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As If

It's a Short Walk, Indeed, From Political Office to Madison Ave.

April 04, 2001|MARTIN MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Bob Dole, the 1996 GOP presidential nominee, stood up for erectile dysfunction, America cheered. And now that he's in a recliner watching Britney Spears twist and shout for Pepsi, advertisers are cheering too.

The medium and the message are clear. Public servants no longer have to suffer from a lamentable medical ailment to star in a television commercial--they just have to want a pile of money.

Here are some of the television commercials that are just waiting to happen:

* Elizabeth Dole, former Cabinet member and presidential candidate, to be featured in a Coca-Cola campaign. The ad will star the Backstreet Boys, who will abruptly disrobe in front of Dole as she sips a Coke and bathes in a hot tub.

"Down girl," Dole reportedly tells her pet cat, Princess, as the pop heartthrobs perform a forbidden dance of lust and temptation.

* Berlitz is courting George W. Bush for its ad series "English as a First Language." The Princeton-based language instruction company has sought the 43rd president ever since he told the New York Times: "The California crunch really is the result of not enough power-generating plants and then not enough power to power the power of generating plants."

Berlitz wants to place Bush in a total immersion program for 30 days. "It'll be bewildering for him at first with people speaking coherent English," said a Berlitz official. "But I'm confident the education president will pass a literacy test afterward."

* Gov. Gray Davis is close to signing a multimillion-dollar deal with booksellers Barnes & Noble. Preliminary ads call for Davis to read a bestseller by candlelight in the governor's mansion. "I'm in the dark here," the education governor reportedly says in the campaign. "But nothing is going to stop me from taking a really cold bath and curling up by a fire with a good book."

* Former President Bill Clinton and Big Mouth Billy Bass, the amazing battery-operated singing fish, are finally joining forces. In television ads, the education ex-president will sing along with the wall-mounted fish to the old favorites "I Beg Your Pardon" and "Brickhouse."

Though sales of the faddish fish slowed after the holidays, company officials believe Clinton's endorsement will boost sales in their core consumer markets--fishing enthusiasts and the "morons who watch the 'Jerry Springer Show.' "

* Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), who claims to have struck out Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Gordie Howe on the same day, will become the official spokesman for major league baseball. The 98-year-old politician hopes to reinvigorate the national pastime and make a ton of easy money flapping his gums. "I'm still full of beans," said Thurmond, who will also play Bob Dole's father in an upcoming Pepsi ad co-starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

* Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will launch an ad campaign in support of her newly opened stereo outlet, located off the Santa Ana Freeway in Anaheim. Her slogan: "DiFi's HiFi's off I-5."

* Former Vice President Al Gore will start "trying harder" as the new multimillion-dollar pitchman for Avis Rent-a-Car. The failed Democratic presidential candidate will be shown behind the wheel of a rental car carrying Ralph Nader (not wearing a seat belt), Michael Dukakis (wearing a tank commander's helmet) and Bob Dole (with Britney Spears in his lap).

* Vice President Dick Cheney will become the first-ever national concurrent spokesman for Chevron, Mobil and Exxon. Cheney, who earlier rejected the Pepsi ad with Spears fearing it would lead to another "heart episode," will encourage Americans to buy huge automobiles and take frequent--and very long--driving trips.

* Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) will soon be better known as "the First Lady of Joe's Big & Tall & Short & Fat Clothing Store for Men in Queens." The senator is well-acquainted with the clothing store as her brother, Hugh, is a regular patron of the "Short & Fat" side of the business, with the emphasis on fat. The senator fully expects her husband, Bill, to be visiting the same side of the store, with the same emphasis, after a few months of retirement.

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