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Folgers Manhole Ads Clever, But...Oooooh ooooh, that smell.

Posted by: David Kiley on May 2, 2006


There’s a great line from “Barbarians At The Gate,” the story of the takeover of RJR Nabisco. CEO Ross Johnson is presented with RJR’s latest creation, the smokeless cigarette. He says it “tastes like shit.” And then as he’s trying to figure out what the smell is like, the scientist helps him out by suggesting, “a fart.” Johnson winces, “Tastes like shit and smells like a fart. Put that on a &^%$# billboard, huh?”

So, it is with dismay that I have to question the minds at Saatchi & Saatchi, proponent of turning brands in “Lovemarks” when they crafted a helluva clever ad idea by turning manhole covers that emit a plume of steam into ads that look like steaming cups of Folgers. The trouble here in New York, dubbed UrineTown by playwrite Greg Kotis for the odor that comes from the city’s underground through manholes and subway stations, is that those steaming cups of manholes smell like the coffee’s gone off.

Like I said…helluva nice try and clever idea. But execution is everything.



News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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