"Take an ad suggesting that doing illegal drugs can lead to terrorism and add the word 'beer' and what do you get?" Advertising Age asks. "As the Office of National Drug Control Policy discovered some very angry beer wholesalers and brewers." The ad copy in dispute reads "Last night, I met the guys for beers, went out for dinner and helped gun down 21 men, women and children." The White House drug office says the ad is part of a series showing how illegal drugs finance terrorism and is not meant to make a connection between alcohol and illicit drugs.
"If there's anywhere anyone can advertise about anything, it's Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. ... But there's one ad neither of the Hollywood trades will run--the latest broadside from Smoke Free Movies, a health advocacy group that's been at the forefront of a no-holds-barred campaign against the proliferation of cigarette smoking in movies," writes Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times.
Advertising Age magazine has created a special section of its website devoted to stories about "Selling Brand USA to a Hostile World." Story titles include: White House Buys Anti-terror Super Bowl Spots, Should American Values Be Marketed to Muslim Nations?, Sony Products Take Center Stage in Coalition War Ad, and
In what appears to be the US government's biggest single event advertising buy, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy spent over $3.2 million for two 30-second ads aired during the Super Bowl. "It's one thing for Budweiser to spend a small fortune waving the flag; it's another for we taxpayers to foot the bill for ads touting controversial public policies," writes WorkingforChange columnist Geov Parrish. "And what did we get for our money? Blatant propaganda -- specifically, an argument closely linked to the Bush Administration.
Apparently it takes more than strong fences to protect nuclear power plants from terrorists -- it takes paramilitary squads with guns pointed straight at you. That's the take-home message from an advertisement which the Alexandria, Va.-based Smith & Harroff designed for the Nuclear Energy Institute. The ad, which ran in the January 26 National Journal, celebrates the "highly committed, highly trained ... expert marksmen" who stand ready to fend off any threat that might come their way. (Question: How many rifles would it take to shoot down an incoming jetliner?)
Bernard Stamler reports: "Its advertising is aggressive, and deliberately so. (Remember the body bags piled up outside Philip Morris headquarters in New York?) But although tobacco companies have complained before about the commercials made by the American Legacy Foundation, one company is now formally threatening legal action against the organization, apparently for the first time. The aggrieved company is Lorillard Tobacco of Greensboro, N.C., a unit of the Loews Corporation .
If you've ever wondered why local television news is so often so bad, the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) has the answer. PEJ surveyed local news directors and rated local television news in 14 cities. The first of a number of very troubling findings -- 53 percent of the news directors "reported advertisers try to tell them what to air and not to air and they say the problem is growing." The pressure to do puff pieces is constant and routine.
Alessandra Stanley reports how "television news executives are exploring niche news programming" to brand their network deep into the psyche of the younger audience that advertisers crave. "In a nobler version of the tobacco industry tactics, they hope to lure younger people to their product and then hook them. 'The idea is that you are investing,' David F. Poltrack, the CBS executive vice president for research and planning, explained. 'You know as viewers age they watch more television news.
"Some of the nation's largest corporate advertisers, seeking greater control over television, are proposing to create their own shows to air on the major broadcast networks," the Los Angeles Times writes. With network advertising revenues down, some TV executives are open to corporate sponsored shows. Both Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola are developing TV shows to promote their products. Ford's "No Boundaries" premieres on the WB network in March. Coca-Cola's "Stepping Stones" is set for NBC's summer season.
Advertising Age asked a top Middle East ad man about the difficulties of selling the US to the Arabic and Muslim world. Roy Haddad, the Beirut-based CEO of WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, warns that the current political situation makes the US a hard sell. "The long-standing Israel issue is the biggest hindering factor. ... There's been a lot of reaction in the US, feeling that Arabs were pro-bin Laden. It's not so much a pro-bin Laden as an anti-American attitude, anti-Western.