The Tennessee state park system thought its first new commercial in years was a sure winner: a montage of happy park visitors hiking, picnicking, enjoying natural scenery and throwing a football.
But now, officials say, the state is being forced to edit the ad to replace the football tossing because of a similar image being endlessly repeated in commercials for the erection-enhancing drug Levitra.
“We had a scene of a man and woman throwing a football around, including a shot of them throwing the ball through a tire hanging from a tree,” says Betsy Child, the commissioner of the state Department of Environment and Conservation, which oversees state parks. “We shot the ads last summer, so we had no idea that by the time we wanted to start the ad campaign this spring the football-through-the-tire toss would have taken on a risqué meaning.”
While the state ad uses the ball toss as part of a series of quick shots, the Levitra ad, which has been endlessly repeated since the Viagra competitor came on the market last fall, uses a middle-aged man’s ability to throw the football through the tire as a not-even-close-to-subtle image highlighting the drug’s purpose.
“You don’t have to be Fellini to figure that out,” says Edd Applegate, head of the advertising department at MTSU’s School of Mass Communication. “Mike Ditka did it in the Super Bowl ad, and I hear from my students that 'put the football through the tire’ has even entered the language as a jocular euphemism for sex.”
All this couldn’t have come at a worse time for state parks, which once advertised frequently statewide, but have recently cut back because of tight budgets.
“We scraped together enough money to make this commercial, and now we’re having to spend more money to reshoot and edit part of it,” Child laments.
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