Palo Alto, CA - Secret Service agents prevented the re-airing of
an HP commercial which ran during the Super Bowl, that showed how
HP printers are so advanced that they can easily print counterfeit
copies of American currency.
The ad started with the funky bass line from The O'Jays, For
the Love of Money and showed the printer spitting out bills.
The voice over started, "Remember 1999? How it felt to print
your own money in the stock market? Get that feeling again with
the HP DeskJet 3400mp." It showed people lounging in bathtubs
full of money, wearing clothes made of greenbacks and paying cash
for a stealth bomber.
disclaimer at the end of the ad explained that it is illegal to print
out counterfeit currency. It also stated that the software that comes
with the printer only has the images for one dollar bills and not
the fifty or hundred dollar bills that were featured in the ad.
Clinton Loehr, who purchased one of the printers before the Treasury
Department confiscated them, tested out the machine over the weekend. "I
managed to print 100 of the $1 bills that come on the driver disk.
However, the toner cost me $85, and the special paper was $30, so
all told... I'm out like almost $20. I'm okay though. I scanned and
printed out a couple of checks to buy a new ink cartridge."
HP's product manager for the 3400mp, Kelly Zanella, who approved
the ad, told us from his cell in Leavenworth that he thought "the
ad campaign was really the bold move that the company needed to kick-start
sales of its new printer and break out of the lethargy it was feeling
since its merger with Compaq."
He defended his actions. "How was I supposed to know that only
properly licensed CEOs and venture capitalists can print their own
Kremmins and Zimmerman, the Madison Avenue agency who produced the
ad for HP, was unapologetic. President Erik Salim said, "In
this business it's all about results. While the ad only ran once
it generated tremendous buzz for the company. At first we were a
bit worried about the legality of the whole issue, but when HP said
they would pay us in cash we disposed with our hesitation."
The RIAA issued a press release which explained music sales were
dropping because of the amount of CDs purchased with illegally printed
money that was downloaded over the Internet.
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