Advertising Age editor-at-large Bob Garfield reviews the high and low points of TV advertising during the past year and finds mostly lows connected to the "war on terrorism": from ads linking casual drug use to the funding of terrorism ("the evidence is a bit thin"); to the Freedom Campaign, which ran ads celebrating the blessings of American democracy. Unfortunately, Garfield observes, "The most striking - a 'Twilight Zone'-esque glimpse at how an America without civil liberties might look - was more chilling and ironic than intended.
"Some companies have repeatedly
disseminated misleading advertisements for prescription
drugs, even after being cited for violations, and millions
of people see the deceptive commercials before the
government tries to halt them, Congressional investigators
said today. The investigators, from the General Accounting Office, said
Pfizer, for example, had continued to make misleading
claims in advertisements for its cholesterol-lowering drug
Lipitor, despite several letters from the Food and Drug
"Dentists leafing through The Journal of the American Dental
Association last May found a study concluding that a new
drug called Bextra offered relief from one of their
patients' worst nightmares - the acute pain that follows
dental surgery. Federal regulators had rejected that conclusion only six
months before, leaving Bextra's marketers, Pharmacia and
Pfizer, hard pressed to sell it as an advance over
Celebrex, their earlier entry in a crowded market for pain
drugs. The new study helped light a fire under Bextra. Its sales
"What are they thinking? GM's 'Introducing the Saturn VUE' ad, which ran in Newsweek magazine, compares their new SUV to endangered arctic species," the public interest group CorpWatch writes. "Never mind that SUVs produce carbon emissions that contribute to the global warming that's melting polar ice floes like the one pictured in their ad. And never mind that General Motors vehicles alone account for about 1.65% of the world's carbon emissions -- a significant amount for a single company.
"The Clash's 'London Calling, with its lyrical images of
nuclear winter, looming ice age and engine failure, might
seem a particularly annoying musical choice for selling an
elite brand of cars. But for Jaguar, the 1979 song was the
perfect accompaniment to the television commercials for its
The US government is using The Rendon Group, advertising whiz Charlotte Beers and others to develop PR and ad campaigns to sway Muslim opinion toward the US. The first ads are being "greeted with skepticism," according to the New York Times. "Rawia Ismail, ...her head covered with an Islamic head scarf, appears in a US government video that will have its first public showing this week on national television here in [Indonesia]... 'I didn't see any prejudice anywhere in my neighborhood after Sept.
"Julia Butterfly Hill lived in the branches of a giant California redwood for two years to keep the Pacific Lumber Company from making it into planking, and when she climbed back down to earth, she discovered that the ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day had used her likeness in an ad campaign without her permission. She sued, and last week reached a settlement. ... [T]he shop has agreed to shell out a significant cash donation to a worthy cause and produce a prominent print ad campaign for a foundation of Ms. Butterfly's choosing."
"Look what John Ashcroft is doing to our Constitution," says a new American Civil Liberties Union ad. "He's seized powers for the Bush administration no president should ever have." The 30-second TV spot will air in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington D.C., and will be shown on the Sunday morning talk shows on ABC, CBS and NBC in selected cities. "The commercial kicks off a six-month, $1 million ad campaign that is part of a broader $3.5 million effort the ACLU has planned over the next 18 months," Advertising Age reports.
Two separate full page anti-war advertisements appear in today's New York Times. The Florence Fund's ad feature's "Uncle Osama," an Uncle Sam take-off who taunts "Send me a new
generation of recruits. Your bombs will fuel their hatred of America and
their desire for revenge." Meanwhile, a full page advertisement
from the TrueMajority Campaign led by former ice cream magnate Ben Cohen
Two advertising executives turned novelists have launched a new company that plans to pay established authors to write specially commissioned fictional books on demand for government departments and businesses seeking to convey "difficult ideas" to the public. "Already there are takers," reports the Independent of England.