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20 Questions Time Again

It is time again to ask 20 questions about advertising, marketing, the media and popular culture.

- How is it that a month after Anheuser-Busch promised to take a more cautious approach to the creative content of commercials, in response to complaints that many of its beer spots during the Super Bowl were tasteless, the company is running a commercial that refers to a spokesman for the Miller Brewing unit of SABMiller as "a guy who’s part of a horse"?

- Or could it be that to Anheuser-Busch, referring to someone that way is tasteful compared with what he might have been called before the promise was made?

- Also, Anheuser-Busch had been running ads for its Budweiser beer brand, known as the "king of beers," that mocked the Miller Lite brand sold by Miller Brewing as the "queen of carbs." Will Burger King weigh in with ads attacking Wendy’s as the "queen of fast food"?

- If that happens, will Dairy Queen get caught in the crossfire?

- Given that the Glenfiddich line of Scotch whiskey sold by William Grant & Sons is running print advertisements showing the deer that symbolizes the brand standing on a city street, will it be long before the lion that symbolizes Dreyfus mutual funds, on emerging from the subway, catches sight of the deer?

- How brave was it of Dennis Hopper, Will Patton, Chris Carmack and Fred Ward to have joined the cast of the movie "The Last Ride," to be shown Wednesday night on the USA Network, given that the extensive product placements for the GTO sports car sold by the Pontiac division of General Motors will undoubtedly open them to wisecracks from TV critics that the automobiles perform better than they do?

- With the Campbell Soup Company signing the teenage soccer player Freddy Adu as a spokesman, will he be asked to join other young Campbell celebrity endorsers like the actress Mandy Moore and the rapper Bow Wow to form a new crew of hip, multicultural Campbell Kids for the new millennium?

- Now that the Fox Broadcasting Company division of the News Corporation has decided to shelve a show called "Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay," in which two straight men were to have competed for $50,000 by trying to pass themselves off as homosexuals, will Fox run in its place episodes of series like "Skin," "The Ortegas," "Luis," "Girls Club" and "Firefly" under the title "Seriously, Dude, I’m Canceled"?

- How is it that decades after Gem Blades introduced the idea of "five o’clock shadow" in advertising for shaving products, the phrase has resurfaced in ads for the new Quattro four-bladed razors sold by the Schick division of Energizer Holdings?

- Speaking of shaving, now that the Gillette Company has signed the soccer star David Beckham to an estimated $10 million endorsement contract, will reporters in pregame locker-room interviews ask him, "How are you fixed for goals?"

- Now that a baseball team in the new CBS fall series "Clubhouse" has to be called the New York Empires rather than the New York Yankees because licensing issues for the Yankees name could not be resolved, how fervently do executives at CBS and its parent, Viacom, wish that CBS had never sold the team to George M. Steinbrenner in 1973?

- Speaking of the CBS fall lineup, how many viewers of the rotating roster of reruns that the network plans to offer Saturday nights under the title "Crime Time Saturday" will recall that more than a decade ago, before "Late Show with David Letterman," CBS ran a rotating roster of late-night series under the title "Crime Time After Prime Time"?

- With two magazines, Low Carb Energy and Low Carb Living, already seeking to capitalize on the craze for low-carbohydrate food, will it be long before the Condé Nast Publications division of Advance Publications brings out a food-shopping magazine called Carbo?

- Does the director Martin Scorsese know that the GSN cable television network is running ads to promote "Extreme Dodgeball," a reality series that is to make its debut June 15, carrying the slogan "Raging Ball"?

- And does the fact that the debut of "Extreme Dodgeball" will be followed three days later by the release of the Ben Stiller comedy "Dodgeball" by the 20th Century Fox division of the News Corporation mean that popular culture will now be awash in celebrations of games that boys play in middle school?

- Then again, when is popular culture not awash in celebrations of games that boys play in middle school?

- Did the MTV Networks division of Viacom decide on Logo as the name for its new cable television network aimed at gay and lesbian viewers because there are already cable networks that carry arts, cultural and entertainment programming named Bravo and Trio?

- And if viewers will want to subscribe to all three of those networks, will the operators of local cable systems bundle them alphabetically in a Bravo-Logo-Trio package, or B.L.T. for short?

- How many readers of an ad for the Olay Complete Defense line of skin-care products sold by Procter & Gamble, which carries the headline "This summer, get daily sun protection with an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny lightweight feel," will subsequently go mad because they will never be able to get out of their minds the tune "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"?

- When will a certain jockey who is two-thirds of the way toward helping the owner of Smarty Jones win the $5 million Visa Triple Crown Challenge bonus meet an advertising columnist who is almost his namesake and say, "You ask a lot of questions for someone from Brooklyn"?

Stuart Elliott

New York Times - 1 June 2004
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