Capital One island TV ad draws Coast Guard's criticism

WASHINGTON: Capital One's new TV spot featuring a stranded man making fake distress calls was supposed to be a humorous way to promote the company's "Island Giveaway" campaign. But the US Coast Guard's (USCG) PR office isn't laughing.

WASHINGTON: Capital One's new TV spot featuring a stranded man making fake distress calls was supposed to be a humorous way to promote the company's "Island Giveaway" campaign. But the US Coast Guard's (USCG) PR office isn't laughing.

Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Carter, the USCG's chief of media relations, sent an e-mail to the credit card company last week asking it to "reconsider this misguided ad campaign."

"While your [ad] department may have thought the plot line was hilarious, I can assure you that the men and women of the US Coast Guard who must go into harm's way on fruitless searches whenever someone issues a hoax mayday did not see the humor," read the e-mail.

Carter told PRWeek that hoax calls happen "every day," noting that they accounted for 22% of all rescue calls in 2001.

In an e-mail response to PRWeek, Capital One spokeswoman Pam Girardo wrote, "The actions of the fictional island owners are intended to be humorous for the viewer and in no way encourage prankster-like activities."

Carter said that he is discussing an outreach campaign with the USCG's safe-boating staff to warn the public against such behavior.

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