Sounds of bodily functions, the opening of a beer can and sexual noises in an advertising parody poking fun at Ball State's radio commercials has left officials offended enough to cancel their advertising with WRZX 103.3 FM.
"If someone imitates Ball State in a good-natured way, I'd laugh along with everyone else," Al Rent, director of university marketing said. "I don't mind people laughing and poking at us as long as it's in good taste. There is a limit to humor when it is at the expense of someone else."
Ball State's advertisement uses sound effects to describe a day in the life of an average student. The commercial features sounds of popcorn popping, the rustle of notes in a notebook and professors lecturing.
Adam Ritz, the disc jockey who constructed the remake, "A day in the life of Adam Ritz," used his own choice of noises.
The parody played frequently for nearly a month by the Indianapolis station before Ball State officials were notified by Pearson McMahon Fletcher England advertising agency.
Although Ball State was not mentioned, the implications were obvious, Rent said.
"Because the commercials are unique and have received a good response, they chose to do a parody," Rent said. "Imitation can be a form of flattery, but this was in very poor taste."
The parody also offended the advertising firm that produces Ball State's ads,
"It took a huge leap over the line of fair play," said company President Ron Pearson. "It was an X-rated portrayal and totally degrading."
Because of the parody, the advertising firm and Ball State decided to cancel the remaining spots with X103. According to Pearson, the station did not charge for the recent schedule of ads and offered bonus spots to Ball State if the firm chose to purchase another schedule. The firm has declined to buy advertising at this point and no legal actions will be taken.
"Television plays the largest role in admissions," Pearson said. "One radio station is not going to hurt the enrollment of Ball State."
The number of students X103 reaches is high, according to Rent, but the level of humor is "in the gutter," he said.
This is not the first time X103 imitated a Ball State commercial. According to Pearson, about a year ago a similar situation occurred. The station wrote an agreement with the firm that it would not happen again.
General Manager of Clear Channel Communications, the company overseeing X103, apologized to the firm and Ball State, Pearson said, and the parody is no longer on the air.
Officials from the radio station declined to comment.