Freak Week

Headshot of Tim Nudd

A few weeks ago it was ShamWow pitchman Vince Shlomi whose mug shot was plastered all over creation. Last week, it was a pair of rogue Domino’s employees, who invited the scorn of the world with a gross video of themselves messing with the food during prep. (Snot on your sandwich, anyone?) The video made its way online last week, went viral and caused a giant PR headache for the pizza chain. (It was not, as some initially guessed, a Crispin stunt.) The two were eventually arrested, and Domino’s president did apologize, but not before thousands of consumers publicly vowed never to eat its food ever again.
Don’t bring the next Hitler into the world. Use a condom. That was the message behind a bizarre set of condom ads from Germany for Doc Morris Pharmacies. Other ads in the series showed Osama bin Laden and Mao Zedong sperm being similarly thwarted. Still, some readers felt shortchanged. Wrote one: “What? No Stalin (who was at least as bad as Hitler)? No G.W. Bush? No Dick Cheney? What about Bill Gates?” But another pointed out, somewhat soberingly, “Of course, equally logically, using a condom also precludes the birth of the next Bach, Goethe, or Einstein.”
The most innovative use of media we saw last week came from TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris, which created posters for The Zimbabwean, an opposition Zimbabwe newspaper, printed on large-denomination banknotes (including trillion-dollar bills) rendered worthless by the country’s economic collapse. The ads featured headlines like, “It’s cheaper to print this on money than paper,” “Thanks to Mugabe, this money is now wallpaper” and “Fight the regime that has crippled a country.”
Another curious — OK, weird — use of media came out of China last week. An ad for a hemorrhoid cream made by Xian-Janssen Pharmaceutical showing a picture of someone’s rear end was placed right in the center of magazines, so that the staple could represent the discomfort caused by hemorrhoids. Not pretty, but clever.
Finally, the most potentially hazardous headline of the week, which escaped largely unharmed due to its utter ridiculousness, came from Nestea. On bus shelters around Baltimore and Washington, D.C., the iced-tea maker said its new Red Tea concoction is “Tasty and foreign, like we bottled an exchange student.” Predictably, two sides emerged to do battle over whether the line is offensive. On the Women’s Health News blog, one visitor wrote: “I made it my business to get an e-mail over to this company! This is a disgrace and I am absolutely offended by it!” Wrote another: “While I think the campaign hilarious, I’ll ask the 14-year-old Thai boy I’m currently sponsoring, Ditaka, to weigh in. He’s studious, punctual, hardworking … and delicious.”
Oprah Joins Twitter, Changes Everything
We launched our new blog, TweetFreak, last week — and propitious timing it was, as it proved to be a very big week for the microblogging service, which welcomed queen of the media universe Oprah Winfrey as a member. Longtime users largely pooh-poohed Winfrey’s involvement, fearing frequent cameos by the dreaded fail whale (who shows up when Twitter’s servers are overtaxed) and generally resenting the belated interest from Oprah’s giant audience. (By mid-afternoon Friday, before her show even aired in most parts of the country, Winfrey had more than 125,000 followers, despite having posted only six times.) Still, some die-hard Twitter users were willing to admit that Winfrey’s participation will only build the service’s user base, and make Twitter’s business success more likely.
We also streamed live Twitter search feeds last week focusing on a number of brands and agencies, from Burger King, Domino’s, Gatorade, Hulu and Ikea to Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Universal McCann, Enfatico and JWT. And our Tweets of the Day included this update from Mike Duda of Deutsch: “Ogilvy started a recession practice? I guess they needed something to replace the overbilling-the-government practice that was so successful.”

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.