Sad and Happy Clones, Devoted to Popeye, Seattle Unplugged, Etc.

One can’t help but have mixed feelings about recent news that scientists have successfully cloned a sheep. On the one hand, it opens the way toward untold disasters for the human race. On the other hand, it’s a rich source of jokes in print ads and TV spots. Well, you’ve got to take the bad with the good. Among the advertisers who’ve flocked to clone-themed ads is department store Dayton-Hudson. A television spot says scientists have turned their attention from mere livestock to the loftier topic of retailing, ‘thus creating the famous two-day sale. Two identical days of shopping, two identical days of saving.’ A tagline modestly refers to this breakthrough as ‘better shopping through science.’ HMS Partners of Minneapolis created the spot. Meanwhile, back in New York, steakhouse Smith & Wollensky figured that what’s good for the ewe is good for the steer, and it employed the clone theme to tout its plans for replicating itself with beefy outposts in Chicago and Las Vegas. Hampel/Stefanides of New York created the ad. If other clients and agencies imitate these efforts, one will feel it’s simply in the natural order of things.

Lots of people have peculiar hobbies. But if you’re a name-on-the-door executive of an ad agency, you might have an edge in pursuing your avocation. Consider the case of Gary Greenberg, co-chairman and creative director of Boston-based Greenberg Seronick O’Leary and Partners. He is a serious collector of vintage Popeye paraphernalia, of all things. And he has turned his creative energies to a multimedia campaign designed to attract the notice of people who’ve got the stuff to sell. The effort includes posters, ads in such august publications as The Popeye Fan Club Magazine and (inevitably, in this day and age) a Web site. Sounds like a major spinach conglomerate should assign its account to the agency and take some free time off this guy’s hands.

A man’s home is his castle? Not if the woman of the household has anything to say about it. In Roper Starch polling conducted for a recent MlleMeter Report from Mademoiselle magazine, women who live with a spouse or other partner were asked who has more say in various instances of consumer decision-making for the household. When it comes to a choice of home furnishings, 45 percent of women age 18-29 said they have the decisive role, while 5 percent said the spouse/partner does and the rest said the power of decision is shared equally. Among women in the 30-49-year-old cohort, 33 percent said they have more say, 8 percent said the spouse/partner does and the rest said it is even-steven. A question on ‘interior design of the home’ found similar margins. Under the circumstances, is it any wonder so many of the spouses and partners seem indifferent to their domestic surroundings?

There’s the Seattle music scene you’ve heard about, and then there’s what a new TV campaign from that city’s Cole & Weber describes as ‘Seattle’s Other Music Scene.’ In each spot, we see members of various Seattle bands talking about an especially large combo in town. ‘They’re all acoustic, aren’t they?’ inquires a member of Critters Buggin. ‘They’re like a giant MTV Unplugged.’ He later accuses this unnamed group of ‘trying to cash in on the Seattle thing, I think.’ Taking a more indulgent view of the matter, one member of Mudhoney remarks, ‘Well, the Rolling Stones used all sorts of strange instruments, too.’ And a guy from Gas Huffer is positively impressed: ‘How they keep from stepping on each other’s solos, that’s what I want to know. It’s pretty amazing.’ A member of The Presidents of the United States is no less taken with the group’s distinctive look on stage: ‘They’re always in black. It’s sort of a badass, tough-guy image.’ What is this intriguing group? At the end of each commercial, we learn it’s the Seattle Symphony.

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