Retailers try to make April 15 less taxing

•Restaurants. Chicago's Pops For Champagne will host a 1040 Tax Relief Celebration. Among the deals: Three sparkling wines that normally range from $15 to $30 a glass will be offered at $10.40 each. Guests who drop by at 10:40 p.m. on April 15 can pick up a $10.40 gift certificate to the restaurant.

Tristan in Charleston, S.C., will host a Toast to Better Times celebration on April 15. A post-office receipt or online filing confirmation will get guests a free glass of champagne.

•Massage providers. Two Grand Rapids, Mich., therapeutic massage services — HealthPath and Stress Less Massage Clinic — will set up shop at the post office on April 15 and offer free back massages to stressed-out filers.

Both companies will have a lot of opportunity to showcase how massage reduces tension. "People don't want to give their money to (Uncle) Sam," says HealthPath owner Donna Greenman.


A Rolling Stone gathers luxury luggage

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards isn't exactly a GQ model, but fashion-focused Louis Vuitton put an Annie Leibovitz portrait of the wrinkled rocker on a billboard in London and soon coming to the USA, along with print ads. The subtle plug: Richards plays his guitar in a hotel room, and a guitar case with an LV logo sits next to him on the bed. The theme: "Some journeys cannot be put into words." It's the lux luggage maker's latest ad in a series highlighting notable "personal journeys," says Laurent Janneau of Vuitton ad agency Ogilvy & Mather Paris. Other notables include Mikhail Gorbachev and actress Catherine Deneuve.

Its first TV and cinema ad is just as subtle. It began Feb. 15 and will show in 13 languages worldwide. "Life is a journey" is the theme of 90 seconds of moody images and words about journeys, set to guitar music by Gustavo Santaolalla, an Oscar winner for film scores for Brokeback Mountain and Babel. The only overt brand pitch is the Louis Vuitton Web address at the close.

False ad claims nothing to sneeze at

Airborne herbal tablets, once advertised as a cold remedy, agreed last week to a $23 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in California by the Center for Science in the Public Interest that charged that the marketing claims could not be supported.

The deal calls for refunds of average retail prices of $2.75 to $10.50 to buyers from May 2001 through November 2007. It also calls for Airborne to buy ads about the refund program in Better Homes & Gardens, Parade, People, Newsweek and other magazines and newspapers. The Federal Trade Commission and 24 state attorneys general are continuing to investigate Airborne's marketing.

Recycled ads for recycling

Sony Electronics wants to help eco-conscious consumers recycle their outdated electronics and buy some shiny new gadgets (Sony, of course). The company has teamed with Waste Management Recycle America to host "recycling events" nationwide to collect dusty computers, VCRs, fax machines and other devices of yore.

To get the word out, Sony will recycle old ads showing clunky gear from the 1980s. "We're recycling our old commercials to remind you to recycle your old electronics," says Stuart Redsun, senior vice president of corporate marketing. The ads haven't been picked yet, but Redsun jokes they could "show a camcorder that is probably as big as your car."

Boom — or bust

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