Fox Nixes Ad Store’s Anti-Bush Ad

NEW YORK The local Fox affiliate here has refused to run a spot by The Ad Store for Manhattan borough presidential candidate Brian Ellner that lampoons President George W. Bush by pasting a photo of his head atop a naked middle-aged torso.

Ellner, a Democrat, also introduces his gay partner at the end of the ad.

A representative from the local affiliate, WNYW, confirmed that it had decided not to run the ad, but declined to give a reason. Tim Arnold, managing partner of The Ad Store, said a Fox account executive told him that portraying the president naked was not respectful of the office.

This is the second time in a year that the New York independent shop has raised hackles at Fox, which pulled a second national rotation of its Super Bowl spot for GoDaddy.com in January. That ad parodied the February 2004 game’s “wardrobe malfunction” by casting a bosomy actress to discuss the Web site hosting company in front of what appeared to be a Senate committee.

Despite that tangle, Arnold called the latest refusal “totally unexpected,” adding that all other broadcast and cable networks had approved the ad.

“He’s not naked, he’s bare-chested from the waist up,” Arnold said of the Ellner ad. “Clearly that is a form of parody that we used to get your attention.”

While the camera pans away to reveal Bush’s naked torso, a voiceover intones, “He says he promotes life, but sends our soldiers to die, He promises to leave no child behind, but won’t fund our public schools. … New Yorkers know the emperor has no clothes.”

David Meadvin, Ellner’s campaign manager, said his office had a team of lawyers reviewing legal options. “One thing we would want to avoid doing is something that would simply be a publicity stunt. If we pursue this, it would be because there is firm legal ground for an action.”

Meadvin added that Fox’s refusal “seems un-American. If Fox thinks it is disrespectful of us to criticize the president, we think it’s disrespectful of voters to deny them the message.” The ad, Meadvin said, was not just about President Bush’s shortcomings, but also “what Brian would do locally.”