Come see the seahorses, but check your guns


May 30, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

What's the tougher sell in Baltimore: Getting a family of four to drop 70 bucks at the aquarium, or getting the bad guys to drop their guns?

Baltimore-based GKV communications is pushing both. And oddly enough, the two campaigns have more than an ad agency in common. Both share an offbeat sense of humor.

No surprise that the approach works for the National Aquarium, which is promoting its collection of underseas oddities with the slogan "It's weird down here."

One TV spot shows two guys in a hardware store. One of them is very pregnant, and they chat about his swollen belly quite casually, as if expectant dads are common as drywall at Home Depot.

"Under water, this is perfectly normal," a voice says. "The pregnant male seahorse - one of 14,000 characters in one perfectly weird world."

And how, you're wondering, can that approach possibly work for Project Exile, a program aimed at giving criminals hard, federal time? Like this:

"Raeshio `Goodie' Rice got 27 years in federal prison for carrying a gun. Anyone need a used Bentley?"

And this: "Wallace Allen got 19 years in federal prison for carrying a gun. We hear Indiana is nice this time of year."

There are a bunch of similar ads, on billboards and buses, naming real names and more or less saying, "Ha ha. You're busted!"

One, posted along Route 40 in West Baltimore, stands out: "Solothal `Itchy Man' Thomas got life in prison for carrying a gun. Wonder what his new nickname is?"

Am I imagining, or does the joke about Thomas - a West Baltimore hit man who, at the age of 30 last year, got life plus 10 without parole - go further? Does it suggest his new nickname is, you know, along the lines of "sweetheart"?

I put that question to GKV associate creative directors Brian Burkhart and Dave Broscious. Both laughed.

"I don't want to put too fine a point on it," Burkhart said. "We don't know what their new nicknames are."

Curran ... Curran ... That name sounds familiar

J. Joseph "Max" Curran III, son of the former attorney general, sounds a lot like a lobbyist in his law firm bio.

"He is a core member off the Utility Practice Group where his practice focuses on representing major energy, telecommunications and other regulated industry clients," the Saul Ewing Web site says. "He also represents business clients on legislative matters before the Maryland General Assembly and other state and local governments."

But Curran, who also happens to be the governor's brother-in-law, isn't on the list of state-registered lobbyists. Why not?

While it's hard to pinpoint when a boy becomes a man, the state of Maryland knows just when a lobbyist becomes a lobbyist. And it's not when he declares himself a lobbyist. It's when he gets a client and actually starts lobbying. At that point, he has five days to register with the state, says Suzanne Fox, executive director of the state ethics commission.

Curran, who joined Saul Ewing in December, isn't there yet.

"I'm just getting my career going here, and I've been focusing primarily on telecommunications, mostly litigation," he said.

Curran added a word of thanks to the tipster who put me onto him.

"I thank them for trying to promote my practice," Curran said with a laugh. "I appreciate the marketing opportunity."

Connect the dots

A conservative Christian commentator has new radio show Tuesdays on WNAV. But John Lofton's Eye on Annapolis will be little comfort to the party just ousted from the governor's mansion. Lofton, who edited the Republican National Committee's weekly newsletter in the 1970s, broke with the party years ago. (Too much government and not enough God for his taste.) He calls himself a "recovering Republican" and contends that George Bush should be impeached. "I've been politically saved," he said. "I've been raptured from among the Republicans." ... Latest celebrity crab-eater at Obrycki's: Bill Belichick. The Patriots coach, in town to watch the NCAA lacrosse championship, ran into the Rutgers lacrosse coach at the restaurant. Belichick's son will play for Rutgers next year.

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