Football, the Antidote to Monday

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Monday Night Football kicks off tonight and Wieden New York is betting the turf at the end of this first-workday tunnel will perk up those of you wilting in your cubicles.

Wieden's recent MNF work, the third round of the agency's "Is It Monday?" campaign, examines the pain that is the day furthest from the weekend to illustrate the necessity of weekly televised football. So, don't expect epic plays or body-crushing from Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Adrian Peterson. This homage to football fan's weekly respite is about you and the horror of Monday. With lots of fake grass. Oh, and MC Hammer.

"The first year focused on how Mondays relate to the whole week, but this campaign spoke to just Monday, how Mondays suck," says art director Stuart Jennings, who also worked on Wieden's first MNF campaign. "Monday Night Football is the treat at the end of the day that makes your whole Monday worth it."

Following MNF-crazed men, the everyday guys ranging from cube-dwellers to students, through their Mondays, the TV spots chronicle the harrowing events that make the Monday night match-up so precious: the inevitable office paper jam before a meeting, chemistry lab, the constraints of a cubicle—It's all there. "Alarm Clock," interrupts one such fan's A.M. nightmare, when his keytar jam with MC Hammer is cut short by the cruel alarm clock.

Why Hammer, you ask? "He was definitely excited to do it; he's a huge football fan," Jennings says. "We were just looking for somebody who this guy actually would be dreaming about, something surprising, with a randomness to it. We tried to think of something as far away from our main character as possible, so it was dreamlike and odd. MC Hammer just fit the bill."

Out-of-home translates the football-as-savior position into football speak—"Monday's Hail Mary," "Stiff-Arm the Monday Suckery" and "Monotony's Two-Minute Warning" to name a few—and then paints it onto football-field turf, literally. To reinterpret the MNF brand's green in a photo-realistic way, outdoor wall postings and bus shelters were printed on actual synthetic grass.

Jennings and creative directors Derek Barnes and John Parker report that two weeks after going up, 95 percent of the please-touch posters have been stolen. They have photos of one poster in a sports bar hanging next to a TV playing ESPN. Another is being sold by an antique dealer for $300. One looks like it's being used as a yoga mat near a river, Barnes says. Efforts are now shifting to devise a method to post the work so that it's not so easy to tear down. New creative is also in the works to address the first set of stolen posters.

Extending the grass theme and giving office drones the football-equivalent to a beloved's lock of hair (or maybe Chia Pet), Wieden created grow-your-own Desktop Football Fields as event hand-outs. With the kit, MNF fanatics can grow their own mini-field on their desks, with a field-themed sponge that expands in water (yes, grade school science was an inspiration), a seed packet and paper cut-out referees, goal posts and a football, taking procrastination and office boredom to an entirely new level.

Print ads mirror the grass texture, taking the green's abstract reference to football to make it more direct, Jennings says.

Interactive ads give a respite from Monday hell with Rock Band-like rich media. Use your F-D-S-A keys to play MNF's theme song, Monday Night Maestro. Of course, there will also be online paper football, so stay tuned.
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