Bizzare class-action lawsuit ad

By Alec Brandon

You might have noticed this weird ad all over the blogosphere, the WSJ ran a story on it today:

But the ad campaign may be too clever for its own good: Some bloggers have refused to carry the ads about the lawsuit, and others have been hesitant. Many blog visitors, meanwhile, have expressed confusion over the ads in online forums, with some asking: Who’s Alltel? (The company isn’t well known to consumers outside the states where it offers service.)Guy Kawasaki, a venture capitalist and former marketing executive for Apple Computer Inc., says he initially rejected the ad when it was submitted to his blog. He only agreed to run it after a representative for Blogads, the blog-advertising network that is distributing the ads, contacted him to tell him the campaign was satirical. “It’s very hard to tell it’s a spoof,” Mr. Kawasaki said. “I don’t know a lot of people who want to participate in a class-action suit.”While most of the ads play it relatively straight, the sites they link to are full of absurd details that give away the joke. Many of the ads feature Edward Maxwell Von Houten, a fictional attorney for the People Against My Circle Foundation, or PAMCF. The attorney’s earlier courtroom wins supposedly include lobbying for greater dress-sock elasticity and suing his mother’s obstetrician for giving him an “innie” belly button (“One day I calculated that over the course of my lifetime so far, I’d spent nearly 18 weeks cleaning lint out of my navel,” he writes on PAMCF’s Web site). He rails against My Circle, accusing Alltel of encouraging long, rambling calls among friends.

Seems like an ad agency tried to be a little too clever. But it might have been just the right amout of clever. No one ever clicks on those ads, but because the ad was so weird and got some press we are all talking about Alltel now.