Poor Marla Maples. Just when it looked as if life might be breaking her way, two networks have banned the airing of her No Excuses jeans commercials. If The Donald had any leverage left, he would have bought those networks for his distressed damsel.
Both NBC and CBS informed the company this week that they would not run the Maples spots because of what they considered unfair treatment of the supermarket tabloids in the ads.
At Maples' request, the ads have an environmental theme, with The Don's Size 5 gal strolling in front of a waterfall. "The most important thing we can do today is help clean up our planet," she purrs. She then dramatically tosses copies of the National Enquirer and the Star into a trash bin.
"Things are looking better already," she coos in her little-girl voice.
The decision of the networks is "really unfair when you think about how the National Enquirer treats people," said Neil Cole, president and founder of New Retail Concepts Inc., maker of the jeans. "This is the publication that said Marla was ready to commit suicide."
Beth Bressan, CBS Broadcast Group vice president in charge of program practices, said that the network has had a long-standing policy of not allowing "advertisers to unduly denigrate another product regardless of whether it's a competitor or non-competitor."
While Bressan said the network's decision had nothing to do with Maples as spokeswoman, she did add that "we don't like to have our airways used for private or controversial matters which are in litigation." Maples has been named (and been served papers) as the other woman in Ivana Trump's divorce suit against her husband. In addition, Maples' father, mother and aunt all are suing the National Enquirer in separate actions.
Rick Gitter, NBC's vice president for advertising standards, said his network also has a policy that prohibits use of "our facilities for private disputes. From our perception, the talent was expressing a concern and distaste for the tabloids."
Cole said his company is still in negotiations with ABC, which he said asked about the size of the No Excuses media buy before rendering a decision.
As it stands now, Fox, CNN and MTV all have agreed to use the ads. "We have to decide whether we can get by and hit our demographics on those networks," said Cole. If not, the company will consider using a "paint box" technique to obscure the names of the tabloids.
"But we'll reevaluate at the end of the week. I'm optimistic we'll get by. I think we can hit our people as is. The networks just don't monopolize us anymore."
Following in the footsteps of Gary Hart's paramour Donna Rice, Maples announced her contract with the jeans company last May. Declaring that the commercials were a way to channel media attention to environmental issues, Maples strutted her painted-on black jeans for the media mob gathered at Four Seasons restaurant in New York.
She sweetly denied she was cashing in on her notoriety.