Short Circuit City

August 5th, 2008 | Posted in MAD Magazine

This was all over the internet yesterday… when I first heard about it I thought it might have been a hoax but apparently it was accurate. Hard to believe. This was first reported on The Consumerist website via an anonymous tipster.

In MAD #492 there was a 4 page article spoofing a Circuit City Sunday newspaper ad in typical MAD fashion. As it turns out, a few Circuit City stores carry some magazines including, you guessed it, MAD. Overzealous corporate operations executive Elizabeth Barron sent out this mass corporate e-memo (courtesy of The Consumerist):

That’s right, she (and by osmosis Circuit City itself) wanted all copies of MAD removed from their stores post haste and DESTROYED. I think somebody must have recently returned their sense of humor within 14 days of purchase (with or without a receipt). I really thought this was probably a hoax, as I thought that nobody could possibly be that stupid as to do something like that. Did she really think that would not get out? The last time I checked, that original story on The Consumerist has 1285 Diggs. If her goal was to minimize the exposure of the piece, I would say that backfired… wouldn’t you?

However somebody at Circuit City realized how ridiculous that was, and quickly made a classy and surprisingly amusing response to MAD and The Consumerist to retract the initial thin-skinned reaction. Here’s the letter that was sent to the editors at MAD, via Dick DeBartolo’s

To: The Editors of MAD Magazine
From: Jim Babb, Embarrassed PR Guy, Circuit City Stores, Inc.

Dear Editors,

We sell magazines at a few dozen of our Circuit City stores nationwide, and by now you may have heard that some overly-sensitive souls at our corporate headquarters ordered the removal of the August issue of MAD Magazine, which features a clever parody of our company’s newspaper ad. Most of us here share a rich sense of humor and irony…but there are occasional temporary lapses.

We apologize for the knee-jerk reaction, and have issued a retraction order; the affected stores are being directed to put the magazines back on sale.

As a gesture of our apology and deep respect, we are creating a cross-departmental task force to study the importance of humor in the corporate workplace and expect the resulting Powerpoint presentation to top out at least 300 pages, chock full of charts, graphs and company action plans.

In addition, I would like to send you a $20.00 Circuit City Gift Card, toward the purchase of a Nintendo Wii….if you can find one!

All best wishes, and keep up the good work!

Jim Babb
Corporate Communications
Circuit City Stores, Inc.

Dick also included MAD editor John Ficarra‘s response:

Speaking from the magazine’s international headquarters, MAD Editor John Ficarra said, “We at MAD were shocked and confused by this entire incident — mainly because we had no idea that Circuit City even sells magazines. Nonetheless, we accept their apology but hold out hope that their gesture of a $20 gift card is only an opening offer.” JF

Great response, and I have to give Mr. Babb credit for wiping that egg off his face with a little MAD-like panache. No credit whatsoever is forthcoming to Ms. Barron. Yeeecch.

On the other hand, all the mentions of Circuit City here on The MAD Blog will likely cause my Google Ads to display Circuit City ads. Genius marketing? Meh.


  1. Hmm, across the street from our Best Buy, there’s no room for a new Circuit City… unless the currently-bankrupt store I work at across the street closes. Would be a funny example of life imitating art.

  2. Frosted Donut says:

    I note that the original complainant, Elizabeth Barron, misspelled the name of MAD Magazine, while the fairly clever PR guy (Jim Babb) didn’t. A coincidence? Perhaps Mr. Babb has been blowing his executive bonuses on MAD subscriptions…


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

Workshops Ad

Dracula ad

Doctor Who Ad

Superman Ad

%d bloggers like this: