The Day Bart Simpson Got Me in Trouble

It was gratifying to see the 450th episode of the Simpsons air this past Sunday night, knowing that there may be hundreds more shows down the pike for America’s favorite primetime family. While always a fan of the show, I must confess years ago, Bart Simpson got me in a heap of potential trouble with a client.

In the early 1990’s when the Simpsons cartoon series was just hitting it big nationally, Ice Capades struck a licensing deal with Matt Groening and Fox Television to include the costumed Simpsons characters in its touring ice show.  They had previously done the same with the California Raisins.  At the time, I was working for the firm lapin East/West, which handled the national publicity for Ice Capades. I was responsible for the account for the show’s run in the New York metropolitan region. A the time, the show would play a 2-3 week stint in the area, with runs at Madison Square Garden, the Nassau Coliseum and Meadowlands Arena.  The object of our public relations efforts was to keep it newsworthy throughout the run and gain media exposure in outlets that would benefit all three buildings.

Well, we were able to secure a live remote from Good Day New York.  Gordon Elliott used to do live remote segments for the morning show, visiting communities.  We pitched the show’s producers to have Elliott visit a community with Ice Capades skaters and the Bart Simpson costumed character and invite residents to come out and skate on a portable ice rink that we rented for the occasion.  A community in Queens, NY (memory tells me Bayside) was chosen and that morning, the portable ice rink was put in place and Elliott began knocking on doors with Bart Simpson, inviting home owners to come on out and skate with Ice Capades.  Of course, here’s where I got in trouble.

Under the licensing agreement, the Bart Simpson character was not allowed to speak.  Our intern, Dennis Williams was in the costume.  We had told Elliott that Bart could not speak and he agreed not to engage the character.  Then, during a commercial break, Elliott spoke to Dennis as they were outside a residence.   Without Dennis knowing, Elliott went live on the air and said something to Bart.  When Dennis spoke, thinking they were still off air, Elliott did a gotcha and said, “Hey Bart, you’re not supposed to talk, you’re going to get sued!”

Well, when discussing this with our Los Angeles office’s GM, Lisa Carey, a former Ice Capades skater, an eruption ensued.  While I cannot remember the dialog word for word since it was over 15 years ago, it went something like this: “How did this happen?”  “We can’t show this video to the client, they will go crazy?

My retort was to be honest with the client. Show them the great exposure they received on a Fox affiliate, plugging Ice Capades at all three buildings in the metropolitan area. Apologize for the foul-up but also let the client know that the on-air talent purposely deceived the kid in the costume strictly for on-air laughs.

I don’t know if the video clip was ever shown to the client or not.  All I know is for one morning Bart Simpson caused me a lot of grief…D’oh!

Tom Cosentino

Advertisements

2 Responses to “The Day Bart Simpson Got Me in Trouble”

  1. […] The Day Bart Simpson Got Me in Trouble « Innovativemediapr's Blog […]

  2. […] The Day Bart Simpson Got Me in Trouble – While I certainly don’t hope Zombie Simpsons continues for hundreds more episodes, this story is just too damned cool to ignore: In the early 1990’s when the Simpsons cartoon series was just hitting it big nationally, Ice Capades struck a licensing deal with Matt Groening and Fox Television to include the costumed Simpsons characters in its touring ice show.  They had previously done the same with the California Raisins.  At the time, I was working for the firm lapin East/West, which handled the national publicity for Ice Capades. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: