Ribs and ‘Boo-Yah’ Amid March Madness

NEW YORK ESPN and Chili’s To Go are co-sponsoring a campaign aimed at college basketball fans that will play during this month’s cablecasts of NCAA tournament games.

One of two spots, created by The Concept Farm in New York, features ESPN Sports Center anchor Stuart Scott watching a game at home while devouring a plateful of Chili’s ribs. Scott’s signature comments are incomprehensible, thanks to mouthfuls of food. Instead, subtitles at the bottom of the screen translate his mumblings: “Boo-yah,” “Silk, satin, so smooth” and “Cool as the other side of the pillow.”

A second spot, entitled “Jump Ball,” shows two guys on the edge of their couch watching hoops and simultaneously reaching for the last chicken wing. As they both grab it, an electric possession indicator like those used in college basketball games decides who gets the last scrap.

“Stuart is a really funny guy, so our job was to make his personality work for Chili’s,” said co-director Gregg Wasiak. “What’s more natural than the love of watching sports on TV and having some great food while you watch it.”

Copywriters Miguel Fernandez and Nikolaos Birbilis viewed endless reels of Sports Center to catalog Scott’s myriad catchphrases. When they got on set, Scott had a few suggestions of his own. “He said, ‘Oh, those are old. I don’t use those anymore,'” said Fernandez. Scott was also quite sporting about downing “tons of ribs, and I mean tons,” said Wasiak.

The ads will break this week on ESPN and ESPN2 and continue airing through the end of the NCAA tourney, Wasiak said. The Concept Farm has also produced co-branding campaigns for ESPN and Mountain Dew and 7-Eleven and Dodge, he said