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Freak Week: Attack of the Clone

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Marketers the world over have been making terrible decisions lately. Let's start in New Zealand, where they apparently think they can create carbon copies of American ads and pass them off as originals. That's what appears to have happened at TV3, a Kiwi television network, which has rolled out a shot-for-shot ripoff of one of Deutsch's celebrated TV spots with Kevin Butler, the hilarious fictional PlayStation exec played by Jerry Lambert. "Two words: Mon-tage," Butler says in introducing PS3 footage in his ad. "Two words: Mon-tage," says a TV3 exec in showing TV3 movie clips in his. Butler caps off his montage by rocking a triumphant guitar chord while donning a glam wig, as confetti explodes. The same exact thing happens in the TV3 ad. It's one of the most blatant thefts we've seen (TV3 may be unaware that ads can be uploaded to something called the Internet and then viewed in other parts of the world). But Butler took it in stride. In a blog post, he simply asked for a box set of Flight of the Conchords as compensation. "Sounds like a fair deal to us Mr Butler!" TV3 tweeted back. "The box set is on its way!"

In Scotland, meanwhile, it was a brewer called BrewDog that misbehaved egregiously -- via the packaging for its latest beer, called The End of History. Each bottle of the potent concoction, which is 55 percent alcohol by volume, comes neatly yet disgustingly wrapped inside an actual dead rodent. Only 11 bottles of the blond Belgian ale were made-seven packaged in taxidermied stoats and four in gray squirrels-and they have since sold out. The brewer described the product as "an audacious blend of eccentricity, artistry and rebellion, changing the general perception of beer one stuffed animal at a time." An animal-rights group was less impressed, saying the marketer should "learn to respect [animals] rather than using them for some stupid marketing gimmick."

Speaking of unfortunate marketing stunts involving animals, next we move to Russia, where local entrepreneurs advertised parasailing trips on the Sea of Azov by borrowing a donkey, attaching a parachute to it, strapping it to a boat and lifting it into the air for a 30-minute flight intended to get tourists to a nearby beach. What they didn't expect was the donkey to scream bloody murder the whole time and have the whole thing caught on tape and posted to YouTube, creating outrage worldwide. According to a police spokesman, a veterinarian examined the ass after the stunt and determined that the animal was not physically hurt. But the report also noted, ominously, that "the donkey's mental state remained unclear."

Finally, we wind up in France, where Perrier orchestrated a bizarre stunt of its own, rolling out an R-rated spot in which burlesque star Dita Von Teese teases the camera and then pours a bottle of Perrier all over her neck and chest. The product benefits communicated are hazy, but at least no animals were harmed in the making of the ad.


Best of BrandFreak: Village People Opposed Y Rebrand

The YMCA rebranded itself this month simply as "The Y," embracing the nickname people have used for generations in referring to the 166-year-old nonprofit. The change, chief marketing officer Kate Coleman told The New York Times, was "a way of being warmer, more genuine, more welcoming, when you call yourself what everyone else calls you." But as AdFreak's sister blog reported, one group in particular was not happy about the change: musical group The Village People, who released their famed song "YMCA" in 1978. "We are deeply dismayed by today's announcement," the band members said in a statement. "Some things remain iconic, and while we admire the organization for the work they do, we still can't help but wonder Y." The band emphasized that they will not be shortening the name of the song.