NEW YORK – Panasonic is using a screaming dwarf to promote its new line of ultra-small video products — and little people are up in arms, saying the campaign is one big insult to them.
In the ads, a grinning, 4-foot-1 actor holds Panasonic's new palm-sized "e-ware" digital camera and urges consumers to "have a little fun!"
In one TV spot, the dwarf surprises a naked man in a changing room, screaming, "It's small! Almost as small as . . . " as the man looks at his own groin.
In another, the dwarf bursts out of a newspaper vending box and then hides in a cooler, yelling "Eeeeeeee!" at the top of his lungs.
"It's terrible," said Jeanette Cimino of East Northport, L.I., who stands 4 feet tall.
"They think we are circus clowns and that's where we belong. They are taking advantage of us because we are little."
Cimino — who is a chapter leader of Little People of America, a national advocacy group — has asked Panasonic to yank the campaign.
"It's a stereotype," she said.
Panasonic and Grey Worldwide, which created the campaign, did not return calls, but the actor who appears in them, Ethan Crough, said it's really a small issue.
"This is a great gig. I'm a comedian and I think the spots are funny. I have a certain amount of pride in them," said Crough, 29, of Hoboken.
"I've gotten some flack, but a lot of the stuff in those ads is what I'd be doing as a comedian anyway. They are obviously using my size, but that's the nature of the business."
Crough, who has performed with the Upright Citizen's Brigade comedy troupe in New York City, adds that a lot of little people tried out for the part.