FOX CASTS GRIDIRON QUARTET IN CLAYMATION AD CAMPAIGN: HOSTS OF 'FOX NFL SUNDAY' GET TO STAR WITH 'PJS,' MCBEAL

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First, Fox animated sportscaster Terry Bradshaw for a guest appearance on its popular sitcom "The Simpsons." Now, the network is animating its entire NFL sportscasting team for an ad campaign.

The hosts of Fox's pregame show, "Fox NFL Sunday"-Mr. Bradshaw, Howie Long, James Brown and Chris Collinsworth-all take Claymation form in a new effort from Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco.

The first TV commercial in a series of nine breaks July 13 during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game telecast.

The 20-second spot begins with scenes of football footage and ends with the sports anchors poking fun at their own caricatures.

"Great clip, but I'm surprised they used real footage," says Mr. Long. Mr. Bradshaw responds, "Yeah, everything else on Fox is animated." Quips Mr. Brown: "Next thing you know, they'll animate us."

Will Vinton Studios, Portland, Ore., animator of Fox's "The PJs," created the Claymation characters.

The campaign deviates from past Fox Sports pregame promotions, which featured the foursome traveling in a blimp or living in a Malibu house.

BREAKING THE MOLD

This work is an attempt to "break out of the mold and still feature the talent," said Neal Tiles, Fox senior VP-marketing. "Marketing the personalities is the way to success in any of the pregame formats."

In September, the football foursome will take another animated form-that of 7-inch dolls, to be sold at retail.

A few Fox TV personalities also make cameo appearances in the ad campaign. Eddie Murphy's character from "The PJs" appears, as does Calista Flockhart's Ally McBeal.

One spot pokes fun at Ms. Flockhart's waiflike figure.

The spots will run on the Fox broadcast network and its 24-hour sports cable network, Sports Net.

Fox's two big competitors in the Sunday pregame wars are ESPN's "NFL Countdown" and CBS' "Football Today." Fox has the broadcasting rights for the National Football Conference, while CBS handles the American Football Conference. ABC

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