- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2003

It’s an urban jungle out there and Tarzan has come to the rescue.

A small army of shirtless vine-swinging look-alikes have descended upon Washington this week to promote the WB’s new show “Tarzan.”

The hunky heroes, outfitted in cargo pants rather than loincloth, are hyping up the series and handing out T-shirts, coffee and sweepstakes chances throughout the area.

“We want to generate enough buzz and excitement in this market so people will tune in,” said Mercedita Roxas-Murray, director of new-business development for Momentum Marketing, an Alexandria-based event-marketing firm that coordinated the nontraditional campaign.

Earlier this week, the Tarzans began appearing in targeted high-traffic areas from downtown Washington and Georgetown to Rockville, Bethesda and Arlington. Their jungle journey is to end this weekend with appearances at malls and carwashes in the Washington area.

“It’s so interesting the reactions we get,” said “Tarzan” Mark Carpenter, 27. “When we walk down the street, most people are just wondering what we’re doing. If they’re interested we tell them all about the show.”

The new series, which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on WBDC-TV (Channel 50), is a modern version of the legend of Tarzan. The fearless ape-man, who grows up in the African jungle, is captured and brought to New York City by his wealthy relatives. He escapes and finds himself on the streets of New York, where he meets a police detective named Jane.

“We wanted to get people to understand [the show] is not the old Tarzan,” Ms. Roxas-Murray said. “It’s a modern-day urban Tarzan.”

The campaign did not require the typical legendary Tarzan who couldn’t put a sentence together. He didn’t even have to closely resemble the current long, blond-haired Tarzan, played by former Calvin Klein model Travis Fimmel.

The Tarzans had to be “muscular, attractive, clean-cut and well-spoken,” Ms. Roxas-Murray said. They sifted through hundreds of possible Tarzans before deciding on the final five who would bare their chest and brave the cooler-than-usual temperatures to spread the word about the series.

Jerry Martin, WBDC’s general manager, says the Tarzans are exactly what the WB needs to complement the show’s advertising, which includes radio ads and some local cable spots.

“We thought we could target areas and really create extra buzz,” Mr. Martin said.

The Tarzans are expected to give out 3,000 T-shirts and 3,000 pendants that include a sweepstakes code that could be worth $1,000 each to five viewers. The winning code numbers will be displayed during the series premiere.

WB has also teamed up with WRQX-FM (107.3) for an office promotion, which will include lunch with the Tarzan look-alikes.

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