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Steve Carrell stars in The Office
Steve Carrell stars in The Office

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When a promotional stunt goes bad Add to ...

NBC’s sitcom The Office is beloved in marketing circles for its product placement, but this week we heard about a real-life promotional stunt that seemed to have been plucked straight from the workplace comedy. A sales manager at the Dell campus in Round Rock, Tex., evidently thought it would be cool to get a masked man to rampage through the office, ordering staff to head for the lobby. He was actually just trying to get people excited for the internal unveiling of the Dell Streak tablet. Mission accomplished, sort of: People were so excited, they called the cops. Charges were filed; prison sentences are possible. Any bets on how quickly that inspires an episode of Law & Order: SVU?

If that episode wins an Emmy, would the masked man get his own trophy? And if he did, would he keep it? Because this week Sean Ganann, a creative director at Toronto’s Zulu Alpha Kilo, tweeted a pair of pictures he says he snapped at the St. Lawrence flea market showing ad awards for sale that had been won by Young & Rubicam Toronto. Anyone with spare change could pick up a Clio, a Mobius, or a New York Festivals award. This reminds us of last November’s sale of awards by by the agency GJP , which was clearing house to prepare for a rebranding. Is this a growing trend of asceticism? We always hear it’s an honour to be nominated; who knew it was actually a burden to win?

Speaking of asceticism: in the race to outvirtue each other, green-oriented consumers have been embracing products and services powered by renewable energy. Now they can look to WindMade, a global labelling initiative aiming to help consumers know when they’re buying something powered by wind. Founding partners include the Danish wind power firm Vestas, Lego, Bloomberg, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and the World Wildlife Fund. But it’s not yet clear what they’re signing up for: buried in the fine print of this week’s announcement is the acknowledgment that standards are still being developed. Which means that, for the moment, the initiative may be powered more by hot air than by wind.

Here’s something that’s real: Newad, the Montreal-based agency that targets the “young and affluent” demographic, is intensifying its out-of-home reach with what it says is an investment of $8-million over three years to install more than 4,000 units of a new generation of small digital boards across the country. Those are the screens in the washrooms of restaurants and nightclubs that are in the business of distracting you while you’re doing your, um, business. The new LCD screens measure 22 inches and are equipped with stereo sound. So if your date doesn’t come back from the washroom, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean she’s in there doing coke; she may just be watching ads for Coke.

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