Ad of the Day: Rob Gronkowski Ushers in New NFL Season With a Nod to Youth Leagues

Football's powerful present meets its uncertain future

Grey New York juxtaposes the pre-game rituals of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski with those of a Hispanic neighborhood schoolboy in this understated 60-second launch spot for the NFL's 2015 season.

The message—that football is, at heart, a kid's game, and that the NFL is the epitome of every pee-wee leaguer's dream—comes through loud and clear. It's a heartfelt, intuitive positioning, delivered in compelling fashion with help from one of the league's most likable stars (who also happens to be on the reigning championship squad).

Still, timing is everything, and some viewers will surely greet this approach with cynicism.

As the league attempts to emerge from the shadow of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, fresh scandals—like Aldon Smith's arrest—seem to pop up on a weekly basis. The debate over Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's "Deflategate" suspension rages on. And of course, concussion fears—highlighted again during the bittersweet induction of the late Junior Seau into the Hall of Fame—are impacting not just the NFL but youth football everywhere.

That gives even a straightforward spot like this, based around anodyne themes of family and generational traditions, extra baggage. Suddenly, the innocence and youthful aspirations of the sandlot aren't quite so carefree.

"Football is family," proclaims the ad's tagline. Some might suggest it's a dysfunctional one.


Client: NFL

Agency: Grey, New York