New 'Small 'n' Flaccid' Ad Campaign Least Successful Ever

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Issue 3105

Style Replaces Substance

In a change years in the making, style officially replaced substance Monday, tipping artistic balance of power from deep, meaningful expression to glossy, superficial artifice. "Form has finally assumed its rightful place as the driving force in the creative process," said Harv Nevitt of Style magazine. "No more time will be wasted on genuinely substantive content." Style is expected to reign supreme over substance until style itself becomes substance, when it will be replaced by an even more vacant form of style.

Government Squandering Social Security Funds On Cake

WASHINGTON, DC—An independent panel revealed Friday that Congress is squandering the nation's $80 billion Social Security reserves on cake. According to the panel report, some of the cake was served in "extra-large helpings," sparking outrage among taxpayers. Cake-related abuse of funds will be further investigated by a congressional subcommittee, headed by Sen. John Ashcroft (R-MO), who reportedly "does not like cake."

Paramount Home Video Pleased To Bring Man Feature Presentation

SOMERVILLE, MA—Paramount Pictures CEO Jerry Rubin announced Monday that his company is pleased to present Beverly Hills Cop 2 to Somerville-area home-video rental consumer Nathan DeGaetano, 36. Said Rubin, "I know I speak for everyone here at Paramount Pictures when I say that we are pleased to present this terrific Paramount Home Video release starring Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold to Mr. DeGaetano." Paramount will personally convey this sentiment to DeGaetano with a colorful, computer-generated image of a mountain and a professionally pre-recorded message immediately preceding the feature presentation.

Felt Board Adds Clarity To Christ's Teachings

WILMINGTON, NC—A felt board made the teachings of Jesus Christ clear and easy to understand for the sixth-graders attending Sunday school at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church Sunday. "The white block letters velcroed onto the felt board helped me to understand that I will burn in hell if I sin," said Brian Klesko, 12. Sunday school teacher Helene Hildebrant used the felt board because of the children's natural interest in both colorful objects and fuzziness. "I decided that the concepts of ritualized cannibalistic consumption of Christ's body and blood and the condemnation of all non-Christian peoples to eternal suffering in Hell would be easier for today's children to understand if presented in a fun and colorful medium such as a felt board."

I Don't Miss My Arms

It's been almost two years since the auto accident, but you know what? I don't miss my arms at all!

Gymnasts Are Hot!

My spectator event of preference would be the sport (perhaps even "art") of gymnastics. There is nothing in this world I prefer to a quiet afternoon sitting on my rattan sofa watching lithe nymphs express themselves through motion on the uneven bars. Their supple bodies wrap around the wooden bars and contort themselves in ways nature never intended. They are as fiexible as the branches of the fragile willow blown by a cruel wind.

Bob Dole To Build 'Trench To 19th Century'

RUSSELL, KS—In a bold refusal to face the challenges of life in the next millennium, former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole announced plans Monday to build "A Trench To The 19th Century." The trench, which will begin in the 73-year-old former Senator's backyard, will be dug with a common dirt shovel. "There are many new technologies, many exciting opportunities that await us in the next century," Dole told reporters at a backyard press conference. "And I will be digging a trench away from that progress, back into the 19th century." Dole added that he will not be leading the American people down this trench. "I will go alone," he said.

Important Man Angered By Inadequate Seating

NEW YORK—In what is being dubbed "a serious breach of importance-based table-placement protocol," a very important man was given inadequate lunchtime seating at Effendi's in downtown Manhattan Monday.

Clinton Holds Summit With Magic Turtle

WASHINGTON, DC—Crime, health care and campaign finance reform were the top issues on the agenda for President Clinton's breakfast meeting with a magic turtle at the White House Monday.

