Last year, Time Warner Cable managed to do something quite extraordinary: Send New York Giants player Victor Cruz to his first-ever Pro Bowl, with 516,000 fan votes (the most of any wide receiver), and also get 250,000 new SportsPass subscriptions.
They did it by proving that Mr. Cruz, known for his salsa moves, could catch just about anything. Even a football thrown from a plane flying at 30,000 feet. The campaign featured videos showing Mr. Cruz catching a football from places like a plane, and a cannon. The videos went viral, along with a social media push encouraging fans to vote for Mr. Cruz to send him to the All-Stars game.
This year, they try to recreate that magic, with a campaign from Ogilvy New York that sends Mr. Cruz out into a football field, to catch a ball -- in pitch-black darkness.
The difference this year is that it was the football star who asked Time Warner to help out, according to Phil Smith, managing director at the agency. Mr. Smith said that Mr. Cruz said that since they had done such a "great job" the year before, he wanted them to do the same thing for him this year. "We tried to figure out how to do something that touched on what we did last year without repeating it," said Mr. Smith. Calle Sjoenell, chief creative at Ogilvy, said that the "darkness" idea was the first one the creative team thought of.
Another major difference is that TWC is pushing no actual product this time around -- there is no mention of its sports packages, or anything other than the Pro Bowl voting. "They have a good relationship, Time Warner and Victor, and they're happy to be able to help him any way we can," said Mr. Smith.
The video at the heart of it all goes all-out -- it features Mr. Cruz outfitted in a Tron-like glow-in-the-dark suit, with strings of LED lights, attempting to catch an internally-lit orange football. He manages to do it once, and then, more balls are flung his way. At the end, the spot reads: "Help Time Warner Cable send Victor Cruz to the 2014 Pro Bowl." The McCoubrey Brothers directed the film, out of RadicalMedia, and Storefront Music composed the background music.
The campaign will be released Friday on TWC's social media channels and on Mr. Cruz's Twitter and Facebook pages. Content drives fans to NFL.com/ProBowl, with the hashtag #Vote4Vic.
Mr. Cruz has been a spokesperson for Time Warner Cable since 2012, when the company attempted to make a dent in DirecTV's football offers. The idea was to get TWC front-and-center in viewers' minds when they were looking for a way to access football content -- even as DirecTV continued to make NFL football the centerpiece of its marketing. Mr. Cruz is currently a "featured athlete" for the cable company.