Buttocks Superbowl Show
Airborne, in case you don't know, is the number-one-selling effervescent cold remedy in America, the packaging for which is adorned with my artwork. The Superbowl is, as everyone knows, the miraculous annual extravaganza of fantasy, football, fireworks, and feisty pop stars with exploding bodices. It's also, we are told, a serious time of prayer and values. But more importantly, with the Superbowl comes the eagerly-awaited Superbowl Commercials, where corporate marketing becomes its own spectator sport, and monstrous mega-conglomerates square off in a high-stakes gladiator ring of advertising. The excitement is heightened because the viewers know that every second of air time represents a gamble of millions and millions of dollars.
Backing up a little bit, Hae, Oscar, and I attended the Airborne Christmas toys for tots drive at the American Legion Hall in Carmel back in December. Everyone was in great spirits, the company is having astronomical success, and they had a lot to celebrate. Some staff members had less to celebrate, though, as they were required to attend the party wearing life size plush-toy-style germ costumes. In the back, behind a gigantic gift mound, a TV was running a loop of Airborne commercials.
Germ dances with girl at American Legion Hall
All of their ads feature faded child stars (my client's campy sense of humor) in ordinary situations, like sitting at a lunch counter, relaxing on a flight, standing motionless in an elevator, etc. The hook comes when someone seated next to the FCS sneezes, driving him to stand and scream hysterically, "Nooooo!" The Greg Brady ones are pretty good. Johnny Whittaker, formerly "Jody" of "Family Affair," is quite charismatic. But that was nothing compared to the latest ad featuring Mickey Rooney! THE Mickey Rooney. The Airborne company had pulled out the stops because it was going to be their Superbowl Commercial.
On screen, Mickey appears seated a steamy, co-ed sauna, purifying himself in the briny aromatic healthfulness. Somebody next to him sneezes. A-choo! Mickey bolts upright, screams and runs off camera. Cut to a cherubic little figure running away from the camera and suddenly -- his towel falls off! Revealing the ancient pock-marked buttocks of an American Icon.
Airborne would've paid millions of dollars to show Mickey Rooney's ASS to America but FOX broadcasting decided that America wasn't couldn't take it. They rejected the ad due to its titillating and controversial nature. It must've been with extreme disappointment that Airborne voided that multi-million dollar check, while generating as much, if not more, national publicity than the "winning" Superbowl Commercial will get.
Damn, I wish I could come up with stunts like that.