Ad shows the money; U.S. frowns

B.D. Fox & Friends decided to have a little fun for its 20th anniversary, but the federal government wasn’t laughing.

The ad agency printed up 64,000 copies of a blurb to be inserted in the trades: The right section looked like half of a $20 bill, and the left portion read “20 big ones!” But the Treasury Dept. seized and destroyed all copies.

The government has eased up a little since the days when it forbid shots of real money in movies. Because the ad was using only half of a bill, everyone assumed it was safe.

Fox workers made a few changes to the fake bill: The company phone number was printed as a serial number, and the signature of agency chief Brian Fox was placed where the secretary of the Treasury’s signature should be.

The thing was sent to a printer, then to a binder for folding, but the owner of the bindery became concerned and called the Treasury Dept. It immediately sent investigators to study the situation; T-men ordered all copies turned over and destroyed.

“I can see their point,” admitted Fox, founder and prez of the company whose clients include Buena Vista, CBS and TNT. “If you handed it to a person the right way, folded over, it could fool them into thinking it was real.”

The problem was, the reproduction was exactly the size and color of a $20 bill.

As a parting gift, the Treasury Dept. gave Fox a list of do’s and don’ts, including a reminder that you can print reproductions of money as long as they’re at least 150% larger than the real thing, or 75% smaller.

Fox chose to reprint at a larger size. But bigger may not be better. The exec said, “The joke was a lot funnier when it looked like we were pasting $20 bills in the papers.”

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