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Postal Panic

June 23, 1996|Steve Hochman

Sometimes a record promotion gimmick works just a little too well--as in the current campaign being waged by Columbia Records for the band Sponge's upcoming second album, "Wax Ecstatic." The idea was to create a big mystery for members of the rock press and others by sending anonymous packages containing items somehow tied to song titles.

But while most recipients were amused, if mystified, by the series of mailings--including such seemingly unconnected goodies as a chastity belt, a box of See's candy and a Ken doll dressed in drag--others were downright spooked. It seems that a few people on the list had been victims of harassment by ex-lovers or stalkers, and feared that this was a reprise.

Among those frightened was Susan Silver--Sponge's own manager, who is on Columbia's mailing list. She'd only been involved in early discussions about the promotion and had forgotten entirely about it when she opened a package in the mail and found a chastity belt.

"It scared the hell out of me," she says. "I really thought for a bit that someone was stalking me. But then when I saw the paper with the lyrics, I went, 'Oh, thank God.' "

Later mailings in the series sported a Columbia label to prevent further panic.

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