On," which first appeared on the Web, now run regularly on the letters page of Wenner Media's Rolling Stone.

In the three-plus years he's been posting animations on rathergood.com, Mr. Veitch's work has become the sort of phenomenon that seems to circle the globe, e-mail chain by e-mail chain. Among the wide range of animations on his site-several of which are, shall we say, inappropriate for small children and the workplace-arguably the most well-known are his faux rock videos that feature bizarrely costumed kittens, like the ones dressed in viking garb seen in his video of the Electric Six's "Gay Bar." Another features kittens clad in Soviet garb singing a song by the band Laibach. (One favorite, also featuring viking kittens performing Led Zeppelin's iconic "Immigrant Song," was removed from the site without explanation, though it's easy to locate elsewhere on the Web.)

"You can't go wrong with kittens," Mr. Veitch said. Of late, though, he's broadened his zoological palette, introducing songs mimed by baby orangutans and a hippopotamus. When asked if Quiznos' Mr. Hall was familiar with Mr. Veitch's work prior to the campaign, a company spokeswoman was quick to point out the company has no connection with rathergood.com.

Mr. Veitch's also done work for Viacom's VH1, but his profile is much greater in his native Britain. He has a twice-weekly videos-and-animation show on Channel 4, and his work appeared in two campaigns there last year, one for Crusha milkshake mixes and debit-card company Switch/Maestro.

All of which enables Mr. Veitch to have a rather unique job description.

"I make silly animations and songs and things," he said.

contributing: ken wheaton

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