Date: 19th September 2000

Olympics Ads: 1 Win; 1 Loss

NBC has accepted a previously rejected commercial for its Olympic Games' telecasts and has pulled another following about 2,000 complaints from viewers.

Today's (Tuesday) New York Times reported that the network has decided to allow an anti-smoking ad showing black body bags stacked in front of the New York headquarters of Philip Morris. Dr. Cheryl Healton, head of the American Legacy foundation, which oversees the nation's most extensive anti- smoking ad campaign, told the newspaper, "It's incumbent upon us to present to young people the health consequences and social costs of smoking. ... The Olympic Games are an incredible venue for reaching adolescents as well as adults."

Rick Gitter, chief of advertising standards and program compliance for NBC, was quoted by the Times as saying that the spot was accepted "subject to viewer response." He added that he hadn't heard any complaints. That was not the case, however, with an ad for Nike, intended as a spoof of horror movies, that featured American track star Suzy Hamilton outrunning a man chasing her with a chainsaw.

Some viewers reportedly found the ad misogynistic, while others objected to the violent content shown at a time when children might be watching. Washington Post TV columnist Tom Shales today called the spot "definitively tasteless." Nike reacted angrily to the network's decision to pull the ad.

A spokesman for the company told today's Wall Street Journal that, by its action, NBC has "no longer made it a choice of individuals to decide if they like the ads or not." A spokeswoman for the ad agency that produced it said she was "surprised that NBC would exercise censorship."

Source: Studio Briefing