Clipped From Arizona Republic
Bart Simpson ads fuel new controversy over network policy By BobWisehart McClatchy News Service Bart Simpson, that great Satan of the airwaves, is having a good summer: It's only June, and he's already goofed up a $20 million advertising campaign from Burger King. , NBC and ABC have refused to run ;a scries of Bart-gocs-to-Burger King ads because of the popularity of The Simpsons on the Fox network. ! The spots, part of a multimedia Burger King campaign starting next month, were OK'd by CBS. Of course, iFox happily will run them, too. " The ads don't mention the scries, but NBC has a standing policy of not accepting advertisements featuring characters from competing shows ;whilc they're in character, as if the animated Simpsons can be anything else but in character. ' ABC has more or less the same guidelines, but it isn't happy watching several million dollars fly out the "window and says that it's rethinking Ihe whole thing. Although there is a real question "ibout how much a network can allow jtsclf to "cross-promote other networks' shows," ABC Vice President Harvey Zodin also wonders, "Arc we J)cing penny-wise and pound-foolish?" :2nd case of Bart-bashing This is the second case of Bart-bashing this year, even if you don't count the entire national educational '.establishment, which doesn't like the ;idca of an underachieving hedgerow -head like little Bart turning into a "national hero. T. For some reason, it found particularly irksome a T-shirt with Bart 'proclaiming, "Underachicver and "proud of it." ; Ncstlc's, which makes Butterfinger candy bars, also ran afoul of the vague guidelines regarding competing characters and programs. The Butterfingcr-Simpsons com-"nicrcial is seen on CBS, Fox and !:MTV, to name a few. ABC rejected it outright, and NBC did the same thing in a retroactive way. It aired the spot a few times. Then, as The Simpsons exploded in popularity, the network yanked the spot. '. NBC flatly denies that cither decision had anything to do with the ballyhoocd competition this fall between The Simpsons and The Cosby Show, when they go head to head at 8 p.m. on Thursdays. It isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened. '..Willard Scott zinged !; ABC and CBS recently rejected a ; Maxwell House coffee commercial featuring Today weatherman Willard Scott. The ad featured Scott as he JWMJUUMWIWWU H UjUHJ VII I I J. Bill Cosby Can sell almost anything if he does not do it as Cliff Huxtable, his Cosby character. Bart Simpson 'Underachiever' is goofing up Burger King's ad campaign. often is seen on Today, out in the middle of the country jabbering away at the local residents. A few years ago, during that dark and awful time when Dynasty was one of the most popular series on television, Linda Evans and John Forsythe ran into trouble with a scries of commercial spots that had them peddling perfume and cologne while in character as Krystlc and Blake Carrington. NBC, which is at least consistent, rejected those ads, too. Ironically, the one commercial pitchman who is immune to all of this is NBC's own Bill Cosby, who's constantly on the air selling everything from pudding to snow tires. The critical clement is having an identity that preceded the scries, which, of course, the Simpsons didn't have but Cosby did. Cosby has latitude For instance, ABC says Cosby could sell just about anything he wanted as long as he didn't do it as Dr. Cliff Huxtable ("I'm not a real doctor, but I play one on TV . . ."). The real test of how devoted NBC and ABC arc to these "no-compcti-tors-nced-apply" rules will come this fall, when the New Kids on the Block and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles each get network scries at the same time they kick in with new product lines leading into the Christmas buying orgy. The New Kids on the Block will have a Saturday morning scries on ABC, while the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who already have a syndicated scries, get another one Saturday morning on CBS. Both of them have identities that were established before the scries, but how is a commercial supposed to feature, say, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle that's out of character? "I'm not a real Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but I play one on TV . . ."