No Truth in Advertising


Two Ogilvy & Mather executives have received prison sentences of 14 and 18 months, respectively, for overbilling the government. Since they worked on the government's anti-drug ads, overbilling was only a small part of the fraud they perpetrated.

[Thanks to NORML's Allen St. Pierre for the tip.]


NEXT: A Strange Hybrid

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  1. the indictment accused them of ordering employees to alter time sheets and other documents to make up for a shortfall in anticipated revenue from the account.

    If only we could indict politicians when they overcharge taxpayers and alter billing to “make up for a shortfall in anticipated revenue”.

  2. Speaking of overbilling investigations, what happened to Stormin Norman Coleman’s investigation of the Oil for Food program?

    The entire subject seems to have fallen into a black hole after George Galloway handed Norm his ass on national television.

    One would almost think the Senate investigation was conceived entirely as a Republican PR effort, and was dropped when it ceased to be effective.

  3. The Oil for Food investigation is still going on in the House in full force. It’s just been on the media back-burner for a while.

  4. Jail is where anyone aiding the drug war belongs.

  5. “It’s just been on the media back-burner for a while.”

    I wonder why that is.

  6. Government Money is habit-forming.

  7. “I wonder why that is.”

    It’s because there are typically only four burners to a stove, and half of them are in the back. That’s where the less-important cooking happens.

  8. Thanks, ed. Did the Oil for Food scandal somehow become less important after Galloway’s testimony?

  9. I work in advertising myself, and a couple of days ago my boss was talking about making us all take drug tests: anybody found to be drug-free would be fired.

  10. I work for the government, and there’s a pricey caffeine dealer operating in the building across from my lab.

    If they ever give me a drug test I will so totally test positive for an addictive stimulant from Colombia.

    Oh, wait, my preferred stimulant is legal. Never mind.

  11. It’s poetic justice. They rode on the tiger’s back and wound up in its stomach!

  12. Speaking of advertising, the RIGHTTALK.COM advertisement is both funny and nauseating. Laura Bush in uniform and Paul “I’d Like To Imprison Gay People” Weyrich bunched together does that.

  13. I work in advertising myself, and a couple of days ago my boss was talking about making us all take drug tests: anybody found to be drug-free would be fired.

    Evidently I’m doing design for the wrong place.

    /In Colorado the drug of choice goes by the street name “Jebus”

  14. Mediageek-
    In all honesty, my boss is THE coolest guy on the planet to work for. Next Thursday the whole office is going canoeing on company time.

    If they’re ever looking for another graphic designer, want me to give you a call? It would be worth the move to Connecticut.

  15. “Since they worked on the government’s anti-drug ads, overbilling was only a small part of the fraud they perpetrated.”

    Okay, not to fawn too much, but that line fucking rocks!!

  16. Hey mediageek, are you in Colorado?

  17. mediageek,

    Colorado is where Paul Weyrich got his start. You also have that scumbag organization “Focus on the Family” there.

  18. “Hey mediageek, are you in Colorado?”

    Lots of poster here are in Colorado. I think I’ve counted at least four or five, not including myself.

  19. Sorry, I was channeling Yoda when I wrote that. Should have read: Lots of the posters here are in Colorado.

  20. SR,

    A shitpile of “social conservatives” Colorado it has.

  21. SR,

    Cool. Well then, there’s you, me, fyodor and who else?

  22. Jennifer,
    Since you are in marketing, I thought I would pose this question. If you, or anyone for that matter, are offered a paid position to create anti-drug ads for the government, would you do it being the anti-WOD person that you are?

    I am pretty sure I couldn’t. I am not one to refuse a good paying job, but I would also have live with myself at the end of the day knowing that I firmly believe no one should be criminalized for smoking pot. Plus, endorsing bad government policies doesn’t sit well in my stomach.

  23. A shitpile of “social conservatives” Colorado it has.

    In that, among American states, it is hardly unique. The only reason I stay in FL is the climate.

  24. Isaac Bertram,

    Some states have smaller shitpiles of conservatives. I’m moving back down South in about a month. The one thing I’ve liked about New England is the lack of effort put into saving my immortal soul by the population at large. That will change once I’m in North Carolina.

  25. Correction:

    …smaller shitpiles of social conservatives.

  26. s.a.m.-

    One could always create an ad that looks nice on the surface but has all sorts of embedded stoner jokes and references.

