Commercial on ``dumb'' Tulsa pulled after governor complains

Monday, January 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ After a complaint from Gov. Frank Keating, a minor league hockey team pulled a television commercial Monday that satirized a Keating remark about ``dumb'' Tulsans.

The commercial for the Oklahoma City Blazers portrayed Keating as describing as ``dumb'' the Tulsa Oilers, their coach, star player, mascot, and anyone who misses upcoming Central Hockey League games between the Blazers and Oilers.

Even cruising Peoria Avenue, a popular drag in Tulsa, is ``dumb,'' according to the voice of a character actor used in the commercial.

The commercial played off a remark made last month by Keating after his wife, Cathy Keating, finished second in the Republican primary in the 1st Congressional District in Tulsa. Keating said then that it was ``dumb'' for Republican voters in Tulsa not to vote for his wife.

He later apologized for the remark.

Brad Lund, chief operating officer of Express Sports, which owns the Blazers, said the hockey commercial was in good fun and was not meant to offend anyone.

``I think anyone who saw the commercial would realize it was tongue-in-cheek, Saturday Night Live-type humor and not a serious attack on the City of Tulsa or the Tulsa Oiler organization,'' he said.

``My uncle, Jeff Lund, owns the Oilers and he thoroughly enjoyed the commercial.''

During his seven years in office, Keating's shoot-from-the-hip wit has sparked controversy. He had to apologize after using the word ``homicide'' to describe how best to deal with teachers' unions. He once argued publicly with the Pope about the Catholic Church's position on the death penalty and drew criticism from black lawmakers when he said growing up as a Catholic in Tulsa was like being a black in Selma, Ala., in the 1950s.

Lund said the Blazer ad was pulled on the recommendation of Bob Funk, Blazer owner, who also is a friend of Keating's and a contributor to the governor's political campaigns.

``It was all in good-hearted fun, but I guess the governor's office didn't see it that way,'' said Chris Presson, Blazer general manager.

``For the Blazers to do this sort of thing, we think, was unprofessional,'' said Dan Mahoney, Keating communications director. He said the governor found the ad offensive and ``an exaggeration of the situation.''

Bob Hammack of The West Group, which produced the commercial, said the Blazers had won awards for using humor in its ads in the past.

``This was just another attempt at humor,'' he said. ``It was never an attempt to poke fun at the governor as much as it was to fuel the flames that already exist between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, generally regarded as one of the best rivalries in all of minor league sports.

``We simply thought this was a great way to stir the pot. It is my job to sell tickets.''

Hammack said he has written about 7,000 radio and television ads in 30 years and ``this is maybe the second or third time an ad has been pulled.''