Truth in Advertising

The New York Times business section today brings us news of an unconventional ad campaign for the city of Houston that “relies on descriptions of urban afflictions and images of giant mosquitoes and cockroachs” to convey a sense of how Houston is not only “worth it” all, but is beloved by many residents.

Financed in part of Michael Zilkha (identified by The Times as a “wealthy wind-energy entrepreneur,”) the tongue-in-cheek ads are the product of an unconventional three-man Houston ad agency that calls itself ttweak, and they boast that the city (which is essentially a paved-over swamp) is afflicted with plagues ranging from enough pollen to choke a horse to air so fetid that it can’t be breathed.

Leading us to speculate: What if ttweak were let loose on the presidential campaign? We can just imagine.

“Vote for Bush: Ignorant! Stubborn! Deer caught in the headlights! Declared war on own people! Can’t find undisclosed locations of either Cheney or bin Laden!”

“Vote for Kerry: Looks like cartoon character! Takes six sides of every issue! Eats snails! Needs sidekick to stuff rag in his mouth before next faux pas! But, hey, how dumb can he be — he married 500 million bucks!”

Okay, we’ll concede that’s not the kind of approach we’re likely to get from either Kerry or Bush, or from their shadow supporters like and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

It’s better.


Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Steve Lovelady was editor of CJR Daily.