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Madison Ave. Mythology

August 22, 1988

What do Alka-Selzer, Green Giant Co., Kellogg and American Express have in common? As of tomorrow, they will all have advertising characters on display at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Mythology.

American Express is donating $10,000 to the museum so that its Roman Centurion, the helmeted character who graces American Express credit cards and travelers checks, can join such advertising icons as Speedy Alka-Seltzer, the Jolly Green Giant and Snap, Crackle and Pop in the museum's quirky galleries.

The Centurion will be inducted at a ceremony at the posh Hotel Donatello. The museum itself occupies a seedy space south of Market, where its second display is devoted to "100% Polyester Men's Fashion Shirts of the Seventies."

Up on What's Down

Those who rest their heads on down-filled pillows can sleep easier tonight--Justin G. Puerta is looking out for you. The Sacramento County deputy district attorney is the state's point man in the enforcing regulations on duck and goose down-filled products.

Last week, Puerta's efforts led May Co. and J. W. Robinson's department store chains to pay a total of $136,400 in fines for misleading consumers that pillows contained 100% down when they really didn't. In the past 2 1/2-years, retailers--such as Mervyn's and J. C. Penney--have been fined about $1 million in similar cases, Puerta says. It's a real feather in his cap. (We'll leave the many other puns to you).

Save Every Shred of Evidence

Northrop's effort to eliminate excess paper work, known internally as "Operation Roundfile," has hit a snag--namely a federal grand jury investigation into the company's South Korean business deals.

A recent memo from Northrop President Kent Kresa advised all salaried employees: "Documents related to Korean activities are expressly to be exempted from the company's routinely conducted paper reduction program." Kresa told the employees that any materials in their possession that are related to Northrop's Korean business deals must be retained "until further notice."

Minority in the Minority

Southern California may be the Fertile Crescent for franchise operators. But is it fertile ground for minority franchisees?

Black Enterprise magazine tells how operators rate when it comes to the number of black franchisees. Baskin-Robbins of Glendale leads the Southern California franchisers, with 35 black-owned units out of a total 2,500.

Still, other chains had a greater share of their units run by blacks. According to the magazine, at Los Angeles' Dollar Rent-a-Car Systems, 22 of 500 units are operated by blacks; Irvine's Taco Bell, 14 out of 1,109; Master Protection Enterprises, an L.A.-based fire protection firm, 12 out of 98; San Diego's Jack in the Box, 10 of 302; Sir Speedy Printers in Laguna Hills, 7 of 840, and L.A.'s Postal Instant Press, 7 of 1,167.

Irvine's Century 21 Real Estate, the magazine said, declined to report the number of black franchisees.

For Political Hot Potatoes

Consultants Michael Berman and Carl D'Agostino have angered many recently, but the pair probably retain the affection of potholder makers. Berman and D'Agostino, in hot water for controversial political advice to L.A. City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, have purchased at least 12 million potholders over the years.

Imprinted with a candidate's name, the potholders show up in mailboxes of thousands of voters. D'Agostino recalls first mailing potholders during a 1968 state Assembly campaign by Ken Cory, now state controller. "A potholder is an item that a lot of people appreciate. It does not get thrown out with the next trash."

D'Agostino, who won't reveal his source for potholders, says recent controversy will have no affect on potholder buying. "I doubt that any of the publicity we have gotten will seriously affect the potholder market price."

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