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Bluff The Listener

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Amy Dickinson, Paula Poundstone and Tom Bodett. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Thanks everybody. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!.

MARY MCDONALD: Hi, this is Mary McDonald in Berkeley, California.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in beautiful Berkeley?

MCDONALD: They're wonderful, a nice sunny day here.

SAGAL: And what do you do for fun in the beautiful bay?

MCDONALD: Oh, one of my favorite things right now is volunteering at the local music house.

SAGAL: Oh cool. And have you ever seen anybody, like, famous when they were just getting started?

MCDONALD: Well, I've seen Girlyman and Eric Bibb and Peter Mulvey, some really good players.

SAGAL: You could be making those names up. I'd have no idea.


MCDONALD: Yeah, that's right.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: I love Girlyman, though.

SAGAL: Girlyman, yeah.

POUNDSTONE: Girlyman is great.

SAGAL: Mary, it's nice to have you with us. You're going to play the game in which you have to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Mary's topic?

KASELL: Nothing, nothing comes between me and my Carls.

SAGAL: You can't sell anything these days without a little celebrity flash to help you out. This week, though, we read about a celebrity-based marketing campaign that might hurt more than it will help. Our panelists are going to tell you about three misguided celebrity endorsements. Only one of them actually is in the works. Guess that true story; you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine. You ready to go?


SAGAL: All right, let's start with Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: When a quasi-legal new athletic energy bar went looking for a spokesperson and a marketing angle, you'd think that disgraced and indicted former major league pitcher Roger "The Rocket" Clemmons would have been the last one they'd think of. "He was," said marketing director Sarah Coffee.


BODETT: "But like the key to anything, it's always the last place you look." Clemmons is seen in the newly branded Rocket Fuel ad, munching hungrily on the product while working out, with clips of his historic baseball triumphs thrown in. Then Clemmons looks into the camera and deadpans "Put a rocket in your pocket. It works so well, I'll deny I ever used it, under oath."


BODETT: The ads have been about as popular as you would expect and Ms. Coffee said she's looking for a new branding strategy and a job.


KASELL: Roger Clemmons energy bar. Your next story of an unfortunate endorsement comes from Amy Dickinson.

AMY DICKINSON: Americans have often found French taste rather inexplicable, what with their affection for frog's legs and Jerry Lewis. But now, the French may have pushed the boundary (foreign language).


DICKINSON: That means a little too far. A government run daycare center has opened in Paris and named after Woody Allen. Not a name Americans associate with healthy childrearing practices.


DICKINSON: What with his rearing his own stepchild and all. "Oh, we French don't care about that," said Hally Anson, spokesperson for Le Petit l'enfrance Woody Allen Daycare Center.


DICKINSON: The center uses themes from Woody Allen movies. "The Sleeper" sleep mats for naptime. "Love and Death" playground equipment.


DICKINSON: "Annie Hall" dress-up corner, followed, of course, by "Bananas" for snack.

SAGAL: The Woody Allen Daycare Center opening in Paris. And your last story of someone taking advantage of a famous person's reputation comes from Paula Poundstone.

POUNDSTONE: When someone in an advertising brainstorming session suggests using Helen Keller to sell sunglasses...


POUNDSTONE: After the guilty laugher, usually the leader of the meeting would step in and say "come on, guys, let's get to work." Sometimes there's just something in the air, so someone else can't help throwing out the idea of Karen Carpenter buffet at the Olive Garden.


POUNDSTONE: The Sarah Palin Talking Globe.


POUNDSTONE: Or perhaps, Elephant Man Skin Softener.


POUNDSTONE: But eventually things settle down and they put a sports star on a Wheaties box and a supermodel hawks a line of makeup. Apparently, however, a Chinese sunglass maker had to break up their advertising meeting before they were able to get serious. The Xiamen Jinzhou Company has put out an ad for Helen Keller sunglasses with the slogan "You see the world, the world sees you." Stay tuned for her line of colorful house paints.


SAGAL: All right, these are your choices. One of these was a real celebrity associated product that went on sale recently. From Tom Bodett: an energy bar endorsed by that known user of energy enhancement, Mr. Roger Clemmons. From Amy Dickinson: a daycare center in Paris named after Woody Allen. Or from Paula Poundstone: Helen Keller brand sunglasses. Which of these is a real product or service that you can go out and get?

MCDONALD: This one's a hard one.

SAGAL: It is.

MCDONALD: I think I'm going to have to go with Tom, the first story.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Tom's story, which is Roger Clemmons, currently on trial for perjury.

MCDONALD: Yeah, we'll try that.

SAGAL: Going for the energy bar endorsement.


SAGAL: All right, well we spoke to somebody who knew about this real thing.

THOMAS ORLICK: Helen Keller sunglasses are a range of sort of fashionable sunglasses aimed at young Chinese consumers.

SAGAL: Apparently successfully. That was Thomas Orlick, author of "Understanding China's Economic Indicators" and the Wall Street Journal's...


SAGAL: ...correspondent in Beijing, talking about, of all things, the Helen Keller line of sunglasses, now available in China. So I'm sorry, obviously Paula had the real story.

MCDONALD: Oh shoot.

SAGAL: Yeah.

BODETT: But Mary, thank you.

SAGAL: So thanks so much for playing.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.



(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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