New York: Stunned by the fallout from the Screen Writers Guild strike that threatens to make television an even-vaster wasteland, the networks have begun to consider asking advertising agencies to develop their own programming with non-union advertising copywriters.
The networks may consider promising that in turn for useable scripts, the ad agencies will be permitted to work generous plugs for their clients’ products into each show.
First the respond was an agency seeking to steal the AXE Deodorant account, currently at a different agency. The upstart agency put its best creative team on the job. Here are the first fruits of their fertile minds:
From: Axe Creative Team
To: Dave Whetstone, Creative Director
We’ve been working all weekend on these. We think they're really cool.
The Armpit Show: This one’s a real charmer, kind of kooky, kind of droll. It’s a sitcom about a family’s adventures and little conflicts, as told by their armpits.
Now don’t get grossed out, Dave. we don’t want to show real armpits. We're talking about sock puppet armpits. They can sniff each other, talk about stuff like body odor problems, and of course always turn to Axe Deodorant to solve their deepest problems.
Continuing characters might include Bob Armpit as Father, Melissa Armpit as Mother, Bart Armpit (or if that’s too close to the Simpsons we could change his name to Brad Armpit) as the teen-aged son, Madison Armpit as the Little Sister, and a nosy neighbor, Mrs. Grungy Pitts.
Armpits In The News: Dave, I really, really think this could be serious competition to the Daily Show. The idea is to get laughs about the news by taking the people in the headlines and zooming in on their armpits. Sometimes you’ll be able to show wet armpits, but just as important, we’ll be able to rate the probable wetness under their clothing by the tenseness of whatever situation they happen to be in, on a scale of 1 to 10.
For example, if Barry Bonds has to answer questions about steroids and starts to look a little bit sweaty, that's an eight. If George Bush gets asked a question and gets that deer-in-the-headlights look again, that’s a nine. If Jessica Simpson gets asked about her love life – well, I think you get the idea. I foresee this adding a new phrase to the American idiom, “This looks like a number 10 armpit moment.”
The Scent Of Love. No, no, no, Dave, this is not a show about people. It’s kind of a Nature Channel show that each week features the scent of a different animal or bug and how that scent leads these wonderful creatures to find each other and reproduce. I figure our target audience would be adolescents, who are interested in sex but who can watch this show as an excuse to do high school biology term papers and feel they’re learning something.
Of course, adolescence is when a lot of brand preferences for things like underarm deodorant get formed, so this is a perfect show for the Axe people. We could even give it an intellectual atmosphere with scientific experiments. For example, we could coat a female fruit fly with Axe and watch how she gets ignored by male fruit flies.
Smelly Friends. The idea is, we have this co-ed apartment in the middle of Manhattan with a cast of continuing characters that include a guy and gal who are in love with each other but don’t know it, two gay guys who are in love with each other but also don’t know it and only one of them knows he’s gay, a real trampy-looking blonde who’s always bringing home guys she picked up in a bar or on the subway, and her two kids by an annulled marriage.
The big idea is, because it’s a New York apartment it’s always too hot, and there’s no way of turning off the radiator, so of course body odor becomes the main issue in all their lives. We keep seeing how body odor affects their romances and career prospects and how Axe comes in from time to time to solve various lifestyle problems.
The Axe Factory would be a program about a factory that makes electric guitars, and the musicians that buy them. Each week we follow a new guitar from the factory as it makes its way into the life of a different musician.
We see musicians on the road, sweating on stage, climbing back into cramped busses and so on. We learn a lot of inside stuff about musicians – for instance, that they have problems with expensive costumes that they can’t afford to replace very often – and that’s why they worry a lot about sweat stains. We have the tensions that arise on the bus when one or more of the actors get a little gamy. And of course we see how all these tensions get resolved with the help of Axe deodorant.
Axe Me Anything. This is a show about hip hop America, and the growing role that Axe deodorant plays in it. Each week, various up-and-coming hip hop stars get called to the stage and told an anecdote about body odor and Axe deodorant. They must then immediately do a rap song about the anecdote. The idea is to see which of the contestants can come up with the coolest rap number about body odor and Axe.
The audience gets to vote by keying their cell phones, and only Axe consumers who have a special phone number printed on the side of their Axe Deodorant know how to call in and vote. I see this as a kind of cross-cultural, or maybe multi-cultural kind of viewing experience with African-American, Spanish-American, Asian-American Indian-American and of course Caucasian-American rappers all doing their different numbers, so we can appeal to the widest possible audience.
Actor’s Apprentice: A group of waitpersons working in a restaurant on the Upper West Side vie to understudy Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The audience votes via cell phone whether to keep the actors on or throw them off the show. Once again, only Axe Deodorant consumers will have the phone number.
The waitpersons have to sing, dance, do love scenes – and of course there’s this great tie-in to Axe. See, they’ll have to do a lot of running, climbing and other adventure-type scenes and then pass an armpit dryness test. Of course, only those waitpersons using Axe pass. The rest get told, “You’re fired, Stinky!” It’s a great way of demonstrating on camera the efficacy of the product
The Odornos: I don’t need to explain this one to you, Dave. It’s like the Sopranos, but with body odor.