Businessman advertises with a vengeance p.

By: Dorothy Giobbe President of Troy, N.Y., firm blasts local newspaper in $50,000 multimedia ad blitz, says he won't let up until paper retracts a story about his company sp.

"VENGEANCE IS MINE" could be the cry of James Thomsen, president of Failsafe Risk Management Alternatives Inc.
In November, the Record, Troy, N.Y., ran a series of articles that raised questions of impropriety and conflict of interest in the Troy school district's no-bid contract with the asbestos consulting firm. Thomsen said the articles have cost Failsafe an "incalculable" amount of lost business and damage to its reputation because "you can't unring a bell."
He dismissed the issues raised in the series and accused the Record of "character assassination" through use of "half-truths, out-of-context and false information."
Ultimately, the dispute may be settled in a courtroom as Thomsen plans to file a $20 million libel suit against the Record.
Meanwhile, however, Thomsen is going after the paper in a very public, very targeted and very expensive multimedia advertising campaign designed to "put the Record in the same position that they put us in."
To date, by its account, Failsafe has spent about $50,000 slamming the Record in ads placed in competing newspapers, on local billboards and buses, and in a direct-mail piece. Thomsen said he tried to place a full-page ad in the Record, but "they refused to accept it, the cowards."
Television and radio spots are planned, and Thomsen promised that there will be no letup until he receives a public apology or retraction from the Record.
To prove his point, he offered to submit to a lie detector test and has invited representatives of the Record to participate.
"If I have to go out of business doing this, I will. I am totally committed," he said. "I would just as soon go out of business standing up for our integrity than stay quiet because by staying quiet, you basically say, yeah, it's true."
Some of the ads in the campaign include the following statement: "Aren't you embarrassed sometimes to be caught reading some newspaper by someone who thought you were intelligent?"
Another targets the Record's yellow delivery boxes, observing, "Yellow paper box? Good color for yellow journalism."
Thomsen also has fixed the Record's advertisers in his cross hairs. After compiling a list of every Record advertiser during the past six months, he offered each $100 plus the cost of their ads if they would move all their advertising to a competing paper. Thomsen said two people have accepted his offer so far.
Rex Smith, editor of the Record, is a little bewildered by Thomsen's attack.
"If there's any character assassination going on, I would think that we are the ones who have a valid complaint," he said.
Smith said the articles about Failsafe are "a matter of legitimate public interest and were based on facts and documents that were provided to us by the Troy school system, the state and Failsafe. We didn't attack him. We simply reported the facts."
The Record's editors and fact checkers went over the article with "a fine-tooth comb and everything we wrote about this issue has been run past our lawyers," he added.
Marveling at Thomsen's creativity, Smith said, "I've never seen anything like it," though he added that fun is fun ? up to a point.
"Our lawyer is watching what he does very closely," he said.
While Thomsen views his campaign partly as a quest to restore Failsafe's tarnished honor, some observers of the battle wonder if "the lady doth protest too much."
"Time will tell," Smith said. "We are continuing to look at the asbestos-removal program in the Troy schools and I am virtually sure that we will be writing more about Failsafe. I would hope that he would cooperate and answer our questions."
But cooperation with the Record seems to be the furthest thing from Thomsen's mind as he devises increasingly flamboyant schemes.
"We've tried to get a skywriter up here, but you can't do it in the winter," he said. Failsafe also has investigated hiring the Goodyear Blimp to hover above Troy, broadcasting anti-Record messages on its electronic screen, "but it cost $35,000 to get it here and $10,000 a day to do it," Thomsen said.
Still, "if I could float a battleship up here with banners coming off the sides, I'll do it," he said.
While most individuals don't have the stomach for a prolonged skirmish with a high-visibility newspaper, Thomsen said, "I'm an old fireman and I guess that's where the fire and brimstone comes from.
"Most people are frightened of the press," he said, "but we feel that the Record has already done every bit of damage that they can do to us. Now that they're done shooting all their bullets, we get a chance to load the gun and aim."
? (One of James Thomsen's newspaper ads attacking the newspaper) [Photo and Caption]
? (Troy Record editor Rex Smith, whose paper is the target of vengeance ads) [Photo and Caption]
? (One of Thomsen's billboard ads attacking the Troy Record editor) [Photo and Caption]


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