Just for the record, I want to close the loop on the topic that shoved me into the blogosphere back in 2003.
One Monday morning, I go into work and there’s a buzz – people are definitely freaking out about something but don’t want to tell anyone. By the end of the day, I hear about this "fake PUMA ad" and the executive board decides that they want to sue anyone who’s got the ad posted on their site. You can read about the full story here; it was picked up by the likes of Gawker, AdLand, AdRants and Salon.
The vitriolic comments were pretty surprising, given how little first-hand information people had. The extent to which my comments to Felix Salmon were twisted and
miscontstruedmisconstrued was also impressive. [By the way, it’s interesting to look at those old links and see how many blogs are now defunct.]
What really happened – a small Eastern European agency affiliated with Saatchi & Saatchi created the ads on spec, trying to win business with a PUMA subsidiary. They got nothing and emailed the ads to friends; from that point it snowballed. As you can guess, when the PUMA powers-that-be decided to get all corporate on the blogosphere, the whole thing exploded. Poor Pete M.’s (PUMA GC in the US) email inbox exploded with junk after that, with his name being on the cease and desist. No "Brazilian Maxim", no evil master plan (they’re real but we’ll say they’re fake), but online store sales were up like CRAZY for a couple of weeks. Too bad we didn’t even have the shoes in the ads in stock!
So a lesson for PR/Marketing types that need to deal with this type of issue – the best thing to do is deny and let it die. But the beat goes on. Remember the flap about David Arquette and Courteney Cox Arquette’s baby’s christening pics?
UPDATE: Pretty interesting. Adland, a blog that decided to continue running these PUMA ads despite PUMA’s request to have them removed, has taken a quite different course on some spec ads posted recently. No explanation why, besides that the client asked for them to be removed – same as the PUMA situation. Moreover, they have actually edited the text of comments (!) – thankfully they are located in Denmark, as in the U.S. this action would turn them into owners of all edited comments and the potential trademark infringments therein.