There's something about new Fox Sports Online ads

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In an attempt to break the online sports advertising mold, Fox Sports Online is employing a "There's Something About Mary" style in a new ad campaign that broke last week.

Like the popular summer movie, TV spots created by Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, spoof situations that border on politically incorrect.

For instance, in one commercial, an elderly man struggles to get his medicine out of a kitchen cabinet, while his care giver, Nick, is absorbed with Fox Sports Online. When the man drops his pills, Nick rolls his eyes in irritation, but never looks away from the computer screen.

In another spot, a man's feet are shown diapering a baby and, just as the viewer is marveling at what seems to be someone coping well with a disability, the camera tilts up. The man is sitting at his computer clicking away on Fox Sports Online.

Last year, the first-ever brand campaign for the online sports service was typical image advertising, said Matt Jacobson, exec VP of News America Digital Publishing, parent of Fox Sports Online.


"This year we said let's spend some money and let's raise the bar here," he said. Unlike the competition, "no crash, boom, bam stuff with the `get more sports information here' message."

The three spots will run in rotation on Fox Sports National Football League and regional broadcasts, but the commercials needed to grab viewers' attention because they will air in available slots, Fox executives said.

"We're trying to bring the bond young males have with sports and trying to bring that over to online," said Neil Tiles, senior VP-marketing for Fox Sports.

Freeman earlier created humorous and irreverent spots for Fox's hockey and baseball coverage. The National Hockey League spots won the Grand Clio last year.

The commercials are designed to speak to 18-to-49-year-olds watching Fox who are "attitudinally more in their early 20s," said Kevin Roddy, senior copywriter for the Fox Sports Online campaign.

"Would my mom like these spots? I don't know. But will Fox Sports consumers? We think so," Mr. Roddy said.

Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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