This is one of those occasional heartwarming stories that prove people can make a difference. It's about a pink pig and some children who loved it.
Arby's recently introduced a 20- second TV ad showing a delightfully animated pink piggy bank trying to escape a youth with a hammer. The reason the youth is after his piggy bank is a 99-cent Arby's special. The pig runs from room to room only to be cornered finally by the fellow with the hammer, who viciously smashes him.Sharon Hollberg, Mary Aird, Ann House and other local mothers noticed that their children were disturbed by the ad. Universally they said, "We'll never see piggy again."
These mothers thought the ad was offensive and should be changed. It could have shown the boy putting down the hammer and shaking out the cash - the way real kids do - and the piggy looking back with reproach. The youth still wants the money, but he melts under the pig's stare and says, "I'll make it up to you, pig!"
In fact, if Arby's wanted to be perceptive, it could salvage the pig image that the kids loved and offer piggy banks for sale so that kids could save their 99 cents for an Arby's special.
The pink pig could even become a logo.
Arby's could save the pink pig for both the children and themselves.
So the mothers of the children made some telephone calls - to Arby's, to the advertising agency, to the local TV channel and to the TV network - complaining about the ad and expressing the views of the children.
They suggested that the ad be changed and the pig retained. They even suggested that an apology be made. Admitting to the press that the ad "bombed" and that Arby's intended to remake it to reflect greater sensitivity to the feelings of the kids could give the company an enormous boost.
They could even unveil the new pig at a press conference, with appropriate fanfare.
The positive publicity would be far in excess of what any advertising campaign - no matter how clever - could accomplish.
The mothers thought they observed a feminist issue, too, because the women executives they talked to sympathized with their argument, while the men seemed stiff and argued in terms of dollars already invested in the ad. The women admitted that there had been many calls of complaint, but the men knew of none.
The children made little pink pigs out of paper, pinned them to their shirts, and wore them to school. Teachers liked the idea and thought it was a great lesson in advertising and kid power.
Or mother power.
The pink pigs caught on in the neighborhood and other mothers and kids made pink pigs creating a local "Save the pink pig" campaign. It wasn't a boycott - only an expression of compassion for the pig.
No one spent any money on the campaign.
At first it seemed that it was falling on deaf ears. The advertising executive denied any problem and then called all the corporate people the women had called and told them it was a tempest in a teapot.
It would blow over.
When I heard about it I went home and asked my youngest, Spencer, age 10, if he had seen the ad and what he thought of it. His reaction was immediate.
"I felt bad for the pig," he said.
So I called the consumer department of Arby's in Atlanta and asked their representative what they thought of the ad campaign and she said, "Don't worry - today is the last day the ad is slated to run."
"Was that a result of all the complaints of mothers about the insensitivity toward the pig?" I asked.
"Absolutely," she said.
So the gentle campaign worked. The ad is dead instead of the pink pig - who is rescued from the continuing force of the hammer.
So far there is no sign that the pig will be resurrected as a dynamic new symbol for Arby's - but if they're smart, they'll do it.