Monday, October 1, 2012

Beaver Tales

Spotted on Lincoln Blvd in Playa Del Rey, yesterday.

It's a new outdoor campaign for FX's American Horror Story. On bus shelters, the image of the nun in white is vertical. And notably less phallic. But stretched horizontally across the length of a billboard the penile resemblance is hard to miss.

Nor do I think it's by accident.

Having worked for more than 20 years with the distinctly juvenile characters in the Creative Department, I can tell you some art director is absolutely giddy that he, or she, was able to get this one out the door.

I also have no doubt there were other variations of this concept with the nun standing in patch of shrubbery or tumbleweed. I'll let you do the mental math.

How can I be so sure of my convictions?
Let's just say I know from which I speak.

Like many writers in this business I got my start doing the mundane stuff the senior staffers didn't want to touch. Here in Southern California, the automotive/motorcycle capitol of the world, that included many race win ads. These are nothing more than paid congratulations to sponsored racers at local car and motorcycle shows. Nobody reads these ads but the racer, the racer's mom, and the 20 or so junior clients trying to make a name for themselves in the marketing department.

One year, while working for Kawasaki motorcycles, I was tasked to honor Jeff Ward, who had managed to edge out his fellow 250cc dirt bike riders for some meaningless crown. It was his 22nd victory of the season.

And so, I wrote the following headline:

"Ward, you're being awfully hard on the boys."

At first glance you might assume this is just simple homage to a great 60's TV show, Leave it to Beaver. But at second glance, and with the help of the bolding tool, you will see that I cleverly buried a sexual innuendo right beneath the noses of some unsuspecting clients.

"Ward, you're being awfully hard on the boys."

Too subtle, you say. Consider this, in the original TV show, June Cleaver, the paradigm of pre-sexual revolution American momhood, was actually handed a script that read:

"Ward, you were being awfully hard on the beaver."

Those 9 words cleared network approval. And you can be sure that every time she uttered that phrase, and she said it quite often, there was a roomful of writers snickering and high-fiving each other as if they had scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

If you don't believe that, you haven't spent any time near a writer.

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