December 18, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

A look at the Outpost.com commercial

And you thought the Trix-deprived rabbit had it bad. He’s got nothing on Madison Avenue’s latest hapless rodents — the gerbils in the Outpost.com commercial. Perhaps you’ve seen this PETA-provoking spot?

A deadpan narrator intones, ”We’ve decided to fire gerbils out of this cannon through the O in Outpost.” Cut to a succession of the critters as they go splat against the logo for the online computer warehouse.

First off: No gerbils were harmed in the making of this ad. Second: This is one standout spot. Whether you find it hilarious or horrid, the airborne pets manage to shock even in today’s seen-it-all era. ”We wanted to do advertising that would be the most talked-about on TV,” says Cliff Freeman, whose eponymous firm (best known for Little Caesars’ ”Pizza, pizza”) executed the ad.

Freeman proudly reports feedback has been 65 percent pro (”I laughed so hard, milk came out of my nose,” penned one fan), and a mere 35 percent con. ”I pray for your spouse,” wrote a naysayer.

Look for Outpost’s two other absurd treats. One features a marching band attacked by a pack of wolves. Another gem has bawling babies getting tattooed with the Outpost logo. ”They’re airing that one at 11 p.m. to test it out,” says Eric Silver, a former Late Show With David Letterman writer who scripted the campaign. Aw, how sensitive. A

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