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Tuesday,  January 28 12:01 AM EDT

HP Forced to Pull "Print
Your Own Money" Ad

By Brian Briggs

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.

Mooooney!The 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 money?"

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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