Saturday's LAT story about the billboard (pictured above) featuring Chris Farley's image to advertise a new addiction treatment at first struck us as an April Fool's Day gag, but then we realized that the Times' lawyers would probably burn down their headquarters before exposing themselves to a lawsuit over a joke. The mastermind behind the billboard, which is going up over Sunset Boulevard at Crescent Heights today, explains their innovative marketing strategy:
"We felt it was an effective way of getting people to focus on our message point, because it's unusual to see a celebrity in this fashion," said Terren S. Peizer, Hythiam's chief executive and owner of more than a third of the firm's shares. He said talks are underway with estates of "several" other dead celebrities, whom he declined to identify.
Should this campaign succeed, the next step seems obvious: using the images of at-risk celebrities likely to suffer an overdose on their next billboards. If a 50-foot image of Andy Dick looming over a liquor store on the Strip can't scare an addict straight, nothing will.