Rating The Adult Diapers

In my young days, I could shit like a draft horse. But now, I can only coax a thin, yellowish gruel from my feeble colon, often without warning. Thus, I must be swathed in an oversized diaper at all times.
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  • Father Apologizes For Taking Out Anger On Wrong Son

    ELIZABETH, NJ—Moments after losing his composure with an unwarranted emotional outburst, local father David Kessler reportedly apologized to his son Christopher Thursday for erroneously taking out his anger on him and not his older brother Peter.

New 'Small 'n' Flaccid' Ad Campaign Least Successful Ever

Chicago ad agency Meacham, Ellis & Young is the talk of the industry this week in the wake of the public's overwhelmingly negative reaction to its much-trumpeted, multimillion-dollar "Small 'n' Flaccid" advertising campaign for Merit cigarettes.

Onion AdWatch

Merit's failed 'Small 'n' Flaccid' campaign.

The $450 million ad blitz, the subject of the most intense pre-release media hype since last year's famous "Mmm-mmm, Mama, Show Me What'cha Got" campaign for Burger King, was expected to vault Merit to the top of the $800 billion cigarette industry.

Despite high expectations, the campaign and its slogan, "Merit—Makin' You Feel All Small 'n' Flaccid" has met with universal and complete failure.

"All our focus-group data and statistical analysis indicated a strong psychological reaction to the word 'flaccid' among 35- to 50-year-old males," said Meacham, Ellis & Young vice-president of research Arthur Kennedy. "We really believed limp and ineffectual was the way to go. I guess we really dropped the ball on this one."

As a result of the Small 'n' Flaccid campaign, sales of Merit brand cigarettes have not only failed to improve upon the brand's annual February average of 20,000,000 units per week, but totals have in fact plummeted to an all-time low of 12.

"That's not even cartons, that's 12 packs," clarified a report published Monday in Cigarette Sellers' Report, the leading tobacco industry journal.

Upon realizing its error, Meacham, Ellis & Young implemented several last-minute changes to the failing campaign in an effort to prop up sales. However, despite adding slogans such as "Merit—Love That Limply Dangling Taste"; "Merit—When You're Too Big A Pussy To Smoke Anything Else"; and "Your Tiny, Ineffectual Penis Has Merit," the ads continued to flop.

"We've seen our share of turkeys in this industry before, but this is unprecedented," marketing and media relations expert Norbert T. Raines said. "It makes Pepsi's famous 1989 flop with, 'Hey! There's Clumps Of Hair In This!' look like a mere misstep by comparison."

According to a report in last week's Advertising Age magazine, the Small 'n' Flaccid campaign has beaten all previous records for lack of success in the advertising field "by a wide margin," earning an average of 0.035 cents in sales returns for every $500,000 spent.

The failure comes despite full-page preview ads which ran throughout January in every major newspaper in the country. Featuring supermodels Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell, the ads read, "Hey sexy, what's your problem? You seem so small 'n' flaccid!"

"With budget, star power and placement like that, I'd have thought we couldn't lose," a visibly frustrated Jeff Innis, creative director at Meacham, Ellis & Young, said. "Meticulous research showed virility and sexual self-esteem to be of major importance to male smokers over 35. In searching for a theme sure to spark strong feelings in the target demographic, we concluded that male impotency could function as a 'trigger' issue, provoking intense emotional motivators in the buying public."

"Apparently, though," continued Innis, "we misjudged the negative psychological effect associated with the words 'small 'n' flaccid,' which caused customers to shun, rather than buy, our product."

Despite the failed campaign, the agency remains optimistic. "Sure, we're disappointed," Kennedy said. "In this business, you're only as good as your last ad. But we're very excited about our newest client, Tampax. We feel we've really developed a great overall package for them."

The upcoming 30-second TV spots, featuring celebrity spokesperson James Garner and the slogans, "Tampax—For Those Awkward Bleeding-From-Your-Crotch Days"; "Tampax—Inserts In One Quick, Painful Jab"; and "That Ugly Bitch Is On The Rag—Tampax," will begin airing in late March.