From: Thomas Wicker (twicker[at]
Cc: "'declan[at]'" (declan[at], jericho[at],, staff[at],,
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001 11:46:23 -0400
Subject: RE: Mastercard lawyers threaten over satire site

Dear Ms. Hamburg:

After reading the message included below, I want to assure you that, as a
loyal MasterCard customer for the past 15 years, and as someone who prefers
MC over Visa, these pictures did absolutely nothing to dilute my image of
the company. Tasteless, they are; disgusting, yes; associated with
MasterCard, no more so than the person who says "Great googly-moogly" in
imitation of the Snicker's commercial when something bad happens.

Could MC issue a press statement that it finds this material offensive and
objectionable? Certainly. Decry it to the hilt. Does it hurt MC? Heck, no.
It means that MasterCard's advertising campaign was so effective that it's
become part of pop culture. This is the type of media exposure advertising
campaigns are *supposed* to produce, the kind that ad execs slobber over,
the kind that become memes. People will do take-offs all day, because
they're fun and they like the commercials, much like people constantly quote
"Whazzup?," even at schools. Some of your parodies will be tame, some will
be G-rated, some will be incredibly humorous and let everyone have a good
time. And some, as with anything that becomes part of popular culture, will
be tasteless and crude, as these are, and life, somehow, will go on. People
will recognize the crudity, some will laugh (I admit to snickering at a few
-- that poor person with the cubicle -- what a great idea ... ), some will
go on to something more productive, some will be offended and close their
browser immediately. But few, if any, will think that MasterCard actually
endorses these amateurish, MasterCard-name-and-logo-free images (unless, of
course, they've been living in a hole for the past 100 years and believe
that companies would produce an ad without either mentioning the company's
name or showing the company's logo).

As a MasterCard customer, the main thing I find objectionable is that you're
wasting the money I have to pay to make purchases with MasterCard on
researching and writing about an issue that simply isn't an issue. My
suggestion is to give this to the PR people, have them make extremely
appropriate and perfectly justified noises about MC denouncing these photos,
and then go to court after people who are defrauding the card users, not
after a website that's merely publishing photos that have been circulating
for some time and which that website did not create. If not that, then at
least go after someone with better Photoshop skills than the people who did
these (though the Jesse Jackson one is at least a good picture).

-- Thomas Wicker (for himself)

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