Art & Commerce

‘Uh Oh’: Feud Brews Over Familiar Phrase

Do the folks at SpaghettiOs know that DDB Seattle claims a lock on the phrase, “Uh oh,” because they used it in an ad in 1997? Is their CEO, Ron Elgin, flattered when he hears, “Uh oh, better get MAACO”?

As Mr. Elgin points out [Letters, June 3], both DDB and McCann-Erickson used the phrase on behalf of a product (emergency contra ception) that both agencies handle. The target is the same. The benefit, helping women prevent unwanted pregnancies, is the same. If you compared our selling strategy, it is probably pretty much the same. Our advertising isn’t.

DDB is a fine agency, but with all due respect to Mr. Elgin, selectively lifting commonly used phrases from old radio spots and then implying that they inspired another agency’s work is a peculiar exercise.

Richard Mahan

Executive creative director


Los Angeles

Easy on the Online Ads

On the list of topics worthy of a letter to the editor, overly intrusive online advertising ranks somewhere between unpronounceable English agency names and Charles Saatchi’s art collection.

However, in this case, the irony of it all warrants a mention.

Adweek’s online edition does an excellent job of extending the brand from paper to Web. It doesn’t try to “be” the paper version. Rather, it uses the medium as it should, to provide timely news in an efficient and pleasing manner. Fantastic, love it!

Why, then, does the online “experience” have to be so clumsily blighted by intrusive and ugly pop up advertising? A recent version, with torn up bits of paper being pinned over the content that I’m trying to read, is beyond anything I’ve seen from a brand.

Will it stop me from buying Adweek? No. Will I stop visiting the site? No. But for a magazine whose very business is the business of delicately managing brands, it seems irony strikes again.

Neil Cotton

Regional planning director

Bates Greater China

Hong Kong

For the record: In Best Spots of May [Creative, June 24], Tim Dillingham was an art director on MasterCard’s “Swap” spot.