Fallon Launches ABC Sports Ads


Theme Song Rules in MNF Spots; Realism Is College-Football Tack
NEW YORK–In its first work for ABC Sports, Fallon takes a documentarylike approach to college
football and makes music–specifically, an instrumental theme song–the hero of an irreverent campaign for Monday Night Football.
The settings for the MNF TV spots are de-cidedly unsportslike: a hospital room, a sixth-grade dance, even a gorilla cage. Still, the spirited, marching-band theme saves the day each time.
At the hospital, a flatlining patient opens his eyes after hearing the theme. At the dance, a group of boys sing a few bars to prod a classmate into approaching a girl. In the cage, a lethargic male gorilla latches onto a fertile female once the music is cued.
The approach was borne out of research: Random, on-the-street interviews revealed high recall of the theme, said John Gerzema, managing partner at the New York shop. Many people recognized it after just a few notes, and some could hum it from memory, he said. “It’s a great iconic piece of stimulus,” he noted.
While hyperbolic humor drives the MNF spots, realism is the backbone of the college-football effort.
Six TV spots go behind the scenes to capture qualities associated with the game. In “Sacrifice,” the camera fixes on a badly bruised lineman slumped on his dorm-room bed. Bags of ice are strapped to his arms and legs. In “Intensity,” two players slap shoulder pads and butt helmets under concrete bleachers. “Motivation” takes the form of a headline that predicts, “Buckeyes should lose big.”
The TV spots were directed by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. “This was all about capturing what the average viewer never gets to see,” said Fallon creative director Kevin Roddy.
Both ad campaigns, which also include print and outdoor components, break nationally this week. TV is running on ABC and sister cable networks, such as ESPN. The ad budget is equivalent to about $20 million in measured media, said sources.
Fallon landed the business in April, following a review. Previous ads were created in-house and by the Playa del Rey, Calif., office of TBWA\Chiat\Day.