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Ads Make New Yorkers’ Skin Crawl

Thu., March 13, 1997

A meticulously groomed man in a suit and overcoat, shoehorned into a sweating, sneezing crush of rush-hour humanity on the New York City subway, pointed to an ad above his head and wrinkled his nose.

The advertisement read: “You are the 423rd person to touch that pole today. Enough said.”

“Ew!” the man said, grabbing a pole to keep from falling as the train jerked to a stop. A friend grimaced and wiped her hand on her coat.

Nearby was another ad that warned: “The last guy holding that pole was named Sal Monella.”

The ad campaign is for a new anti-bacterial hand lotion, and it capitalizes on New Yorkers’ squeamish relationship with their subway.

It’s “the ‘ew!’ factor,” said Gail Taryn, a spokeswoman for Gotham Inc., the ad agency handling the campaign for Keri Anti-Bacterial Hand Lotion.

And it’s only in New York.

“What better way to get people thinking about germs and antibacterial products than the subway?” asked Robin Koval, the Gotham executive overseeing the account.

Judging from commuters’ squirms, the message is on target.

“It’s a sick ad campaign,” Jeff Jacobs, a 31-year-old financial consultant, said with a laugh. “I don’t want to think about it.”

He added, however, “I’ll probably buy it.”


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