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Brand X: Big Drag

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Brand: WebEx
Agency: Free-Range Chicken Ranch (Campbell, Calif.)
Creative director: Kelli Christman

Need any more evidence that the dot-conomy has lost all connection to reason and reality? All you have to do is visit Times Square and the west side of Manhattan, where countless towering billboards featuring RuPaul have sprung up over the past few weeks. Ru is the official spokesmodel for WebEx, a site that allows businesses to conduct virtual meetings over the Net. Why? Because, naturally, he thinks "Meetings used to be a real drag" -- until, of course, you could use WebEx. The San Jose-based company recently snared $25 million in financing and promptly announced that it intended to spend "a majority of the new funds" on the RuPaul campaign (a RuPaul Super Bowl spot was just the beginning). Never mind that RuPaul is perhaps the last person anyone would associate with corporate meetings, or that WebEx is rumored to be pre-IPO (what -- the big swinging dicks of Wall Street are supposed to be seduced into investing by a drag queen?). And disregard, for a moment, the cultural tone-deafness on display here: a wannabe-hip dot-com spending millions to embrace a cross-dressing icon five years after his popularity peaked (Somebody at the pitch meeting probably said, "Drag is hot!"). The worst thing about this campaign is its condescending simplemindedness -- its "duh" quality. Was Joan Collins unavailable to rasp "Meetings used to be such a bitch"? Did Monica Lewinsky turn down "Meetings really used to suck"?


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