Spoof misses funny bone

2011-02-26 15:36

Gauteng police will not be taking ­action against Indigenous Film Distribution for wasting state resources to investigate a spoof pamphlet advertising a doctor ­seeking body parts for cash.

The “guerrilla” marketing campaign by Indigenous Film Distribution was aimed at drawing attention to a new South ­African horror movie, Night Drive.

On Wednesday, Lorraine Melvill was handed one of the flyers at an intersection in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs and, thinking it was real, reported “Dr Uba” to the Douglasdale police station.

Police told City Press that they immediately referred the matter to the provincial organised crime unit for investigation.

Only 24 hours later did Indigenous Film Distribution reveal that it was a marketing campaign.

The flyer “advertised” a doctor who was offering “keen cash” for eyes (R5 000 in cash), breasts (up to R1 800) and testicles (up to R1 600 each).

It directed readers to Dr Uba’s website where photographs of different surgical procedures appear.

Helen Kuun from Indigenous Film ­Distribution said they had a limited budget and therefore used the “guerrilla ­marketing approach”.

She said they did not inform the police prior to launching the campaign, although they had consulted their lawyers.

“It is also an awareness campaign for (the serious issue of) trafficking in human and animal parts,” she said.

Lieutenant Colonel Lungela Dlamini said he did not believe any action would be taken against Indigenous Film Distribution as no crime was committed.

Sapa reports the agency behind the campaign has apologised “unreservedly”.

“While the motivation behind this campaign was honourable, 1984 [a subsidiary of Ogilvy] acknowledges that it was in bad taste and apologises unreservedly.

“The intention was never to mislead the public or media,” spokesperson Rich Hlatshwayo said.

Julian Ribeiro, MD for Ogilvy in Johannesburg, said Ogilvy was “very upset” about the campaign and internal disciplinary action would be taken.

“1984 did seek legal counsel (before the campaign was launched) and were told to make sure that the details on the pamphlet and the website were fictitious ... that the phone number did not work and that no harm would be brought about to anyone.

“No one ever expected this kind of ­response. Only 800 leaflets were handed out at robots as the project had a low budget.”

Night Drive is expected to hit cinemas on Friday.

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