Ad Track: Big red umbrella returns


The red umbrella is back as the Travelers trv logo in a big — really big — way in a 60-second TV ad for the insurance business. Citigroup c tried to make the 138-year-old icon an image for its whole company after the 1998 Citibank-Travelers merger. It even kept the logo after shedding the Travelers' insurance businesses. Last year, it gave up, rebranding itself "Citi" and selling the logo back to Travelers.

In the ad, a British-looking fellow in a bowler hat and vested suit uses his 35-foot red umbrella to shield children from the rain, to be a ferry boat for stranded circus workers and, Mary Poppins-style, to fly home a boy and girl whose bicycle broke down. In the end, he returns to a Travelers office.

The message brings the umbrella back to insurance: Travelers is "there when you need it."

Slighting Sarah.

Thanks to a Universal Pictures ad campaign, women named Sarah Marshall have been getting an earful of trash talk. Thousands of outdoor ads have gone up in cities to plug upcoming movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall about a guy dumped by — you know it — a woman named Sarah Marshall. The posters have sayings such as "My mom always hated you Sarah Marshall," and "You do look fat in those jeans Sarah Marshall."

Sarah Marshall Russ, who lives in Austin — where ads were not even posted — has been asked by friends if her ex-husband was behind the posters. As for use of her maiden name: "I think they should give me a free pass."

Sarah Marshalls get relief this week. Signs are coming down as the campaign moves to a new phase, says marketing and distribution President Adam Fogelson.

Pretty in pink Mustang.

Ford f is accelerating its effort for breast cancer education and research. It will double its contribution to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to $500 for each 2009 version of its special "Warriors in Pink" Mustangs ordered by a dealer.

Ford rolled out the latest Warriors-theme Mustang — which goes on sale this summer — at last month's New York auto show. Because of response to the 2008 version, "We knew we needed to continue offering the package, and we're happy to be able to increase our support for the Cure," Connie Fontaine, experiential marketing manager, said in a statement.

The Mustang V-6 Premium coupe or convertible comes in black, silver or white and has its own grille, pink striping and "Pony" badge. Inside, the mats have a pink ribbon symbol, and the leather seats and wheel have pink stitching. The price has not been set, but the 2008 Warriors model ranges from about $26,000 to $28,000, depending on options.

Last year, Ford sold 1,321 cars to dealers, donating $330,250. Ford says the company and its dealers have made more than $95 million in cash and in-kind contributions to the cause in the past 14 years.

Pass the pancakes.

Mrs. Butterworth is back, with new ads that show the anthropomorphic bottle chatting about her syrup's "buttery" taste. Owner Pinnacle Foods is footing those ad bills, but the first lady of pancakes has also been getting free publicity of late. Mrs. Butterworth was mentioned in a Kanye West song and was featured in a TV ad for insurer Geico. She was also an answer in The New York Times' crossword puzzle, says Pinnacle President Bill Toler.

Trade-ins wanted.

"The best thing about fast food is the receipt," says the Ponderosa and Bonanza units of Metromedia Steakhouses. In exchange for any fast-food receipt, they're serving up special deals on all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner buffets through June.

Any fast-food receipt or coupon — or even a Ronald McDonald bag — will let folks pay just five bucks for lunch buffet (normally $7) and $8 for dinner buffet (normally $10) says Sheryl Randolph, marketing chief,

For those who refuse to frequent fast-food joints — even to get documentation — the steak chains offer another way to take advantage of this deal: Customers can print out a simulated fast-food receipt at

Oy vey!

American Apparel's penchant for "provocative" advertising has provoked actor Woody Allen to file a lawsuit against the retailer. The lawsuit claims that an unauthorized picture of Allen, in his Hasidic rabbi role from the movie Annie Hall, was displayed on New York City and Hollywood billboards and on the Web. With the image were Yiddish words that translate as "the Holy Rebbe." Seeking more than $10 million in damages, the lawsuit says the billboards "expressly, impliedly and falsely states that Allen sponsors, endorses and is associated with AAI (American Apparel)."

"We sincerely regret" offending Allen, American Apparel says in a statement. The images weren't meant to sell garments, but instead to be "a social parody." It will work to resolve this "in an amicable way."

By Laura Petrecca and Bruce Horovitz


Q. I am desperate to find out (about the song) in the Bohemia ad on Rick Bayless' show Mexico, One Plate at a Time. I see it on PBS.

— Antonio Gomez, Albuquerque

A. The commercial music is by Mexican composer Rodrigo Barbera and was done by Mexico City production house Prado Sur. The ad has run only on that show for two years, says Tamara Moore, a spokeswoman for Heineken USA, which distributes Bohemia here for its Mexican maker, Femsa. "The music was written specifically for the spot, drawing inspiration from Mexican guitar masters."

Bohemia is back as a sponsor for the culinary show's sixth season, which began last month.

Q. Is there a way to find out who created certain commercials … similar to ending movie credits? I happen to be fixated on a Mercedes M-Class commercial in which they explain "most people will not" use the Mercedes in the extreme manner in which it's tested. The music sounds like something from an epic movie score.

— Brian Ward, Tampa

A. Unfortunately for commercial aficionados (not to mention the Ad Team), there's no one-stop clearinghouse for ad production credits. Trade journal sites such as Advertising Week sometimes give credits for ads they highlight. and sometimes YouTube are websites where you can research song titles and artists, though they're not comprehensive. Often, the only source is the advertiser, and even that can fail for work from years past.

The music in the Mercedes-Benz ad, says spokeswoman Donna Boland, was created just for the ad by New York music house Face the Music.

Agency Merkley+Partners calls the tune "refreshingly unlike the standard rock 'n' roll car ad. This Teutonic and operatic piece combines the elegance of a traditional choral chant with echoes of hip-hop."

The people in the ad include a Mercedes-Benz USA corporate employee and seven workers from the company's plant in Tuscaloosa County, Ala.

Q. Who does the pop/rock song in the latest Chevy Malibu TV ad? I've heard this song on the radio, and the DJs never announce the title or artist. It's wonderful, Smashing Pumpkins-style music.

— Kathleen Nishiyori, Auburn, Wash.

A. The song is Lazy Eye by Silversun Pickups. General Motors has been aggressively marketing its all-new Malibu since its November launch. The current ad, which shows a robotic assembly line, began airing during the NCAA men's basketball tournament, according to Mark Benner, a spokesman for ad agency Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich.