Each Thursday, Matt, Nick & Tom will select a work of advertising that they respect,  work that reflects OKRP’s Whiskey & Bananas philosophy – walking the line between cool & funny.  This week: Nick Paul

OKRP: Nick, tell us about this ad and why you enjoy it.

Nick Paul:
I chose one of the iconic “This is SportsCenter” spots.   We open on legendary golfer Arnold Palmer in line for lunch at the ESPN cafeteria.  He’s making himself a drink.  Stu Scott and Scott Van Pelt, two SportsCenter anchors, stand in rapt attention as Mr. Palmer fixes himself a drink – naturally, it’s an “Arnold Palmer.”  As with many of the ads in this campaign, ESPN knows the audience will understand the subtlety of the joke and invites the viewer to be in on the joke without directly calling it out.

This ad reflects the Whiskey & Bananas philosophy because it’s not only very funny, but there’s also sophistication to the joke that invites the audience to participate in the humor.  The most under appreciated element of the ad is the use of the mascots, teams and studio personnel.  These ads ask them to do a lot of subtle acting and quiet physical humor and they almost always nail it.  They also do a good job targeting the ads: always tying it to a specific time of year or event that they are promoting.  Ultimately, ESPN wants the viewer to tune into the station to watch the highlights, regardless of where the sporting event is broadcast.

I think the pitch of this campaign was something like a mini comedy show with much of the talent at the network participating.  When the advertising executives were in a position to decide on moving forward the campaign, I am sure there was no hesitation once they saw the reaction of the team.