Who WAS that man in the Roman collar?

Dateline: Sun 07 Aug 2011

Speaking of ads....

Blog reader Kate Healey Snedeker sent an email this past Tuesday about an ad in the Indianapolis Star that has run twice now, most recently Saturday July 30. The ad, I must say, both baffled and amused me with its single-minded aquiescence to horrible, awful, bad and even goony taste.

To recap, the ad takes up a full page in the A section and includes the 6-column headline: "Armored safes set for free shipment to Indianapolis area residents over age 52" (This is all designed to look like news content, obviously).

Then, appallingly, "Breaking news: Residents surprised with bags of money that are loaded inside every one of the safes"

Best, tho, is the pnoto: a bunch of New Jersey-looking actors sitting around a living room, with somber expressions. At the center is a man in a Roman Catholic collar and glasses. The priest actor has his paw on a big safe, which is filled with boxes, presumably loot and Grandmpa's gun. The caption for the photo reads:

"Relieved Family: 'We had nothing to worry about because Mom cared enough to get an Armoured Safe,' said Shawn Oyler. Everyone was thankful when they learned the family valuables were so thoughtfully protected..."

It just gets worse, because the ad promises that if you are born on or before 1959, you too can reap the free dough with the safe. "at lease (sp) one household resident must be over age 52 to get the ...safe loaded with the bag of money."

So here  is what a disgusted Snedeker wrote to Dennis Ryerson, exec editor:

"In Saturday's Star, on page A11 - you ran an a full-page ad about Armored Safes for "free" for those over 52. Each safe includes "bags of money."  I can't tell you how sad I was,  seeing your newspaper run this ad - a clear scam, targeting older Hoosiers.  Anyone with any sense would know it was a scam - and yet you still chose to run it.  Why?  I'm very familiar with how difficult these times are for newspaper advertising, but it made me sick to see you accept an ad like that.

"I hope you choose to say no to such opportunities in the future."

Snedeker received an email back from Ryerson's secretary, Heidi Nagel, who explained that since Ryerson holds sway only over news content, she was forwarding the concern to Patrick Peregrin, vice president for sales and marketing.

Peregrin's response:

Ms. Snedkar,


Thank you for your email concerning Saturday’s ad offering “free shipment” on armored safes.  


I read the ad very carefully and must admit that the ad is very creative.  I don’t agree with your assessment that the ad offered safes for “free”, but rather delivered for free with a cost of $281.00.  There is no doubt that this ad was crafted in a way to sound very attractive and the liberal use of the word free may confuse some of our readers.  We have forwarded your comments on the ad content to Universal Media, the agency that placed the advertisement.  I also verified that there are no more scheduled run dates.  While I do believe this ad is accurate, I will require changes to the ad before I will permit the ad to run in the future.  Again thank you for your feedback and for reading The Star.

Patrick Peregrin

Vice President

Sales & Marketing


Her back-at-him:

"Thank you, Mr. Peregrin.  It's Ms. Snedeker, not Snedkar.
How much did they pay for the ad? Or perhaps - how much would an advertiser typically spend on a full-page Saturday ad in the business section? If you could provide a range, that would be helpful.
The fact that they target those over 52 didn't raise your eyebrow? 
The fact that they promise "bags of money" in each safe didn't raise your eyebrow?
Delighted to hear it won't be running again.  Still, lots of questions left unanswered. 
Kate Healey Snedeker"

I doubt if we will ever hear how much the ad cost, but I know the guy playing the priest was paid peanuts, as were the rest of the slobs....I forgot to mention that the bottom of the ad features a very plump granma getting her safe delivered to her home. Here's the priceless cutline: "Now I don't have to worry where to keep my important papers, old coins and my huband's gun," she said.

Plus, she's got that bag of free money. Surprise!


Wilson46201 [unverified] said:

I deliberately keep my life simple: my few important papers are in clear plastic on my refrigerator door, I have just one old coin (a silver dollar worth $15 I found in the backyard ) and I've never owned a gun. No need for a FREE safe costing $281...

2011-08-07 09:28:12

jersey [unverified] said:

What exactly is a New Jersey looking actor?

2011-08-07 14:42:40

ruthholl [Member] said:

Jersey: black hair, everyone in dark clothes. One guy has a black shirt and jacket with a white tie. Sort of an Italian mob look. Unlike the Midwest. Sorta seedy looking. Women are all thin. Not like us-ins in the Middle, who like to eat.... trust me on this.

2011-08-07 20:32:18

hendy [Member] said:

Deceptive practices? There is no shame there. The race to the bottom continues.

2011-08-08 08:48:22

Crossed Wires [unverified] said:

Since when would a (faux) priest be sitting in on a will reading? and the first one with his hands in the safe. I acknowlege it could be a son or relative, but old guard traditional families are in the smaller percentage these days.

2011-08-08 10:29:06

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

The "free safe" bunch is likely the same snake oilers that offer the "free room heater" if you buy an "Amish-made fireplace surround." The ad art shows "Amish" craftsmen working in their shop with woodworking tools.

The chutzpah of this ad, and the "free safe" ad, boggles. It is comically bogus, good satire. But-- good god-- it must work because these ads have appeared more than once in the Star and thus are important to the revenue stream.

I don't imagine Ryerson is eager to have to look too closely at ad content, much less veracity.

Incidentally, the "free" safe could simply be picked up by any normal 16 year old and packed off for opening at ones leisure. The "free" space heaters are a couple heat lamps in a metal cabinet. It's JUNK sold with a smirk to the impossibly gullible.

2011-08-08 12:10:16

Whitebeard [unverified] said:


Good point about the "Amish heaters." What is hilarious about that ad is that anyone who knows any Amish people (and I do) knows that they will not allow themselves to be photographed. It comes from somewhere in the Bible about not allowing for "graven images."

I have a picture in my mind of a bunch of 30-year-olds sitting around in an NYC office building puffing on joints as they dream up this stuff.

Maybe they're like the narrative some people have about legendary D-grade film maker Ed Wood ("Plan Nine From Outer Space"); brilliance in producing perfected awfulness.

2011-08-08 12:40:10

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Whitebeard, yes!
"Plan Nine" is so bad it is riveting (and the marvelous Johnny Depp did a fine job portraying Ed Wood).

The Amish don't like to have their pictures taken not so much because of any biblical admonition as because they eschew showing off, being apart, drawing attention to themselves. That's why they do not adorn their houses or themselves. And there's a certain reluctance to be seen as a sideshow attraction. Keep in mind the exceptions to their rules are many, varied, and can be altered by the local bishop. Some have phones, for example, but they will be in a special little booth a good distance from the house. And most big farmers have generators-- there's no objection to electricity, they just don't want to be hooked into the "English" (us) system.

2011-08-08 14:46:57

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