My earliest lessons in how tetchy newspaper ad managers could be were learned at, well, my earliest newspaper job, at the Columbus Dispatch. They were always monkeying with ads that tried to push the boundaries a little. And it was a tough job, considering the paper ran ads for strip clubs, adult movie theaters, escort services and the like.
Things crept in, anyway, and it was always funny to compare before-and-after changes. The adult-movie ads, for instance, had to be business-card size, no pictures, and titles and screening times only. But after a time they started allowing limited review quotes. And so, between editions, “Full er*ction — Hustler’s highest rating!” would become “Hustler’s highest rating!”
My all-time fave was for a stunt performer at Columbus Motor Speedway, the city’s stock-car track: “Bennie Koske, ‘the human bomb,’ will blow himself and a car up Sunday night!” Oops. In the second edition, he would “blow up a car and himself.” Which, really, is much better grammar.
But one ad in particular was a problem, and it was for one of the James Bond movies. This one. The art was of Roger Moore, framed between the legs of a babe with a bodacious can. Braver papers ran the picture whole; the Dispatch (and many others) cropped her at mid-thigh.
I thought of this when I started noticing internet ads on newspaper sites for “Imagine Me and You,” which looks like we should call it “Lipstick Mountain.” From the trailer, it seems to be about a woman whose lesbian affair interferes with her upcoming wedding. But I noticed two versions of the ad. This one:
And this one:
Only problem is, I noticed both ads on the same newspaper websites. Damn. Seems to be a vertical-horizontal question.
And a pretty crummy movie, if its January release is any indication. That’s Piper Perabo in the lead — went to Ohio University, starred in “Coyote Ugly” with assorted supermodels and, well, isn’t an Oscar contender.
Finally, maybe my all-time favorite ad at the Dispatch came after I left, a line of 6-point type buried deep in the classifieds. It was for a piece of buildable land, close to a middle school. “Buz Lukens special!” it crowed. Evidently the classified-ad takers don’t read the rest of the paper.
Deb said on January 21, 2006 at 6:54 pm
The ad that caught my eye a few weeks ago in the Fort Wayne um-newspaper stated:
Erectile Dysfunction Problems?
Use Your Nose!
By the time I understood that this was a remedy supposedly brought on through an aroma…it was too late to really take it seriously.
Nance said on January 22, 2006 at 10:28 am
The best ad screwup I saw in F.W. — which was much more boring, ad-wise, because the papers wouldn’t run anything that couldn’t be shown to kindergarteners — was one for a sewing machine liquidator.
One model, the copy said, made “buttholes.”
Connie said on January 23, 2006 at 9:30 am
I’d never heard of Buz Lukens until I clicked on your wiki link. Then I picked up my current book, “Woman at the Washington Zoo,” Marjorie Williams writings collected and edited posthumously by her husband Timothy Noah. and there was Buz again. Wonderful book, all you journalism types would enjoy it. My favorite line has her wishing tooth pain on Clarence Thomas when she finds out he is having a root canal in the next room at the endodontist.
Adrianne said on January 23, 2006 at 2:03 pm
I have in my possession a deeply hilarious list of prohibited words from from my newspaper’s ad manager after an adult entertainment ad containing the phrase “golden shower” actually made it into print.
Here are some of the prohibited terms:
The memo concludes, “If you have any advertisers currently using any of these terms, please inform them of our change in policy.”
Kirk said on January 23, 2006 at 6:14 pm
actually, the benny koske ad went from “will blow himself and an auto up” to “will blow an auto and himself up.” you know i know because it’s in my files 8/28/81, it was.
another one of my favorite before and afters didn’t involve an ad, but an andy capp comic strip. in the first edition, andy is taking a shower the way most of us do, bare-assed. in the second edition, he has inexplicably chosen to shower wearing sloppily drawn black swim trunks.
nancy said on January 23, 2006 at 6:33 pm
I treasure your keen memory and, of course, copious files. To whom will you bequeath these treasures when you retire, Kirk?
Kirk said on January 23, 2006 at 6:42 pm
believe it or not, i’ve thought about that a little bit, because i also have a notebook filled with hilarious stuff that made print — mostly in the dispatch and the c-j, but in a few other papers, too — that was given to me by dear old hal schellkopf, a wonderful editor who insisted on accuracy but was nice about it. i pull that one out every once in a while, start leafing through it, and laugh myself to tears. i was pretty sure there was one in there from a detroit paper, and i was right: the main headline in big bold caps from the april 26, 1957, detroit free press: U.S. COCKS ARM IN MIDEAST
MarkH said on January 24, 2006 at 2:25 pm
When I commenced J-school at OSU, my first text was an overview of reporting sprinkled throughout with examples of good and bad newspapering.
One was titled, “Headlines We Can Do Wiothout”. Over a story about a jet fighter that crashed into a New Jersey McDonald’s and killed 22, most of them children, was the headline, “Jet Kills 22”. Above that was the bullet, in smaller type, “crashes kids’ party”.