Longtime Seahawks Supporter Goes for 'Interactive' Ad to Honor Fans

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Alaska Airlines eschewed a $2.5 million national Super Bowl spot in favor of a $50,000 local newspaper campaign turning fans of the Seattle Seahawks green with envy. And blue.

In its Super Bowl salute to the NFC champions, Alaska Airlines created a “Seahawks Face & Body Paint Kit,” a center spread in a special edition of the Seattle Times. With one page green and one blue -- the team's colors -- the ad provides directions at the bottom telling readers to wet their skin slightly, then rub the paper over face and/or chest.

Rookie to superfan
In a takeoff on the site, fans are advised to take a photo and send it to a Web site (, where viewers will be able to view the photos and rate them on a scale of one to 12, from “rookie” to “superfan.” (Twelve is also a reference to the fans themselves. The "12th Man" began in the '80s after the Seahawks retired the jersey number 12 to honor their often very loud and supportive fans.)

“We wanted an interactive ad,” said Greg Latimer, managing director-brand and product marketing, Alaska Airlines. He said Alaska Airlines, which has supported the team since 1976, considered producing a cutout that could be used at a Super Bowl party buffet centerpiece, or even a hat or “foam” fingers.

But creatives at its agency, WongDoody, Seattle, came up with the notion of using newsprint as body paint. “If regular news ink sticks to your fingers, why not use it as body paint?” asked Tracey Wong, chairman, creative director and founder. “Either we go big or we go home.”

Stretching the ad budget
Mr. Latimer said that as much as the airline supports the team -- it has installed a 16 foot by 40 foot banner on its hangar in Seattle and distributed 20,000 buttons to passengers and employees -- there’s not enough money in the marketing budget for even a local spot. The cost of the newspaper ad, which required only the newspaper’s usual ink, cost a little more than $50,000, he said.

The ad does provide a cautionary note, however, urging fans with sensitive skin to test their reaction to the newspaper ink. If a reaction occurs, fans are urged to use the ad “as a decorative placement or cape.”

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