Creative: New Campaigns – A Sign Of The Times

Wacky Character Promotes FootJoy
Agency: Arnold
Communications, Boston
Client: Footjoy Worldwide, Fairhaven, Mass.
Creative Dir.: Ron Lawner
Art Director: Ron Harper
Copywriter: Jamie Graham
Agency Prod.: Phil Reilly
Production Co.: Backyard Productions, Los Angeles
Director: Kevin Smith
Editor: Noreen Breslin, Panache Editorial, Boston
The roar of the Tiger has brought FootJoy Worldwide to the fore. The low-key maker of golf gloves and shoes has seen its market share among younger consumers erode since Nike signed golf phenomenon Tiger Woods, says FootJoy senior product manager Tim Murphy.
The antidote? A series of eight TV spots created by Boston-based Arnold Communications that represent one of FootJoy’s most ambitious advertising efforts in years and its first humorous campaign.
The star of the spots is an overenthusiastic tour volunteer nicknamed Sign Boy who is so infatuated with golf he blissfully carries the score signs during tournaments just to be near his idols.
The broadcast spots are scheduled to break Jan. 8 on the Mercedes Championship on ESPN and will rotate on network and cable golf programming in the first quarter. NBC, CBS and ABC share some portion of the ad dollars, as do ESPN and USA Network.
FootJoy will increase ad spending this year by about 15 percent, approximately $7 million, and shift some of its annual ad budget from print to broadcast, Murphy says, in an effort to maximize viewer exposure to the spots.
Appearing with Sign Boy are pro golfers who politely endure his chattiness as he fawningly admires their shoes or gives them tips on how to improve their game.
“Following in the footsteps of pros, you get to know all about stuff,” enthuses Sign Boy in an opening spot. The line sets up his bizarre obsession with golf shoes and products, says Arnold copywriter Jamie Graham.
The setup of the commercial allows FootJoy to fashion story lines around Sign Boy and one of the dozen pro golfers under contract to the company while playing up product benefits, such as a shoe’s style or the stay-soft quality of its gloves. All the spots close on FootJoy’s long-running taglines: “The No. 1 shoe in golf” or “The No. 1 glove in golf.”
While the spots were scripted, actor Matt Greisser, a Los Angeles-based improvisational comedian and actor found after three days of open casting, ad-libbed most of his scenes, which were shot in Florida during Hurricane Mitch. The pro golfers weren’t given scripted lines but told to treat Sign Boy just as they would any tournament volunteer.
“The pros kind of laugh at him,” admits Murphy. They include Davis Love III, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Jesper Parnevik.
But humor can be positive. Graham adds, “Now that we’ve created a character and feel good about him, there is a groundswell to utilize him in collateral materials.”