American Notes Advertising

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A group of children in tatters sits in judgment on an old man. He is charged with having allowed the federal deficit to run rampant. "Are you ever going to forgive us?" he asks them pathetically. This 60-second commercial, titled The Deficit Trials: 2017 A.D., was made for W.R. Grace, an international chemical company, and was rejected for broadcasting by all three networks last winter. Too controversial and far too one-sided, they ruled.

Nonetheless, the ad will air this week on 150 independent stations across the country. The spot, says W.R. Grace Spokesman Christopher Tofalli, is "done in good taste on an important issue." That's just the problem, says NBC Vice President Rick Gitter: "It's so well done. It expresses a view that budget cuts are a moral imperative." Which was exactly the point. J. Peter Grace, the company chairman, served as head of President Reagan's Commission on Waste and Inefficiency in Government.