WASHINGTON - ``Morphing'' has traveled from MTV to political attack ads and car commercials, to the new, $500,000 ``buy recycled'' campaign of the Washington-based American Plastics Council and National Recycling Coalition. One 20-second advertisement, carrying a 10-second ``tagline'' for a sponsoring company, is scheduled to air some 400 times on various television stations. The ad features about-to-be-discarded plastic and metal items ``morphing'' - changing shape - into completely different, finished products. For example, two PET bottles morph into a fleece-lined jacket; milk bottles gradually morph into the form of a park bench.
``These ads lean heavily on the `wow factor,'*'' said Phil Bailey, NRC director of market development.
He noted that demographic research using focus groups shows a lack of knowledge among Americans that sophisticated consumer products can be manufactured from recycled plastic food and beverage containers.
``You tell them jackets are made from bottles and they say, `Wow,' '' Bailey said.
Several companies and states have signed up either to sponsor the paid advertisements, or to send out so-called public service announcements. Sponsoring companies include Amoco Foam Products Inc. of Chicago; Deja Shoe of Portland, Ore.; Poly-Wood Inc. of Syracuse, Ind.; Wal-Mart Stores in Bentonville, Ark.; and Green Disk Inc. of Seattle.
States distributing the ad to television stations within their borders are Ohio, Indiana, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Bailey said.
The morphing tactic was popular in political attack ads during last year's congressional campaigns. Candidate ads frequently used computer-generated graphics to morph the face of an opponent into that of another, universally unpopular, person.
Titled ``What Goes Around Comes Around,'' the series will run nationally as paid advertising on Turner Broadcasting Co. outlets through May 15, including CNN, Turner Network Television (TNT), and WTBS. After that date, the ads will be offered as public service advertisements to broadcast and cable outlets through the summer, Bailey said.
Each advertisement will feature a toll-free phone number for viewers to call to receive the ``Shoppers Guide to Buying Recycled Products,'' which will include discount coupons. As of April 19, the toll-free number, (800) 672-7329, had not been connected.
Bailey noted Radio Flyer Co., manufacturer of the ubiquitous children's wagon, will offer a discount coupon in the shopper's guide on its model that uses lumber from recycled plastic for its side boards.
Other discount coupons for recycled products will be featured in the pamphlet, as well as recycled product purchasing tips, he said.
Bailey said the ``What Goes Around'' program is different from the ``Buy Recycled'' program of the Environmental Defense Fund and McDonald's restaurants that was announced two months ago.
Bailey said the EDF/McDonalds program relies on public service advertising only: In public service advertising, the station, network or channel determines the time of day that such advertising appears and how many times it is repeated.
Bailey would not reveal the specific dollar contributions of each participating entity.