SportsProf

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Friday, April 01, 2005

Other TV Ads We'd Like to See

Much has been written about Coach K's American Express ad. I blogged about it here, and there are other bloggers out there as well. Click here for the link to a Google search on the topic and then read the links that you find interesting. And click here for today's USA Today article about how other schools now are complaining that Coach K's ads are giving Duke an unfair recruiting advantage and NCAA President Myles Brand's response to it.

If you read my post "And They Don't Take American Express", you'll figure out pretty quickly that I didn't like the ad for a whole host of reasons. Other bloggers have pointed out that the tag line "My life isn't about playing games" or something like that lost its intended double meaning, because, after all, Coach K's life is about playing games, major college basketball games. Actually, Coach, it is, and while you have achieved unique status, most fans will say, sorry, but you're not a leader the way Colin Powell has been, even if you did go to West Point. After all, to paraphrase Allen Iverson, we're talkin' about college basketball games. Kids' games.

So Coach K went out on a limb in what he and his advisors probably thought was a slam dunk for him -- more national exposure and a boatload of big bucks to boot. Instead, the attempted jam clanged off the rim. Okay, so people are talking about the ad (and there are those who say that any publicity is good publicity), but I think the focus is much more on the Coach than the card. And it's not the type of buzz that anyone wants. I do believe that Duke has a very good brand, but it has to be careful about becoming too much of a "goody twoshoes" place. It's admirable to transcend your competition on the floor and in the classroom, but it's another thing to plaster it in public places for all to see. Last time I checked, Carolina was a pretty good school, and it just might graduate more athletes than even fair Duke.

I got to thinking that there are other people in the athletic world who have yet to maximize their potential in the ad world, and I'd like to propose a few combinations for your consideration:

1. Allen Iverson for the Pharmaceutical Industry. Witness Allen zipping all over a basketball court, high-fiving teammates. The tag line could be, "Because helping people get better is what I'm all about." If Iverson is unavailable, perhaps Stephon Marbury could fill in.

2. The New York Yankees and Fidelity Invesments. The average age of a Yankee is 34, which is ancient by baseball standards. You could have Bernie, Jorge, Mariano, Mussina and Randy Johnson reading poetry about retirement and talking about what they're doing to prepare. The tag line could be, "We're not the Ancient Mariners, we're aging Yankees. After years of golden gloves, we're preparing for our golden years. That's why we're working with Fidelity Investments."

3. Charles Barkley and TrimSpa. Now, I don't want to pick on Charles, but I am concerned about his post b-ball weight, and he didn't look all that good the last time I saw him. First, Charles is funny, and second, the potential banter between him and spokeswoman Anna Nicole Smith would rival The Honeymooners.

4. One-time heavyweight contender Chuck Wepner for Johnson & Johnson. In the same vein that Coach K says, "I'm a leader," Wepner will say, "I'm a bleeder" and go on to say what comfort he drew after every fight from J&J's wound-healing products. Perhaps the tag-line could be, "My life isn't about fighting for my life." And then you'll see the graphic, "My Life, My Band-Aid." After all, they didn't call Wepner "The Bayonne Bleeder" for nothing.

Among the other possibilities:

A. Colorado football coach Gary Barnett doing public service ads for Boy Scouts of America.
B. Temple hoops coach John Chaney hawking Sopranos' boxed sets on QVC.
C. Andy Reid for Franklin-Covey's time management products.
D. Tom Izzo for Visa (because certain establishments don't take American Express).
E. Bill Belichik for The Gap ("I always wanted to wear a hooded sweatshirt to work").
F. A group of NBA coaches for Extended Stay America ("because in our jobs, we're not staying long enough to buy a home.)

Some of these commercials try to be too serious or too poignant. What happened to outright satire or to being self-deprecating and humble? What ever happened to the concept that the most important person on a college campus is the university president or the Nobel Prize winner who did award-winning work on Game Theory, and not someone who runs an extracurricular program? Not to knock Duke's basketball program, but I certainly hope that Duke's alums derive more pride from what they accomplished in Durham on campus than whether or not the men's hoops team went to the Final Four or won a national title. My guess is that most have the proper prospective.

Even those who paint their faces blue and white and wear the wigs on national TV.

Who also, to paraphrase their spokesman, should be emerging from their experiences as better fans, better students and better human beings.

After all, who can argue with that?

Except, of course, the entire Carolina nation.

After all, you're not great just because some charge card company blasts it into millions of households.

You might be even greater if you didn't do that.

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