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Year of the Horse

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Ad agencies will do anything to win accounts these days: cut rates, poach clients, parade before prospects in their Skivvies. Butler, Shine & Stern chose to rely creatively on a plush, confused-looking, Ronnie James Dio-loving, paroled, ex-junkie horse.

"Business has been spotty, and we needed to invest in the best and the brightest," John Butler says of "chief creative consultant" Captain Hoofers. "He only took a few marketing classes at Pomona College, but he's brilliant."

He got his hoof in the door at BS&S by lying about offers he'd gotten from Goodby and Wieden. Hoofers, who once suffered from a "pretty bad Ketamine habit," now says he is "making mad cash to get my funk on daily."

According to www.capthoofers.bsands.com (worth a visit for the video clips in the Truth in Advertising vein), Hoofers was born in 1980 in a prop warehouse in Studio City, Calif., and acted in the "My Little Pony" campaign but was dropped for being "horsey" and not "pony-like" enough. Eventually he found advertising.

"Clients and kindergartners love him," says Mike Shine.

"What the hell," says Butler. "He's a little loud and opinionated, but we're committed to him. You'll go down to his office and Dio records are blasting, but beyond that he's a joy to be around."