Off Limits

Last fall, Breckenridge Ski Resort got hit by an avalanche of criticism over two ads it had placed in snowboarding magazines, one of which promised that "The Hill May Dominate You. But the Town Will Still BeYour Bitch."

Although the campaign was quickly yanked by Breckenridge, it dominated the 44th annual Denver Advertising Federation awards ceremony last week, where "Bitches, Balls and Wake Up Call" won Best of Show honors. That means that the judges -- from prestigious advertising agencies around the country, rather than just prissy Colorado -- deemed the campaign the best among those entered across 71 categories, including newspaper, radio, television and interactive ads. And they did so "unanimously," according to Cathey Finlon, whose McLain Finlon Advertising firm created the ads -- and took considerable heat for them. (Enough so that Finlon, who was being tapped as the next chair of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon the day the controversy broke, wondered if she'd find picketers outside the chamber luncheon.)

"This mini-controversy has sparked many an opinion in the past few days," Roger McCarthy, senior vice president of Breckenridge owner Vail Associates, noted at the time. "While we admire the intentions of our marketing staff to create an edgy advertising campaign appealing to today's youth for the Breckenridge Ski Resort, some of the wording in the two ads in question crossed a line that should not have been crossed. Sometimes, when companies make mistakes, the best thing to do is just admit the mistake and move on."

And then return in time to pick up a big fat award, as the two young Finlon staffers who created the campaign did last Thursday.

Our cross to bear: You'd think those six daily protests in his home town of Topeka would keep Pastor Fred Phelps, of the Westboro Baptist Church, too busy to mind anyone else's business. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. Because when he's not picketing the latest production of The Laramie Project -- about Phelps's favorite target, Wyoming murder victim Matthew Shepard, who, according to the WBC Web site, had been in hell for 1,619 days as of Tuesday - the pastor is planning his next action. And on March 20, it's slated for Golden, where Phelps plans to protest at "fag-infested Coors Beer Co." -- and a few local churches -- "in celebration of the entry into Hell of arch-hypocrite Joseph 'Holy Joe' Coors."

Phelps has imposed himself on Coors before, in a one-man protest of the company's benefits for same-sex partners. This time, according to WBC's call to arms, the action is aimed at "this evil man, Joseph Coors, who claimed to be a born-again Christian. Ugh! Even as he raked in millions getting people drunk!"

Okay, you get the idea. If George W. still has a spare missile, maybe he could aim it at Phelps's pious posterior before he crosses the border from Kansas this week.

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