  27. Colorado also has a strong libertarian streak. We have TABOR, which we now must defend!

  28. Thoreau-

    Only if the bureaucrats are the only one’s to review it and approve it. However, I am sure there are few socially conservative groups (ie Parents for a Drug Free America) who will no doubt have a say. Those are the one’s who will say, “hey, wait a minute, we don’t want the children thinking its all fun and games when you smoke that stuff.”

  29. s.a.m.-

    That’s why you have to be careful to make the jokes non-obvious.

    Here’s an idea: The theme is something along the lines of “Real Heroes are Drug Free!” (Sounds dorky, but so do most anti-drug slogans, and I’m sure an advertising person could tweak it.) Show Spider-Man swinging on his web, rescuing Mary Jane, and in the background work in the number 420. (Maybe a clock?)

  30. Sam-
    I haven’t been here long enough to afford to make a stand on principle, so what would happen is I would do it, but I would do a really, really crappy job. My taglines would be along the lines of “Don’t smoke pot because you’ll go to jail and prison is bad for your health.”

    However, I highly doubt my boss would accept such a client anyway.

  31. What about my idea, Jennifer? An allegedly drug-free superhero going to great lengths to acquire Mary Jane/MJ at 4:20?

  32. Actually, Thoreau and Sam, the more I think about it the more I would LIKE to get such an assignment; I would write ads that tell the truth:

    “Don’t do drugs or else you’ll go to jail, and prison is bad for your health.”

    “Want to go to college? Then don’t do drugs–drug users are the only criminals who are forbidden to apply for federal financial aid.”

    “Drug users get longer prison sentences than rapists. Be smart–don’t smoke Mary Jane; rape her!”

  33. My anti-drug campaign? Lock people in a room with Courtney Love for a couple hours. That, or force children to listen to my stoner friends talk about that one time they got really stoned.

  34. Ever see the video for Ministry’s “Just One Fix?”

    Uh uh. No way. I don’t care if I can get a ride in Al Jourgenson’s car while I’m kicking.

    Not. Gaah. Doo-ah.

  35. If they’re ever looking for another graphic designer, want me to give you a call? It would be worth the move to Connecticut.

    Yeah, that’d be swell. My email address is real. If need be, I can also snail mail a demo reel to your company. (I don’t yet have a print portfolio as I’ve just recently made the jump from video to print. But it wouldn’t be hard to put one together.)

    Though getting back to that honesty thing, my immediate boss is a pretty cool guy, and the owner of the company doesn’t understand what I do, so he just leaves me alone.

    Hey mediageek, are you in Colorado?

    Yep. Colorado Springs.

    Colorado is where Paul Weyrich got his start. You also have that scumbag organization “Focus on the Family” there.

    I do some freelance work on the side- 3d animation, motion design, stuff like that. Guess who one of my current clients is…

    Lots of poster here are in Colorado. I think I’ve counted at least four or five, not including myself.
    Despite the recent influx of right-wing idealogues, Colorado still strikes me as fairly pro-liberty. Much more so than some midwestern states like Indiana.

  36. Speaking of Colorado, did anyone else notice how the Air Force religion scandal dropped out of the news immediately after the Air Force released that report?

    Imagine that, if you admit to the problem, examine it honestly and thoroughly, and plan the necessary steps to solve it, the evil media will lose interest! Who woulda thunk it?

  37. I realize I misread Sam’s earlier question; I thought he was asking if I would write anti-drug ads at my current company, when apparently he wanted to know if I would take a full-time anti-drug job working straight for the government. To which I say, HELL no.

  38. Jennifer?

    What if you were in a financial state where you could afford to get fired, would you take a government job and do some “anti”-drug ads that prominently featured the number 420?

    Not that this will ever happen (wrong specialty) but if NIH asked me to do an anti-drug study I’d fill the report with innuendos. “We used 420 test subjects….” Invent acronyms that come out as BUD or BONG or HASH or GANJA or something similar. Report the weight of the patients in stones (British unit) rather than kilograms. Just generally do everything to rub their noses in it.

    Hmm, maybe I need to write a research proposal… 😉

  39. Thoreau–

    Oh, hell, yes. Right this second, I’m only a couple of years away from meeting my major financial goals and I don’t want to pull the rug out from under me in the meantime, but once I’ve homeless-proofed myself for life I would DEFINITELY do it. And not just with Spider-Man and his Mary Jane, either. Anti-steroid ads featuring Popeye and his magic spinach would be a good start, don’t you think?

