Media giant Vivendi Universal, caught unprepared by the scouting movement’s backlash against its campaign for online information service [WAMN 23-Mar-01], has agreed to ditch all references to the body by the end of the year.

The campaign, created by FCB Netbrand in Paris, focused on the phonetic similarity between the words ‘scout’ and ‘Scoot’ in the French language. Billboard ads played on the ‘always prepared’ motto of the movement to show how others could be even better prepared using Scoot – whereas scouts grill frogs for dinner, Scoot users can easily find a restaurant.

However, scouting leaders complained that the campaign derided the movement’s ideals and used its uniforms and imagery for commercial reasons without authority.

To avoid a lengthy legal battle, Vivendi agreed, during court proceedings, to bin the billboard ads by April 30, while a TV spot – in which a group of scouts helping an elderly lady up a flight of stairs let her fall down again when she asks them where she can find “a good Tex-Mex karaoke restaurant in the neighbourhood” – will also be pulled by April 15. The scouts will be dropped altogether from the campaign by year-end.

The agreement involved no financial payout on the part of Vivendi, with the scouts insisting that their only motive was to defend their movement’s reputation and ideals.

Vivendi can now continue with its big-budget launch of Scoot, which it hopes will challenge online directory market leader, France Telecom’s

News Source: AdAge Global