This is a commercial for MSG Varsity, which broadcasts high school sports in the New York metro area. It runs on cable channels, not network television, and it cracks me up. More importantly, it’s extremely effective on so many levels.
Enjoy a good laugh and check it out for yourself. Then I’ll tell you why I think this ad is a home run, touchdown, slam dunk or whatever sports metaphor you’d like to use.
They could have gotten some high school heart throb to play the part of the wrestler, had him enter a packed arena with fireworks and a high school wrestling mat where the ring would be. But that wouldn’t have been a realistic, believable scenario.
This commercial features an average kid walking into a small gym in front of maybe 100 fans. The kid holding the 1980s boom box looks real. The guys on the wrestling team staring at the wrestler in disbelief look real – and hilarious.
For me, the funniest part of the commercial is the eye roll from the referee, who also looks real. It’s such a believable reaction!
There’s no announcer to distract from the visuals as the story unfolds, and the music sounds like it’s being played on a cassette in an old boom box.
The wrestler’s outfit, from the hat to the jacket to the championship belt, is elaborate enough to have an impact but not outrageous enough to make it unrealistic.
I could actually envision a scenario in which a high school wrestler tried to get away with doing this. There were other ads in this campaign that weren’t nearly as effective, mainly because they weren’t believable, but this particular ad nailed it.
It doesn’t lose sight of the product being promoted
The goal of the ad is to promote television broadcasts of high school sporting events on MSG Varsity. The scene depicted here is the scene that many high school athletes, their parents and fans see when they go to a high school wrestling match – minus the pro wrestling entrance.
If you tune in halfway through this ad, you’ll probably still get the message.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – if you use humor in marketing, it must be interwoven with your marketing message. Otherwise, it’s just a distraction.
This ad has something I discussed in a recent blog post – clarity.
It appeals to the right target audience
Who watches high school sports on TV? Parents and coaches, especially men between the ages of 35 and 55. Just about anyone, inside or outside of this demo, will probably get the spoof on professional wrestling.
If you take it a step further, anyone in this target demographic will have at least a vague memory of the two wrestlers spoofed in this ad – Hulk Hogan and the Randy “Macho Man” Savage – two of most well-known names in the history of the “sport” who also achieved mainstream celebrity status.
But it’s not just about wrestling. It’s about connecting with your audience and helping them relive memories, whether it means reminiscing about past glory as a high school athlete or snapping into a Slim Jim.
You don’t need humor to do this, but if you can pull it off without distracting from your marketing message, it makes the connection that much more powerful.
It’s still funny
A funny commercial always has a limited shelf life. Eventually, the joke gets stale. For a funny commercial to be effective, it has to be really funny the first few times you see it, moderately funny the next few times, and at least funny enough to make you crack a smile after that.
This commercial has been airing since the fall 2012 sports season, and I’ve probably seen it less than once per week. Maybe it’s just me, but I still laugh – every single time. When it airs, my three-year-old daughter says, “Look, daddy! The silly commercial!”
Most commercials that try to be funny, even those for national brands, aren’t very funny. The agencies that produce that garbage need to get to work on a replacement right away to bail out the dud. After all, the only kinds of commercials with a shorter shelf life than the funny commercials are the ones that try to be funny, but end up being excruciatingly lame – and ineffective.
For a local television station that probably doesn’t have a huge creative budget, getting this much play out of a single commercial is an absolute home run.
Do you agree with my assessment? Why or why not?
I’m a copywriter, marketing consultant, lifelong New Jersey resident, husband to a beautiful wife and father to two beautiful girls. I love playing with my daughters, a day at the boardwalk, sarcasm, craft beer and grilling. I despise beating around the bush, synchronized swimming, Toddlers & Tiaras and onions. Most people don’t know I used to be a radio DJ and once wrote, produced and voiced a commercial for the TV show 24. Two places I want to visit before I die are Ireland and Norway, the homes of my ancestors. One place I never want to revisit is my first apartment because my creepy landlord, Monty, freaked me out. That just about covers it.