I wouldn't have wanted to be in Telstra spokesperson Rod Bruem's shoes when he walked out of a lift last week to be confronted by The Chaser boys asking if Telstra wanted to purchase naming rights to Cyclone Larry.
Bruem told Full Duplex he glibly sent the Chaser crew off to arch-rival Optus:
"We've been doing a lot of good work up there but Optus is nowhere to be seen -- maybe you should go speak to them."
I don't know if The Chaser spoke to Optus but Bruem certainly ended up on their TV show for his efforts.
Taking the wind out of Telstra seems to have been a hobby for The Chaser. A quick search of their Web site reveals such gems as "Government to sell Telstra shares through $2 shops" and "Tina Arena sells naming rights: To be renamed Telstra Arena".
"These shares are going out the door at crazy prices!" said a fake quote from communications minister Helen Coonan, in the first satiric article. "Just like [Telstra CEO] Sol Trujillo after we activate his lucrative early termination clause."
I guess being the nation's incumbent telco and a household name makes you a popular target. But Telstra has been getting some of its own back recently with its own cartoons, drawn by its own Howard Tuxworth.
I particularly like the one about Telstra being a sleeping dinosaur that Trujillo is about to awaken -- like the best humour, this one hits home at events in the last year.
One thing that the publication of Tuxworth's cartoons proves is that like his Optus counterpart Paul O'Sullivan (who has a penchant for dropping jokes at Telstra's expense during public speeches), Trujillo also has a sense of humour -- an essential asset for his job, I would say.
For my part, I can only hope the jokes keep coming from both sides -- I can always do with a laugh after a long day writing telecomms news.