Adages: What the puck? ESPN launches pre-emptive strike on Canucks

By Published on .

Most Popular
The United States has lots of enemies out there, especially in the Middle East. This week, we may gain a few more thanks to ad agency Ground Zero, Los Angeles, which is breaking a provocative new campaign for ESPN's "Thursday Night Hockey" programming.

"Some people think hockey's made in Canada," says a blue-collar slug named Stan in one of the spots. "Yeah, and my name's Pierre," he grumbles. The six-spot campaign takes place in a factory that "makes hockey." The tagline: "Hockey. Made in America." Read: "Made in the USA."

"To a lot of people hockey feels very foreign or Canadian and we want to make them think about it in a new way," says Laura Gentile, director, ESPN marketing & advertising. "It's really not this foreign sport played by guys whose names you can't pronounce."

Adages worries that angry stick-wielding left-wingers and right-wingers, plus centers and defensemen, will mass at our northern border this week.

"Yeah, hockey has all these guys with names you can't pronounce, but actually, they represent the American dream better than anyone else," says Court Crandall, Zero's creative director, and a hockey player himself, in a last-ditch attempt to downplay the controversy. The ESPN campaign features two famous NHL players in cameos. Their names, of course, are highly unpronounceable: Sergei Federov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere (as in zhee-gare). See the ads on AdAge.com QwikFIND aap13r

Marketer to ad shops: "Your business is in the toilet!"

Two local ad shops, The Star Group in Cherry Hill, N.J., and The Hal Lewis Group in Philadelphia, are jumping on the makeover bandwagon, accepting a challenge from Kimberly Clark Professional, maker of out-of-home towels, tissues and soaps, to redo each other's restrooms. This week, a group of Star ladies will spiffy up the men's room at Hal's, while the boys from Philly head over to Jersey to tidy up the girl's room in Cherry Hill. Call it a lavatory experiment.

"The average office building worker spends more than three workdays a year in the restroom," says Jackie Martin, a product manager for Kimberly-Clark. "For all that time, shouldn't office workers have a restroom that's as clean and attractive as possible?" Adages agrees and as a public service presents restrooms-before-makeover shots. Next week, we will run the after-makeover photos.

Product misplacement

In an apparent stroke of content-integration inspiration, a print ad for the new Clorox Bleach Pen-showing a man's shirt covered with lipstick and the tagline "bleach only what you want to"-ran opposite a recent Star magazine article on the costs of keeping a mistress.

It wasn't quite the stroke Clorox wanted. "It was not product placement on our part," says a Clorox spokeswoman. "We bought run of book. I would imagine some layout editor at the Star had a whole bunch of fun."

Most Clorox consumers are women. So the idea behind the ad (from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, San Francisco) is obviously not to abet stepping out on the wife, but "to demonstrate the effectiveness of the bleach pen on difficult stains," says the Clorox spokeswoman. That would imply that the ad targets wives who need to bleach their own lipstick stains out of their husband's striped shirts.

A Star spokesman had no comment.

Contributing: Jack Neff Slapshots to rlinnett@crain.com

In this article: