General News

FedEx Munches Munchkin Ad

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:50am EST

Thanks to FedEx, the mind-altering, substance-induced subtext bubbling beneath Dorothy's journey back to Kansas has finally hit mainstream America.

Unfortunately, mainstream America isn't digging that revelation one bit.

Ad-industry tracker Advertising Age reported Monday that the global delivery behemoth has voluntarily retracted its popular "Wizard of Oz"-inspired ad from tube rotation. Why? The public's (that is, the buying public's) outcry over the ad's ... um, shall we say, questionable use of helium balloons.

So what's all the fuzz about? Seems the computer-manipulated spot, which debuted during last month's Super Bowl, features a scene from the 1939 family classic wherein a trio of baritone-voiced Munchkins suck from three helium-inflated balloons to restore their Munchkin-style voices. (For those who managed to miss the button-bushing ad, check it out at the online ad-review site Ad Critic at: www.adcritic.com.)

Perhaps it was the post-facto euphoric expression on the Munchkins' faces, but some people -- particularly those aligned with such drug-busting organizations as the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, the National PTA and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America -- found the ad downright offensive, claiming that the spot would promote inhalant use among teens.

"We did have some calls [complaining about the ad], but we've also received some very positive feedback. To be responsive to the public, we've decided to revise the spot and temporarily pulled it from rotation," FedEx spokeswoman Carla Boyd told Hollywood.com today.

No date has yet been set for the launch of the revised ad, and Boyd remains tight-lipped on the monetary amount FedEx dished out for the rights to the "Oz" footage.

BBDO Worldwide, the ad agency that conceived and created the ad for FedEx, could not be reached for comment.

The Internet, meanwhile, has spoken. On Deja.com, a Netizen on the rec.arts.tv newsgroup had this to say about the FedEx clampdown: "[The ad] brings back those good old memories of college -- pot, nitrous oxide and *helium*?!? Please! If any ads should be pulled off the air, it should be those horrible David Arquette phone debacles."

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