Bobcats Declawed in Modified Campaign

ATLANTA Boone/Oakley and its client, the Charlotte Bobcats, have toned down a campaign the National Basketball Association team launched earlier this year, modifying some TV spots to remove scenes that could be construed as violent and pulling one commercial from the air.

The campaign was altered in light of the much-publicized brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons that resulted in the suspension of players from both teams.

“[The Bobcats] don’t want to perpetuate the thug image,” said John Boone, co-creative director of the independent shop in Charlotte, N.C. “We are going to monitor the situation. We think it will subside.”

The Bobcats’ campaign features a team ambassador who “welcomes” cardboard cutouts of opposing teams’ star players. In each ad, the cutouts meet untimely ends in humorous ways.

Since the Pacers-Pistons melee Nov. 19 in Auburn Hills, Mich., Boone/Oakley has replaced some scenes with other shots.

The Bobcats cancelled a commercial that used a cutout of Ben Wallace, the Piston forward who started the fight when he shoved the Pacer’s Ron Artest. Wallace was suspended for six games for his role in the fight. Artest, who attacked several fans in the stands, has been suspended for the rest of the season.

The Wallace spot depicted the player inspecting construction of a new arena in Charlotte and getting buried by a load of dirt.

The Bobcats may also shelve an ad that revolves around the Miami Heat’s Shaquille O’Neal, whose cutout is shown catching fire at a cookout. “That one is still in question,” Boone said.