Marketers turn up 'toons in holiday ads

"We didn't want to go the expected route," says Susan Credle, executive creative director at AT&T ad agency BBDO New York.

She believes the ad stands out because viewers think, "Wow, I wouldn't have expected AT&T to go there."

NEW & NOTABLE

Here's looking at you, kid.

Health provider Kaiser Permanente appeals to the heart and funny bone in a new TV ad promoting healthy habits for kids.

The spot features adorable 5-year-old Pete Wiggins in a pint-sized business suit. He confesses: "In my younger days I made lots of mistakes." He recalls his "drinking" problem (too many soft drinks) and "bad habits" (chips and doughnuts). But as the scene changes to a T-ball game, he declares, "Now I'm older, I take better care of myself."

His cuteness earned him a spot in the Jan. 1 Rose (Bowl) Parade, as well as a recent appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He confessed to Ellen, "I love Cheetos." The spokes-kid also showed his healthy side, however, by doing push-ups on the stage.

Seeing red over the Bull.

A Catholic priest in Sicily was none too joyous over a holiday ad for Red Bull energy drink that aired in Italy. The animated ad showed a fourth Wise Man bringing the gift of Red Bull to a baby Jesus. The other three Wise Men show up with the expected frankincense, gold and myrrh. The priest wrote that it was offensive.

The ad is off the air, but not because of the priest's protest, says Patrice Radden, U.S. spokeswoman for Austria-based Red Bull. It was scheduled to end, she says, but adds that Red Bull didn't "mean to offend anyone or hurt any religious feelings."

"What we do is take well-known stories, facts or real-life situations and look at them with a twinkle in the eye," she says.

Reel 'em in with cash.

Pro-fishing tournament organizer FLW Outdoors is casting for more recreational and sport-fishing fans. The gill group has created an online fantasy-fishing competition in which participants create their own "team" by ranking pro anglers. Free sign-up at FantasyFishing.com begins on Dec. 21, but players make their picks until January.

As bait, FLW is offering a boatload of prizes. The biggie: $5 million for the person who signs up before Dec. 28 and picks the top seven anglers of any tournament in order. If there are multiple winners, they'll divvy up the dough.

Great gift, hard to wrap.

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but as holiday gifts, cars beat the sparklers for her — and for him, too — according to a survey by AutoTrader.com.

Among women, 85% made a new car their top choice vs. 13% who wanted diamonds. For the guys, a new ride topped hard-to-score Super Bowl tickets as a gift by 92% to just 6%.

Sounded like a good idea at the time.

Brandweek magazine just announced results of its annual reader poll for best and worst brand extensions (putting a well-known brand name on additional products).

Named most inappropriate was a brand-licensing deal between the maker of a famous brand of teardrop-eyed collectible dolls and a funeral supplier: "Precious Moments Coffins."

They are the real thing. And for the cremation-inclined, there are also precious urns.

By Laura Petrecca and Theresa Howard

ASK THE AD TEAM

Q: I traveled through JFK Airport on Thanksgiving weekend and was mesmerized by the Xbox 360 ad I saw along the moving walkway. I know the music is from a famous symphony or song. Any chance you know the name?

A: Universal McCann, San Francisco, which created the 7,000-square-foot ad, says the music is Flower Duet from the opera Lakmé, created by Léo Delibes in 1883.

The clip runs in a continuous loop and lasts 75 seconds — about the time for a passenger to pass through the 600-foot corridor.

The music also was used in recent British Airways advertising, as well as in the movies The American President and Meet the Parents.

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