BBDO/N.Y. Drives Gillette Forward

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Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race is yet another reality show, but this one might actually be worth watching, judging from William Shatner's endless "Wooo! Wooo! Wooo!"-ing as he steers a racecar around a track, in a promotional clip that appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and YouTube. Created by BBDO/N.Y. ECD Al Merrin and produced by, the half-hour ABC show debuted on June 7, before the NBA finals. It pairs various celebrities—including Shatner, skateboarder Tony Hawk, tennis star Serena Williams and singer Jewel—with the Gillette Young Guns, the team of young Nascar drivers, to train over the course of six episodes and then compete against each other in an hour-long finale on June 24.

Merrin came up with the idea about two years ago, based on a brief supplied by CCO Dave Lubars. "He wanted to create advertising that was outside of TV commercials, and we thought Gillette was a big enough brand to handle that," Merrin explains. "But creating an idea big enough to accommodate a brand and entertaining enough to be on prime time is not so easy, because no matter how clever you are with it, a lot of those things end up as just sponsored shows." Gillette seemed like a no-brainer, since it already offered the Young Guns as a promotional property. The project "died about a thousand times," Merrin says. "You'd think the biggest obstacle was convincing our client to do it, but it wasn't. They were excited from the beginning. Convincing the network that this was a good idea, lining everybody up, the timing, logistics, getting the show done for an amount of money that made sense to everyone—the problems were legion." But things came together and the celebrities proved to be fierce competitors, including Shat. "He actually did that for the entire time around the track," an amazed Merrin says of the YouTube clip. "The editors said they didn't loop it—he actually did that for about 20 minutes!"
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