  40. How about an ad with a cop lecturing kids on the dangers of ephedra? Make sure it’s a cop who needs to lose some weight.

    Anti-speed ads where everybody is holding a cup of coffee.

    Anti-cocaine ads with George W. Bush prominently displayed. Maybe a message about how cocaine use will ruin your chances of succeeding in life.

    Tell you what: I’ll do the research (420 test subjects, slang acronyms up the wazoo), you do the press releases.

    If the feds insist on spending money to produce propaganda, let’s subvert the system so that the propaganda is at least humorous!

  41. For my own good, I should probably emphasize that the previous post was intended as a joke. You never know who’s reading these things. I would never use NIH funds to produce humor. Not only would it be unethical, I also have a career to build, and pouring my efforts into a big joke wouldn’t exactly enhance my CV.

    Now, back to my idea for improving confocal microscopy…

  42. Thoreau-
    If we combined your powers with mine, we could remake the entire world in our image. And if we each left our houses now, we could meet at a halfway point in less than three hours. Let’s go for it.

    I call dibs on Australia.

  43. Do you have any particular starting point in mind for remaking the world in our image?

    I’m going to test some of my own devious powers of persuasion next week: My key card still hasn’t been activated. I’m going to go find the person who actually activates the card and get him to actually do it. I’ll be armed with the phone number of the person who has to tell him to do it (she swears that the request has already been issued). I’ll also be armed with decadently good cookies. If I can do this one, I can do anything.

  44. Well, Thoreau, like most people who want to remake the world, I haven’t actually thought the details through. And I’ll admit that talking about changing the world in “our” image overlooks the fact that you’re basically a thoughtful, insightful, kindhearted phianthropist, whereas I’m a thoughtful, insightful, misanthropic bitch. But basically, I’d just fix things so that it is impossible for anybody to discuss or influence policy without themselves being impacted by said policy.

    So if you’re one of those folks talking about how Abu Ghraib is just a big ol’ fraternity house, you’ll be surgically altered to give you an Arab complexion, and your voice box altered to give you an Arab accent (and find it impossible to pronounce the syllables “Jesus” or “God,” in lieu of “Allah,”), and then you can spend the next four years pledging said frat. Want to outlaw the use of marijuana or opium for sick people in pain? Then you’ll be given bone cancer, and a free bottle of Advil to deal with the pain. (I know that hard-core libertarians will oppose spending tax money on Advil for people who can buy it on their own, but this is MY dream-world, not theirs, so fuck ’em.) Thought Kelo was a great decision? Then your house will be converted into a microchip factory or day spa for the wealthy or some other tax-generating entity (for the public good, of course). Support the war in Iraq? Then you can either go fight it yourself, or pay a personalized, extra-large tax bill to cover the costs. Support affirmative action? Then you, personally, can give up your job to somebody whose ancestry differs significantly from your own.

    And so forth. No more of this garbage of making decisions which drastically effect other people but don’t touch you at all. The beauty of my plan is that this will give people not only the courage of their convictions, but the ability to say that they’ve really, really thought them through. If you think Abu Ghraib’s treatment of innocents is necessary for American security DESPITE the fact that you yourself are one of those going through the meat grinder, or if you oppose medical marijuana despite the fact that you personally would benefit by it, or support Kelo even though your own home has vanished. . . well, now you can explain why and have a HELL of a lot more credibility.

    Or we can just try ending the drug war and reducing regulations and taxes and such. I’m pretty flexible, here.

  45. Does that go both ways? Would people who supported an end to the drug war be given a dimebag, tie-dye t-shirt and Phish compilation CD?

  46. A DIME bag, mediageek? Damn, boy, you’ve set your sights awful low.

  47. Jennifer-

    So, one way to combine our talents for your ideas would be for me to invent something and start a company. We can request to build the factory on property owned by one of the Supreme Court Justices who voted in the majority on the Kelo decision, and you can do the ad campaign in support of this ED taking.

  48. Another thing we could do is become the evil genius behind some stupid guy who looks good on TV, and ride him all the way to high elected office.

    The only problem is I’m not much of a rundraiser. We’d need to add somebody with those skills to our triumvirate.

  49. EDIT:

    “…evil geniused…”

  50. DOH!!! Long day of canoeing.

    One more try:

    “…evil geniuses…”

  51. *looks down, twirls toe of tennis shoe in the dirt.*


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