By Stuart Elliott

April 10, International Herald Tribune

In cartoons, the Road Runner goes "beep-beep." In the advertising world, the popular onomatopoeia is pronounced "bleep-bleep."

Advertisers are winking at the contentious issue of content regulation by using bleeping sounds in commercials and video clips. The bleeps mimic how television and radio obscure bad language in live news coverage or taped reality shows.

Many times, the bleeps heard in commercials are covering actual expletives, which are written into the scripts solely to be censored.

For instance, in a commercial for the New York Film Academy, a crude word spoken by Brett Ratner, who is the filmmaker, is bleeped.

"We were playing poker and he lost and I said, 'Instead of giving me money, why not do a commercial for me?' " said Jerry Sherlock, director of the academy. "So we made it into a whole joke."

In a video clip for Bud Light, titled "Swear Jar," that appears on the Web site and sites like YouTube, cast members curse a blue streak.

The plot spoofs a demand for linguistic purity in a large office. When employees learn that the quarters deposited into the jar will go toward buying beer, the 4-, 7- and 12-letter words fly freely.

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image by IHT